Right or wrong, our culture teaches us about sex. The media conducts sex education all the time.” –Stephen Witmer
Pop culture is a powerful force in society, as it colors our views of social issues, people, relationships, and sexual activity. What we see, read, and hear through the media influences our worldview on these important matters. We need an internal filter, moral compass, and high esteem of God’s word if we are to live rightly and thrive in our relational and sexual lives.
Sex is a topic that we would all do well to treat with care, being intentional to not swallow whole the ideas put forth by the culture. Lies can be found in excess through a secular view of sexuality. How most entertainment presents sexuality cannot do justice to such a profound and meaningful act. Here are ten lies pop culture teaches about sex.
1. It can be had any time, with any one, in any place, in any context, without repercussions.
Living contrary to God’s word is treading unstable and dangerous ground. Sex ordained by God has specific boundaries that are not to be crossed. To overstep these needed boundaries is to risk an influx of consequences. The consequences can kill your spiritual life, impair your mental and emotional health, endanger your physical welfare, and complicate your relationships.
2. Sex is merely a sport for pleasure, thus omitting the need for commitment or relationship.
Because pop culture neither knows nor esteems God’s standards, it purports a primitive and narcissistic handling of sexuality. There is nothing more than physical pleasure to be found there. If we do not align our sexuality with the authority of Scripture, then the power that sex holds in biblical context is uprooted. It becomes a barbaric act or a self-serving conquest. As Owen Strachan so eloquently conveys, “Hookup culture guts sex of meaning; biblical teaching makes sense of the passion and connection sex yields.”
3. Monogamy is outdated.
Black and white movies from decades prior present an elegant picture of family and marriage. Life was orderly, true love was present and active, and monogamy was esteemed as the best course of action for the health and well-being of the relationship and family. Marriage vows meant something. Long gone are those days.
In a culture that widely acts on their feelings and emotions, lacks self-control and integrity, consumes pornography in excess, thinks little of lying if it will benefit self, and finds contentment in empty conversation, monogamy becomes a lost art. If we do not value human life or respect our fellow man, if selfishness determines our decisions, and if dating apps and easy sex rule our exchanges with others, fidelity cannot be the norm. It won’t even seem logical.
4. It isn’t cheating if you aren’t caught.
Hollywood tries to convince us that adultery is a victimless crime. Flirtation is portrayed as a fun pastime, and if it leads to an emotional affair, you are justified in whatever follows. Looking out for yourself is most important and mutual attraction becomes the grounds from which adultery blossoms. If you can get away with having someone (or a few people) on the side, more power to you. It becomes almost a heroic feat, an intoxicating experience.
A wise person embarks on the dating and marital journey with regard for the law of sowing and reaping–understanding full well that even if you aren’t caught in the act of adultery, much has been lost already. You have sacrificed honesty, time, dignity, and self-respect to cater to the forbidden. You have risked your health and future, family and spouse, for the sake of pleasure. And you are the one who will ultimately lose in the long run.
5. Sex without intimacy is fulfilling.
“Casual sex is impossible. A high five is casual. Waving hello is casual. Small talk is casual. Treating sex like a casual greeting doesn’t make it casual. It just makes you immature and selfish.” –Matt Walsh
The initial hype and excitement that casual sex appears to deliver blinds people to the rich and satisfying joy of sex that can only be had within the confines of marriage. The richest sexual fulfillment is the result of knowing and being known. It is to please and be pleased by a person you have gotten to know, and nothing compares to the depth and closeness that can be found there. To be fulfilled is to feel complete and this cannot happen without intimacy.
6. Porn is a useful guide to better your sex life.
Contrary to popular belief, pornography is not a helpful tool for guiding your sex life because it involves punishment and degradation instead of gentleness and respect. Pornography contains skewed, unhealthy, unrealistic, and, at times, even illegal or downright disturbing content. Pornography offers a grim commentary on the human body and sexual expression. It introduces the bizarre at the expense of the beautiful.
Some of the ideas, attractions, and interests that were formed through my use of it have concerned me at best and terrified me at worst. I’d caution anyone to steer clear of the voices in society that might accept or promote pornography as the guidebook for a thriving sex life.
7. Sex equals love.
Just as not all foods contain needed nutrients and not all friendships have depth, so too not all sex (by itself) equals love. Anything that deviates from God’s good design for human sexuality cannot produce genuine love because authentic love entails permanence and a steadfast commitment to one’s good. The hook-up culture practices neither.
8. Sex makes or breaks a relationship.
Different facets of pop culture, such as film and music, argue the case that sex is the deciding factor in determining the health or happiness of a relationship. This is misleading. Relationships entail many aspects; sex is just one piece of the pie.
The Bible presents sex and humanity as multi-faceted. We are complex creatures made in God’s image. This is one proof that culture’s take on sexuality and human life falls short. We aren’t merely physical beings enamored by a physical experience.
When the mandates regarding sexuality in the Bible are adhered to, people flourish in the sexual relationship. Unfortunately, the culture lacks such depth and wisdom and cheap counterfeits reign.
9. It isn’t a sacred, respected gift.
The disintegration of a nation is evident when nudity is on display and sex can be had with no strings attached. The more precious something is to us, the more we ought to guard it from anything that takes away from its worth. With sex, however, this most intimate act is put on bold show and has little, if any, standards surrounding its use.
In a society that has gradually suffered the loss of morality and respect for others, people lack a proper reverence of sex. We have torn down the once stable foundation of sex within marriage and replaced it with innuendos or shameless pursuits that dirty and dismantle its intended purpose.
If we are to ever experience sex in its fullness as God intended, we must return to His design and shun anything that removes His blessing in this area of our lives.
10. An absence of restraint brings freedom.
This is a dangerous lie because unbridled indulgence will always cost you more than you think. Rules of any kind are in place for the protection and flourishing of the citizens at hand. To ignore or disregard them is to ask for trouble. An unrestrained life may feel liberating, as it brings many opportunities to cater to self. But we should never judge a situation by how much pleasure it will bring us in the moment or in that current season of our lives. We must think long-term and intentionally ponder where the choices we make today will lead us tomorrow. Are you willing to do so?
Moving past the lies
If you have found yourself caught up in believing one or more of these lies, be thankful that the first step toward change is identifying the problem. When we turn to God’s word to inform our decision-making and worldview, our vision is no longer clouded by the skewed ideas presented forth by the culture in which we reside.
By seeing a topic, person, circumstance, or situation from the lens of truth, we break free from the calamitous practices of a godless nation. We begin to learn the purpose and beauties of sex as God intended for the marriage bed. And there’s no safer or more meaningful context in which to spend your sexual energies!