Your Take: Rethinking the hookup culture
June 1st, 2011
01:02 PM ET

Your Take: Rethinking the hookup culture

On Tuesday we featured a guest My Take from Christian author Dannah Gresh: There’s nothing brief about a hookup.

Gresh encourages young people to abstain from sex because of her religious values but also presented a neuroscientific case against casual sex:

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.

There was plenty of discussion about the post, which has fetched more than 600 comments so far. Here's a sampling:

Dannah, thank you for posting this. This is the kind of stuff that needs to be discussed by Christians and non-Christians alike because it is true regardless of your religion.

I think she really overreaches with her conclusions, and it's her faith that leads her to do it. The idea that you will have difficulty forming a bond with your eventual life partner because you are actively addicted to a number of previous partners at the same time is utterly ridiculous. I had about 10-12 partners before I met my wife and we have been happily married for 21 years. I have fond memories of my life before I met my wife and wouldn't change anything (except for a few mistakes on my part). My wife and I have had no problem "bonding" emotionally or otherwise.

Excellent article. The more we look the more we find that science and actual life experience reinforces the plan that God set in motion.

I appreciate the author's honest "full disclosure" and while I'm sure that causes the article to be biased, I do not feel that it discredits it.

This is a your mileage may vary thing, from my experience and observation.

I'm at the point where I'm not looking for random hookups, but I do love each of my partners. Yes, partners.

I can't be with each one all the time, based on our different life situations. But I do want to talk each one of them, chat with each one of them about their day, their hobbies, political views, etc. I want to hold hands with each one of them, spend quiet time with each, and be with each one whenever it's possible. And they want the same things with me.

I also know people for whom there is "the one" that they've found and they're happy.

So what do you do when it's too late to be abstinent?? I agree that some people are able to have random hookups and not feel attached, I know many people that have. I am not one of those people. I have had some random hook ups too but I always felt guilty or just regretted it after, either because I was hoping it would lead to at least dating for a while or just because I wish I hadn't done it to begin with. What are people like me supposed to do now that it's too late???

I don't see anything wrong with two consenting people engaging in some fun with "no strings attached". Unfortunately, most college kids are woefully unprepared for what the college environment is like. We don't prepare them for the level of freedom and indulgence they experience. I've had my own phase of random hookups and the sad reality is that someone always ends up getting hurt, either me or my partner. I wish I could communicate to younger people that ultimately, it really isn't worth the heartache.

Thanks for the comments. Feel free to keep the conversation going here or in the original post.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Faith & Health • Sex • Teens • Trends • United States

soundoff (149 Responses)
  1. Del

    My Ex-wife had hundred's of previous hook ups and she wasn't able to bond with me because of it. She thought she was fine, but she was an emotional wreck. She left me for another guy and is back into the drug scene as a way to "deal" with her emotional baggage. Too bad, she has the potential to be a great person, but won't take the steps she needs to deal with her past...

    June 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Well, while I don't think I'd particularly want to be with someone who had never been with anybody (especially at this stage of my life!!!), I'm pretty sure I'd think twice about committing to someone who had been with HUNDREDS of previous people. That's a little "out there", no?

      June 1, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Of course, I have no details of her life, but perhaps the hookups were the symptom, not the problem. If she's returning to drugs as a crutch (not turning to them just now), it sounds like she has deeper issues that need to be addressed.

      June 2, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • Peace2All


      Hey -Del...

      I think I'm with -tallulah13 here, in that I'm not so sure that her(x-wife) being with 'hundreds' of people was 'causal' but, more likely to be an 'acting out' or a 'symptom' of far deeper unresolved issues.


