Let's Talk About Sex: How Culture and Scripture Differ Part I, with Dr. Jon Lunde
Mandy [00:00:00] Welcome to The Art of Relationships. This podcast is produced by the
Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships. Let's get right into it.
Chris [00:00:10] Well, it's good to be back on another podcast, Liz, and we love having an introduction like that. But Lisa, this Art of Relationship podcast for us has been something that we have loved doing because we get to talk and meet some awesome people and talk about relationships, marriage, and today we're going to talk about sexuality in relationships.
Alisa [00:00:32] Yeah. So now that we've gotten everyone's attention with our topic, we're really going to be honing in on the cultural vision or cultural aspects of sexuality. And so today, Chris, we have a really special guest with us.
Chris [00:00:48] Yeah. So, Lisa, not only we talk about cultural visions of sexuality, but we're going to talk about a biblical view and what that eventually means. And so at the end of the podcast, I hope listeners walk away with what just what's happening and in the world of sexuality, how did we get there? You know, what are these beliefs that are driving a lot of people that they don't even put a lot of time into thinking about? They just simply exist and the culture has such an influence.
Alisa [00:01:17] It's incredible. And and when you look at the state of relationships today, I mean, horror for a lot of people, it is just a given that, hey, it's our first day and we're going to have sex. And it's like, oh my gosh, how did we get to this point where that is just not a big deal at all?
Chris [00:01:36] Yeah, You know, there's a 2014 study that they did one time, and I'm sure there's you know, it's almost, what, a decade old, but it still stands right? And they they asked, is it acceptable or unacceptable to have sex outside of marriage? Well, 30% of the population said, you know, that it was unacceptable. Oh, that's good. 29 found it acceptable. Same amount, about 30 and 36 said it's not a moral issue for them. This has nothing to do with morality. Wow. And so when you think about that, you start thinking, okay, well, what does that mean? And you ask Americans, how many had sex outside before marriage? You know, how many have.
Alisa [00:02:23] Outside of marriage, Not just. Chris [00:02:26] Before marriage.
Alisa [00:02:27] Okay. Yeah. So that would be kind of odd to be talking about this adultery.
Chris [00:02:31] Yeah. So let's. Okay. Yeah, that's funny. Okay. Yeah. No, you're funny, Lisa. Hey, but what percentage of Americans have had sex before marriage? And the answer is around is that 20%, 50%, 75, 90 or 100? And the answer.
Alisa [00:02:48] Wait, let me guess. Don't tell me. Don't tell me. What were the first options?
Chris [00:02:51] Okay. What percentage of Americans have had sex before marriage? 20%. 50, 75, 90 or 100?
Alisa [00:03:03] Gosh, I'm going to say 75. Chris [00:03:08] Yeah, You're close. It's 90. Alisa [00:03:10] Really?
Chris [00:03:10] Yeah, it's 90. It's a big number. Alisa [00:03:12] Oh, my gosh.
Chris [00:03:14] And so when they ask the question, do these pre-marital sexual relationships relate to later marital quality? Well, right. So the answer is surprisingly or maybe not, it's both yes and no. And what that means is it depends they found on who you're having sex with. So those who slept with other sexual partners besides their future spouse prior to a marriage reported lower and some of the lowest marital quality. What that meant was there is a subset of people that are engaged. They're monogamous, they have sex before marriage, and their marital quality doesn't seem to differ from those that waited until marriage. But worst off were those who slept with other sexual partners.
Alisa [00:04:09] So with a myriad of people.
Chris [00:04:11] With a myriad of people. And I think. Lisa Yeah, it's a fascinating exploration and we have an expert today. You can join us in this exploration. Lisa and I teach a course by all university on what's called marriage and relationships. We look at the psychology and theology and biblical views, and we get to do that with two other couples. And today, representing one half of the amazing Lundy couple, Pam couldn't make it today, so we took the backup. Dr. John Lundy. Dr. John Lundy is a New Testament scholar. He's renowned. That means he's known in our circles. He's known outside of many circles. And you know, maybe the dispute, John, is only how big those circles are. I don't know, but they're big circles. Dr. John Lundy, renowned New Testament scholar, he's been on this as a professor now, John, I think over 20 years you said.
Jon [00:05:14] Wow, I've been here now for 20 years.
Chris [00:05:16] 20 years. And so, John, we get we've been teaching this class on relationships and marriage to, what, 200 students every semester for, I don't know, maybe right now, maybe 13, 14 years. And you've been with this at least half of those, I think.
Jon [00:05:33] I don't think quite half.
Chris [00:05:34] Okay.
Jon [00:05:35] But a good number.
Chris [00:05:36] Yeah, it's a good number. John, welcome to the podcast today. Jon [00:05:40] It's a pleasure to be here.
Chris [00:05:41] It's a tough topic. It's a it's an enjoyable topic because one, we get to talk about things that has created by our designer to bring us pleasure, companionship, joy, this idea of commitment. And I love that we can have companionship and passion around
sexuality with a spouse and a partner. But John, probably since the beginning, this is where the enemy has attacked a view of marriage by most likely attacking the very institution of marriage. And that is this notion of monogamy, this notion of and you shall become one. And, John, we've seen a culture over the last numerous decades, and maybe even if we look back on centuries, we wouldn't find much new under the sun. But, John, there's different cultural views on sexuality that ultimately have led us to this place today. And then you have been studying this. I know your expertise in the New Testament, and this is one of those topics here you love sharing with our students. And we've just loved hearing from you. Hey, let's do this. Tell us a little bit about why you're interested in this topic. What got you started and what you want to share?
