There are four major reasons given to teenagers at the time of their sexual awakening, for not engaging in sex.
1. It’s wrong — and some just say “Because it’s wrong!” while others reach into their sacred texts, like the Bible, or find some moral arguments against sex before marriage.
2. You can get pregnant or impregnate someone.
3. You can get STDs — sexually transmitted diseases.
4. You can get “hooked” on sex.
This fourth argument, which can be called an emotional and neurochemical argument, has been proposed in a new book which many I suspect will find compelling. It is by Joe McIlhaney and Freda Bush, both MDs and both at work in research and teaching and writing about sexual health in America. Their book is called Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children
What are you hearing about “hook up culture”? And what are you hearing about neurochemicals? (Any MDs out there reading this?)
Let us agree that the first three are used and let us also agree that the “warning” folks need to emphasize, as this book does at times, that sex is given by God and that it is good. Let us agree that this book comes from a conservative angle … But, what are their basic arguments for the neurochemical issues involved in sex?
It works like this, and I’d like to know from MDs or science folks if this is accurate…
1. Dopamine is secreted in the brain and it tells those who are having consensual sex that such activity is pleasurable.
2. Oxytocin is secreted in a female’s brain that bonds the woman to the man.
3. Vasopressin is secreted in a male’s brain that bonds the man to the woman.
4. Therefore, neurochemicals are released that mold the brain through its synapses that tell each of these two people that they are in a bond of pleasure.
Add to this that teenagers’ brains are more than hyped up for molding, and dopamine is desirable and addictive, and you’ve got the makings of potential good and potential disaster. Sexual activity begins to mold the brain in the direction of both pleasure and bonding with that person.
The most alarming feature of this book for me is that sexual activity neurochemically secretes the chemicals of bonding, but the hooking up culture increasingly divorces sexual acitivity from relational commitment. This works against the natural secretions of a body and leads to potential problems for each of the couples. Humans aren’t wired, so the authors are arguing, to hook up. They are wired to love in lasting commitments. Breaking down lasting commitments works against what the brain is telling the person to be and to do. Hooking up can create young folks who break down their potential for connectivity.