      June 2, 2011 at 1:37 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      Del, sorry I missed your post earlier....What you wrote is a sobering reality for many people, but many will tuck it in deep within themselves, and refuse to deal with it, thinking that if they leave it alone, it'll go away...
      People just don't know what playing with things which are supposed to be sacred in our lives and taking them lightly, causes and where it leads to.
      Every time one desecrates his or her body (same for man and woman) and cheapens it by using it to gratify it's car-nal drives(lusts), something within this person dies. That' s why their view of what love is becomes warped, and their relationships are built on "sinking sand".... because they have lost the capability to really love someone.
      But even if they find someone thy really could love, their relationship is so polluted, that they can't normally function, and sustain that relationship.
      That is what our God-less culture has created. It is only a reflection of the condition our society is in. And so many have fallen prey to those out there who make merchandise out of them, and mercilessly use them to push their agendas, and to make gain even at the cost of degrading of others str-ipping them from their dignity!
      I'm sorry for the loss both of you suffered... But there is a Way of hope and healing. One just needs to seek it with the humble and contrite heart. God is near to those kind of people .
      I hope the best for your ex-wife and you in your new life...

      June 5, 2011 at 1:10 am |
  2. Joe

    At least they changed the stupid picture on this post!

    June 1, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  3. supastar

    I'd like to hook up with the chick in the banner pic. COME TO PAPA

    June 1, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  4. K.C.

    I worry very much about the STD epidemic we are facing. People worry about HIV, but they must also realize the prevalence of genital warts and genital herpes "out there". Casual hook ups are dangerous for both men and women!

    June 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • tallulah13

      That is a MUCH more valid point than the one the author tried to make about emotions. You can get over a broken heart. STDs are a little more tricky.

      June 1, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • geobrandi

      So true! and college campuses have a higher STD rate than the general polutation!

      June 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Reality

      Added information for discusssion:

      The dangers of casual/hookup s-ex or non-casual se-x/marriage if you do not practice safe s-ex: PREGNANCIES/ ABORTIONS AND/OR ST-Ds

      For those who partake some statistics of epidemic proportions:

      from the CDC-2006

      "Se-xually transmitted diseases (S-TDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psychological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with S-TDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

      And from: http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/20/yes-o-ral-se-x-is-se-x-and-it-can-boost-cancer-risk/?npt=NP1

      "Yes, o-ral se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

      Here's a crucial message for teens: O-ral se-x carries many of the same risks as v-a-ginal s-ex, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of o-ral cancers in America in people under age 50.

      "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 'se-x.'"

      And this: "CON-TRACEPTIVE METHOD CHOICE (Guttmacher Insti-tute data)

      Cont-raceptive method use among U.S. women who practice con-traception, 2002

      Method........ No. of users (in 000s)........ % of users
      Pill ..................11,661 .................. 30.6
      Male condom ...6,841................... 18.0 "

      The pill fails to protect women 8.7% during the first year of use (

      i.e. 0.087 (failure rate)
      x 62 million (# child bearing women)
      x 0.62 ( % of these women using contraception )
      x 0.306 ( % of these using the pill) =

      1,020,000 unplanned pregnancies
      during the first year of pill use.

      (And the abortion rate in the US is? 1,000,000/year)

      For male condoms (failure rate of 17.4 and 18% use level)

      1,200,000 unplanned pregnancies during the first year of male condom use.

      The Gut-tmacher Inst-itute notes also that the perfect use of the pill should result in a 0.3% failure rate
      (35,000 unplanned pregnancies) and for the male condom, a 2% failure rate (138,000 unplanned pregnancies).

      o Conclusion: The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male con-dom have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or con-doms properly and/or use other safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion

      June 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  5. DoNOT ResearchThesePeople

    What do Michael Behe, Francis Collins, William Lane Craig, William Dembski, Antony Flew, John Lennox, Alistair McGrath, Alvin Plantinga, John Polkinghorn, Hugh Ross, and Richard Swinburne have in common?

    June 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • JoJo

      They are all intelligent scholars... who happen to be Christians. (Oh! Wait... Christians can't be smart!) Your bias against Christians only makes you look like a narrow-minded, insecure hypocrite. If you were intelegently virtuous you wouldn't mind reading even people you disagree with.

      June 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • alex delarge

      Jojo, real intelligent adults dont beleive in made up characters that taught us 2000 years ago that our private parts are dirty and self pleasure is some sort of sin.

