When you think you’ve heard it all… I recently saw an article predicting that having sex with robots will be commonplace within the next decade. Tech manufacturers are working feverishly to create robotic sex partners with the ability to program a person’s emotional and sexual history. These “sexbots” already exist but are being refined to be more realistic physically, emotionally, and sexually.
In the near future, money will be able buy you a man or woman with the exact proportions you desire with the programmed ability to talk to you according to your dreams and fantasies. Can I just say… I’m starting to hate the future.
The “advances” in virtual reality and robotics will be used to make pornography even more powerful and realistic. Some might argue that sex with a robot could be a good thing. At least it’s sex that doesn’t exploit another human being. Could we just see it as sophisticated masturbation that keeps people from sleeping around? Maybe it will curb the demand for prostitution and trafficking if men can be satisfied with robots?
In my opinion, sexbots are just a further development on the road to twisting and distorting God’s design for sex. There is no “silver lining” in this “advancement.”
God created sex to be inseparable from love. Sexual intimacy was designed as an expression of covenant, commitment, and devotion. Since the fall of humanity, the powerful gift of sex has been twisted and distorted, becoming something to be bargained for, paid for or forcefully taken.
Whether we are talking about old-fashioned prostitution, pornography or sex with robots, sex is distorted when it feeds our selfishness rather than challenging us toward sacrificial love. Sexbots are just the next evolution of two lies that have infiltrated our cultural thinking about sex:
Why would anyone want to have sex with a robot? Because a robot has no needs and can be programmed to be and do exactly what you desire. A robot can tell you that you are sexy and charming and that you deserve extreme pleasure. A robot gives everything and demands nothing. Utopia? I don’t think so.
God in His wisdom has created us to thrive when we learn to harness our selfishness for the sake of love. It truly is” better to give than to receive.” Research supports the fact that giving to others makes us happy, improves health and makes us more grateful people. Positive hormones like endorphins and dopamine are released in your brain when you are unselfish. Most importantly, giving builds affection and relationship.
By contrast, selfishness (in sex or anywhere else) contributes to isolation and depression. While a great sexual experience with a robot may temporarily boost feelings of pleasure, it will ultimately leave you feeling unsatisfied and searching for more. A selfish person never has enough, which is why a self-centered sexual appetite makes people prone to sexual addiction. Whatever the sexy robot did for you last week will need to amp things up to satisfy you today.
Pornography, no matter the package through which it is delivered, undermines a person’s ability to be content. When it’s all about your needs and your desires, you will find an endless pit of dissatisfaction.
The greatest sexual “high” may be the result of a hedonistic quest to fulfill a selfish desire, but long-term sexual health and fulfillment is found within monogamous, caring relationships with another person.
The second lie “sexbots” reinforce is that a machine can substitute for human intimacy. A designer may be able to craft a robot with a perfect body and even with the ability to listen and respond appropriately. But here’s the truth… no machine (no matter how sophisticated) can ever replace human intimacy. Why? Because we long to be chosen and accepted.
I grew up in a family with five siblings. At times, me and my sibs would sling insults at each other. I remember one of my sisters telling me that she only played with me because our parents paid her to. She even had me believing that my parents paid my friends to be nice to me. For a brief time, I didn’t want any part of her or my friends. A paid friend is no friend at all. Friendship and intimacy are built on the choice to love, to pursue, to accept and embrace even through hard times. My dearest friends are ones who have sacrificed for me and me for them.
Jesus said, “There is no greater friend than he lay down his life for his friends.” Every intimate relationship is only intimate because of what it costs. My husband’s love for me has been demonstrated with small and great sacrifices over the years. When Mike gives up sleep to listen to me, when he lets go of what he wants because of his love for me, when he forgives me… these are all things that create a deeper love and intimacy.
What computer or robot can choose to sit by your deathbed to comfort you? What programmed machine can choose to love you among all the other men and women walking the earth? Love is love because it means we are chosen, we belong and we are worth investing in.
Sexbots and every other form of sex without a relationship (including a movie like 50 Shades Darker) can arouse us sexually, but end up creating isolation, discontentment with our real-life relationships, and a shallow pursuit of a thrill that can never produce intimacy.
So as much as I grieve the future sophistication of pornography, I know that a counterfeit can never compete with the real deal. The man or woman you love with real skin, real feelings, and a real soul is the only one worth giving yourself to.
In case you haven’t heard, the new Fifty Shades of Grey movie trailer was released today. When I saw this come through my newsfeed, my first thought was, “Here we go again…” I’m quite certain that we will have another round of debates about the relative harm of erotica and whose place it is to judge someone else’s sex life. Part of me dreads these conversations, but another part of me is getting ready with great anticipation. Here’s why…. A conversation about sex is never just about sex. It’s about longings, desires, wounds, and about what you ultimately believe will satisfy you.
A friend asked me the other day, “Juli, do you like what you do? Do you actually enjoy writing and speaking about sex?” In one respect, no. I don’t always like being in the thick of controversial and sensitive topics. But here’s what I love… I love seeing women know Jesus Christ.
John Piper wrote, “The quickest way to the heart is through a wound.” Jesus knew this which is why He didn’t make small talk with people. He got honest fast, going right to the wound. He asked about their sin, their shame, and their longings. He exposed them so that He could redeem them.
Over the past five years ministering to women on the topic of sexuality, here’s what I’ve learned. Your sexuality is either drawing you closer to God or it is a barrier to true intimacy and fellowship with Him. For most women, the latter is true. Their shame, their hidden wounds, their vows to never trust again, and their secret sins keep God at “arm’s length.” They may be getting along just fine on the surface, but they don’t know Jesus Christ intimately.
I’ve had the profound privilege of watching Jesus set women free from porn, restore a marriage after betrayal, bring healing to sexual wounds from childhood, pour passion into a dead relationship, and remove the cloud of shame from women who thought they could never be free from their sin. Each of these women know Jesus like they never could have before. They may have been Christians for decades, but there had always been a wall between them and God. By stepping into their wound, Jesus became more than a distant God. He became Redeemer, Comforter, Counselor, and Friend.
Why do I care whether you see Fifty Shades Darker, go to counseling for your wounds, or cry out for freedom from your past? Oh, friend. It’s only because I want you to know Jesus. I want you to know that His friendship isn’t reserved for the super spiritual. It is offered to anyone who wants to walk in the truth and to embrace Him. Paul wrote:
For though we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
Authentic Intimacy exists to tear down strongholds... Those things that prevent women from intimately knowing God. As as Paul wrote, this is a spiritual work that must be won with spiritual weapons. I have strongholds in my life, just as you have in yours. Oh, God, please tear them down so that we might know true intimacy with you!
How ironic that the title of this new movie (and the corresponding book) is Fifty Shades Darker. John wrote, “If we say we have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” I care so deeply about your sex life because I care so deeply about your relationship with God.
May we walk fifty shades “lighter” as we run towards true fellowship with Jesus Christ.