Jon [00:07:07] Well, it's it's it's really easy to point to why I'm interested in this topic. And and it really is because I see the carnage all around us, you know, in the students that come through our classrooms and of course in the larger culture. And then contrasted with that is by God's grace, my own marriage, which has exceeded all of my youthful ideals in terms of its blessing and its fulfillment.
Chris [00:07:34] You married well. How long you been married? Jon [00:07:36] I married up.
Chris [00:07:39] You married way, way up. And she married way, way down in Alabama, didn't she? Well, no way. Way down in. You grew up in.
Jon [00:07:46] I grew up in Minnesota.
Chris [00:07:47] Way, way down in Minnesota. Okay. Anyway, that's an old great song.
So, John, it's exceeded your expectations. Why? What happened? Well.
Jon [00:07:55] It's it's really all about the kind of of rhythm that I think is true in Scripture. Sure. And so if you learn how to live in that sort of posture, in relationship to each other and in relationship to the Lord. Marriage actually is not that complicated. It's always hard, but it's not necessarily complicated. And as I've been discovering that myself and then seeing all around me the kind of brokenness and lack of fulfillment, it's it's as if marriage is not coming through with its promise. And so more and more people are losing hope and they're losing expectation that it actually connect can work. Well.
Jon [00:08:41] It's it's as if we've lost the vision of what God truly meant marriage to be. And if we can recapture that vision and actually by the power of the spirit, live it out, walk it out day to day that Monday, Monday through Saturday, Sunday and 24 seven. Then the ideal is actually achievable, would you say?
Jon [00:09:09] Absolutely. Anytime I talk about marriage in one of my classes, you can basically hear a pin drop because students are yearning for hope, but they haven't really seen much. And so I always want to give them hope that, yes, it is possible. In fact, it should happen regularly for those who are following.
Chris [00:09:29] John, you talk to your students and you say they haven't seen much. I'm assuming many of them have probably experienced brokenness in their family life, you know, divorce and adultery and things that have broken up, marriages. I know we run in the same circles and have been friends for a long time. And we see that. I mean, Christians aren't immune from the pain of broken marriages. And oftentimes it does start
with some of their preconceptions about not just what marriage is, but what sexuality is and and what's going to happen. And I think some of those preconceptions, John, at least, that you can verify to just the number of family members and friends that are hurting. So, John, we've gotten to a point in this place. Tell us from your research what's going on? How do we get here? What would you say has big what's begun this process? Let's say if if you had to, you know, share a little bit of your research and background here.
Jon [00:10:35] Yeah. I mean, I think we could go all the way back, you know, to the beginning. But in terms of our own cultural moment, I think the most important thing for us to do is to go and look back at the Enlightenment. That's where a lot of this starts, because before the Enlightenment, at least in Western civilization, you have an understanding that the Scriptures are the authority, that morality comes from the Lord and you find it in Scripture. So the Enlightenment was really the place where that sort of sovereign influence on our morality was, was very much disrupt.
Chris [00:11:15] And that's when Reagan was president. Or when did that give us an idea? I'm sorry, that's not even funny. Most people only know who Reagan. I know they do. John went went about the time like.
Jon [00:11:26] We're talking we're talking especially late 17th century on into the late 19th century or the early 19th century, I should say, when a whole lot of of movements, such as the movement toward empiricism, where you you you discern what is true by experimentation and observation, which obviously was paired with a heavy emphasis on reason, so that you are you are discerning truth that way as opposed to receiving it through traditional sources.
Chris [00:12:00] Now, empiricism in and of itself isn't necessarily bad because many of the early empiricists were actually believers. But what you're talking about are those empiricists that decided that their experience and so we get that word right there, experience, who they are, how they observe the world, what they see as truth is that's what matters. And they separated out a good number of them from a biblical worldview to say, this isn't what's working now what I love, or the empiricist that knew Jesus and followed a biblical worldview. And they made some amazing progress, but they didn't necessarily win out in the end with this empirical approach, did they? And so empiricism started this kind of notion that there is no absolute external truth other than what I can observe. What I experience is that what you're getting out?
Jon [00:12:53] That's what I'm getting at. Yeah. It's not an inevitable move away from Scripture, but for many it really loosened it. And then you have a person like William James who came up with this notion of primary spirituality. So that. The true religious experience is really something find within, you know, as opposed to something that is deriving from tradition, from formal religion, that sort of thing. So transcendence then actually starts, starts finding its, its grounding in my own internal experience.
Chris [00:13:29] Yeah, I love that. So, James, you know, as an early psychologist and he founded this school called, you know, functionalism, which basically John started to to lead us to where we're at in that he took an empirical approach. He said things like, the only thing that really matters is what's the function of something, you know, like. And that's why we call the school of functionalism now. You know what William James founded? But he would say then and I don't know if he intentionally did this, but he started to say, it's my experience and religion has a function. But but that function is how I interpret it, what it means for me. And then this was taken on by a lot of people in the field. Now that was
traditionally reserved, right, for the moralist, the biblical, moral, you know, philosophers or the biblical theologians. And now they've shifted the battleground to what's happening to me in my heart. That's what's most important. And that's what James did, that.
