Love That Lasts Past One Night

July 29, 2013 at 5:15 am 1 comment


University StudyingOver the past few weeks, the New York Times has published a couple of articles of special interest to Christians.  The first is by Kate Taylor and chronicles the seedy underbelly of the college hook up culture.  The picture she paints is dark and disturbing:

At 11 on a weeknight earlier this year, her work finished, a slim, pretty junior at the University of Pennsylvania did what she often does when she has a little free time.  She texted her regular hookup — the guy she is sleeping with but not dating. What was he up to? He texted back: Come over.  So she did.  They watched a little TV, had sex and went to sleep.

Nationwide, nearly 3 in 10 seniors say they have never hooked up in college.[1]

Take a moment to ponder the significance of this statistic.  It’s not that three in ten college seniors have hooked up, it’s that three in ten college senior have not hooked up.  This means by the time a college graduate walks across the stage to receive a diploma, there’s a 70% chance he or she has engaged in casual, illicit sexual activity.  This is nothing less than ghastly.

Now, contrast this with a New York Times article by Ross Douthat on college campuses as one of the last non-virtual bastions at which to meet a lifelong mate.  He begins his column by citing a 2012 study:

From about 1960 to 1990 … neighborhood and church had a roughly steady influence over how heterosexual couples met, with about 10% of heterosexual couples meeting as neighbors and about 7% meeting in or through houses of worship.  After 2000, neighborhood and church went in to steep decline along with most of the other traditional ways of meeting romantic partners.[2]

It seems the dating strongholds that have traditionally set people on the path to marriage are in steep decline.  This trend does not hold true, however, for college campuses:  “College has also dipped since 2000 as a place to meet, but only modestly,” Douthat notes.  What, then, is the upshot of these statistics?  Douthat concludes:

It seems fair to assume that there are still a lot of people who would prefer to meet their future spouse the old fashioned way — through initial flesh-and-blood encounters embedded in a larger pre-existing social network.  If that’s your preference, the university campus is one of the few flesh-and-blood arenas that seems to be holding its own as a place to form lasting attachments.  So for those Americans who do attend college, the case for taking advantage of its denser-than-average social landscape might actually get stronger as the non-virtual alternatives decline.

So there you have it.  On the one hand, college campuses can be hotbeds of squalid sexual hookups – places where people make out at night and walk out the next morning.  On the other hand, college campuses remain ideal environments for meeting, dating, and, eventually, marrying.

The apostle Paul issues a sobering warning about the effects of sexual immorality, saying that God gives over people “in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another” (Romans 3:24).  When reading such a warning, I can’t help but think of an especially telling story from Kate Taylor’s article:

For many Penn students, their initiation into the sexual culture takes place at fraternity parties during New Student Orientation, a five-day period before classes start in the fall, which, along with Spring Fling in April, is known as the biggest partying time of the year.

“You go in, and they take you down to a dark basement,” Haley, a blond, pink-cheeked senior, recalled of her first frat parties in freshman year. “There’s girls dancing in the middle, and there’s guys lurking on the sides and then coming and basically pressing … up against you and trying to dance.”

Dancing like that felt good but dirty, and like a number of girls, Haley said she had to be drunk in order to enjoy it. Women said universally that hookups could not exist without alcohol, because they were for the most part too uncomfortable to pair off with men they did not know well without being drunk.

The first line of the last paragraph haunts me:  “Dancing like that felt good but dirty.”  Another word for “dirty,” of course, is “degrading,” the very thing which Paul says is the result of sexual immorality.

So often we read Paul’s words in Romans 1 as a condemnation of those whose sexual ethics differ from those of Christianity.  But Paul’s words are much more than a condemnation.  They are a sad statement of reality.  And even the New York Times knows it.  Sexual immorality is dirty.  Sexual immorality is degrading.  Perhaps C.S. Lewis puts it best when he writes specifically of females trapped in sexually promiscuous lifestyles: “I have no sympathy with moralists who frown at the increasing crudity of female provocativeness.  These signs of desperate competition fill me with pity.”[3]  Like Lewis, may we pity those who are so desperate, they willingly degrade themselves sexually.  Such degradation is truly heartbreaking.

The choice is clear.  At college, a student can either degrade him or herself in sexual recklessness, or take advantage of a university’s social landscape to form friendships and, by God’s grace, a lifelong marriage relationship.

My prayer is that more and more people would choose chastity – not only because it gives glory to God, but because it really is better for His creations.  It really is better for you.  You don’t need to degrade yourself.  For you have One who was degraded for you on a cross.


[1] Kate Taylor, “Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too,” New York Times (7.12.2013).

[2] Ross Douthat, “The Dating World of Tomorrow,” New York Times (7.19.2013).

[3] C.S. Lewis, C.S. Lewis: Readings for Meditation and Reflection, Walter Hooper, ed. (New York: Harper Collins, 1992), 88

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. irene  |  July 29, 2013 at 9:08 am

    I confess I’m old and my 40th wedding anniversary is coming up in a few weeks. But even when I was young, I didn’t understand the idea of allowing sexual intimacy with someone I barely knew. That level of intimacy requires trust, knowing the other person won’t hurt you or treat you like an animal. No wonder young women in particular need alcohol to get past that innate warning they feel when approached by a guy they don’t know. How they then progress to “hooking up” on a regular basis is a mystery to me.

    Reply

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