Sean McDowell | July 18, 2017

5 Reasons Our Culture Is Obsessed with Sex.

5 Reasons Our Culture Is Obsessed with Sex.

Western culture is obsessed with sex. Sex dominates our movies, music, television, advertising, conversations, social media and more. But the question many people fail to ask is: why?

There are myriads of reasons for this. Some reasons are certainly more germane than others. And they undoubtedly overlap. Nevertheless, here are 5 reasons for western culture’s obsession with sex:

Reason 1: Our culture has lost belief in God. Over a century ago Nietzsche proclaimed that God was dead and that we had killed him. He didn’t mean that humans actually killed God, of course, but that western civilization had abandoned the idea of God. Even though many people claim to believe in God today, our culture has become functionally secular, as Nietzsche predicted. And without God, life has no objective meaning. It has no purpose. As Bertrand Russell observed, we must build our lives upon "the firm foundation of unyielding despair.”[1] Since transcendence can no longer be found in God or religion, many people turn to sex for momentary pleasure and meaning.

Reason #2: Our culture has lost belief in immortality. If there is no life after death, then the present becomes all-important. If death is imminent, and there’s no continuing life, then why not seize pleasure while you can? The Apostle Paul said that if there is no resurrection, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32). In the 1980s, the music band Depeche Mode released a song called, Fly on the Windscreen. The verses of the song are about how human beings are waiting to die, like flies on a windscreen of a car, or lambs being lead to the slaughter. Death is imminent, the song proclaims. So what should we do? The chorus begins with (and repeats): “Come hear, touch me, kiss me, touch me now.”

Reason #3: Our culture has lost belief in the sacredness of sex. Despite the common mantra, Christianity is pro-sex. The Bible is not against the proper use of sex, but is against its abuse. God designed sex, after all, and made it pleasurable for a reason (e.g., see Proverbs 5). Scripture holds up sex as a beautiful gift from God that involves a sacred union between two people of the opposite sex (Gen. 2:24), and as a way people can bring glory to God (1 Cor. 10:31). In contrast, the mantra of the sexual revolution is that sex is not a big deal. In fact, according to this narrative, sex is merely a physical activity (void of any spiritual dimension) that many people engage in purely for fun. If this is the case, then why limit a fun activity? Ironically, it is the biblical worldview that counteracts the extremes of sex-obsession or sex-denigration. Christianity offers sex as a beautiful gift from God that is meant to be experienced within certain boundaries.

Reason #4: Our culture has lost belief that humans are made in the image of God. Naturalistic evolution is the idea that humans have come about through a purely blind, material, and purposeless process. The same unguided process that resulted in animals resulted in us. Thus, human beings are only different from animals merely in terms of degree, not of kind. If this is so, then why shouldn’t humans act like the rest of the animal kingdom? Why should we act differently from animals if we are essentially the same? According to Nancy Pearcey, in her book Saving Leonardo, Scarlett Johansson was asked about rumors that she is sexually promiscuous. She replied, “I do think on same basic level we are animals and by instinct we kind of breed accordingly.” She’s right. If we are merely evolved complex animals, then why not act like them?

Reason #5: Our culture is bored. Generation Z has been raised in a culture where they can have whatever they want, wherever they want it, whenever they want it, and however they want it. There are endless television channels, streaming music services, video games, and social media platforms that offer constant connection and entertainment. And yet the reality is that people are lonelier than ever. Rather than living meaningful lives, we live vicariously through stars. For a culture full of people who lack meaningful relationships, and a deeper purpose of life, sex naturally becomes an obsession.

Ironically, it’s not Christians who are obsessed about sex. Rather, it is a culture that has lost its Christian roots.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, best-selling author, popular speaker, part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit Ministries, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog:

[1] Bertrand Russell, "A Free Man's Worship," in Why I Am Not a Christian, ed. P. Edwards (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1957), 107.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author, popular speaker, and part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell, TikTok, Instagram, and his blog: