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FIRST-PERSON: There are no benefits to ‘friends with benefits’

ATLANTA (BP) — “Ahhh …” I sighed in anticipation, sinking down into the overstuffed reading chair in a tucked-away corner of Barnes & Noble. Coffee in one hand, book in the other, I was mere seconds away from two hours of pure book store bliss. Then it happened.

Two tiny, over-caffeinated teenagers plopped down in the chair behind me, flipping through gossip magazines and loudly discussing their tumultuous 14-year-old love lives.

“I can’t WAIT to be in love! It’s going to be amazing!”

“Me either!”

The bubbly brunette exclaimed, “I think it’s going to happen this summer. Justin is the one — my first love.”

“How can you be sure?” asked her friend.

“I can just tell,” she announced, with all the confidence of ignorant youth. “I’m just not sure how to get him to notice me.”

The girls paused to slurp their iced coffee drinks and ponder this dilemma.

“I think you should just offer him sex,” the blond counseled her friend. “Tell him it’s friends with benefits — that always works on TV.”

Her friend laughed, “Ha ha, yeah, friends with benefits….. Until he falls for me!”

I was speechless, completely paralyzed with shock. Is this what society is reduced too? When did little girls stop dreaming of marriage and start planning for friends with benefits, manufactured relationships and finding someone to move in with?

Friends with benefits is defined by The Urban Dictionary as “A safe relationship that mimics a real partnership but is void of the emotions that come with a serious relationship.” Movies like “No Strings Attached” and “Friends with Benefits” are a reflection of a shift in the socially acceptable norms for relationships, or rather un-relational-ships.

“Emma wants a relationship without the relationship. She just wants the sex,” actress Natalie Portman said of her role in No Strings Attached. A relationship without the relationship? Male/female intimacy without love, respect, communication and commitment? Why is it that the very things feminists used to call abuse, prostitution or male dominance are now an acceptable norm because females are freely agreeing to it?

The feminist agenda did everything possible to obliterate the double standard for men and women regarding sex, employment, education and social expectations. But my generation and following ones who were bottle-fed the feminist agenda have taken sexual liberation to a whole new extreme. Feminist author Naomi Wolf agrees, commenting to the Washington Post that “The feminist message of autonomy got filtered through a pornographized culture. The message they heard was just go for it sexually…. They don’t see sex as sacred or even very important anymore. That’s been lost. Sex has been commodified and drained of its deeper meaning.”

Wolf argues that it’s the loss of clear feminist ideology that has resulted in such blatant sexual promiscuity. But the reality is that when you release sexuality from its biblical moorings, there is no anchor of moral parameters. Those who are sexually “set free” from God’s design will be tossed about by the whims of society.

“Friends with benefits” is just another desperate attempt to get back to God’s original plan for good, healthy, safe and loving relationships, without actually having to obey God’s moral law. In trying to eliminate the emotional baggage of multiple partners, “friends with benefits” merely treats the consequences of sin with more sin, rather than surrendering sexuality and everything else to the Savior. Friends with benefits is just another attempt to enjoy the benefits of God’s gift of sexuality without having to obey any of God’s rules regarding sexuality (Genesis 2:24-25). And you can’t do that without serious emotional, mental, spiritual and physical consequences.

Your sexuality isn’t what you do, it’s who you are. We are complex creatures with interwoven physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects — you can’t do something physical that doesn’t affect all areas of your life. As Lisa Ryan wrote in “For Such a Time as This,” “Satan wants to seduce you into the sin of impurity so he can destroy you emotionally. If he can get you to compromise, he can constantly condemn and accuse you, causing you to drown in shame … affecting your relationship with God.”

That’s why the Bible places such emphasis on sexual purity:

— “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

— “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)

Scripture tells us that sexuality is who we are, connected to every part of our being (1 Corinthians 5-7). And science is now finding this to be true:

“Scientific research shows how sexual activity releases brain chemicals that trigger emotional bonding — like an addiction…. Sexual activity triggers chemical reactions in the brain that help shape the very development of our brains, especially in adolescents” (Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children).

Dannah Gresh, well-known author on purity, wrote in a CNN.com column, “The bottom line is that you get ‘addicted’ and ‘bonded’ to the people you have sex with, even if they are ‘just friends.’ What happens when they’re gone?”

The two girls in Barnes & Noble scampered away, probably to find the object of their desire. I would have given my right arm to have been able to formulate words in that moment, to say something — anything. It’s heartbreaking. But I don’t blame those girls; no one taught them God’s plan for sexuality.

If you know the truth: If you believe God’s design for sexuality, then do something about it. You’d be shocked to know how many teenagers and college students in your church accept “friends with benefits” as the norm. They don’t have moms, sisters, mentors or friends pointing them to the truth. I’m not talking about lecturing or pointing fingers, but sharing your heart out of love and concern that they’re not experiencing God’s best for their sexuality.

If you aren’t sure of the truth: Know that “friends with benefits” is far from the good God intended for you. Anything you hear otherwise is a lie from Satan to break your heart, crush you with consequences and cripple future relationships. Jesus paid the ultimate price for you — His life. You were bought with a price; now honor God with your body! He has a better plan for your sexuality. Dig into God’s Word and discover his beautiful and perfect plan for you.

God’s parameters for sexual expression — within the marriage covenant — are to protect us from the devastating emotional, mental, physical and spiritual consequences of sex outside of God’s design. No matter how hard my generation tries to negate the consequences of their sexual exploits, there will always be pain, heartbreak and baggage. Only when we express sexuality in the way in which the Designer intended will we ever have the relationships of our dreams.
Gabrielle Pickle is a contributing writer to the Unlocking Femininity website (UnlockingFemininity.com), a freelance writer based out of Atlanta and a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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  • Gabrielle Pickle