Sex is like duct tape

Work with me here, people.

The truth that people who have sex create a bond isn’t just biblical (“one flesh”), it is scientific.  Anyone supporting “comprehensive” sex education should be teaching this.

J. Budziszewski is a philosophy professor at the University of Texas.  He shares the following illustration, summarized well by Chuck Colson when describing Budziszewski’s book, Ask Me Anything: Provocative Answers for College Students:

My favorite question is why “sowing your wild oats” never works out the way it’s supposed to.  Sexuality, he says, is like duct tape. The first time you use it, it sticks you to whomever it touches. But just like that duct tape, if you rip it off and then touch it to someone else, it isn’t as sticky as it was before. So what happens when you pull it loose from one partner after another?  Budziszewski explains: You just don’t stick anymore, your sexual partners seem like strangers, and you stop feeling anything.

Ripping the duct tape off is extremely painful as well, especially the first time – just as the break-up of a sexual relationship can be more painful than a regular one.  It may seem progressively easier to “tear off” with subsequent partners, but you can’t make it stick on command when you finally decide to commit.

Here’s an article from the Boundless Webzine that describes it in more detail.

“But how do you know if you have a commitment?” he asked.

“Easy,” I said. “If you’re married, you’ve got one. If you’re not married, you don’t.”

Science confirms that this isn’t just a clever illustration.  Consider oxytocin, a chemical that, among other things, encourages bonding of mates.  More about it here.  It is no wonder why people form sexual addictions and why encouraging people to experiment with any sexual behavior will lead to problems.

Do these “experts” pushing to normalize fornication and homosexuality not understand the psychological and physiological implications of such behavior?  Or is the problem that they understand them too well?  Teaching the sex without consequences myth (“just use condoms and everything will be ok!”) is cruel and stupid.

I like this duct tape example because it is provocative, accurate and helpful in exposing the lies of the sex-as-recreation crowd.  Regardless of what Planned Parenthood and the rest tell you, sex outside of a one man, one woman marriage will always hurt you.  No amount of birth control and abortions can change that.

This concept is right out of the Bible:

1 Corinthians 6:16-18 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”  But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.  Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.

Once again, God’s way is the best way.  When God described the union of a man and a woman as “one flesh,” He meant it.  You become one.  When your flesh is joined and you tear it apart it will be extremely painful.

Yet as He shows again and again, redemption and healing are possible with him.  He loves to forgive and help people out of bondage.  Today is a great day to stop the cycle and educate people about the truth.  Here’s a book designed to help (I haven’t read it but heard the author on a radio show) – The Invisible Bond: How to Break Free from Your Sexual Past.

41 thoughts on “Sex is like duct tape”

  1. I’ve long felt that even if the atheists were right, adherence to Christian teaching would still be the way to go. Biblical teaching regarding sexuality is a good example of this. If everyone was to follow the Bible and deny themselves until after marriage, and if everyone who did so loved their spouses in more than a lustful erotic manner, there would be far fewer instances of disease, “unwanted” pregnancies, divorces, abuses, etc. than we now endure.


  2. A few thoughts…

    I first heard about this from radical feminists. They HATE it, not because it’s accurate, but because it is often presented in a very sexist manner, with some very loaded background.

    Consider that there is the “car” analogy to women (test driving v. used goods); that men who sleep around still want to marry virgins; that, historically, virginity was much more important in women than in men – women were “used goods” if not virgins.

    Apparently, some educators use the tape analogy moreso with women than men, under the theory that women bond more with sex. Well, that’s fine, except you’re wandering into “women as used goods” territory.

    Neil – you did an excellent job of avoiding this, so thank you. I would just like to point out that people who do this exercise have to be very clear that it is the ability to bond and not the characteristics of the people that become used up.

    Now, to end off my feminist rant, I would just like to point out that men also suffer from this, just in a different way than do women. Both sexes tend to stop using sex as a means of love, communication, and intimacy and more as recreation. It brings to mind the words I heard when I was 18, that have been helpful all my life. A young woman, recently married, told me that her husband was a virgin and she was not. He asked her what they could do as a couple, alone, that was unique to their relationship – something special between just the two of them. In that context, it is important to remember that our bodies don’t give us unlimited types of tape – it’s not like we can muck up one aspect of intimacy and figure out another way to relate on a unique level.


  3. Theobromophile,

    Honestly, I can not blame radical feminists for their angst when this issue is presented in a sexist manner. Sexual responsibility should be equally applied to both sexes. It appears to me that things have only become fair in recent years.


  4. “I would just like to point out that people who do this exercise have to be very clear that it is the ability to bond and not the characteristics of the people that become used up.”

    Excellent distinction, Theobromophile. This impacts men and women. There is hope for healing, but it isn’t easy.

    All – thanks for the comments!


