My Take: There’s nothing brief about a hookup
May 31st, 2011
11:58 AM ET

My Take: There’s nothing brief about a hookup

Editor's Note: Dannah Gresh is author of What Are You Waiting For? The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex.

By Dannah Gresh, Special to CNN

Recent studies have revealed some good news in the sex culture among college co-eds: there are more virgins among them now than was the case a few years ago.

These days, 29% of females and 27% of males between ages 15 and 24 claim to be virgins, up from 22% of both sexes in 2002, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

But among the college students who aren’t abstaining, we’re seeing more sex, thanks to casual hookups. According to recent research from Stanford University, the majority of college co-eds are still having sex, with an average 9.7 sexual partners for men and 7.1 for women.

Thankfully, we have more scientific information about casual sex than our parents did when they drove their Volkswagen buses to Woodstock for a dose of the sexual revolution. They wanted to think—as many of those cruising along the New Millennium highway still do—that we can engage in the act of sex without the emotion.

"Emma wants a relationship without the relationship. She just wants the sex,” actress Natalie Portman said of her role in the recent movie "No Strings Attached." “…I’m tired of seeing girls who want to get married all the time and that's all they're interested in. I think there is a wider vision of how women can conduct their lives and what they want."

Sounds so easy.

Just like the hippie culture found a pill that conveniently removed the “inconvenience” of pregnancy, today’s hookup culture believes it has found a recipe for removing the inconvenience of emotion: friends with benefits.

Scientifically, though, that’s impossible. We know that thanks to what neuroscientists have learned about a walnut-sized mass in the brain called the deep limbic system.

The deep limbic system stores and classifies odor, music, symbols and memory. In other words, it’s a place for romance, capable of processing a splash of cologne on your lover’s neck, a particular iPod playlist or a bouquet of red roses.

The brain chemicals associated with romance and sex wash over the deep limbic system during a wide variety of sexual experiences, according to research from the Medical Institute for Sexual Health.

Holding hands, embracing, a gentle massage and, most powerfully, the act of sexual intercourse work together to create a cocktail of chemicals that records such experiences deep into the emotional center of your brain.

It’s why we remember sexual experiences and images so clearly.

One of the critical neurochemicals released during sex is dopamine. Dopamine makes you feel good; it creates a sense of peace and pleasure. Anytime your body experiences pleasure, whether it’s good for you (working out) or bad (doing crystal meth), the limbic system gets washed in dopamine.

In essence, it is a “craving” chemical. It makes you want more. It creates addiction. Dopamine attaches you emotionally to the source of pleasure.

Another critical sex hormone is oxytocin, the subject of recent books like "The Chemistry of Connection: How the Oxytocin Response Can Help You Find Trust, Intimacy and Love." The chemical is released during sexual expression. A tiny dose is downloaded during intimate skin-to-skin contact; a much bigger dose is released during orgasm.

In fact, the only other time as much oxytocin is released as during orgasm is when a mother is breastfeeding her baby. The mother feels its release and is bonded to her child, and the baby’s brain learns for the first time to enter into relationship by connection. I’d say the chemical’s job is to bond us for life.

The knowledge of sexual bonding is nothing new.

“Do you know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body?” the apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament. “Do you know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’”

Christian author Lauren Winner translates those verses this way: “Don’t you know that when you sleep with someone your body makes a promise whether you do or not?”

The bottom line is that you get “addicted” and “bonded” to the people you have sex with, even if they are “just friends.”

That helps explain why Stanford sex researcher Paula England has said that “Some people are hooking up a bunch of times with the same person but are not calling it a relationship.” Maybe these people are not as unattached to their “friends” as they would like to think.

Here’s where the hookup culture starts to be a problem. What happens if you get caught up in the friends-with-benefits-game and have multiple partners? What happens when the partners you’ve become addicted and bonded to are gone?

You experience withdrawal symptoms in the emotional center of the brain.

Young women, especially, are likely to spiral into a depression when the source of their addiction isn’t interested in another hookup. A 2003 study from the conservative Heritage Foundation found that 25.3% of sexually active teenage girls experienced depression, compared to 7.7% of sexually abstinent girls.

The study found that 14.3% of sexually active girls attempted suicide, compared to 5.1% of their virgin peers.

And when a person graduates from the hookup scene and tries to have an intimate relationship with the person they want to spend the rest of their life with, things can get complicated.

