If you’re asking that question, you are far more forward-thinking than the typical student or young adult, many of whom have settled for swiping, sexting, and striping for strangers, instead of pursuing friendship and dating with the intention of eventually settling down and getting married.
Indeed, while hooking up has been normalized, marriage has been “ABbnormalized.” And while that may be a made-up word, it’s not a made-up perception, as barely a quarter of 25-34-year-olds are married today (27% to be precise). And the stats are unlikely to be much different when today’s college student reaches their 20s and 30s.
Is the rise of the hook-up culture and the decline in marriage rates connected?
It’s worth careful reflection as you consider the questions below to see if hooking up is going to keep you single.
Will your sexual appetite be satisfied with cheap sex?
I’m not using the word “cheap” in a subjective sense, as in “hook-up sex is subpar” (although research indicates the majority of those participating in the hook-up culture actually believe it is). I’m using it in an objective sense, as in “hook-up sex costs very little.” (At least up front.)
And nothing could be more true. You don’t need to pay for dinner. You don’t have to buy a single drink (although alcohol is almost always part of the deal). You don’t even have to know the person. And you’re certainly not expected to care about them as a person.
How much cheaper could you make sex? The hook-up is basically the Taco Bell of sexual intimacy.
Now you might hope that a couple years (or decades) of getting your fill of fast food sex would instill in your soul a yearning for something more meaningful. But what makes you think that after years of having sex with people you don’t give a cheesy bean burrito about that somehow you’ll wake up one day and think, “It’s time to find someone with whom I can pursue intimacy in every sense of the word?”
The reality is you likely will wake up one day and wish you could connect with someone in a deeply, meaningful way, but after ordering off the dollar menu for so long will you be willing to pay the price necessary to enjoy the kind of intimacy only found in marriage?
Can you see how this reality could keep you single?
Will your “sexual freedom” reprogram your sex drive?
Back when I was a hormone-driven teenager I remember wondering what kind of sadistic God would give me the keys to my own sex drive.
And then ask me to keep it in park.
Surely only a cosmic narcissist would bequeath unto me this unquenchable desire for sexual fulfillment, but then say, “No! No! No! No can have. Until… You’re… Married.” Then cue the maniacal laughter. “Brruuuuuuhahahahahahahaaaaaaaaah!”
But let’s think about what marriage really is; what God created it to be. Not the gateway to limitless, kinky, guilt-free sex. That is to take the “Taco-Bell-Hook-Up” perspective of sex and apply it to marriage.
No. Marriage is about complete oneness of two individuals – heart, soul, mind, and body. In other words, marriage is a pretty big deal. A way bigger deal than sex. Indeed, marriage is an awesome calling, not just because it is so precious and beautiful, but also because it is so challenging and meaningful. And to symbolize, celebrate, and encourage this oneness, God created the gift of sexual intimacy.
So then from this perspective, sexual desire was designed by God not merely to instill the longing for sex itself, but to instill the longing for marriage. That would make the onset of puberty your wake-up call to pursue the maturity and stability necessary to prepare for, seek, and ultimately succeed in marriage.
But obviously, that’s not going to happen if you’re not going to save sex for marriage, but hook up with whomever, wherever, whenever, however – whatever!
This is not only one way hooking up could keep you single, it’s also how porn could keep you single. So if porn is a concern for you, check out this LoveEd episode from the series, How Porn Will Keep You Single on our FMU YouTube channel.)
Will your sexual excess compromise your ability to develop self-control?
HARD TRUTH: you either must learn to control your sex drive, or your sex drive will always control you. It’s not like you meet the right magic person and all sexual desire for any other vanishes. It’s not like you say “I do” and you magically only have eyes for your beloved.
Quite the opposite. The wedding covenant isn’t about magic. It’s about commitment. It’s not about something that’s going to just happen to you, but about something you are going to make happen.
But we are creatures of habit, and habits have ways of becoming compulsions, strongholds and addictions. That said…
Once you acquire the easy habit of giving free reign to your every sexual urge, how do you expect to acquire the difficult discipline of reigning in your sex drive?
And if you don’t ever learn to say “no” to the slave master of your sex drive, how could you imagine ever saying “I do” to the marriage vows? And if you do, how could you imagine you’ll be able to keep them?
The hook-up culture strikes again, likely keeping you single.
Will your sexual experimentation sabotage your ability to enjoy monogamy?
Comparison is the enemy of contentment.
Yet variety invites comparison.
And variety is just the sort of thing the hook-up culture brings to sexual experience.
Do you really think that you’re going to find one mythological princess (or prince) who enjoys everything you enjoy between the sheets (or on a elevator or in a hot tub).
Of course you don’t. You’re smarter than that.
And yet after all your SEXperimentation you’re going to want that “rainbow unicorn lover” just the same. And longing for that surreal sexual playmate, could keep you ever searching and never settling down. And that will keep you single.
Will your sexual experience become a liability?
You may have picked up the idea that sexual experience will help you discover what you want in the marriage bed. Or that you will even need sexual experience if you want to truly enjoy marital sex.
You may have even heard horror stories from people who “held onto their virginity” until marriage, only to discover they were not sexually compatible.
From this perspective, sexual experience appears not only to be an asset, but an essential one.
But is it?
As we consider our final question, let’s touch on the four points we’ve already covered, and forecast a best case scenario.
- Even if you lose your taste for cheap sex, the hook-up culture will do nothing to deepen the meaning, purpose, and significance of sex for you.
- Even if you manage to keep your “sexual freedom” from killing your marital aspirations, the hook-up culture has no interest in promoting your desire for marriage, only for sex.
- Even if you are eventually able to learn sexual restraint, your months/years in the hook-up culture will leave you with a reputation of sexual excess.
- Even if you meet someone who inspires you to embrace monogamy, you will be left with the memories of your sexual experimentation in the hook-up culture, hindering your contentment in marriage.
Now honestly, does that sound like sexual experience will make you more or less marriageable?
Having said all of that, let me clarify the answer to a different question. Will the hook-up culture make you unworthy of love?
Absolutely not! Not in the eyes of the God who gave His life to forgive your every sin. Even your sexual sin. Especially your sexual sin.
But how you will end up feeling about yourself may be a different story. And what about the person you hope to marry one day? Will they be grateful for all your sexual experience, or wish you had saved sex for them?
Forgiveness doesn’t erase all consequences.
And trust me, playing around with God’s wonderful, powerful, and dangerous gift of sexual intimacy will bear consequences.
Will the hook-up culture keep you single?
If you’re still not sure, try answering the opposite question: how do you think the hook-up culture will empower you to prepare for, seek, and succeed in marriage?
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.
Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.
Even better? And ask a rock star married couple you respect to lead it!