Jon [00:14:38] Yeah, it really is The result of all of this is that the world really became disenchanted so that there really wasn't any sort of higher meaning to any of our experiences. It was the meaning that we derived within ourselves. And we're not accountable then to anything else. And things like sexuality then became only as meaningful as we experienced it or we deemed to be, as opposed to something that the Creator created that has inherent meaning that points way beyond who we are.
Jon [00:15:11] Would you say that's the roots of what is a common scene today in terms of truth is equivocating, saying, Oh, well, it's my truth. Hey, your truth is your truth, Chris. Your truth is your truth. But this is my truth as opposed a small truth as opposed to an absolute capital T truth.
Jon [00:15:32] Absolutely. I mean, you know.
Chris [00:15:34] I like the way you said. Absolutely. Then when she said absolute truth,
that that was. That was perfect. I'm sorry. Keep going.
Jon [00:15:40] Someone like Nietzsche, for instance, he he he argued that we encounter reality through our own lens, through our own experience. And that obviously gives rise to what you're referring to, at least. And that is the the rise of the postmodern movement, which which really had pessimism regarding any ability to come to an understanding of objective truth, because we're looking at everything through our own perspectives. So then truth becomes T with a small T as opposed to a big T. We then all have our own individual truths. And then when you have that, you, you end up having the impossibility of calling anyone else's truth into question because you don't know it's my truth. You have your truth. And then when it comes to the area of morality, then as long as that the nonnegotiable that we usually keep in our culture is that if we're offending and hurting somebody else, that's wrong. But if we're not. No one can impose their morality on me because it's now my truth.
Jon [00:16:46] Oh, gosh. We just see this everywhere in our culture today, especially when it's coming to the gender identity, gender fluidity, multiple pronouns, all of that, that I boy, you just see the incredible implications of how that is so widespread in our culture today.
Chris [00:17:11] So it started you're starting to see us heading down a path that is now directing us away, not only away from God, but in direct contradiction. So what what went on next? How did this lead to where we're at today with sexuality?
Jon [00:17:30] Well, eventually we get what's known as expressive individualism, so that you have the combination of authenticity and what might be called romanticism. So you have authenticity. I have to be true to who I am. I have to be true to myself. And so if I'm not living in alliance with what I really am in my internal workings, I'm not being authentic. So it's incredibly important that whatever my truth is, that's how I live. And then this notion of living it out in a bodily way so that I express who I am through my bodily existence, which gives rise to some of the things that you just.
Chris [00:18:09] Or two. Okay. So, John, it goes like this. Then we get to a point where now the truth that we would say is truth is simply because it makes sense to me and it feels the right thing for me. And who is anybody else to say in my individuality what that truth is? You can't put your truth upon me. And now so when that comes to living that out, that includes when, in whom and how I can express my sexuality.
Jon [00:18:49] That's right. That's right. The the loss of any sort of external authority that is above us means that we become the authority as well as our culture. You know, So it's the impact of culture now on my choices is immense because we've we've sort of moved past a purely postmodern culture because now there are certain options within the area of morality, within the area of sexuality that the culture says you can't hold. And so there is sort of like a dictation from the culture on on people so that now they are being conformed to a particular view in culture.
Chris [00:19:34] So let's get some examples. So, you know, we can take any cultural force that's out there. Let's say it's the views of our parents and grandparents. You know, that's a strong cultural force that that is my little community that I look up to. But and what was upcoming next was that was getting erased and replaced by because I can now watch what someone does in New Jersey on TV as much as I can or by radio as much as I did by my little town in, let's say, Colorado. Pretty soon I'm now seeing people all over that I would have never been exposed to, never seen before and listening to their ideas. And so this explosion now of what's filling the vacuum that used to be my family or my culture or my religion is now all up for grabs, it seems like. Is that is that what you're kind of getting at?
Jon [00:20:41] I think so. But at the same time, if you. If you actually look around at those that try to say something distinct from the culture, they get obliterated. Mm hmm. And and the price is so high now because of what you said, the interconnectedness of everything. That people are just they're just kowtowing. They're just conforming to that's that cultural acceptance of what is right and what works, what is appropriate. And that just completely throws any sort of traditional morality, any sort of biblical authority completely out.
Chris [00:21:18] You know, it's social psychology. We always say that people conform to something weird or different for two reasons the desire to be right and the desire to be liked, and that those two desires are powerful. But it seems to me, as a social psychologist, the desire to be right is now different, right? What's right? I don't know. I have to look around. And that's now changing. Right to a new, let's say, appropriate ness or now what's correct. But the desire to be liked means I have just set myself up to conform when I'm getting smacked down. Like you said, I can't go out and express what I really want without being told that's wrong. And pretty soon I'm saying, well, wait a minute, I want to be liked by people. If I want to be liked by people, I want to conform. And what they like is this.
Jon [00:22:10] That's right. Think you're hitting the nail on the head, Chris, with this, that people now see Christians as immoral. Because they don't agree with the general cultural views. And so that's where that's where that is so completely unmoored from scriptural authority, even within the church. That's what's so disturbing to me is that even within the church today, we see an unmooring from the authority of Scripture.