      June 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • RichG


      June 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I will admit that Behe is the only one with whom I am familiar – but he was thoroughly and publically debunked in the courts.
      Kitzmiller vs. Dover School District, I believe.
      When he was presented with fiftyeight peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system, he simply insisted that this was still not sufficient evidence of evolution, and that it was not "good enough."

      Intelligent Design/Irreducible Complexity are rationalizations – NOT scientific theories.

      June 1, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Doc V.

      Hey -Doc...

      You da' man !


      June 2, 2011 at 1:39 am |
  6. Steve

    This article proves the adage that a little bit of knowledge is dangerous.
    To think that we understand the neurochemistry of emotion based on the little we know about dopamine and oxytocin, and then draw conclusions like this points out the huge problems with individuals using "scientific knowledge" to explain their bias.
    Our understanding is at best in its infancy.
    Articles like this should never be printed.

    June 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Sean

      Yet, so many "scientifists" are convinced that the universe began from the big bang, and all life on earth came from lightning hitting a rock making the first self replicating cell. WOW, our scientific community sure has all the answers dont they. Be careful what you put your faith in.

      June 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Steve

      This proves that there are some who are ignorant to knowledge.

      June 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Hortense and Her Enormous Cat

      Sean is a very stupid person.

      June 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • P

      The purpose of the article is not to educate. It is to get you to click on it so that they can prove that there are "x" number of click on the article, thereby enabling CNN to charge more for advertising revenue. The same goes for every article on every news site as well. Don't try to read any more into than that, and it will make perfect sense.

      June 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  7. tallulah13

    I don't understand why they post an article, then a few days later revisit the same topic by adding a "Your Take" to the ti-tle. We had our "Take". Is there a requisite comment count that has to be reached to fulfill contractual obligations when someone pays for an "opinion piece" that hypes their book?

    June 1, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Thank you... I also, hate when they do this.


      June 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  8. icedawg

    Mostly typical responses from people who view life simply "under the sun." Truly naive.

    June 1, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  9. greg watfres

    What's the diff? Been going on forever. Nothing different than cocaine fueled one night stands of the 80"s.

    June 1, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • dhondi

      70s, that was the 70s.

      June 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  10. loser

    im 35 and never kissed a girl. is that bad

    June 1, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • rodney pogue in carrolton texas

      I haven't either and I'm 41

      June 1, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      I'm a heteros.exual female and even I've kissed a girl. What are you guys waiting for?

      June 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • davidhoffman

      No. Women are too much trouble most of the time. They are mostly illogical in the choices they make in dating and relationships. Go out and enjoy your freedom. Leave work and head off for an overnight vacation spot when you feel like it. No need to check in with the irrational. Go buy the big screen TV because you do not need to pay for her third redecorating.

      June 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • davidhoffman

      LETTUCE PREY: The women will not even go out with us. Zero dates for entire life at 48. I got tired of asking. So I find other things to do. Most women see the world through the fantasy of romance novels, it seems to me. They want unrealistic imaginary men who only exist in the world of fiction.

      June 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Frogist

      @davidhoffman: You choose to denigrate women as illogical, irrational and fantasy-obsessed. Hmm no wonder you've never been on a date with one.

      June 2, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  11. Gracko

    Geez, don't over analyze this. We had our chance and either did well in college hooking up or didn't. Let the next generation deal with the fun and/or consequences of their actions. We have the rest of our lives to deal with any fallout.

    June 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  12. Blah blah blah how ridiculous

    Who cares if two adults (because college students are adults) have a night of fun and play? And if somebody gets hurt it's part of the learning experience. College students are not prepared for al ot of college life because they are sheltered, and sheltering them throughout college just means when they get out into the "real world" it's going to be a mess!

    June 1, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  13. kmo303

    without college hookups how is anyone supposed to get practice? would you really want the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with think you're horrible in bed? it's the accepted norm now, and this article is pretty stupid...

    June 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • JC

      WOW! Just wow! Honestly, if the person that I spent the rest of my life with thought I was bad in bed, good riddance! Being good in bed should be low on the list of what you want from your life partner. Your comment reeks of everything that is morally corrupt in this society! Just saying...

