Christianity vs. the Playboy Philosophy – Program 4

By: Anson Mount, Josh McDowell; ©1984
Playboy thinks it’s normal for especially young people to engage in extramarital sex. But what are the dangers of that type of lifestyle?

Is Recreational Sex Harmful?

Ankerberg: Thank you. We are talking with Mr. Anson Mount from Playboy magazine, and Mr. Josh McDowell. He has been defending the Christian faith. We are talking about the area of moral absolutes and how they apply to sex. And gentlemen, I would like to come and start with a quote right off of the Playboy philosophy here that you gave to us, Anson, where you said there: “Playboy focuses on that period of life in which real personal involvement is not yet desirable. A time of transition into maturity prior to accepting the responsibilities of marriage and family.” And Mr. Hefner wrote: “I do believe that sex sometimes, quite properly, can be an end in itself.” And last week we were talking about, does that jibe with the emotional makeup of human beings today? What is the evidence?
Mount: There are people for whom premarital sex is a normal part of growing up. It may be disruptive or even a traumatizing experience for some people, but not in our day and age, not that many people. There is a period in most young men’s lives, and that’s who Playboy is printed for – young men, when they have finished college and they are now working and they are out getting their career started, they are not ready to get married, settle down. They want to sow a few wild oats and grow up a little bit and then, when they are ready, they want to get married and have a family. But there is a period in between there. I think there is a period in between there for an awful lot of young men. Some people indeed get married in college. Well, that’s what Hefner is talking about and there are people in that situation for whom sex, recreational sex with somebody else to whom it is also recreational sex, may be an enjoyable thing.
Ankerberg: But is that recreational sex messing up what they are going to have later on?
Mount: Well, no, of course it isn’t. But there are young men and young boys, young men and young women who at that point in their life want to experiment a little bit. And they are not interested in a long-term relationship, maybe it’s just a one-night stand. What he is saying is that at that age, at that time, it is not a sick, nor disruptive, nor a bad thing for some people. That’s what he is necessarily saying.
Ankerberg: Josh, I believe that you would say that there are detrimental effects.
Mount: You can’t make a statement that covers everybody.
Ankerberg: I am just going to keep it where it’s at right there and say we disagree right where it’s at, I think? Is that correct, Josh?
McDowell: Yes. Dr. George Leonard who wrote just recently the book The End of Sex, which has taken a complete switch in his approach which almost coincided 20 years ago with Playboy. And one of the men that helped to propagate the permissiveness in society, finally wrote, it just came out, The End of Sex. And he said, “The sexual revolution has failed to enhance the value of sex. Instead it has cheapened the value of love.” He says, “Recreational sex without love and commitment has led to a frantic aimless search and to a deadening of sensation; the sexual escalation in stress, to a desecration of courtship and romance.” And I believe during that beautiful period right there is one of the most important times.
Mount: For a lot of people that is true.
McDowell: I think it is for everyone.
Mount: No, I don’t think it’s for everybody.
McDowell: I think that’s the time when you are really preparing yourself. I got married when I was 31. And I believe between the ages, say of 17 and 31, was when I was really preparing myself for the love/sexual/marriage relationship that I have with my wife. And I think so much more important than the physical and the technique and everything else is that, and this is a statement, “The quality of your love life will be a reflection of the quality of your character.” And character is not built overnight. And I believe all that time before marriage and into marriage is building character.
Ankerberg: You had an illustration….
Mount: Come on guys. You can’t make blanket statements like that about everybody. I know an awful lot of people who are very happily married and they had either a little bit or several instances of recreational sex before they got married. I know, including me. Now I don’t think anybody in the world is more happily married than I am, but I had some one-night stands that came along and I enjoyed it and I think the young ladies did too. But my point is it didn’t destroy me and it didn’t destroy my marriage. But there are people for whom that kind of thing doesn’t work. But you can’t make blanket statements for everybody like that.
In the last program you made a statement which I didn’t get a chance to answer, and you were saying that we have this younger generation of people who are so disturbed and they are having trouble with their sex lives and a lot of it is because of broken homes. And the broken homes are because there are so many more divorces now than there used to be, and kids are growing up without parents. But I’ve got to remind you that there was a time when people didn’t get divorced, a lot of people didn’t get divorced that wanted to, and they lived in miserable, unhappy homes because it was wrong to get a divorce and it was forbidden. It is better that there is a divorce and the kids grow up in peace than they grow up in a very horribly unhappy home. And so many people said, “We are not going to get divorced until the children grow up because we don’t want,…” So they stay together and fight.
McDowell: The children knew it. But I think more on the other side is this, that because there are people that are going into the commitment of marriage saying, “Well, if it doesn’t work out properly we can get a divorce,” and people are not going in with that commitment to work it through. Let’s go back to your previous statement, Anson.
Mount: I don’t know if they going into marriage, “if it doesn’t work we can get a divorce,” I think everybody who gets married thinks it’s going to last forever. And if they’ve got that idea why get married?
McDowell: Oh, I wish that were true.
Mount: Because there was a time, you know, when there was a big stigma to living together without being married. And if somebody is going to go into marriage and maybe it will work and maybe it won’t, I don’t think they do that anymore. I think because if they feel that way about it they just don’t get married, they live together.
McDowell: Yes, but now they are finding that doesn’t satisfy so much and they’re turning to the other.
Mount: That’s right. And let me tell you something that I bet you haven’t heard, and that is a recent study came out showing that the people who live together before they get married, get to know each other, are far more likely to get divorced than people who don’t live together and get married. And they….
McDowell: No, wait, wait, come back with that again….
Mount: Now wait a minute now, let me tell you something. The sociologist went into the study almost absolutely sure what they were going to find. They were going to find that people who lived together and get to know each other and establish a good relationship, then they get married, their marriage is far more likely to last. And they found that isn’t true. It is the other way around. And they did a little more research and they found out that the kind of people who are most likely to have a permanent marriage are people who say, “I love you and you love me. Let’s quit monkeying around and let’s get married.” And they dedicate themselves to it. The people who are cautious and say, “Well, maybe it will work and maybe it won’t work,” these are people who are not capable of making a real commitment anyway, because if they were capable of making a commitment they would make it and stick with it. And the people who live together and say, “let’s try a couple of years and see if it works,” they are the kind of people who are scared of making commitment anyway and the marriage has a tendency to fall apart. Now, isn’t it strange I am telling you….
McDowell: Well, I thought you were saying the other way around.
Mount: No, no!
McDowell: Okay, because the research I just read supports what you just said. Yes, absolutely. But, Anson, go back to this other about the premarital sex thing. Now remember, I go back, where I am coming from deemed a theological position, but I want to set that aside in the area of premarital sex. You said, you know, go out and sow your wild oats and….
Mount: No, I didn’t say that. I said it’s right for some people.
McDowell: No, no, no wait! I understand that some people, the young men, they need to go out and they sow their wild oats and then they get ready. But let me just tell you, about four days ago a young lady came to me. She was in a meeting seeing the film called The Sexual Puzzle. She broke down crying and afterwards we went out to talk, and once she got her composure, I said, “What’s the problem?” She said, “I’ve been going with this fellow, he’s 26. Told me how much he loved me and that I was the only one in his life,” and she said, “I’ve been going to bed with him.”
Mount: He conned her.
McDowell: Got pregnant and said, “He talked me into an abortion. He took me down to the clinic, left me there, went and worked out, came back and picked me up and took me home.” Anson, for him it was “sowing his oats.”
Mount: Sure.
McDowell: It was casual recreational sex for him, but there is a young lady that, I mean she is not only crushed, she is emotionally affected as a result of somebody’s recreational sex.
Mount: There are people for whom, premarital sex is, if not destructive, at least very disturbing and there are consequences. Hey, look, there are a lot of kids who drive automobiles at 18 and they drive them carelessly and they have bad wrecks. That doesn’t mean that we should only let children drive cars if they are 21. There are people who handle their lives, whatever it might be, irresponsibly in a lot of different areas. And young people very often have a tendency to be more irresponsible than their more experienced and more mature elders. But my point is this; there are obviously people for whom one kind of activity is not beneficial and for other people it can be okay. You can’t make these blanket statements.
McDowell: With this fellow it was okay, with her it wasn’t, but sexual intercourse involves two people. Two people with a future, a life, Anson. And I think God saw that from His infinite position which finite man can’t.
Mount: Well, this was a young man who was a three letter synonym for an anal aperture, he was obviously….
Ankerberg: For a what?
McDowell: I saw that in the Playboy philosophy somewhere.
Mount: Here is a guy who took advantage of a girl. And that happens in every aspect of life. Sure, of course, you could also say, “Well, she should have been smart enough to practice birth control.” I mean, you could also make that…. But that’s irrelevant too. My point is you can’t say….
McDowell: That’s because she was used.
