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  • Daniel Klassen

Raising the Price of Sex

One area of life that our culture cannot get straight in their attempts at a complete moral revolution is the area of sex. Recently, there has been much circulating on social media and news media about social and political figures with shady sexual histories. As their deeds come to light, two things are shocking. The first is the quickness with which the culture moves on to another topic, directing their attention to other things. The second is the outrage over these actions; an outrage over the fact that the sexual liberty they prize would ever turn back to bite them. Both of these show us just how far the moral and sexual revolution has progressed. Our culture has let a monster loose by crowning sexual liberty as king, and this has come with a price.

The lie of sexual liberty is that the fewer boundaries there are with sex, the better it will be. Instead, we have observed that as the boundaries have fallen, the difficulty to make it better increases. As we clearly see, it does not stop sexual assault from happening. It also doesn’t make it more exciting — as magazine racks littered with titles regarding techniques and strategies promise. The dead giveaway that these do not work is that they keep writing more articles and adding more things to do. I would liken this kind of sexual intimacy to a puddle — you have to jump around in it to have fun. Otherwise, it just sits there and stagnates. This is not a biblical sexuality, nor is it a sexual intimacy that is desirable.

But the price of sexual liberty most prevalent is that sex becomes a social currency. This does not refer to prostitution, although prostitution certainly makes sex to be currency. The keyword here is social, and this currency comes with consequences. As the social price of sex decreases, the consequences increase. In other words, as the value of sex goes down, the price you pay goes up. With sexual liberty, the value of sex only decreases. You are able to do what you want with whomever you wish, and sex is always available with little cost. Social Psychologists call this "Sexual Economics."[1]

This form of economics finds its greatest opportunity to display itself in dating relationships. Take for instance this scenario: A young man and woman, in a sexually liberated culture, enter into a dating relationship. They both expect certain things from the other, things like love, honesty, trust, etc.(these are examples of social currency). In this economy, whoever holds the keys to sex holds the upper hand. In the case of a dating relationship, the woman is the initial holder of the keys. She is the “sexual gatekeeper.” This is because of the rarity of women giving some form of social currency in exchange for sex. Rather, she desires commitment, confidence, and security in the relationship; she wants to know that her significant other is only all for her. However, because of surrounding cultural norms, and pressure from her significant other, she might perceive that handing over the keys to her boyfriend will increase his commitment to her, securing him for a longer time. Her reasoning may be that he will leave for a girl that will give him sex more readily. Even though she holds the upper hand in deciding the flow of sex in the relationship, she doesn’t hold it singlehandedly. It is this mixture of social norms regarding sex in dating relationships, and pressure from her significant other that war with her. When she gives in, the problem becomes the fact that the boyfriend now holds the upper hand in the relationship, and terminating the relationship would do more emotional damage to her than if she had retained possession of the keys.

When sex becomes a viable option outside the confines of marriage (as seen in the scenario above), it becomes a social currency and destroys everything in sight. Here we see that the attempt to overthrow the shackles of Christian sexual morality has proven to enslave the individual in a more insidious manner. As these secular social psychologists point out, marriage is the highest form of currency for sex – the man must make a lifelong commitment to sharing his wealth, and affections with one woman exclusively. However, the Christian goes further, stating that sex has no price at all, for it is reserved exclusively to marriage wherein husband and wife give freely of themselves to each other. Marriage may, in a certain sense, be a price to pay, but within those boundaries, sex is free.

Of course, many marriages put a price on sex, and it is damaging. When husbands speak of their wives denying them sex unless they finish a certain task, project or any other wish, they do so with disdain. This is not to say that sex is everything to marriage, nor that a marriage lives and dies with sexual intimacy, but rather that any works-based acceptance is met with contempt. Marriage that puts a price on sex does not display the gospel, for they who use sex as a bargaining chip or self-promotion are self-centered. Gospel-centered marriages do not use sex but enjoy the freedom and peace of acceptance-based sex.

Paul states this with great clarity in his first letter to the Corinthians. He writes, "The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does" (1 Cor. 7:3-4). At first glance, this sounds outrageous. Husbands and wives are to be unreserved with their sexuality towards each other. But, what Paul is saying is revolutionary. It is a return to the Garden of Eden, where a question such as, "What if my spouse will take advantage of me?" would never have entered the minds of Adam and Eve. They were unashamed of their nakedness, for they knew that the other would not selfishly misuse them sexually, but would seek to serve them sacrificially. This sexual intimacy would be like a river. It is powerful, majestic, and serene, in need of no prodding to move it along. The banks provide a channel for it to flow, causing the river to be the very thing that makes it beautiful and free. There is very little action on our part to enjoy it, for it carries us along with its current. And so it is, that when our hearts truly desire the benefit of the other – even at the expense of one's self – the beauty of sexual intimacy in Christian matrimony can be found.

For the world, it will be difficult to raise the price of sex, but for Christians, sex is inherently priceless. And this is the lesson for the world: only when you view sex as priceless will you find sexual liberty. The boundaries of Christian marriage and a desire for the spouse’s well-being make for a sexual intimacy that is most free. Sex is not used as a bartering chip within this kind of marriage, nor is there the looming fear of desertion because of the lack of sex. It is a picture of Christ’s sacrificial love for His church, therefore making it a marriage that most glorifies God and one that can be most enjoyed. For this is a marriage that is lived out in light of eternity and will be one that will inevitably give the most meaning. The world, in their attempt for sexual liberty, does not come close in comparison with the beauty, enjoyment, and freedom of God’s design for sexual intimacy. This design views sex with the highest value, making it cost us nothing – the very opposite of the sexual revolutionaries’ view.


[1] This idea comes from Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker’s book, “Premarital Sex in America.” In this work, they deal in greater detail as to why women are the “gatekeepers of sex,” the negative effects “Sexual Economics” has on relationships, and the problems with the way our culture tries to fix these problems. Read my review of their book here:

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