What’s So Wrong With Casual Sex?

What’s So Wrong With Casual Sex?

In our culture, sex has become recreation for many. It no longer requires intimacy or friendship. In the hook-up culture, you pick someone in a crowded room and go to a bedroom with them. The introduction of the birth control pill removed consequences for unplanned sex. Then the condom removed the fear of venereal disease. Then the morning-after pill removed the remaining worries. And if all else fails, abortion erases the “oops.”

Science has altered the consequences of sexual intercourse. Culture stepped into this new scientific world and detached sex from its deeper life-bonding meaning. And now, it’s just sex, nothing more. What’s the big deal? Why get so uptight? Protect yourself, use condoms, and if all else fails, there’s always abortion. What’s wrong with premarital sex?

I wish to challenge this assumption and mindset. Sexual intercourse is more than a physical act.

According to Scripture, sex creates a bond between two people. Two become one. Two bodies become one body. In God’s definition, a man leaves father and mother and he is joined to his wife, and the two become one flesh (Gen. 2:24). It’s a miracle.

The mystery of it is akin to the reality of one God named Trinity who is comprised of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three are one, yet the one is three. In sexual intercourse, something of the body and spirit of one person attaches to the body and spirit of another person. It is an encounter between two people in which each does to the other something that cannot be erased. You become an ongoing part of the person. You are defined by your relationship with that person. Each gives something that cannot be taken back.

Sex leaves an indelible imprint on the soul of another person. And the stamp of that other person becomes a part of who you are. You are one flesh. Paul said it clearly in his letter to the Corinthians: “Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, ‘The two shall become one flesh.’” (I Cor. 6:16, NRSV).

So what’s wrong with premarital, recreational, casual sex? We are attaching ourselves to someone to whom we do not intend to stay bound.

Jerry worked with me at the Alamo Plaza Motel in Nashville. We were both working our way through college. He was a student at Vanderbilt; I was a religion major at Trevecca Nazarene University. He worked the afternoon/evening shift, 3:00 – 10:30 PM. I came on for the night shift, 10:30 PM to 7:00 AM. I would check in the late guests and do the evening transcript of the day’s accounts. He would often let me know that if I needed him for anything, he would be in one of the guest rooms, and he’d give me the number. He had checked in a guest and had gotten an invitation to her motel room after his shift was over. His intention was to score. Many nights he would return to the office with a woman’s panties, his trophy for an evening of conquest. He proudly hung the conquered apparel in his storage locker.

I remember the night he came into the office and slumped on the couch. I was working the night transcript, and he began muttering to himself, meaning to be overheard by me. “I don’t get it. Here you are a virgin, dating a great girl, never had sex and don’t intend to until you’re married. I’ve had more women than I can remember. You feel loved and valued. I’m miserable and lonely. I don’t get it.”

It must have been divine inspiration that hit me in the middle of the night. “Jerry, I do get it. You are destroying your capacity to love. Every night, you practice bonding and breaking. Sexual intercourse binds two people in a covenant of marriage for life. It is a bonding act. When you bind yourself to a person that you hardly know and walk out of the room never intending to see the person again, you damage your capacity to love. You are learning to love and leave, not love and stay. It doesn’t surprise me that you feel lonely. You’ve been doing nothing but using your fellow humans and treating women like conquests. My goal for sex is to love and stay, bind myself in marriage to one person and stay bound for the rest of my life. Call it boring. Call it conservative. I call it love as God intended it to be.” I don’t know if my motel sermon moved him or not. But I still believe what I said that night.

The world would say that Jerry was experienced, and he was. He was experienced at bonding and breaking, using and leaving, holding and walking away. He did it so many times it became the core of who he was. He was using people for what he wanted, and his little locker was a memorial to the humans who had submitted to his conquest. It’s no wonder that he sat slumped in a seat in the middle of the night saying, “I don’t have any friends. I don’t even know how to love anymore.” He had violated his own soul so often that he had lost his capacity to love.

Today’s post is an excerpt from Human Sexuality: A Primer for Christians.


  1. Hello Dan –

    This is an excellent post. The only thing I would question is the way you describe “conquest.” In your scenario, who was doing the “conquesting”? It was the woman who invited Jerry to his room. He went willingly. So, there was something consensual happening. As you know, that word – consensual – is the preferred word now. “Conquest” sounds more like an episode of SVU, an imposing one’s will upon another, epitomized by rape. It would be helpful for you to address consensuality and how even in that scenario there is “bonding and breaking.” Thanks again for tackling this timely topic. I look forward to when you write about homosexuality, particularly those who frame it in-terms of a non-promiscuous commitment between Christians, a single bonding (with no breaking), the only difference being that it is between two men or two women. Please help us answer that logic, one put forward by Justin Lee in his well-known book, Torn, and having great influence among us.

  2. Pam McGraner says

    Thank you, Dr. Boone, for this post. My heart breaks for the young people who participate in casual sex because I know that it will be to their detriment. I married late in life, age 34. My groom turned 40 right before our wedding. Both of us were Christians and both of us had chosen to wait for marriage to have sex. We were both virgins. We took a great deal of ribbing by family and friends who were not Christians and did not share our view on sex outside of marriage. Neither my husband nor I have regretted that for one second. Two and half years later, The Lord blessed us with a beautiful baby girl, who is now a junior at Trevecca. She has told me about the sessions that you have held on campus this year regarding this topic. She also has friends that she went to high school (a Christian school, I might add), who used to have the same conviction about waiting until marriage to have sex. These friends of hers are choosing to go against their once firmly-held convictions. She has shared how worried she is for these friends. The talks you have been giving are very pertinent for today, right now. Satan tries to rob our young people of their morals and convictions. How sad that often times they don’t understand the hurt and regrets that will come later. So again, Dr. Boone, thank you for the words you speak to the TNU students and to a great many others through your posts. I believe your words make a difference.

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