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Miranda Writes: Relationships, Part 4




by Omar Miranda

Attraction, attachment, and bonding1

Today I’d like us to turn our attention to how attraction, attachment, and bonding happen and why and how sex is such a powerful emotional, physical, and spiritual glue in a relationship and what happens if this glue is used outside of a committed one-guy, one-girl marriage relationship

When you have sex either before marriage or with somebody who is not your husband or wife, you end up sinning against yourself. In fact, the Bible says that there is no sin like sexual sin. What does that mean? This week we’re going to discuss that. Let’s start with that specific Bible passage. It’s found in 1 Corinthians 6:15-18: “Don’t you know that your bodies are part of the body of Christ? Is it right for me to join part of the body of Christ to a prostitute? No, it isn’t! Don’t you know that a man who does that becomes part of her body? The Scriptures say, ‘The two of them will be like one person.’ But anyone who is joined to the Lord is one in spirit with him. Don’t be immoral in matters of sex. That is a sin against your own body in a way that no other sin is” (CEV).2

Young people can develop early bonding to someone they find attractive. If they feel that “this is the one for me,” they can enter into progressively stronger and stronger physical contact with that person until they’ve had sexual intercourse and are then even more closely bonded to the person and “addicted” to having sex. Typically these early sexual relationships eventually break apart far more often than they succeed.

When a couple has sex, even if they go out for only a short time, research indicates that bonding does occur, even when a couple has had sex only one time! There is also evidence that when this sex/bonding/breaking-up cycle is repeated a few or many times—even when the bonding was short-lived—damage is done to the important, built-in ability to develop significant and meaningful connections to other human beings. The relationship that continues long-term experiences a bonding that, in a sense, glues the two people together for life. This bonding is partly a result of the oxytocin and vasopressin secreted into a girl’s and guy’s brains as a result of their contact with each other.

But this natural process can be short-circuited. During the intense early romantic period a couple wants to be together. This togetherness can obviously include physical closeness. The physical closeness will normally produce sexual interest. If individuals in this early phase of their relationship spend time with intimate skin-to-skin closeness and then become sexually involved, it will activate the oxytocin- and vasopressin-induced bonding. However, when a short-term relationship breaks up—and certainly when an early intense romantic relationship breaks up—it is felt in the same brain centers that feel physical pain and can actually be seen on brain scans. Like any other powerful experience, an intense romantic relationship molds the mind. The bonding process can also be short-circuited by a couple progressing immediately to sex.

Thus, damage also occurs because anything we do involves the whole person, even if we don’t realize it. A selfish and manipulative person may have an intense desire to have sex with another person. To accomplish that goal, they may lie about being in love. It’s impossible to know if the desire someone has for sex can exist without any feelings of caring, love, or romance—that’s why it’s crucial to wait until marriage to have sex, when you can be sure of someone’s intentions. Making this distinction is something that takes some life experience to recognize—that’s why it’s important not even to go there and to steer clear of any compromising situations.

In short, sex is an intense experience of connectedness. As I’ve said before, God created sex to be pleasurable. When people have sex, it triggers the release of endorphins or pleasure chemicals such as dopamine in their brains, thus rewarding them for engaging in such an exciting and pleasurable act.
Oxytocin is released in the female as this behavior persists, bonding her to her sexual partner and creating a greater desire to repeat the activity with him. However, when a male engages in sex, vasopressin is released, bonding him to his partner and also stimulating the desire for more sex. Most important, both the male and female brains are strengthened in ways that will make them choose sex in the future, while parts of their brain that govern sexual restraint will become weaker. In short, engaging in sex creates a chain reaction of brain activities that lead to the desire for more sex and greater levels of attachment between two people.

It may sound blunt, but if we try to eliminate this connectedness from sex, we remove the uniquely human aspect of it, and the sexual act becomes nothing more than raw animal behavior. However, when this connectedness is allowed to mature in the context of a lifelong committed one-guy, one-girl married relationship, sex is a wonderful, sustaining expression of love—the way God meant it to be.

I know it sounds as though I just gave you a science lesson, because I just did. I think it’s extremely important to understand these issues clearly because this may just keep you from some difficult and painful consequences. Having sex is a deeply spiritual, physical, and emotional experience that God meant to be shared only by a husband and a wife—and now you know why!

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

1Information on attraction, attachment, bonding, sex, and sexuality adapted from Joe S. McIlhaney and Freda McKissic Bush, “The Developing Teen Brain and Sex,” Engage: The e-Journal of Youth Culture From CPYU (Center for Parent/Youth Understanding), Fall 2008, pp. 6-11.
2Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ ­experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.
 





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