There are already a lot of other people he or she will be addicted to, and that creates more chaos for the exhilarating but challenging task of building a life of intimacy together. The Kinsey Institute notes that one of the five factors that predict infidelity in a relationship is “having had a high number of prior sex partners.”

Casual sex is happening. We shouldn’t ignore it. That’s especially true of the faith community. But when we talk about it, we should use science. There’s nothing biologically brief about a hookup.

In the interest of full disclosure, my motivation here is my Christian faith. I believe sex to be an incredible gift from God, meant to transcend the physical to discover something emotional and spiritual with another person.

But since my faith may alienate some of you from my message, I ask you not to think too hard about religious differences. Stick to the facts.

The good news is that we are seeing an ever-so-small rise in the number of young people choosing abstinence.

What are they waiting for? Some mind-blowing pleasure and an incredible intimacy–without all the baggage of a broken heart.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dannah Gresh.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Opinion • Sex • Sexuality

soundoff (846 Responses)
  1. hopewellmomschoolagain

    For most of these kids it was their GRANDPARENTS, not parents, maybe even GREAT-Grandparents who were in the Woodstock generation! Do the math, please.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Katie

      My husband was part of the Woodstock generation. Our daughters are 14, 12 and 9.

      May 31, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Matt

      I'm 20 years old. My great grandparents were born in 1895. Woodstock was in 1969.

      May 31, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • rac76

      For my kids (ages 13 to 8), it is their grandparents that were apart of that Baby Boom generation and Woodstock (they were born between 1948 and 1958). Their great grandparents were all born between 1926 and 1934.

      May 31, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • Clam Man

      Are you fck$ing retarded? My father is 58, I am 23, he attended woodstock when he was 16. STFU and GTFO.

      June 1, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  2. Mike

    I really wish we would make divorce illegal. Seeing as how two men cannot marry because marriage is so sacred...why is it so easy to get a divorce?

    May 31, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      Excellent point.

      May 31, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • mark273

      Divorce is harmful to all involved, especially the kids. But making it illegal won't solve the problem. People thought outlawing alcohol would stop alcohol abuse, but it didn't. Not only did it not curb alcohol abuse, it spawned a whole range of other problems.

      May 31, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Clark Nova

      Divorce is more difficult than marriage because a married woman is property in our system and someone needs to make a profit on the transaction.

      May 31, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Jesus

      I think that marriage ought to be VERY difficult to enter into. That would cut down on divorces.

      May 31, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  3. The Bobinator

    The author fails to factor in that maybe it's more socially acceptable to admit that you're a virgin. That is to say, people in the earlier study might have lied.

    Furthermore, are these questionaires mail in or are they asked by someone? College males would probably find it difficult to admit they're a virgin to a female question taker.

    Also, how many people were questioned?

    So much important information left out of the article. Sad.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      I agree. Furthermore, there are many claiming to be virgins who regularly engage in oral s-ex with multiple partners, but because it isn't "offically" intercourse, they think they're not lying.

      May 31, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Lettuce Oh my, do I ever have an anecdote to back up the prevalence of the "it's not s-ex if it's not intercourse" silliness, but ... I think I'll just keep it to myself. But yes, different people can be saying VERY different things when they report not having s-ex.

      May 31, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Brian

      What world did you grow up?
      Nobody I know, even when they were virgins, ever admitted they were.

      May 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  4. Deist

    The Baby Boomers tried this free love thing in the 60's. Gee, I wonder how well that worked out for them?

    May 31, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • John Richardson

      The Boomers, on average, made out phenomenally well, actually.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Deist

      John R.,

      What source are you basing that on?

      Here are my sources:

      Why Are So Many Baby Boomers Divorced?
      "Senior Moment:" From "I Do," to "I Won't," Baby Boom Generation Makes up Majority of all Divorced People in America By Richard Schlesinger [NEW YORK, Dec. 14, 2010]

      Divorce – Divorce Rates And Demographics
      “It is projected that approximately one-half of the first marriages of the baby boom generation will end in divorce but that the rate will decline to 40 percent for the generations that followed the baby boomers. “

      Read more: Divorce – Divorce Rates And Demographics – Families, Children, Percent, People, Individuals, and Child http://social.jrank.org/pages/202/Divorce-Divorce-Rates-Demographics.html#ixzz1Nx1TuE6O

