In my book A Better Kind of Intimacy, I wrote about the problem of pornography, and particularly how it has shifted and grown with the advent of smartphones and social media.
The book was published just over a year ago, but even since then there has been a further shift in the way sex is presented to young people.
A few years ago, Channel 4 broadcast a show called Sex Box, in which a couple would go into a box within the studio, have sex, and then come out to discuss their relationship. The hope was that if the couple had just had sex, they would feel closer to one another and therefore more open to discussing intimate details of their relationship. Channel 4 described this show as an attempt to ‘reclaim sex from porn.’
You may also be familiar with the show Naked Attraction, a dating show in the style of Blind Date, but the mystery dates are naked and only their faces are hidden. A fully clothed person is shown six potential dates, whose naked bodies are gradually revealed. At the end of the show, the chooser must strip off to then choose one of the mystery people to go on a date with.
Last night, I saw an advert for a new show on E4, which will be airing soon. Sex Tape is a show in which couples who are struggling in their relationship agree to have sex on camera and then watch it back with a group of people who will give them advice on their sex lives.
Seeing that shows of this kind are becoming commonplace (and that’s not even mentioning Love Island), I’m increasingly aware that the traditional view of sex and relationships would be considered by many to be outdated and even irrelevant.
It shouldn’t be too surprising that these kind of shows are on TV today. This is simply a continuation of what began with the sexual revolution in the 1960s. Add to that the worldview of today that rejects any imposition of morality from one person upon another, and what we’re left with is what some consider to be sexual freedom, but in reality, it’s a breakdown of healthy human relationships.
The UK government has made positive steps in the last few years in improving sex education in schools – it is now called Relationships and Sex Education, and is no longer simply about how to avoid an STI. I welcome this, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough to combat the messages communicated to young people elsewhere.
If we as a society are serious about teaching the next generation how to have healthy relationships, we must present them with a better message than the one they see in these TV shows and from social media influencers.
On the one hand, the tragic suicides of several Love Island contestants recently have made people realise that something isn’t quite right with our sexualised celebrity culture, and yet the solution given is to offer counselling to past and future contestants – oh and by the way, here comes the next series of Love Island, it’ll be better this time, honest!
The underlying assumptions to all of this are that sex is either just a fun thing you can do with another person, or it’s the foundation of a romantic relationship without which no couple can possibly know if they are ‘compatible.’
The Christian view rejects both of these assumptions in favour of a higher perspective on sex.
Yes, sex is a fun thing you can do with another person – God designed it to be that way.
Yes, it is an important part of a romantic relationship – it’s the most intimate thing you can do with another person, in which you trust them with your whole body – but if it is the foundation for the relationship then the couple is doomed to fail.
Think about it – if sex is the foundation for a relationship, what happens when the spark runs out? Anyone who has been in a long term relationship will know that at some point romance is no longer present by default; it requires work to maintain it.
The message that we’re seeing in shows like Sex Tape being aired on TV is that sex is the foundation of a relationship, and if your sex life is no longer the best it can be then the relationship may not survive. You might as well film your sex life and have it broadcast on national television, that’s bound to help.
The solution to our relationship problems as a society is not to reveal all but to reclaim the privacy of the bedroom. Placing a camera in the bedroom for others to see will only kill what intimacy is there, and that is what we are all searching for really – intimacy.
A Better Kind of Intimacy: The Price of Porn and How to Overcome It is published by Instant Apostle, and available now.