Friends with Benefits?

                One of the hazards of having a Netflix membership is that you feel like you have to watch movies that you wouldn’t necessarily pay to see in a movie theater.  If it says “Romantic Comedy,” then sign me up.

Most recently we watched a movie called “No Strings Attached.”  This movie is about a couple of acquaintances who decide to have sex (as a business-sort of arrangement) without actually having a relationship.  This theme mirrors another recent theater release (“Friends with Benefits), and according to what I’ve read in the news, the idea of friends/acquaintances having sex without any sort of commitment is commonplace among the 20-something generation. 

This idea of sexual intimacy without relational intimacy bothers me.  Call me old-fashioned, but the idea of sex without love sounds animalistic.  If anything, our ability to have relationship with those with whom we have sexual intimacy makes us different from animals.

I think the issue comes down to the fact that we were created for relationship, first and foremost.  The Father, Son, and Spirit didn’t need to create us.  They were enjoying their relationship with each other so much that they wanted to share it.  Think of a deeply in love, married couple who decides to have a child.  They want to share their love for each other with that child.  When I picture the Triune God making the decision to create Adam and Eve, I see them enjoying their relationship with each other so much that they wanted to share it.  They didn’t create humanity to fill a need, but they wanted to create to share the joy and laughter they were already experiencing.

Since humanity was created out of relationship, sex without true intimacy will never satisfy our hearts’ longing.  I Corinthians 6:16-19 says:

“There’s more to sex than mere skin on sin.  Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact.  As written in Scripture, ‘The two become one.’  Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever –the kind of sex that can never ‘become one.’  There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others.  In sexual sin we violate the the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for ‘becoming one’ with another.  Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit?”  (The Message).

                The best part of the movie “No Strings Attached” (and I assume the same is true of “Friends with Benefits”) is that the main characters realize their mistake and end up making a commitment.  I only hope this is true in real life for those who think that such an arrangement would be a win-win for everybody.  The bottom line is this:  humanity was created for intimacy and relationship, and anything that goes against that will only lead to loneliness and heartbreak.  It’s like gravity:  you can challenge it but it will always win.

~by Nan Kuhlman

~photos courtesy of and

8 comments so far

  1. Jane Hinrichs on

    Though I know you probably agree with this, Nan, I think the only thing that is missing from this post is the need for sex to stay within the bounds of marriage. So, even if two people love each other and are committed to each other, they still shouldn’t engage in sex if they aren’t married. I’m sure you agree with that but I wonder if someone who doesn’t know what sex is really about and isn’t versed in God’s word, might think it is okay to have sex as long as there is commitment?

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      The purpose of my post was to dig deeper to the underlying issue when it comes to a casual attitude toward sexual behavior. I think it’s more helpful to understand why it rarely (if ever) seems to work out than to deliver an edict (which often alienates). When we understand that the concept of relationship was the reason for our creation, we can see how important it is to pay attention to relationships in all areas of our lives, whether work, family, or friendships. Thanks for your interest in the post.


  2. Jeannine on

    Great post, Nan! The “hooking up” culture you describe perplexes and worries me in the same way. As you noted above, there is so much more to sex than we realise, and so many – girls especially, but boys too just in different ways – face lifelong emotional repercussions from not honoring their bodies as sacred spaces in this regard. If we only really knew.

    I fully believe that God seeks only to protect His beloved creation from these repercussions and heartbreak. The “rules” in regard to marriage and sexuality are there out of love and care – He created us and designed us for true intimacy – so He knows how we can get it – and how we can’t and the devastation that occurs when we don’t.

    But as usual, we humans have it all the wrong way around – we think that it’s all about obedience and the rules (we even erect political platforms on the rules), and miss the Love. We miss the fact that even when we don’t live our lives in the way God designed us to in order to have maximum chance at happiness, He is STILL there for us. It’s exactly like when I tell one of my kids, “Don’t do that, honey – you’re going to get hurt!” They do it anyway – do I say, “Told you so” and walk away? Of course not. I hold him them while they cry and I feel the pain that they feel. God is there for us in every bit the same way and much more.

    I want my children to enjoy truly happy, intimate marriages someday. But it’s the true relationship and intimacy with a life partner I want for them – marriage is far secondary to that as marriage does not guarantee true relationship and intimacy – only commitment does. If we look at the heart of God, we’ll see that that’s what He wants for us too.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      I like your reminder to us all that when we don’t choose wisely, “God is there for us,” even as a loving parent would be. Our adoption into the Triune life of God touches every aspect of our lives. Thanks for your input!

  3. Boyd Merriman on

    Many in marriage feel sex is what marriage is all about, and that is why divorce rate is so high. What is ironic is that divorce is very high among Christians. That reveals the fact that the Church (at large) is not teaching about the Triune Relationship that reaches out and includes humanity. Once they understand that, then relationships will be included in the message of the gospel. So when sex is not available during a marriage (warning: it happens quite often), relationships will be the glue that holds the marriage together. Unfortunately, too many are marrying God through fear and intimidation, brimstone and fire, (The Church version of Shot Gun Weddings), fleeing the concept of hell fire than marrying God through a wonderful relationship that will affect their lives and marriage and sexual relations.


    • Nan Kuhlman on


      The fact that divorce is just as common among Christians as non-Christians is a good point. It shows that we all have the tendency to compartmentalize our lives (work, home, marriage, church), forgetting that Jesus is just as present in our marriages and home lives as he is while we are worshiping at church. Thanks for your comments.


  4. Jerome Ellard on

    Jeannine said this: “But it’s the true relationship and intimacy with a life partner I want for them – marriage is far secondary to that as marriage does not guarantee true relationship and intimacy – only commitment does.” That sounds nice, but I think it misses the mark. Relationships that forego marriage break up much more than marriages. Marriage IS commitment spelled differently. Seems that our committed, relational Triune God is all about marriage as the ultimate form of committment – the Bible is strewn with Covenants He initiated from beginning to end. After all, we are the Bride of Christ, not the roomate of Christ. Marriage is the shape of life in Christ. The word that encapsulates “true relationship and intimacy with a life partner” is marriage.

    • Nan Kuhlman on


      Although I can’t speak for Jeannine, what I took away from her comment was that marriage itself is no guarantee of a lifelong commitment, and statistics bear witness of that. I don’t think that she was implying that marriage is unnecessary or out-of-date. My interpretation is that she recognized the basis for any lifelong marriage is commitment, first and foremost. Marriage is indeed a sacred covenant instituted by the Triune God for our benefit and blessing. As I mentioned before, the intent of my post was to point out the importance of relationships to human beings and to point out a possible reason why this fad of “hooking up” rarely (if ever) works out. Thanks for your comment.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: