Casual Sex or Sex Casualties?

Just a cursory glance at social media reveals our ever increasing attention to issues surrounding sexuality. Daily, Facebook newsfeeds are flooded with disturbing articles calling attention to sexual harassment, human trafficking, rape, and STDs. At the same time, articles about how girls in school ought not be forced to follow a dress code and articles about how women ought to have more sexual freedom by means of funded birth control and legal abortions continually trend on the same Facebook feed. While I wholeheartedly believe that most people who advocate for“sexual freedom”(meaning the ability to have mutually consensual sexual relations with whomever in a manner that is free from bodily or emotional harm) do not condone acts such as harassment, rape, or human trafficking, I do not believe the vast majority of this population sees the casualties their “sexual freedom” creates outside of a monogamous marriage. 

One aspect of “sexual freedom” that creates a huge ripple of casualties is the consumption of pornography. We often select matters of freedom by deciding whether or not my actions are harming anyone. With pornography consumption, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that our sexual thoughts/actions are confined to ourselves. However, regular consumption of pornography is creating cultural shifts in sexual expectations with women often feeling the negative effects most acutely. For example, a survey conducted by “Plan Australia” found that among 600 girls between the ages of 15-19, 51% reported receiving requests for “sexy pics” even though 80% believe it is unacceptable for a boyfriend to request explicit content. 71% of these same girls reported that online sexual harassment is an epidemic. This study linked the increase in explicit content requests to the mass consumption of pornography among young men. The Journal of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity reports that “adolescent consumption of Internet pornography was linked to attitudinal changes, including acceptance of male dominance and female submission as the primary sexual paradigm, with women viewed as “sexual playthings eager to fulfill male sexual desires.” The authors found that “adolescents who are intentionally exposed to violent sexually explicit material were six times more likely to be sexually aggressive than those who were not exposed.”The result is that young women feel pressured to perform sexual acts for tokens of love. As with any commodity, pornography’s success is largely due to its high demand. As pornography consumption increases, this harmful view of sex will continue to permeate how we define our sexual relationships even at a young age. As one last sobering thought on the issue of pornography, let us not forget that not every “porn star” one by choice. Forced pornography is but one form of sex trafficking and is increasingly affecting even young children as pedophiles seek it out.

One other aspect of “sexual freedom” that creates unintended sex casualties is the “right” to have sex with multiple consenting partners, either at the same time or within a string of monogamous relationships. The unintended consequences in these relationships are often physical in nature and include STDs and even infertility. Alarmingly, the American Sexual Health Association reports that more than half of all people will have an STD in their lifetime, and that one in two sexually active persons will contract an STD by age 25. Like any other disease, such as the common cold, STDs are spread from person to person with the risk of exposure increasing with each additional sexual partner. Some STDs can be dormant for a time, so there is even the possibility of spreading an STD unknowingly. It stands to reason that two people who have practiced abstinence until their marriage will be exponentially less at risk for contracting an STD than those who have had many sexual partners. While many STDs are treatable, others can be life threatening or cause infertility - a heartbreaking condition for couples who wish to conceive.  

Name any sexual crime and most, if not all, can be linked to a lack of sexual self control. Sex trafficking would not sell if people were committed to keeping sex within a marriage relationship. Young girls would not be pressured to perform sexual favors in return for mere tokens of affection if we did not continually support the porn industry with our regular consumption of pornography. STDs would not be rising to an epidemic level if we could satisfy ourselves with just one sexual partner. If our culture truly wishes to have “sexual freedom”without a string of sex casualties, then we need to begin a cultural shift back to the Biblical model for sex - between one man and one woman in a committed marriage with intimacy and true oneness as its main intent rather than the self-serving model we are acquainted with today.  Even if you do not believe in the Bible or wish to follow its teachings, I implore you to consider the sex casualties your “sexual freedom”may be inadvertently creating.


In Christian Love,

Maranda Cochran