      June 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • kmo303

      you're right, being good in bed isn't too high on the list of what i look for in a life partner. 1) cleaning 2) cooking 3) doing my laundry 4) being good in bed

      June 1, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  14. Joseph

    College is a place for learning, about life, scholastic and most importantly ones self. What better way to do that than by learning about what you want for yourself and from your future partner. I am not saying kids are being not being selfish to learn this, but to think about what ones self wants is the key to knowing who one is, right? How many unhappy marriages are in this country because they settle before they know what they actually wanted in the first place? Heartache is part of finding out who you are. Most kids are going to have to touch fire before they know what hot is and they learn quick once they do. You don't love if you don't open yourself up to getting hurt. That being said college kids are woefully unprepared for it and pretty much that's life, this has very little to do with a religion other than that religion creates some of the time cultural borders in my opinion.

    June 1, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  15. T3chsupport

    Random hookups aren't about s3x. They're about attention, and feeling like someone cares enough or likes you enough to want to touch you. If it was only about fulfilling a physical need, there's plenty of that to be had by one's self, without making yourself some unappreciative d**kwad's diseased play toy.

    June 1, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Brian

      No....it's about the s......ex

      June 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  16. Jake

    What's all this talk about a "hookup culture"? As a computer science major, I haven't hooked up with anyone in college. I don't get it.

    June 1, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • J

      probably because your a CS major

      June 1, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Osama

      LOL! I hear ya man, I studied electronics engineering, and there was one girl in the class...but she could barely speak english and her husband was in India...hey, at least we're disease free! (Thank God!)

      June 1, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • T3chsupport

      Everyone is going USB, plugging into everything with a port...

      June 1, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Osama

      lol, come on baby, light my fire-wire!

      June 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • dhondi

      nothing wrong with hooking up with the occasional SCSI

      June 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  17. Jangocat

    The college hook up culture is news? Welcome to the 1960's, your only about 45 years behind social norms now...

    June 1, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  18. Joe

    I like how you say all scientific technology is bad while sitting at your computer on the internet. If it's all bad, then why are you using it?

    June 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      No one has ever accused Adelina of having a coherent thought. Don't expect one now. 🙂

      June 1, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  19. Benny

    Faith, God, Us, Plan, We, Mission

    None of these words belong together. Stop mixing reality and fairy tales, if you're still fooled by religious teachings, stories or wives' tales, you don't belong in the 21st century.

    June 1, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Osama

      "We're all gonna die, for our own arrogance, thats why we might as well take our time..." Sublime

      chill man, God & Jesus love you too!

      June 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      That's a Bad Religion song, covered by Sublime (and BioHazard, and a dozen others)
      Bad Religion's lead singer, Dr. Greg Graffin, is a professor of evolutionary biology at Cornell

      June 1, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  20. JohnR

    God forbid should they include the posts by neuro-scientists disputing her "scientific" case ...

    June 1, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Joe

      Most people of faith will only care about the science which supports their point of view. Everything else takes a back seat to their faith. I'm less than surprised.

      June 1, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Adelina

      Joe, that's because nowadays scientific technology is destroying the planet but none can do anything against it.

      June 1, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Joe

      (reposting this, because CNN's forum is lame).

      I like how you say all scientific technology is bad while sitting at your computer on the internet. If it's all bad, then why are you using it?

      June 1, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Any day now the Hadron collider will generate a black hole that will destroy the universe! Duck and cover!
      For a Luddite, you seem quite comfortable with technology. And anyways, doesn't the Bible state rather explicitly that the planet is ours to with as we see fit? Dominion over all the lands, plants, animals etc.

      June 1, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • civiloutside

      Umm... You're aware that "technology" is a collection of man-made tools, not some dark beast with independent motivations and activities, right? And as it only does what *we* use it to do, there most certainly is something *we* can do about whether it gets used to destroy the planet.

      June 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • No One Is Safe

      @civiloutside: adelina is corrupt and broken on the *inside*, so your comments, while absolutely correct, are pretty much useless; what's that expression about never trying to teach a pig to sing? 😉

      June 3, 2011 at 11:14 am |
1 2 3
About this blog

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.