      May 31, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • John Richardson

      It's true that divorce rates peaked in the 80s and have since declined. But the rise began in the 60s and are still high. Furthermore, there is some reason to believe that some of the lowered divorce rate stems from young people more recently never bothering to marry their partners in the first place, as marriage rates have dropped fairly dramatically. Not a great article, but this touches on some of this: http://www.examiner.com/generation-x-in-national/the-divorce-rate-is-falling-does-gen-x-deserve-credit

      May 31, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • John Richardson

      But if you ask how things worked out for them in general, advertisers STILL aggressively pursue the Boomers. They made out well materially and, if I may wax anecdotal, the many, many Boomers I know have their troubles like everyone else, but they are not a group to pity. Indeed, they seem quite seriously resented. Why is that, if they are supposedly so hapless?

      May 31, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Oh, and I should add that I am NOT advocating for "free love" or any other aspect of the Boomer lifestyle. They did a lot of novel things, a whole lot of not so novel things, took more credit than they deserved for social progress in the 60s and 70s, took more blame than they deserved for social regress in the 60s and 70s, got some things very right, some things very wrong and, like all groups, especially very large groups like this demographic, often differ from each other more than any one might differ from certain people outside the group.

      May 31, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Clark Nova

      It worked out GREAT. I had more strange than you'd ever even be able to fantasize about. No STD's, no pregnancies, just a lot of happy people.

      May 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Jesus

      It was WONDERFUL!!! I loved it!!! Best time of my life!

      May 31, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  5. Brian

    Thanks for posting this. I am 33 years old and I worry about the environment my child will grow up in. You are right, our actions have consequences. You cannot undo sx with someone. I wish people would understand that.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Cygne Blanc

      "In the interest of full disclosure, my motivation here is my Christian faith."

      Why is it that (virtually every) religion is always obsessed with $ex? Moslems, Christians and Jews get horrified at the thought of a woman enjoying her body. I can't help think that, as with most "morality," it is all about control and perhaps more than a little jealosy.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  6. Bender

    how do you know when a woman has an 0rgasm?
    who cares

    May 31, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • JustWondering

      She drops her nail file? 🙂

      May 31, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Bender


      May 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  7. Vic of New York

    ... and the point is?

    May 31, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  8. Ken

    Actually, if you wanted to make the photo more realistic, you'd add tatoos, nose rings and lip rings to the girls.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      Why just the girls? That's the dumbest comment on this thread. Double standard much?

      May 31, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Howie

      Now you're turning me on.

      June 2, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  9. civiloutside

    Se-x is a pretty complicated thing, and has a lot of different effects on people's lives. I think people start getting into trouble whenever they start trying to reduce it to being only one thing. The "it's only for procreation" crowd is just as wrong as the "it's only for physical pleasure" crowd.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Sublime

      I agree, but I don't personally know anybody who believes it is only for procreation. Even Christians don't believe that.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • civiloutside

      I'm not personally acquainted with such people either, but that's because I choose to move in different circles not because they don't exist. Very often you will see people (often on this blog) arguing this or that se-xual behavior thy otherwise causes no observable harm is "wrong" or "immoral" because "the purpose of se-x is procreation."

      May 31, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  10. Ira

    I'm deeply offended by the sentiment expressed in this article. You're saying that we are slaves to our brain chemistry, and that no amount of intellectual examination will allow us to act contrariwise.

    No, I reject that. Our capacity for rational thought it the thing that makes us special. That's the reason why have laws against killing people, but we happily slaughter animals for food. Because we're better than them, and rational thought is why. But you're saying that we don't – not just that we don't, but that we can't – have rational control of our own minds, and that's something I cannot accept.

    If you want to be a monkey, be a monkey. But don't drag me down with you.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Nonimus

      I don't think anyone is saying that "we are slaves to our brain chemistry," but acknowledging and understanding the chemical interactions in our bodies and how it affects us is part of that "rational control."

      Not sure what the monkey reference is for, no one brought up monkeys.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • John

      No, the author's point is that we are not independent from our brain chemistry. It will affect (but not determine) what we do.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  11. Jessica Alba

    Take me now....god yes please

    May 31, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Clark Nova

      "...I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. "

      May 31, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  12. palintwit

    Americans need to look to the Palin family when they need sound advice regarding s*e*x.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • goblue

      you have to be joking.

      June 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Jazzy

      I agree. It's funny how people who seem to be the most concerned about the intimate relationships of others are the ones who have the most hypocritical lives.

      June 1, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  13. YYZ

    Id like some strange now that Im all h0rny please

    May 31, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  14. Jake

    the bible is fiction. so is this article.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Uh Huh

      Keep trying to convince yourself.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • MarylandBill

      Yes, which is why only 45% of children will reach adulthood in a house where both of their parents are still living? We live in a culture that worships self and hate any suggestion that we should embrace responsibility.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Jesus

      Jake is correct! The bible is fiction. Just read about the First Council of Nicea and how 300 guys got together and VOTED on what to put in and leave out of YOUR bible.

      May 31, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Phillip

      Yeah Jesus- read about that. But don't forget the pre-nicean canons either. Start with the letter of Clement of Rome, AD 96. Just read through it and see which books HE quotes from. It will be hard work-much harder than watching the HIstory Channel, but if you will do the work, you will debunk the myth of an all-powerful and whimsical Nicean Council. Check out the Muratorian Canon and the response to Marcion in 150AD; read the letters of Athanasius, and by all means- check the estimated dates of the books that were excluded! Maybe there were reasons other than arbitrary ones for their exclusion- nah... it's all a conspiracy to control the masses!

      June 1, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  15. DAVID

    I couldn't belive American Education like this and can this Education help young people grow up for good life.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  16. tallulah13

    I agree that it would be nice if college age kids would spend more time on studying than s-ex, but I don't see it happening, unless they're paying for college themselves. Between full time classes, homework and an almost full time job, I barely had time to think naughty thoughts, much less "hook up" with random strangers. And this was back when college was affordable.

    But on the topic at hand: I checked out her source material: she quoted the CDC, which I believe is neutral, then a couple of conservative groups, which casts a shadow of bias on her science. I wish she had used neutral sources, or at least cited one neutral study. It would make her premise more defensible.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Heather

      This stuff I read here has been presented on the Discovery Channel a number of times. I've seen these studies presented in the Health tab of this site. The science is there. The downside is that people don't want to look at it because they associate the science of it with the religious teachings they are trying to ignore and anything that religion says must be inherently wrong. The old cutting off your nose to spite your face thing.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Would it have killed her to cite a neutral source? I wouldn't trust an article written from an opposite point of view, either. Is it wrong to have doubts about an article written from a personal bias, citing information from biased source? People of all persuasions read these articles. If she wished to be taken seriously, the first thing she should have done was remove all hint of personal agenda.

      May 31, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • D-Bo

      I implore you to find a article anywhere that doesn't have self-interest in it. There is no such thing as neutral. You have one worldview, and someone else has another. And then you take the "facts" and you try and make sense of them in correlation to your worldview. So instead of complaining that it isn't "neutral" enough for you, just say you disagree. Tah-tah.

      May 31, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Perhaps you didn't understand: I don't necessarily disagree with her as-sertation, I simply don't find her source material to be valid. It has a taint of bias. If she had provided links to independent studies that back her claim, I would find this worth considering. However, given the bias of her sources, I don't feel that she did due diligence to the process. She got the information she wanted and appeared to go no further. It doesn't matter if I agree with the premise or not. I can't consider the proof of her claim to be valid. She is failing herself by not doing the job right.

      But hey, if you just want to believe everything anyone tells you, you go on right ahead. Meanwhile, I can post my opinion on this topic, as I see fit. Thank goodness for public opinion forums.

      May 31, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  17. brad

    THe same culture that promotes s*e*x-without-commitment, and copulating like alley cats, will laugh at the old polygamous Mormons who demonstrated quite a lot of commitment. The "think for yourself" culture seems to think mostly out of its pants.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • John Richardson

      It wasn't the "s-e-x- w/o commitment people" who banned polygamy. It was pro-monogamists, by which I mean people who preached monogamy, regardless of whether they actually practiced it. There's a lot of se-x-ual hypocrisy in the pro-monogamist community, eh?

      May 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  18. myweightinwords

    The problem with all of that is, we are not all the same, and we each approach love and relationships differently. Some of us are monogamous by nature. Some of us are not. Some of us are het-ero-se-xual. Some of us are ho-m0-se-xual. Some of us are bi-se-xual.

    I was a virgin until I was 28. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't wait as long. I am all for personal responsibility in se-xual encounters (meaning the use of birth control and cond-oms), but have no problems with casual se-xual relationships.