Mount: Yes, she was being used. But people get used when they go to a used car dealer. People get used by lawyers. People get used by doctors. People get used by relatives and maiden aunts. Parents get used by their children. That’s true throughout human existence. But you don’t answer that by putting greater restrictions. What I am trying to say is there are in every area of life, and certainly in a sexual area of life, activities, behaviors which are disturbing to one person that might not be to another. There are young men, and this is what Hefner is talking about, who are out of college, they are single, they have been working their tails off in college and now they want to have a little fun while they are getting their career started and before they get married. So they go out and they celebrate a little bit. He is not suggesting that they take advantage of somebody. I think you will find very often, more often, as a matter of fact, nowadays in single bars, it’s the girl who picks up the guy. So, my point is this….
McDowell: And I agree with you. Today the guy is more hurt from it than the girl.
Mount: Very often. But they are not necessarily hurt. I wasn’t hurt, as a matter of fact. But people are different. We live in a pluralistic society and we cannot live in a society where one group comes along, be it Christian, Moslem, or Republican or anything else and say, “If everybody believed like we do, the world would be better.” No, thank God, we live in a pluralistic society and we can’t make a long set of rules and do’s and don’ts that applies to the entire population. And that’s what I disagree with fundamentalist Christians about, just like I disagree with the Ayatollah Khomeini about.
McDowell: But this is where we go right back to the beginning in a circular situation of why is cruelty wrong. See, you are saying it’s an absolute.
Mount: But that guy was wrong because it was cruel, yes. I am not arguing against that.
McDowell: Now, that’s an absolute. I believe there’s even absolutes in the moral realm. I really believe.
Mount: Well, yes. I believe there are absolutes in the moral realm.
McDowell: I believe taking sex out of the commitment of love in a marriage relationship is outside the context of the original creation of God. And the thing is, even within the context….
Mount: What do you mean outside of a marriage relationship? You mean a preacher’s got to say something in front of you before its moral?
McDowell: No, no.
Mount: Well, alright.
McDowell: Well, I think you can be married just with the commitment of your two wills to be married.
Mount: That happens all the time.
McDowell: That’s right. The commitment of two wills. And even, I think, you could go as far as sometimes say – some people do, I don’t go quite as far – just sexual intercourse consummates a marriage. I don’t. I think it’s a leaving, a cleaving, a commitment with sexual intercourse that does it. But the same time, Anson,…
Mount: Well, by your definition….
McDowell: … as there is immoral outside, there is,… wait a minute, there is immoral within marriage.
Mount: Yes, I made that point.
McDowell: And that irks me as much with women using the husband, the husband using the wife for selfish sexual gratification within the context of marriage.
Mount: Happens all the time. Absolutely, and that’s very immoral.
McDowell: And this is why….
Mount: That’s the point that Hefner made, that sexual immorality can exist within marriage as well as outside marriage. But by your definition of a moral sexual relationship, two homosexuals who are responsible and love each other could have a moral relationship, by your definition.
McDowell: No, I would say no.
Mount: No?
McDowell: No.
Mount: The definition you just laid on me…
McDowell: No. Remember? Going back to God and to Genesis, “The man shall leave his mother and father and cleave unto his wife and the two shall become one.” [Gen. 2:24]
Mount: Well, now you’re introducing… I’m talking about the definition you laid on me a while ago, the definition of a moral sexual relationship.
McDowell: …is a commitment of a man and woman to each other. Now, what does the commitment involve? The commitment involves that we shall become one, that we’re committed to each other. I believe in a commitment for life, before God, can mean a marriage. But I believe that even then, before it’s marriage, in the eyes of God there’s a consummation sexually. I’m not dogmatic on that but I think it leans toward that.
Ankerberg: Anson, I was really glad to hear that you brought in the trust factor to make a good marriage. I’d like to pursue that with both you and Josh concerning the fact of what about the period before you’re married because Playboy says specifically that you’re dealing and you’re talking to young men that are in that period. How in the world are they ever going to learn trust, to be trustworthy themselves, as well as to have the girl they finally marry not go around to have a few more one night stands? Talk to trust for a moment there.
Mount: Well, you don’t build trust just by abstaining. You don’t build trust just by never doing anything. I think that outside marriage you can build a trusting relationship also. I’m sure there are a lot of young people who live together or date and who have a sexual relationship and they trust each other and they live up to that trust. I’m sure that there are a great many people that do that. That may be where they learn about trust, as a matter of fact.
Ankerberg: Josh, talk to this area of trust.
McDowell: I think it’s best illustrated by a young lady at San Jose State University who wrote an article for a major woman’s magazine. It was called “Sexual Liberation: Is It Worth the Hassle?” And representing a large number of students on campus, they concluded that sex was not even worth the hassle without two major ingredients: love and trust. And, you know, what’s so often missing today is not just love…
Mount: Most people grow up to learn that.
