Category Archives: General Stuff

All the background stuff you need to know

HowStuffWorks “Pleasure Center of the Brain”

Here’s a great article on what happens in the brain when we have an orgasm:

“Pleasure Center of the Brain”.

My favorite quote is this:

Interestingly, they discovered that there aren’t too many differences betweenmen’s and women’s brains when it comes to sex. In both, the brain region behind the left eye, called the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, shuts down during orgasm. Janniko R. Georgiadis, one of the researchers, said, “It’s the seat of reason and behavioral control. But when you have an orgasm, you lose control” . Dr. Gert Holstege stated that the brain during an orgasm looks much like the brain of a person taking heroin. He stated that “95 percent is the same” .

There are some differences, however. When a woman has sex, a part of the brain stem called the periaqueductal gray (PAG) is activated. The PAG controls the “flight or fight” response. Women’s brains also showed decreased activity in the amygdala and hippocampus, which deal with fear and anxiety. The team theorized that these differences existed because women have more of a need to feel safe and relaxed in order to enjoy sex. In addition, the area of the cortex associated with pain was activated in women, which shows that there is a distinct connection between pain and pleasure.

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Sexual Release and Sex are not the same

Let me be that psychologist for a second. I am referring to that psychologist who throws charts and graphs at you as if they carry weight in an argument.

A reasonably accurate description of a person’s needs is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The chart shows Maslow’s belief that you must address the needs at the bottom of the pyramid before you can adequately meet the needs at the top of the pyramid.

Take a look at the bottom level of this pyramid. He mentions breathing, food, water, sleep, excretion….and sex! There are many people (including both followers of Christ and atheists) who cannot fathom why sex should be included in that list. Some suppose that Maslow was influenced too heavily by his early research in primates and extends the understandings of primate behavior into the realm of people. That may have some validity, but I still think Maslow is correct. Sex, as defined by sexual release, is a basic human need. Even though it is the one element of the bottom layer of the pyramid that we can live without, that does not negate its significance.

Medical science has shown that sexual release (aka “orgasm”) is somewhat regulatory in nature, helping our brains to focus more strongly and aiding in the development of several of the body’s primary systems (circulatory, excretory, immune etc.). I do not have time to mention the thousands of studies that have shown the incredible benefits of regular orgasms on the human body. And indeed, that is not the purpose of this entry.

Notice the third level. Sexual intimacy is placed there under “love/belonging”. Maslow is differentiating between sexual release and sex between two people. On the bottom level, orgasm is simply a physical function, as is eating and peeing. In a male, orgasm and peeing involve exactly the same apparatus. It isn’t until one actualizes the need for love and belonging that sex becomes more than a function.

What are the implications of Maslow’s insight for Christians?

First, as followers of God, we must recognize that God designed the body to function sexually, in such a way that orgasm is not initially connected to intimacy. The body can orgasm quite naturally when one is sleeping and not aware of any intimacy at all. The body can orgasm when one masturbates with no one else present. As we will see in the series I am doing next month on the meaning of masturbation, we need to have a theology of masturbation divorced completely from sin and shame.

Second, orgasmic release does not carry the same emotional baggage as sex between two people does. Intercourse is an application of sexual release in the context of intimacy…or at least that is the application God intended. When intercourse happens between two people who do not love each other or share a covenant relationship, all number of emotional and spiritual problems can follow. More on those problems in a later entry.

Third, if the body needs sexual release and sexual release is not the same as sex, then this changes some current teachings on masturbation, fondling, kissing, oral sex and dating than we have previously taught as Christians.

This is what we will do in the weeks to come. I intend to do this utilizing the Word of God (which I believe to be inerrant and inspired by God) and the best of logic and reason.

Why?

Why do Christians need a site dedicated to sex? There are probably hundreds of reasons, but here are the main ones:

1. We often view sex primarily in its sinful manifestations and the proper manifestations of sex are at least as plentiful as the sinful ones.

2. Those who are not followers of Christ think we are against sex…many people need to disabuse that notion.

3. Many people brought up in church were not taught anything about sex…or very little…and this needs to change.

4. Those who are ruled by the Spirit of God are supposed to redeem all things – even sex.

5. I love sex and I hate to see people so mis-taught and mis-informed about it.

6. There are ways that singles and marrieds can enjoy sex that have not been talked about much among Christians.

7. There is much awful advice given by sex therapists who claim no allegiance to God.

Enough reasons? Let’s Talk Sex then.