    I have yet to get "addicted" to anyone I've had int-er-course with...and I'm still friends with all but one of them.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Exactly. The one unambiguous positive of the abstinence movement is that it offers some cover to those who might feel social pressure to engage in behaviors that they honestly would prefer not to. But it's hardly a cure all of equal value to everybody.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Sublime

      I believe the point of her article, aside from abstinance, is to use research to support what you're saying. However, thus far the only people who disagree with her are people who say "yeah, but I don't feel that way so you're wrong". If this were reversed, and you were cuting facts while a Christian was telling you about their faith, they would be anihilated (seen this happen all too often). However, no one is bothering to cite research here. Why is that?

      May 31, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • myweightinwords


      My point is that all the research in the world does not account for everyone. There are anomalies and there are variations. And, a lot of research is skewed by the fact that we, as a society, don't really recognize that there are alternatives beyond the accepted "norms" of monogamy and "scre-wing around".

      Most research that I've seen does not account for the a-se-xuals among us, or for polyamory. Most people do not realize that those are even valid options. Our society is blinded by traditional relationships, whether or not they work.

      Judging solely on the divorce rate, they don't.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • myweightinwords


      And I might also mention that my reply had nothing to do with religion or whether or not she is wrong or right based on that, or even whether or not she used research sources with which I agree or disagree.

      I'm a firm believer in personal responsibility and personal choice when it comes to se-xuality. If your faith tells you that you should stay virginal until you marry, I support your right to do so. If your faith tells you to pro-create like rabbits, I support your right to do so (provided you can support the offspring of said pro-creation–responsibility). If your faith calls for you to be celibate, I support your right to do so.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Sublime


      Agreed that you are referring to statistical anomolies and that generalizations should be avoided. However, isn't that a similar arguement to driving 75 m.p.h. in a 55 m.p.h. zone? Research says you're more likely to get in an accident, but that doesn't mean you will. Does that mean it's okay to go that fast because you're the exception? So is it okay to play with odds? Maybe the odds are indicative to something?

      The point of her contention, is that biological research says it creates dependancy. Whether or not you realize dependency is created is probably a by-product of how you're mentally rationalizing the situation. But just because you're okay with it does not mean only people okay with it will be engaging in this. Her point is it's damaging (generally speaking). Until you can find the gene that makes some people okay with it, I don't see how the 'individual preference' arguement applies here.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Sublime: These discussions don't occur in a vacuum. the abstinence movement has, among other things, pushed for abstinence to be deemed the ONLY acceptable form of birth and STD control. When you have a history of trying to impose on others with a "my way or the highway" mentality, then it is perfectly acceptable, even imperative, to point out that very different practices have served individuals and society well.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • myweightinwords


      I don't think you can compare this to something like the speed limit. We're talking about a very complex part of a very complex being, not whether or not the general public is safer at 5mph than at 75mph (which is arguable as well, considering...but no where near as complex nor as loaded a discussion)

      Her contention may be that some research indicates dependency. My contention is that in my experience that isn't true for me, therefore I find that I tend to discredit that research and would need more information and further "proof" to believe the validity of the research.

      In fact, I could argue that the dependency does not in fact come from some chemical reaction, but from our own learned behavior and expectations, that even when we rationally attempt to exempt ourselves from, are still a deep down part of our psychological make up causing us to react in ways that seem contrary to our logically thought out plan.

      May 31, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "The study, done by sociologists Kara Joyner of Cornell University and J. Richard Udry of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, found that romantically involved adolescents showed a bigger increase in depression levels, or a smaller decrease, than uninvolved teens." (http://www.siue.edu/ALESTLE/library/SPRING2001/apr12/correlation.html)

      Maybe, it's just the relationship, not the se.x, and there is more likelihood that older teens have had relationships and/or se.x. In addition one study linked to in the article states that an answer of "has had se.x" was used to determine "se.xually active," which may or may not be an accurate indicator of current or amount of se.xual activity, but would correlate highly with having been in a relationship.

      May 31, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Sublime


      The study she is referencing was not done by those individuals, but thanks for posting that link nonetheless.


      The speed limit analogy was not a direct comparison but an exaggeration to prove a point (it's used in forensics).