  5. I use this, as well as other information from “Ask Me Anything” In my class. I admit it never occurred to me that it could be presented in a sexist manner, it seems obvious to me that it works both ways. i will have to be careful about that in the future.

    I have long maintained that God did not pick out certain behaviors and say that looks like fun, I’ll make it a sin. One way or another, sin is always harmful to us in the long run.

    “Ask Me Anything 2” is due out June 15, I am looking forward to that.


  6. I found that all of this is just not true. For those that believe in it, the use of a simplistic analogy is comforting. However, many people do indeed “sow their wild oats” before settling down with one person, and have a deep, powerful bond with that person. That’s one discrepancy in the analogy. Another is this: we all make mistakes. Many people mistake sexual attraction for love, when it is not. One does not learn this without trying it.
    Experimentation is a major part of life. Lastly, while I often felt that way, that that first love was the best, and nothing could compare, it is simply not true. As we go through life, we learn much about love, and how to love. Sure, there may have been many sexual encounters, whether considered as love, or just sex, but my feelings have actually increased over the years, with each relationship lasting longer and getting better. This is not to say that we should all have serial monogamous relationships, or multiple ones, but, for some people, it takes awhile to get it all together, and no amount of sex takes away from that. So, no, the duct tape analogy doesn’t work for sexual relationships, when the actual reality is that many people experience greater love as they move forward in life, and find that, with real love, the sex is way, way better.
    The objection people often have to such teachings or analogies is that they are being being told what to do and not being allowed to find out for themselves, especially in light of such poor, irrelevant analogies and teachings such as this. This is a really, really, bad analogy; depressing, untrue, and designed to convince people that religion already has all the answers, so there no need to find your own way.


  7. Thanks for sharing your comments. I think your reasoning fails, though. Taken to its logical conclusions we’d experiement with all sorts of harmful things. Do you encourage your kids to experiment with binge drinking, drugs, unsafe driving, etc.? And why be monogamous when married? If this experience / “practice” makes you better then why not keep practicing with others?

    I think you missed the point: People can make some recoveries from their errors, but to ignore the potentially life-long consequences is dangerous. I think it is more depressing to find out that avoiding something could have meant a better life for you.

    Also, keep in mind that you may never fully realize what you are missing because it is unattainable for you.


  8. Neil, I read your note, then Theo’s comment. I was surprised. Having an 18 year old son, I naturally thought of sharing this with him, rather than following Theo’s idea of what a feminist would say/feel.

    Thanks to Theo for pointing it out. Also thank for understanding that sometimes we men are just ignorant and don’t see it the way some feminists feel.


  9. Anything I’ve missed wasn’t for lack of trying. Some things should be avoided, but sex, in my experience, is definitely not one of them, is ultimately why most people pull away from whatever religion they have that tries to put limits on sex that go beyond the dangers of disease or pregnancy. Sex is great fun, increases intimacy, and makes people healthier both physically and mentally. Not all people benefit, but not all people would benefit from anything. Sex can be risky, but the ricks can be minimized, just like the risks from driving or swimming, boating, flying, etc. To live risk-free life is nearly impossible. To say sex without marriage is bad because it is risky is to miss the point also. To say that sex is only part of a single monogamous relationship also misses the point. Sex is designed for young people, and should not be denied when it is at its most wild and unpredictable. The idea that sexual pleasure lessens over time, if it hasn’t been with the same person is ludicrous, and not borne out by real life experience. It seems to me that the thing that is harmful is sinning, to those who believe in such things. If sex is not a sin, then it’s not harmful when precautions are taken. It’s just part of life, like eating or drinking, as just as important.


  10. I think you misunderstood me. What you may have missed is the benefits and pleasure of a relationship with a proper view of sex.

    You are probably right that people may pull away from religion because they want to sin. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a sin and doesn’t have consequences. My guess is that if you ever have a desire for a monogamous relationship that you won’t appreciate your partner experimenting / practicing with others because it is just so much fun for them.

    And my point above wasn’t that sex outside marriage was bad because it is risky physically (even though it is risky physically). My point is that even if you could guarantee no STDs or unplanned pregnancies that there are still consequences.

    “The idea that sexual pleasure lessens over time, if it hasn’t been with the same person is ludicrous, and not borne out by real life experience.”

    That wasn’t the claim of the post at all.


  11. “So what happens when you pull it loose from one partner after another? Budziszewski explains: You just don’t stick anymore, your sexual partners seem like strangers, and you stop feeling anything.”

    Not to mention all the nasty stuff that sticks to the tape.


  12. “Experimentation is a major part of life.”
    Yes and No. In an ideal situation you learn things from previous generations and avoid a lot of experimentation.

    My Grandfather told me once that he had given one of my cousins some advice and my cousin had said that he wanted to make his own mistakes. So Grandpa stopped giving him advice, but he told me that my cousin was making a stupid mistake. Grandpa said I would not live long enought to run out of mistakes to make without repeating those that had already been made. Yes you should try new things and sometimes old things if you think you have found a way to avoid problems of the past. I have not run out of mistakes yet.

