Your Brain on Sex

This is a guest blog by Aubrey

If you’re having sex, you should know what it does to your brain!

Did you know that when you have sex, your body makes a promise to your partner even if you don’t? Even in the most casual consumer relationship, what God designed to happen during sex still happens. How is sex a sin against our body? For the next few paragraphs, we’re going to talk directly from a Social Science approach, and we’ll circle back to the scriptural truth at the end. So buckle up!

We want to share three myths about sexuality with you today.

Myth #1: You can hook up without commitment.

When we talk about romance, it’s typically all about your heart. But did you know that your brain is the HQ of your sexual and romantic desire? NOT your heart! That’s not quite so romantic, but it’s true! When you have sex, a cocktail of chemicals is released in your brain, and this is why things like casual sex or “friends with benefits” aren’t really possible. One of the chemicals released during sexual activity is dopamine, a chemical that helps your brain realize when something feels good. It says to your brain “Wow! That was nice! Let’s do it more so we can feel that again!” This can happen when you go on a run, or it could happen when you take crystal meth. Dopamine doesn’t discriminate against pleasure. If it feels good, it wants more. When it comes to sex, it doesn’t matter if it is with your husband/wife, or if you hooked up with a random guy/girl on Tinder. This dopamine rush can create an addiction to your partner that isn’t easy to recover from.

The other important chemical released is oxytocin. Oxytocin has a sweeter purpose. It bonds you to your partner. It says “you belong, you’re not alone.” The first time you experience oxytocin is when you’re newly born and nursing from your mother. It’s created by skin-to-skin connection, (which happens during sex, in case you didn’t know). If you’re interested in learning more about oxytocin, check out this book. These chemical impacts cannot be overridden. No matter what kind of sex you’re having, you’re going to be impacted by these chemicals. Hook up, honeymoon, masturbation, etc…

So what’s the impact? Well, we find that casual sex isn’t so casual. Your body makes a promise whether you do or not.

Myth #2: You can have great sex without being in love.

Our society has begun to pride itself on being “sex-positive” and encourage people to think and talk positively about sex. Within marriage, this is great! But outside the confines of a committed relationship, your sex life isn’t going to be that “positive”. We see in a study by Penn State University that men feel better about themselves after their first sexual encounter. However, women often feel much worse. They had a significant decline in body image and self-esteem. This is surprising, due to all that dopamine and oxytocin we just talked about! But However, groundbreaking research at the University of California found that woman who aren’t in the context of commitment didn’t produce oxytocin in the same magnificent way that those in lifetime mutually monogamous relationships do. Women who weren’t committed to their partner didn’t create the same amount of oxytocin as they do in committed relationships, so it confuses their body. Their brain gets the addiction and the desire for emotional connection, but it isn’t quite satisfying.

This is why the Bible uses the word Yada for sex. Yada means “To know, to be known, to be deeply respected.” We’ve talked about that word a lot here at Pure Freedom, and that’s because we think it’s one of the keys to understanding truly great sex.

Myth #3: Sexual pleasure is greatest when you’re young and hot!

If you asked anyone who is having the best sex, most people would guess it’s college students. After all, once you’re old and married, the fun is over. Right?? (If you read the myth, you know we’re about to tell you that’s not right). In fact, a University of Illinois study shows that people in their middle-aged/married years reported having a better sex life, especially women. We also see that the higher the number of sexual partners, the lower the amount of sexual satisfaction. Those who wait to have sex in committed, monogamous relationships report to having the highest amount of sexual satisfaction.

The apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” A sin against your own body. Wow. Paul might not have understood dopamine or oxytocin or any of the other scientific things we understand now, but he could see the impact.

Sexual sin can be very hurtful, but if that’s something you’re dealing with, there is good news. God loves to enter the messiest part of our lives and USE that. Where we are weakest, He becomes strong. Whether you’re struggling with being sexually active, having same-sex attraction, masturbation, self-harm, or anything else… He wants to use that to have an impact on others.

 

This is an excerpt from one of the sessions of the Pure Freedom’s Master Class. The Master Class is not just a conference, workshop, or set of educational opportunities but an organic networking experience for leaders interested in learning more about sexual theology and sexual healing. Join Dannah and Bob as they seek to accelerate the sexual theology, teaching, coaching and healing capabilities of leaders through collaboration and education.

It provides mentoring to a limited number of approved applicants who desire to collaborate with others to: Increase a biblical understanding of sexuality, gender, and related issues such as birth control, abortion, masculinity, and womanhood. Increase the capacity of the body of Christ to culminate healing in those broken by sexual sin. Interface with unbiblical views of sexuality by presenting truth with convictional kindness.

Learn more at purefreedom.org/masterclass

This content was also taken from a TEDx Talk Dannah Gresh gave at Penn State University. If you would like to see the whole talk, you can find it HERE. 

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