Jon [00:22:43] Yeah. One of the most important things for modern Christians to recognize is that people within our culture are operating according to different kinds of ethical systems. You know, back in our history, this country was was so churched and so tied to
the biblical authority that that sort of was the ethical system that everyone at least operated within, even though they were rebelling. But when you when you look at what's going on today, things like an biblically grounded natural law or simply egoism, which has to do with I'm going to do it brings me pleasure. Even something as virtue ethics, which on the surface can be really, really good. And it sounds really wonderful. But again, if it's not tied to biblical authority, that one person's idea of how to express justice and mercy may actually be quite different from another person's expression of the same virtue. And as a result, they're going to look at each other as immoral. But they're they're immoral because they're operating on different ethical systems. And we really need to become aware of that.
Chris [00:23:57] So, John, we're now. Living in this. New culture, which seems almost like living in backwards ville, Right? It's like living in. I'm in. What was the whole clip on? I'm living in some other world. That's backwards and different. And what we kind of thought was right, not only is right, it's not only wrong, it's immoral and hurtful to people to tell them a biblical worldview that says sex is to be contained within a marriage. And that and then to add in the horrible idea that this is only between one man and one woman. Right today. And it's it now is to a point where they're looking at you saying that is bigoted, immoral, mean. Why are you so phobic about all of these things? Why are you so focused on this and it's such a new world? What's what's the answer that's been out there? It's that shining light that scripture has always been. It's talked about this, It's known this. I think God knew when the Bible was put together that there was a way to do this. And that is still so clear and evident. But it's being it's like a light that's kind of faded. So, John, let's talk about the light, what it says. What does what is God's word? You're you're a this is your scholarship. Give us a preview. We're going to have you back on and we're going to talk about this light. What's the preview? What should why should listeners tune in to our next podcast with you? Because this is what it says. Even though this sounds so foreign to many today's ears, this is the light. What is that, John?
Jon [00:26:05] Well, Scripture will use the term one flesh. And in Genesis two, regard to to characterize what a marriage relationship should become, the big question is how does that come about? And even Christians, I think, really need to think about this concept more than just the wedding night. We need to think about becoming one flesh. And so what we'll be talking about is really how how two individuals, especially under the the reign of Jesus and by the grace through the spirit, can actually become one flesh. But where do we talk about that in the next one?
Chris [00:26:46] Oh, Lisa, what do you think? I mean, that sounds like a because we're at a point where we're getting asked by college students and people that write in and say, you know, this my view of marriage is radically changed now because I've experienced some bad things or I don't agree all the time. And that's what we're seeing here at the CMA. It's our goal to combine the cross cultural wisdom of Scripture with relevant and timely scholarly research leads.
Jon [00:27:18] Yeah, and in the same way, we really want to encourage you to think biblically about the relationships in your life. And so our good friends, Abiola, Viola colleagues, Sean McDowell and Scott Wray, they're combining the cross-cultural wisdom of Scripture with expert research of their guests in their podcast Think Biblically Conversations on Faith and Culture.
Chris [00:27:40] Yeah, So to learn more about how you can cultivate Christ centered, compassionate conversations, look for their podcast, think Biblically wherever you enjoy your podcasts. So as we're talking then with our eminent guest, Dr. Lundy, a couple of
questions for I think for the listeners might be this what happened and what happened when this idea of this moral view of the world comes down to me that we are now in a at a point in history where all of a sudden truth lies with me and what I feel and what, what, what's result? I mean, how has that affected the church today? What's going on with that?
Jon [00:28:34] Yeah. I mean, I think you can find a whole lot of different options in the church, But in terms especially of our young people, we've we're, we're seeing a generation that will. It will declare that they are Christians, that that will pay lip service to the authority of Scripture. But in the area of morality, the culture has so much more of an impact that they basically live according to the culture and you could call them actually practical atheists in terms of the practice of their lives. They're acting as if God doesn't exist or have any sort of authority. I mean, you and I know of so many couples that call themselves Christians and who are living together, and they don't see any problem with that. And it just illustrates how far away a biblical morality is to to their own lives.
Chris [00:29:29] And what are they saying to themselves if you speculated? You know, I'm a psychologist, of course, and. Is there not necessarily sitting there saying, I know what Scripture says and I'm just I just don't agree with it. They just. Do you think or do you think they don't really know what scripture says, but they think it should say this. Because if you love somebody deeply, then God is in that God is a God of love. Why would he want me to experience deprivation or lack of fulfillment and pleasure? That's not a loving God. And so it's not like they don't. It's as if, A, they can't believe that a loving God would do something. And and then that loving God has made me who I am, and I'm going to live my life that way.
Jon [00:30:25] Yeah, I think that's right. In fact, some some Christians today will talk about their faith as in the process of evolution. So that they may have been raised in a more traditional biblical authority, but in the interplay between their their own life and the culture. What you just said actually takes place where the culture slowly convinces them that it needs to evolve. Your faith needs to evolve, your morality needs to evolve in our new world so that it actually looks quite a bit different. And what maybe Jesus said or like the Old Testament, Ten Commandments or whatever, so that now you end up with a very different morality. And I don't think they think that's a problem. I think they think it's this is what should happen with religion.