    I found it helpful to listen to the experience of my elders and even more helpful to follow the advice of God who gives even better advice than my Grandfather.

    I’m not completely happy with this, maybe somebody can make my point better that I can.


  13. O’Maolchathaigh,

    “Sex is great fun, increases intimacy, and makes people healthier both physically and mentally.”

    It is great fun and it does increase intimacy. Both great things for a man and woman who are married to each other, just selfishness for everyone else. That specialness referred to by Theo is lost when spread around with others with whom one has no intention of marrying.

    But the first part is the truest part of what you said and it’s what most people think of exclusively. The fun. The fact is that sex is a very selfish act, even within a marriage. Consider losing the sensation forever and then tell me how much you’d care to engage in the practice. The pleasure is a function of the act designed to ensure that it gets done at all so that the species survives. Mankind, with his great intellect, has made it a base and masturbatory exercise and the result has been all the sex related tragedies that have befallen us over the course of history, culminating in our current woes of STDs, “unwanted” pregnancies, spousal and child abuses, rapes, divorces, and on and on.

    Here’s the best path, which few ever travel these days: abstain. Don’t engage in sexual activity until marriage, and don’t marry without a serious and lengthy (at least two or three years) courtship. The premature introduction of sex into a relationship is the cause of much heartache.

    Makes people healthy? There are better ways to exercise if health is a concern, and nothing is better for one’s character than to transcend one’s baser instincts. It is the honorable way to go. Your way is no more than, pardon the expression Neil, j**kin’ off.


  14. “Sex is designed for young people, and should not be denied when it is at its most wild and unpredictable. ”

    O’Maolchathaigh, you may wish to reconsider this absurd line of reasoning.



  15. Neil, et al

    Correction! It should read absurd premise instead of line of reasoning.
    Further evidence that I need my Wheaties first thing in the morning! 🙂



  16. Both as an atheist and as a man with a certain amount of “experience” on the subject, I find this analogy to be a very good one.

    As one who did not wait, I consider myself dayam lucky that I didn’t have children outside of marriage, didn’t catch any diseases, etc.

    I know what O’Maolchathaigh is trying to say, but he’s not saying it very well. Yeah, sure, people learn from their experiences, but many suffer greatly because of them (especially in the arena of sex).

    Even now, though… hmm . How to word this…

    We arm our youth with all this knowledge, which is a good thing. However, the attraction and “desire” for sex in young people is very, very strong. As said earlier, it’s a base instinct in all of us. Only someone with a very strong character has the ability to turn away such an instictive desire. Giving in does not make them unworthy, or “bad.” It just makes them normal.

    But when did we, O’Maolchathaigh, start striving for normalcy?

    I certainly don’t. And it’s certainly not what I want for my children. I strive to be the best person I can. Yeah sure it’s corny. but who among us doesn’t…

    Neil, I’m glad you introduced me to this analogy. It is one I won’t forget when it becomes time to talk to my children on the issue.


  17. O’Mal said ” Sex is designed for young people, and should not be denied when it is at its most wild and unpredictable.”

    Uhhhh. Define “young”. I’m 49 and would like to know how long I have left…


  18. Randy,

    Good one, ya geezer.


    I can add one thing to Mark’s.

    It is the parent who’s job it is to form the character of the child, not simply to let it evolve on its own. There was a time when this was far more commonplace. It didn’t eliminate the urges from the child, but it equipped them to deal better. Our culture has fallen far away from this attitude. Remember the early TV shows where even married couples didn’t sleep in the same beds? This might have been a departure from real life, but it enhanced the notion that there is something special about sex and that it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Our culture has suffered by the loss of this attitude and we need to bring it back.


  19. Great comments, Mark.

    You may be right about O’Maolchathaigh. Hopefully he’ll join in on other threads. All I know is that it is much easier to copy and paste his name and Budziszewski’s than it is to spell them out.


  20. Nice job Neil. Stolen from a well written research study focusing on the link between Oxytocin, estrogen, and bonding. But you ripped it off well. Painfully obvious that it didn’t originate with you. But you love receiving the praise for the originality of thought you obviously DO NOT possess.


  21. Hi Joe,

    I’m not sure why you are so bitter and unreasoned here. You managed to find one paragraph with “only” two external links to source data and came to the conclusion that I “stole” it?! I think the book mentioned at the bottom of the post references it as well, so that would make three.

    Yes, it is painfully obvious that it didn’t originate with me because I linked to other sources.

    I suppose I ripped off J. Budziszewski’s work here as well?

    Think first, then type. But somewhere else.

    I started to just delete your comment but realized it might get people to re-read an important post.

    All the best,



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