In my line of work today, I study a lot of science. And the more I do, the more I see God. And I refuse to think a lot of what we find about God in science is merely a coincidence.
Hormones Are Powerful Stuff.
In Genesis 2:24–25, the dynamics of marriage are introduced, noting that a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and that the two would become “one flesh.” This expression carries a much deeper significance than we often realize. It carries with it the idea of unity, even closely connected with the Hebrew word meaning “to be united.”
“One flesh” paints the picture of united at the deepest level, not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually.
The idea is that, as Adam and Eve came from one body, so now they would once again become one.
The Emotional Bond of a Physical Act
We see this reality in the science behind sexual activity. During an intimate physical act, our brain releases a number of chemicals—the chief of all these chemicals is oxytocin. Think of oxytocin as a form of glue, promoting bonding and attachment—and sometimes the opposite. It has even been dubbed the “cuddle hormone” or “love hormone” because it does simply that. Oxytocin creates bonding, trust and generosity in us.
In fact, whenever you feel comfort or security, you can thank oxytocin. Every form of human bonding from non-sexual to sexual interactions involves oxytocin to some degree.
During sexual intercourse, the brain releases oxytocin causing a connection, a bonding on a deep level. Whether we like it or not, oxytocin creates a bond between us and our partner; and the more sexual encounters we have together, the stronger the bond becomes. When oxytocin is released, it floods the brain with endorphins, a natural opiate that activates the pleasure center in the brain.
A person may choose to have sex many times with many different people, and whether he or she knows it or not, a bond is formed with each and every experience. When this bond is broken, it creates pain.
The Spiritual Implications
The story of Adam and Eve is our story. Their union, their eventual fall, it is the story of our desires, our choices, and the brokenness we all feel (see Romans 5). It is the story of what we all yearn for: a deep, intimate, meaningful, trusting relationship with a partner—oneness. This is how God created us. This is his desire for us as well. The question, however, is this: Is it possible for us to get back to that oneness?
The Mysterious Design Behind Sex
During sex, two beings—two souls—are uniting, becoming one. There is an intimacy and depth unlike any other act. Sounds like the bonding power of the chemical oxytocin, doesn’t it?
It is interesting that the writer of Genesis 2 connects this sense of two becoming one within the dynamics of marriage. It is as if to communicate that this bond is so powerful, so transcending, that marriage is the only force that can contain it.
Marriage was—and still should be—considered sacred.
Going back to my first date with the woman who would become my wife, we felt such a deep connection, the “natural” thing seemed to be to connect in every way. But we waited.
The amazing thing is that God’s prescriptions for sex and marriage or corroborated by science. Consummating our marriage was not only a physical union—but an emotional and spiritual one as well—a profound moment of unifying power.
As I look at the ancient Scriptures and see science collaborating it, I am even more amazed at how God made us. This gift of sex is not a shameful act—but one to be celebrated and praised. The problem comes when sex used outside of what God intended. It can turn from a blessing to a curse.
The beauty of God is that even if we live in ways that are opposite of what he designed—there is redemption. As God brings us eternal redemption through the cross—he also offers us relational redemption.
But, as Christians, we serve a God of grace and healing, who wants the best for us. No matter what you’ve done in the past, He doesn’t want you to live in shame. He’s all about restoration. But, he wants to us to recognize His plan, even if there are times we’ve diverted from it
Our shortcomings are forgiven when we seek his forgiveness. We are loved and cherished, and he has a life of fulfillment set before us. In the end, the choice is up to us—will we decide to live in ways that bring about unity and wholeness or ways that lead to pain?
After twenty years in the church and university worlds, Bryan A. Sands has accepted the call of Lead Pastor at Kaimuki Christian Church in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is the author of, Everyone Loves Sex: So Why Wait? (A Discussion in Sexual Faithfulness). You can learn more about the book at EveryoneLovesSex.org. Bryan and his wife, Caz, have three daughters.