On Hookup Culture and the Christian Church
When you look back through time, religion (mostly Christianity in the Western world) has been the dominant power when it comes to deciding what is acceptable and what is not. Only (relatively) recently has society started moving away from the prevalent religion’s view of the world.
For instance, look at the United States and the Christian church. Before the sex revolution in the 20th century, young Christians would never really think about hooking up. Young women would be scorned if they entered the marriage deflowered. Many young people, in general, viewed sexual encounters outside of a committed relationship as a sexual sin.
But today, even among religious people, we view sex differently. These days, especially among younger men and women, hookup culture is dominant. According to some surveys, over 80% of young Christians had sex before marriage.
On the other hand, 76% of evangelicals see premarital sexual acts as something immoral. Also, many religious people are against homosexuality, calling it a sin or an illness. But the secular society at large, seemingly, has moved away from such views.
So, who’s in the wrong here? Is hookup culture bad? What’s the view of religion on hookup culture? Let’s take a look.
What Is Hookup Culture?
So, what is hookup culture, actually? By definition, it’s a society or culture that accepts or encourages sexual encounters between two individuals who are not in a committed, romantic relationship. Basically, it’s whenever you have sex with someone for the sake of it, with “no strings attached.” If you’re sitting there wondering why someone would do it, we have a counter-question for you: Why wouldn’t you? Let’s face it — sex feels good!
The hookup culture became a thing roughly around the 1920s. Before that, if a guy was into a girl, he would have to go to her home and court her. One parent (or both) would be present to make sure nothing that the Bible didn’t prescribe would happen.
Going into a relationship back then was more of a family affair than your personal one. That changed in the 1920s. Many say the main reason for that was the popularization of cars and movie theaters. As a guy, you could take a girl out for a movie and spend some time alone without her father staring you down a gun barrel. You could watch some goofy black-and-white movie, visit an empty parking lot on the way back, and there’s your 21st century!
Then, the 1960s came, and so did everyone else. The sex revolution peaked with the rise of feminism and sexual liberty. People started realizing that one shouldn’t have to take a vow before God to experience physical pleasures.
Today, hookup culture is the culture, especially among college students. Over 80% of those interviewed at college campuses have had hookups.
What the Christian Church Thinks About It
What does the church have to say about it? As you might have expected, they’re not too keen on it. Guy Chmieleski, a university minister in Nashville, TN, claims hookup culture is detrimental to the way young people’s view on sex and love. The society is putting pressure on college and high school students to participate in sex, especially males. What do women think about hookup culture?
The general idea is that “everyone’s doing it, and so should you,” if you want to feel accepted. There’s also pressure on young women that they have to participate in a sexual act in order to prove their love for their partner. So, even inside a relationship, there’s a stigma that we should frown upon “not giving it up.”
The church essentially believes we should live our lives trying to be more like Jesus Christ. Meaningless sex makes us focus more on our physical desires. According to Chmieleski, hookup culture destroys the sanctity of marriage in love, taking something pure and special away from it.
Hooking up, Romance, and Dating
“Forget about him/her — he/she’s just looking to bang and leave!” How many times have you heard this or something similar? While many perceive the church to have a holier-than-thou view on many things, maybe they’re not that wrong after all.
Hooking up has freed up sex from being taboo. While it’s maybe too forceful to say that everybody should be doing it, it’s definitely okay that those who are doing it are doing it. It has allowed likeminded people to meet up, indulge their bodies, and say goodbye without getting emotional about it. This made sex more accessible.
But, what if you’re not looking for a hookup and believe you should do it only with a loved one? What are the effects of hooking up on dating and romance? That’s where hookups can make things more difficult.
Due to the fact that hookups are so prevalent, it often so happens that people go into it with different ideas of what’s going to happen afterward. For instance, let’s say you’re looking for a romantic relationship. You might feel let down, tricked, and hurt once the other party doesn’t call you back. It can lead to confusion about whether or not you are partners or you just have frequent sex.
The Good and the Bad of Hookup Culture
With pretty much anything in life, there’s a good and a bad side to our hookup culture. If you’ve been a part of a number of hookups, you’ve certainly experienced something called “hookup regret.” In fact, out of 200 surveyed undergraduates in Canada, 78% of women and 72% of men felt regret after a hookup.
In fact, most college students have had negative feelings the day after. They’ve felt a loss of respect towards themselves, embarrassment, and other emotional difficulties. Among women (much more than men), there’s also a feeling of regret because “they felt used.” The negative impact of a regretful hookup is more present with women. Another issue with hooking up is that it’s easier now than ever to contract an STD.
But, let’s not end it on a sad note. While hookup regret is a thing, it’s not as frequent as it may sound. The vast majority of times, students have reported a positive feeling after the night of hooking up. If they enjoyed the activity, students would feel better about themselves. It would increase their confidence, and they would generally be in a better mood.