Jon [00:31:15] Yeah, I think you're exactly right. And it makes me think of the whole process of deconstruction of our faith. And and that's not to say that that is always a bad thing, but it's a process of reconstructing your faith in a way that has a biblical fidelity to it. And I think that's where so many missed it. So, John, you lecture on this in class, and I always see I watch the faces of our students out there when you are lecturing on this and like you said, a pen could drop in, you could hear it because they are just riveted. They haven't thought about it in this way. They haven't heard it presented this way. And one really powerful aspect of a lecture that you gave had to do with three contemporary options of sexuality or relationships that we have in our culture that that we could choose from to live out our relationships. And so could you unpack that a little bit for our listeners?
Jon [00:32:20] Yes, very much so. If you if you were to go into our sort of. Generally accepted. Cultural perspective on sexuality today. We would call it something like serial monogamy. And in serial monogamy, it's predicated on the on the basis of sexuality should be exercised within the context of a loving relationship. So most people do think that we should be having sex with other people as long as we have a good relationship of respect and love with each other. And within that kind of relationship. Faithfulness is expected.
People still get really ticked when someone cheated on someone else. That's just not accepted because when you're in a relationship, you should be faithful. However, if that person or both you and people end up concluding that the other person just isn't their soulmate just doesn't arrive at the kind of relationship they want, they are free, then to move on to someone else. And that's why it's called Serial. It's monogamous, because when you're together, you should be faithful to each other. But then it's also serial with an S, not a C, so that you can actually move on to the next. It doesn't matter then, how many partners you have, as long as it's one at a time.
Chris [00:33:43] So in that that I did. John, does anything ever come into play? I've seen people push back at some women, for example, that say, nobody wants to be serious with me because I have a baby or I have a history. I've slept around, you know, And it sounds very sexist to them that that men would hold them to the standard. And I've seen people argue in our culture saying, well, that's what you get. You needed to understand the consequences of your actions before it happened with serial monogamy. What ends up happening is you could acquire quite a history of being monogamous. I mean, the word serially, I could do this seven or eight times in the course of a couple of years, and now all of a sudden a new person might go, Wait, how many people have you been with? And that has problems in and of itself. So you have serial monogamist. What's another of the three? Okay.
Jon [00:34:55] Well, even before we leave this, not only is it how many have you been with, but there's also a branch of it that would say, Well, why haven't you been with someone? Why haven't you had at least two or three sexual partners? You know, I want somebody who's experienced, who knows what to do and that it's actually looked down upon if you come into a relationship as a virgin.
Jon [00:35:23] Yeah, it really has become that. And especially when you consider the next one we're going to be talking about. But when you when you think about the. That point that that point about the need for experience. This is, I think, why you have such an uptick in living together, because you want to try it out. You want to try it out with each other to see how they live with each other, how they are in bed, all that kind of thing. They want to make sure that this is a good thing before they actually sell into it.
Chris [00:35:56] If the world's going to say we need to commit to 60 years, I better know what in the world take a test drive. Cause otherwise that's going to be a long 60 years of this. What if I don't test drive this? What if I When I do, I find out that the clutch sticks, you know, or.
Jon [00:36:15] Or what if I. What if I get married and I discovered. Oh, no, I made a mistake. I thought I found the right one, but I married the wrong one. What about that, John? Is that a valid perspective?
Jon [00:36:30] Well, it all depends on your your perspective on marriage. If you're if you're talking about it from the perspective of serial monogamy or even just the easy divorce that we have in our culture, that's not a bad perspective. You're free to go on to find your soulmate If you're talking about it from more of a biblical morality ethic, then you don't have that option. What you do have the option is how in the world is the grace of God going to come in and redeem my relationship? And how can I be an agent of actually helping my relationship approximate the biblical ideal? But that's that then becomes the mission. It's a discipleship then, as opposed to cutting and running.
Jon [00:37:16] So what ideal would you say? What impact has that whole perspective of our culture, such a consumerist stick approach to life, even in church? We come in as a consumer sometimes. What's in it for me? So how what kind of impact does that have?
Jon [00:37:35] It has everything to do with me being satisfied, meeting my needs. And it also means that we end up sort of treating relationships the way we treat products and our culture. So when you think about how our products and our culture are advertised, it's just ethereal. It's this remarkable experience that you're going to have if you wear these jeans or put on this kind of perfume or whatever. And it's just this larger than life experience that you're going to have. But then as soon as you put it on our cultures, trying to convince you that it's now obsolete so that you have this momentary fulfillment and then it's now obsolete and I have to move on to another product. Once you start having that mentality in your head about about our products that we buy and we use. It's easy to start moving that over into relationships, where you begin to start thinking, This one's not working. It was great. Our first night was wonderful. Our first year was wonderful, but it's become obsolete and I can throw this one away.
