Hooked: New Science On How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children by Drs. Joe S. McIlhaney and Freda McKissic Bush explores the data that has emerged in the area of neuroscience and the effect of sex on young people. While the book is based on some very “heady” scientific information, the book is written in a clear and accessible manner.
The book covers the effects of two chemicals that are released in the brain when sexual contact has occurred. Oxytocin is released in the female brain. It’s primary function is to bond a mother to her child. But, the studies conducted and consulted by the authors reveal that this is also the same chemical that is released when a woman interacts with a potential mate. Vasopressin is the chemical released in the male brain that has a similar effect in men. The primary function of the chemical is to bond the male parent with their offspring. However, vasopressin also has the added function of bonding the man with potential mates.
The authors do a good job of describing the processes involved in the release of the chemical and in their effects. And, while the majority of the book covers the scientific realities of these chemical releases, they do draw some conclusions from sociological-psychological sources that point to the connected effects of engaging in physical contact with persons of the opposite sex.
Probably the most interesting conclusion that the authors draw is that the science appears to validate many of the religious convictions regarding relationships, particularly that of abstinence and monogamy. What makes this so interesting is that they are making these claims strictly drawing from scientific studies and statistics. Other areas that are addressed are the increased risk to emotional health, psychological stability, financial gain, social engagement, professional advancement and overall happiness when young people engage in the practices of casual sex, serial-partnerships and co-habitation.
One of the more stunning statistics cited related to the total number of sexual partners. If a girl’s first sexual encounter occurred prior to the age of sixteen, almost 60% would have an average of over five by the time she reached her late-twenties, and about 10% having only one partner. If she waited until after twenty, more than 52% would have only one partner, with less that 16% having more than five. Almost a complete reversal. This is just one example of a much bigger picture.
The book is a quick read and will make you think and rethink.
The first thing that came to mind was the fact that truth really does set a person free. With each page, the truth of the what God teaches regarding sexual purity and marital fidelity were affirmed and confirmed by information that was not trying to make a value judgment. Over and over again, the negative ramifications of what the bible calls fornication, sex outside of marriage, and adultery, sex with someone other than your spouse, was highlighted.
Probably the most constructive insights provided by the book is that long-term, monogamous, marriages (not just relationships) are the most beneficial arrangements for families and the socio-psychological development of the next generation.
As a father with two daughters, I feel better equipped to prepare myself and my girls for what will come as they enter the relationship marketplace. While this whole subject can be scary, as a parent, and more to the point, as the primary male influence in my daughters lives I have to be responsible for their developing a healthy and Biblical view of relationships, sex and marriage.
As a pastor, I found the information in the book as a reason for hope. As a man of faith, I knew that God’s word was true and sure. This information only goes to buttress what I have already believed. God can and must be trusted in every area of life. What this also means is that as the people of God we must not naively think that God has nothing to say about what happens in the bedroom or when it happens. God has our good in mind when he commands or forbids something related to the sexual realities of our lives.