McDowell: Well, they learn it in college which was good. But what so often is missing today is trust. It goes right from our distrust for national leadership, institutions, everything, right down to distrust for individuals. I believe sex, the way God meant it to be, is a 100 percent abandonment to your mate. If there is any distrust in the relationship, it’s very difficult to have that abandonment. I think one of the qualities to build into a person’s life is the area of integrity – that’s what we were talking about – manifested in trust. That is so important today.
Ankerberg: Let’s get to this thing of the mind again, because you said that you met one of the wizards of America in terms of computer genius, talking about the mind. Anson was talking about the fact that it is okay to have the casual experiences, but it was interesting to see this man that basically has more patents on IBM computers than anybody else in America, said some interesting things about the mind and sex. Would you kind of relate that to us?
McDowell: He was relating how the computer was developed from the human mind. It was quite interesting. He used the phrase “garbage in, garbage out,” and how whatever we program in the mind always remembers and reads back to us. Interesting you brought that up, because two weeks ago I was with a fellow that I’ve known for a number of years. He was quite a “playboy” when he was single, and he said to me, “You know, Josh, I wish I could forget many of the experiences I had before I met Joyce.” He said, “Now, every time I go to bed with her it’s like another woman is there in the room.” And he said, “I’d give anything now to be able to forget them.” There was just one. Some people can, but there’s one person that couldn’t. It was interesting, his desire to be able to forget that. We have a marvelous mind that God has given us. I think that it’s very careful that we program what goes in because it will come back out.
Ankerberg: Right in this area also, would you share with Anson, you told me about three famous people that he might have met or is acquainted with, one being Bridget Bardot, and then I think it was Marvin Gaye. Tell me some of the quotes that they just said
McDowell: Oh, some of the things, this was in the area that we were talking about, lasting relationships. Marvin Gaye, who was recently by his father, was for a while top of the charts. After his death they interviewed a close friend of his and his friend said, “You know Marvin could have had any woman in the world that he wanted and he did, but all he ever really wanted was a relationship that would last.” Bridget Bardot, the sex symbol of the 50s, just recently for the third time has attempted suicide. In the hospital when they interviewed her she said, “All I want is a relationship that will last.” Olivia Newton-John, just before the release of the film with Travolta, was in an interview. She was telling about the devastating effect of her folks’ divorce on her and friends around her and seeing their divorces and all. And she said, “All I want is a relationship that will last; but it’s pretty hard when you don’t see any that do.” And I really believe these famous stars are indicating…
Mount: That happened to Marilyn Monroe.
McDowell: Right. And it’s the same way right out on the high school and college campuses. They are crying out for relationships that will last.
Mount: But let’s about cause and effect. Sometimes we relate two phenomena. We say, “This caused this.” Sometimes they are caused by the same thing. They’re both effects….
McDowell: Sometimes there are multiple causes.
Mount: Well, yes. But my point is it could be that people like that, you can’t say that they can’t find a lasting relationship because they were promiscuous when they were young. It could be that both of these phenomena are caused by the same thing, whether it’s childhood or whatever. It’s an unfortunate situation, but we run into that in a lot of areas in human life besides sex. But it isn’t just – not necessarily – that when they were young they slept around and now they can’t…
McDowell: Anson, I wasn’t even relating to that. That wasn’t even the context. I was saying where their heartbeat is is that they want relationships that will last. And we don’t have time to talk on it here….
Ankerberg: Final statement here.
Mount: I agree with you that a loving, lasting relationship is the most important thing in every human life. There are some people who can attain it and some can’t. But it is not necessarily governed by how you live your younger life. It isn’t necessarily related to whether when you’re young you have sexual relations outside of marriage.
Ankerberg: Josh?
McDowell: I would say that when you are young it becomes the basis for a lasting relationship. If you want a ten, you need to be a ten. I think if you want a king, you need to be a queen. That doesn’t happen overnight. A lot of people want a ten because they think they’re a two and they will pull them up to an eight. Second, I think when I came to know Jesus Christ personally and He took away my self-centeredness and everything else where I could think of other people first and not think of my gratification but others, that even at that time I became a better lover. And I think I became a more trusting individual because my actions started to demonstrate the character.
Ankerberg: Gentlemen, thank you for tonight. Next week we’re going to start questions and answers from the audience here. We’ll have them hear what they’re thinking about and what the answers are from our guests on stage. Please join us next week.

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