Chris [00:38:48] Yeah. Another word I think of too, with obsolete is it no longer brings me as much pleasure. And what what what happens is I believe a lot of people start begin to balance out the difference between the work involved, which at the beginning wasn't a lot to now there's a lot more work and a little bit less pleasure than before. Well, it doesn't take long for any relationship to deal with Conflict and conflict is work and what happens all of a sudden work level goes up. I have to wait. We have a difference here. We have a conflict here and the pleasure starts to go down. It only makes sense. Most of the people that get married are going to they're all going to experience conflict, but they be it's what they do at that point is what you said. It's they believe, oh, no, this is broken, the relationship is messed up. We're slowly dawning on that. Maybe we weren't soulmates. Oh, what if I made a mistake? Wait a minute. It has to be. What else can explain the fact that pleasure has gone down, Companionship has gone down. Feelings of purpose may be never really there, but what has gone up is the difficulty of having this relationship and the conflict and the disagreements and the lack of respect and understanding that I'm getting from this person. There's only one conclusion left. I made a mistake. We're not soulmates. I thought we were. I have to go try that. We got it. We have to fix this. We got to go do this again. Man. That's what the world says. And you look at Hollywood and any other marriage out there that is based upon this idea, You're going to make me whole, you're going to make me happy, and you're my soulmate. Wow. And provolone is what, six months before all of us are married, before we're like, oh, marriage is work and we have to choose to say, And I made this commitment, I'm going to stay in this and I'm going to fight for this versus were broke and there's something wrong and it can't be fixed.
Jon [00:41:02] So if you're in essence, we've traded long term commitment for short term commitment. We've traded we've traded intimacy and trust. For what? There's there's no long term intimacy there. How do you trust when you know that they have the option of just walking out the door? They're not in it with that commitment, for better or for worse. What does that do to your relationship?
Jon [00:41:30] Well, I think ultimately it it will mean that you're not going to reach a level of such trust that you abandon yourself to each other in love that is actually characteristic of the one flesh. So this per this perspective on marriage by itself rules out the possibility of the fulfillment of the biblical model. So permanent commitment is huge.
Chris [00:41:54] So, John, this idea then that serial monogamy is is really an important view. But there are some other perspectives out there. In fact, there's two others. Let's unpack what you've found. What's another one that's that you want to call to mind and bring up?
Jon [00:42:13] Well, another one which would be familiar to most young people today, maybe not to all the older adults, but it's the hookup option. And this is actually the predominant. Approach to sexuality on secular universities in this country today.
Chris [00:42:32] There's no doubt.
Jon [00:42:33] How would you define it?
Jon [00:42:37] Hookups are. Sexual in some nature, there has to be some kind of sexual contact. It could be just kissing, it could be some kind of fondling. It could be all full on sexual intercourse, but there's a sexual encounter. Secondly, it's brief. The best form of of hookup means that you really don't have much interaction before and you certainly don't have much interaction afterwards. If you do have a sexual encounter, that is a whole night. The best idea is for the person not in her or his own apartment to leave before the other person wakes up so that there isn't any kind of ongoing communication. It's purely physical.
Jon [00:43:26] So you did the Walk of Shame the next morning back to your own apartment, as they call it, the walk of.
Chris [00:43:33] Shame, even. Oh, would there be any shame? I mean, if everybody's doing this, it would be the walk of Fame for many of them, right?
Jon [00:43:41] Well, that's the case. Sexuality in this form of of it's expression is and it's in its best form is meaningless. So in a in a hookup culture if if you're a virgin, people will have a hesitation to actually have a hookup with you. Because virgins generally think that the sexual encounter is going to be really meaningful. It's going to be something really, really special more than that person should actually think. So in many cases, virginity is understood to be a liability that needs to be dispensed with as quickly as possible so that you can have meaningless sex. So. At least ideally this becomes a shame free kind of expression of sexuality. But the research and Chris, I'm sure in your research, you've you've you've seen where people think it's meaningless and it's not going to be a big deal. But the reality is all of the kinds of hormonal things that are released in those contexts of intimacy bring the kinds of connections that don't allow you to walk away as if it's meaningless.
Chris [00:44:52] You know, why don't why doesn't a hookup culture just involve simply having a great conversation with somebody over dinner or over coffee, sitting there and enjoying a depth of emotional intimacy and conversation? I guess that can happen. But the reason the hookup culture continues to perpetuate itself and exist is because something deep happens with sexual contact with another person. That's how God designed our bodies. God designed our bodies, our and our brains to one desire, closeness, physical contact. Because for for example, for a lot of women, emotional, emotional closeness is something that they can receive with physical closeness. For a lot of guys, it's they get physical intimacy and as a result begin to feel even more emotional, of course, which is why I think this the hookup culture and sexual intimacy is so profoundly transformative for so, so many people in in that they begin to have these hookups. You feel something
euphoric and and powerful released and with this other person. And the only way I think the only way to reconcile or rectify that you'll never see this person again is to begin to numb off a part of that this that consciousness of ours that says, you know, this maybe wasn't the best thing or I really felt something deep there, but I can't feel anything deep. I don't even know the guy's name. I'm going to have to numb that. And the result, John, I think from a lot of psych research is you begin to become numb to the very idea of what intimacy truly is and can be. And that numbness that running from, I think have left many people with this kind of almost scar over this intimacy area that they can't penetrate. You know, when you have that scar and it gets numb pretty soon, they just don't they don't understand intimacy. They go, I want that again. I need another hookup. But then that numbness takes over and it's probably felt, they believe, by most people almost immediately at the conclusion of every sexual act they have. It used to be in the past, you finished a sexual act with somebody and you feel guilt because it say it's you know, you're young, it's outside of marriage that was replaced with, oh, you feel pleasure and joy. But now it's like, well, where to with who? With what? And so they start to go, Well, it must be just with the act. Well, pretty soon they begin to not experience as much pleasure and joy because the act feels like it had no meaning, no purpose, and it now separated it from its ultimate meaning and purpose, which is to draw two people closer together. So I know that's a lot of talking, Lisa.
