Researchers at Ohio State University discovered a link between casual sex and poor mental health. This included increased depression and thoughts of suicide.
They interviewed 10,000 students in grades 7 to 12 and then re-interviewed them between the ages of 18 to 26. The research group specifically surveyed them on depression and suicidal thoughts.
Of these students, 29% said they participated in casual sex (women 24%, men 33%). For the sake of their study, published in the Journal of Sex Research, they loosely define casual sex as an act between people not in a committed relationship.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Sara Sandberg-Thoma said, “Several studies have found a link between poor mental health, and casual sex, but the nature of the association has been unclear.”
The issue is this: do mental health problems lead to causal sex or does casual sex cause mental health problems?
Sandberg-Thoma said their study showed both were happening.
“This study provides evidence that poor mental health can lead to casual sex, but also that casual sex leads to additional declines in mental health.”
They also discovered each act of casual sex can increase suicidal thoughts by as much as 18%.
The research also showed the negative impact of casual sex was the same for both men and women. This flies in the face of modern perception that it’s fine for men to have casual sex but not so for women.
The Bible on sex
It is not surprising casual sex causes mental health issues. The Bible very clearly limits sex to marriage. In 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, the Apostle Paul makes three statements on the impact sexual immorality has on humans.
1. Don’t void the warranty
First he says in v 13, the body is not built for sexual immorality.
Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. (1 Corinthians 6:13b NASV)
Paul is not referring to God’s prohibition against sexual immorality, but rather Paul is saying the human body is not constructed emotionally or physically to handle it.
My car has a user manual. This manual tells me the maximum load the car can pull. Though my car can pull a heavier load, there will be negative consequences (i.e. a blown transmission) and the manufacturer adds a warning — pulling heavier weights will void any warranty.
In the same way, the human body is not constructed to handle casual sex. There are negative consequences, which can lead to both emotional and physical problems.
2. Sexual sin causes emotional confusion
One of the lesser known effects of sexual immorality is what some describe as soul ties.
Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” (1 Corinthians 6:16 NASV)
The word joined literally means glued. There is an emotional attachment that takes place in sex. Though an individual may never see that person again, the emotional consequences of this joining linger long after.
This can lead to conflicting emotions (depression, anger, frustration), emotional confusion (such as poor self-image and even hating yourself), and difficulty in developing a committed relationship.
3. Sexual sin is the only sin that affects you personally
In verse 18, Paul adds sexual immorality is unlike all other sins, in that it is the only sin that affects a person’s own body.
Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18 NASV)
While the impact of other sins is outside the body, a person involved in sexual immorality harms him or her self — a fact clearly displayed in this study. Other studies show similar results – viewing porn as an example can affect a man’s ability to have normal sexual relations.
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