      My contention is you probably don't know what's best for you. Everyone thinks they know the best solutions and how to take care of themselves, but that doesn't mean we do. We're basing it on our understanding and rationalization. I was diagnozed with mild PTSD. Guess what? I didn't think a darn thing was wrong with me. In fact, I thought I was perfectly fine as I had been all my life. This usually makes people fly off the handle, "well of course I know what's best for me, don't tell me what's best for me", but I don't mean it that way. I just used an example about how I don't even know what's best for me. So using yourself as an example doesn't necessarily mean no damage is being done.

      May 31, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • myweightinwords


      While I would agree that there are many people who do not know themselves, and do not know the damage they do to themselves, I have spent a long time exploring what is good for me and what is not. For example, I know monogamy is not good for me. How do I know this? Because I have taken the time to explore what monogamy means and whether or not it suits my personality, my needs, my se-xuality, my desires for me life, etc. I know that enforcing monogamy on me would lead to misery, depression and probably cheating, divorce, more misery, more depression, etc.

      Add to that the fact that I am bi-se-xual and have no desire to choose between a male partner or a female partner and the nature of my life at the present time and my choices in relationships are well thought out and rational.

      Not saying that everyone is that way. In fact, that's rather my point. We are all of us individuals who can only make those choices for ourselves.

      May 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Someone Else

      Correct, it was a different study. I was positing an alternative correlation to the casual se.x = depression presented by the author and provided a study that at least superficially supports my alternative, adolescent relationships = depression.

      May 31, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  19. HeavenSent

    Heaven sent us STD`s, and all manner of other diseases. God must be quite the azzhole.


    May 31, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  20. John Richardson

    And no one's heart has ever been broken in marriage. Right.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Sublime

      That arguement isn't in opposition to what she's saying. However, if you were to argue on the same level, you could provide research that indicates marriage produces the same increase in depression and suicide. If you can't, then you're disagreeing with her based on your opinion.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • John Richardson

      You can start here: http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm

      Note the part about conservative christians having higher divorce rates than people of other faiths and MUCH HIGHER than atheists and agnostics.

      Google divorce and depression and depression in marriage, etc. People are always pushing for simple answers. They seldom exist and believing in them ardently only to find out later that they are false is to set oneself up for a huge let down.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Sublime

      Hah, just did a pretty comprehensive canvass, thanks for the link btw, that helped narrow it down a bit. This "vast difference" you're citing, depending on which survey you're referencing, is about 4% with a +/- 4% margin of error. Needless to say, not statistically significant (you can actually look that up as well if you like). However, allow me to illustrate why I said your divorce arguement was off-tangent:

      1) Ask any Christian, no one says they are perfect. "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven" is often cited. I don't think anywhere in the author's arguement does she state Christians have no problem with marriage.

      2) I believe she does say it's biologically not natural to have multiple partners. Our high divorce rate (to include atheist/agnostics) is far above the global norm. So to cite religious dividing lines that aren't statistically significant doesn't explain the greater issue. The U.S. sucks at marriage.

      3) I know a lot of Christians that aren't virgins. I'm pretty sure the author doesn't give them a freebee and say they are exempt from this statistic because they are Christians. She is saying that people (not just Christians) are in this day and age supposed to be monogamous. Therefore, once again, saying divorce rates are higher among Christians doesn't answer this issue either as her contention is that people as a whole aren't supposed to do something (biological) not that Christians always do the right thing (religious).

      4) Multiple studies have now indicated individuals who have cohabitated prior to marriage are far more likely to get divorced (you can google this, I appologize but I can't cite it off hand as I've read it in two published journals now I don't have on hand). This is also inconsistent with what you're saying.

      Bottom line, your arguement, at best, doesn't answer hers as you're arguing religion while she's arguing biology (she just happened to mention she believes this according to her faith which probably made you lock on to religion).

      May 31, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • John Richardson

      The fact remains that if you are going to advertise your way as the proven path to happiness, it's pretty lame when the very people who supposedly agree with your thesis and for the same largely theological reasons come out with a HIGHER divorce rate. A little humility is in order in the face of such facts, not the triumphalism of the author.

      May 31, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Sublime


      I feel like I'm not getting through so I'll be a little more concise. Christians are not perfect. No group on Earth is perfect. It is not shocking that we have a high divorce rate, but that is not because we are Christians (hence the "correlation does not prove causation").

      You're basing your standard off society, hence the summary of your contention: "Christians aren't perfect and they shouldn't talk about relationships because they don't have a good track record.

      Christians base their arguements off supernatural standards: "Christians aren't perfect but our goal is to be Christ-like".

      May 31, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.