Jon [00:48:10] Oh, well. Well, I think that's the whole role of alcohol, isn't it? I mean, D is which comes first, the chicken or the egg, the alcohol or the numbness? I mean, do we do we seek the numbness? Therefore, we we we engage more, you know, with alcohol or are we drinking alcohol? And the natural outcome is is the numbness.
Jon [00:48:35] Yeah, I don't know. It's a spiral. I don't know if you can say which comes first. But certainly in order for this culture to exist and be perpetuated, alcohol has to play a big part, and especially on the part of the women, sadly, because in order for women who who generally do get more of a personal connection in this intimacy way, in order for them to come to a party where hookups are happening all over the place, they do. As Chris was saying, they numb themselves beforehand in order to sort of quiet any sort of sensations of commitment and kind of importance and significance to this so that they come so vulnerable. And but they've made themselves that way, unfortunately. And strangely enough, even some feminists will argue this is actually a good thing, because finally now women can have meaningless sex like men have had for centuries.
Jon [00:49:34] Oh, yeah. As if there's something that that sounds appealing that just amazes me.
Jon [00:49:41] It is really shocking. And then when you add in this, the the pornographic aspects of this, where they have theme parties, where they come dressed, you know, the men are dressed in a power play outfit, whether it's the football uniform and the women are in cheerleaders or the businessmen and the secretary, so that you have this pornographic glee induced relationship that really is demeaning, especially for the women.
Jon [00:50:10] There was a researcher. I'll have to go back in and look to see who it was. But there was a associate, a sociologist or maybe a social psychologist like Chris, but she actually did some research on campus hookups and did a whole book on this. But basically, I think one of the most fascinating aspects of her research was regarding what you're talking about with the women. And it wasn't necessarily that the women wanted the hookups as much as they thought. Well, that's just what's expected. I really do want a meaningful relationship out of this. And so maybe if I if I give this this part of my body, he'll
want an intimate relationship with me. But it never works out that way. And yet they keep participating in this because they think that's the way this is supposed to work. Even though really, if I'm honest, I don't like it and it's not what I want and I'm not ending up with the meaning I wanted out of it.
Jon [00:51:22] Yeah, that's exactly right. In fact, if you're going to be a part of the social scene on most of these university campuses, you have to buy into this, even though they may have this hope that it's going to result in something bigger, It ends up being this cultural experience that you've just got to buy into and and you sort of relinquish those ideals. You relinquish those sorts of expectations, at least for this part. And this gets back to this whole notion of the twenties being, you know, carefree and and we can and do whatever we want to do and we'll settle down in our thirties. So some of that is just this temporary, unfettered freedom. But what has happened is that the. Hookup culture. The hookups have replaced dating. You don't have people going out and actually having conversations. What you do have are these brief, meaningless sexual encounters that don't actually bring you closer together and leave you completely empty. Like. Like what Chris was saying, that.
Chris [00:52:28] Emptiness to the. It leaves you numb. And to end it doesn't bring fulfillment. It doesn't do it completely separate. So what sex was designed to do and I think, John, that's the sadness of this many of these college students and young people. Gosh, even down into the high school or. No, something's wrong. They feel it deep in their souls. They feel like this is not good. This isn't fun. This isn't right. This isn't healthy. I'm not getting any pleasure like I used to from this. What is wrong? And it feels as if they're broken. They're alone. They're the only ones. All their friends are enjoying this. But I know as a psychologist, some of the deep worry, sadness and anxiety this is causing in people because they feel somehow broken. They don't like what's happening and they feel like they're the only one. And that hook up option is such a path toward ultimate disenfranchisement with no, if that's the right word from all. That's good. All that's right. All that I want it to be. Now what? Now? Now who am I? What are what can I look forward to? So, John, that hook up culture is not a good one.
Jon [00:53:54] In fact, I remember you saying something, John, about the irony of it when you compared it to the Victorian era where there was sexual repression. But now with the sexual liberty, the irony is now there's that emotional repression and so much damage. Yeah.
Jon [00:54:14] Yeah, yeah. When you when you take sexuality and you completely divorce it from intimacy. And when I talk about intimacy, I'm not just talking about physical, but I'm talking about the the kind of intimacy that goes on between people in a long term relationship, whether it's intellectual, whether it's emotional, spiritual intimacy. When you when you remove that from the sexual experience, there really ultimately is nothing left. All you have is the need to have new pleasure. But without the intimacy, without the personal connection, even that becomes a fleeting thing that you're pursuing in it. And, you know, research shows that eventually, no matter what sexual experiences you have, they don't satisfy.
Jon [00:54:58] And so you have not only the emotional damage that you just talked about, but think of all of the the physical damage that's been done with the rampant STDs that that are occurring.
Jon [00:55:13] That's right.
Jon [00:55:14] Just incredible cost to this hookup culture.
