hooked

Published in 2008, I was only recently introduced to this treasure of a book that, although not written from a religious perspective, offers overwhelming evidence to support the Lord’s law of chastity (much as science caught up decades later with the Word of Wisdom). With clear and engaging prose, Dr. Joe S. MciIlhaney and Dr. Freda McKissic Bush report on years of neuroscience research on sexuality and the brain. The results of numerous studies are compiled in Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children, a fascinating work that skillfully explains complex information in an easy-to-understand manner, never losing sight of the important real-world implications of its research.

The central premise is that, even if people take precautions to avoid sexually-transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, there are still serious, often unconsidered consequences of casual sexuality. The authors explain that sex, through hormones released in the brain, naturally creates strong emotional bonds between partners. These bonds are meant to facilitate lifelong pairing. When a relationship dissolves (often because sex has created an illusion of actual intimacy which fades with time), the rupturing of these emotional bonds can cause intense depression, much more so than if sex were never part of the relationship. The more this cycle is repeated, with bonds made and brokentime after time, the less a person associates sex with commitment and emotional closeness. This process can impede their ability to bond with a long-term partner and stay faithful to him or her.

Hooked also explains the science behind sexual addiction and explains the potentially lifelong consequences of sexual involvement on the still-forming adolescent brain. For those looking to have a frank talk with youth about sex, or to explain to friends the “why” behind our beliefs about chastity, I recommend combining the information in this excellent book with the complementary doctrine found in Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s quintessential talk “Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments.”Elder Holland’s sermon offers an eternal perspective on the matter, as well as hope for those who’ve strayed provided by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

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