Chris [00:55:18] Oh, then you add in what happens when you mess up and you get pregnant, Right. All of a sudden now, what's the option? Well, that's where abortion is becoming a such an important issue. Not necessarily because, you know, it's a moral question. It becomes for a lot of people, well, this is just what you have to do. You mess up, you go get the abortion, the damage that now compounds upon the relationship on both men and women and men are not unaffected by this very thing of abortion. Many of them are like, wait, wait, wait, wait. That I didn't know this. If I had known this, wait there. It's as if something they know is wrong. And so we can tie that into the abortion issue and talk about that for a long time. But, John, keep going. And at least, Lisa, where to go.
Jon [00:56:16] Right. And so that first option that you talked about was a serial monogamy. The second when you talked about was the hookup culture. So what's the third kind of culturally common approach to sexuality in relationships?
Jon [00:56:32] Well, here now we can move to more of the Christian community. And what's been very prominent in some sections of more conservative Christian situations is is what's known as the abstinence, the purity culture. And and on the surface, again, this all looks very biblical and very good. It's grounded in the awareness that adultery is sinful, that premarital sex is sinful, that lust is wrong, craving sexual pleasure from someone else. And so it's based on this notion that that sex must be reserved only for marriage, which, again, that's biblical. That's what what what scripture teaches and that abstinence offers the best choice. So when you brought up the STD dilemma, this is the way in which especially women, but also men take control over their own bodies and they avoid all of the carnage that you just referred to, whether it's emotional carnage or STDs in this sexually pervasive culture. And then there is this notion that if you did mess up because of God's grace, there is what they call second virginity, so that you can kind of start over. And again, this is all this is all very much. Grounded in biblical teaching and in in the redeeming grace of God. And then lastly, they especially emphasize that if you follow this pathway, that you will have the very best sex that you could ever have when you finally get married. So at the end of the day, it actually is all still about sex. It's just not yet. And so the focus is on how you protect yourself physically in relationships. And the men are encouraged to sort of be like the knight in shining armor. And the woman is now encouraged to take control of her own life. So there's an interesting feminism to this, which can be very, very good for women to actually recognize they've got power over their own bodies. They need to take control of this. But the problem with this is that because of the emphasis on physical purity, there isn't this teaching and and fostering of the of the relationship. It's all about preserving purity. And they haven't really developed the kind of intimate, personal trust and trustworthiness that really go into what a good marriage is going to be. So then they eventually do get married. And they're expecting to have the greatest sex ever. But because that relationship actually hasn't developed the way it needs to in these other areas. Sexuality actually doesn't doesn't pay the dividend. It does not actually come to meet their expectation. And even worse in some cases and actually in many cases and this is especially from women that I've talked to because the emphasis has been so much on protecting themselves against sexual impurity before marriage, then all of a sudden they're supposed to flip the switch and they get married. And now it's a it's a wonderful thing. Many of them actually experience shame. They experience sex as something dirty. And and that can bring all kinds of difficulties then into the marriage.
Chris [00:59:57] Okay. So so that. So there are they start off with the right perspective in many, many cases. Right. Abstinence movement. Like you said, there's so much biblical truth where they go off the maybe the proper path is if they believe because the end result will be ultimate beautiful, non ending, wonderful sex and they're going to be disappointed. And or they because of that? No, do not put in the effort to develop the other aspects of the relationship, which are all part of intimacy. It just becomes hyper focused on the one thing. So hyper focusing on that one issue then throws everything else out of balance that be right. Okay. And it sounds as if then there must be a way to start that way.
Jon [01:00:55] A fourth option? Chris [01:00:56] Yeah. You set. Jon [01:00:57] Up.
Chris [01:00:57] A better option. You start with the idea of following a biblical worldview. You know what Christ and what God has set up for us to wait until marriage with a proper understanding of the biblical perspective of what marriage intimacy really is. So what do you think? Should we talk about that?
Jon [01:01:20] Well, you're going to do that. And that is going to be part two of our podcast. Next on this two part series on sexuality, cultural views of sexuality, and then a biblical view of sexuality. How did God really mean for this to work? And so we are so excited to impact this part two with John. So be sure and check back with us when that comes out in a couple of weeks. But John, thank you so much for being with us today.
Jon [01:01:47] Thank you so much. It's been great to be.
Chris [01:01:49] On your awesome you you cover this. Well, you're a sexy man, I must tell
you, because I am with my wife here. I can say that John. Jon [01:01:59] Told me to tell you to.
Chris [01:01:59] She she wrote and said, Yeah, Chris, stay away from my husband now. John, thank you for sharing your story and and mostly your research and your expertise in this. I look forward to next week. Man. It's going to be awesome.
Jon [01:02:13] Yeah. Thanks for joining us and we will see you next time on The Art of Relationships Hub. I see.
Chris [01:02:19] You now.
Mandy [01:02:20] Thanks for listening to the Art of Relationships. This podcast is only made possible through generous donations from listeners just like you. If you like it and want to help keep the podcast going. Visit our website at CMI dot Viola, dot edu and make a donation today.
Jonathan Lunde (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is associate professor of biblical studies and theology at Talbot School of Theology of Biola University. He has contributed articles to The Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels and The New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Jon and his wife, Pamela, have three children and reside in Brea, California.
The Art of Relationships podcast, hosted by Dr. Chris and Alisa Grace, is centered on helping you build healthy relationships and marriages. In this podcast, Dr. Chris Grace and Alisa Grace weigh in on how to navigate the complexities of relationships in our culture with biblical wisdom and scholarly research. Listen to get practical insights on relationships, dating, and marriage.