Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Friends With Benefits? A Lie from Hell Itself

One of my friends and fellow leaders at Emmanuel is a bright attorney named Randy. His family and mine spent the last couple of days at their family home on Lake Keystone, where we had a very interesting conversation. Randy shared that one of our special guests at Emmanuel this spring, author and Christian school educator Josh Bullard, had revealed in his training of our youth leaders a cultural phenomenon among teens and even pre-teens in America. "Friends with benefits" is the lingo of our day to identify "friends" who will perform sexual favors with no commitment, no sense of "girlfriend/boyfriend" relationship, etc ... In other words, we are living in a culture where sexual activity among teenagers is not necessarily among "dating" couples who are not married, but simply among "friends" who have no intention of either dating and/or getting married. These kinds of relationships among kids is called "friends with benefits."

I was floored.

I had never even heard of such a thing but immediately turned to my fifteen year old son who had just recently returned from a summer long mission trip to Peru and asked if he had heard of "friends with benefits." He said yes. I then asked the attorney's seventeen year old daughter if she had heard the phrase and she said yes. The attorney then told me that the very next week, during a criminal trial, he heard a witness from the stand use the very phrase "friend with benefits." The conversation confirmed what our guest youth speaker had told our youth leaders this past spring. "Friends with benefits" is a fact of life among this world's youth culture.

My nurse wife, Rachelle, explained to us how rampant sexually transmitted diseases are. S.T.D's such as chlamydia are often silent until sterility is discovered after marriage. Other sexually transmitted diseases are much less silent and far more deadly.

The very concept of "friends with benefits" is a lie fired from hell itself. Were a teen to sneak off to a car, or a school locker room, or another location to spend time with a "friend with benefits," that teen will one day discover that his or her sexual partner should have been called a "friend with consequences."

The gospel of Jesus Christ delivers a sinner from hell to heaven, but thank God and His grace that the gospel of Jesus Christ can also deliver a sinner from believing the lie that friends who perform sexual favors are benefits.

They are friends with consequences of a curse.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Ramesh said...

Doctors and Nurses truly see the cost of this sexual promiscuity. Of course the kids suffer first. As usual Parents are the last to know about this.

The problems with this is not just sexual diseases, but numbness inside.

Sometimes kids experiment and they do what their parents tell them not to do. Sometimes these lessons are learned the hard way.

I am just thankful for The Word and the hope in Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is able to heal wounds. But scars remain for lot of us.

Lydia said...

Don't be fooled. Fifth graders are into this, too. A teacher friend of mine confiscated a note from a boy to a girl in class about being his 'friend with benefits'.

This was a private Christian school.

Christiane said...


General Social Survey 2000 to 2004
Percentages of Marriages That End In Divorce shown below:

(“Frequent” means attending church about once a week or more.)

58%, non-frequent Black Protestants
54%, non-frequent Evangelicals
51%, no religion (e.g., atheists & agnostics)
48%, non-frequent, other religions
47%, frequent Black Protestants
42%, non-frequent, mainline Protestants
41%, non-frequent Catholics
39%, Jews
38%, frequent other religions
34%, frequent Evangelicals
32%, frequent mainline Protestants
23%, frequent Catholics

Why post this here?
It has 'nothing to do with the behavior of our young.
Or does it? You decide.
I think they already have.

Domine, miserere nobis.

Tim G said...

On these Wade we totally agree. My 12 and 16 year olds told me about this several months ago. It is huge in growing polularity and acceptance.

God help us as parents and God help our children! This is why I pray daily for my boys to remain pure and for each to find the bride that God has for them!

Tim G said...

... and their purity as well!

Bryan Riley said...

Good post. Yes, it is a commonly known phrase.

Question - aren't all lies from Hell? There is only one father of lies.

Kevin said...

There are actually more . . . vulgar expressions used to describe such arrangements. I've had students ask me about this when I do purity seminars.

When we properly understand the one flesh bond that sex creates we then understand there is no such thing as "casual" sex.

Anonymous said...

"one flesh bond"... you're not promoting "soul ties" are you?

If there were such things, neither Jesus nor Paul would never have allowed for divorce under any circumstances.

Shannah said...

I hate to disillusion you even more, but this is a common phrase/practice for over a decade.

And I'm not talking about east/west coast behavior. This was incredibly common when I was attending my midwest university in the early 1990s.

Lydia said...

Wasn't this basically the topic of the Tom Wolf novel? I have not read it but heard that it was about this very thing so popular on college campuses.

Let's read our kids Galatians 5, Rev 21 and 1 Corin 6 every day.

This is not just a problem in secular society.

Part of the problem is the dumbing down of sin and teaching on cheap grace. A continual problem in some mega youth groups is lots of sexual sin. This was found to be a huge problem at one mega coed camp.

The attitude by staff and parents was well, boys will be boys and will experiment to see what they can get by with because they are warriors and manly. Some in the comp world are so afraid of what they think are effiminate qualities of compassion and love in boys they go to the extreme in promoting what they think is 'manly' behavior. And the girls are being taught that their future lot in life was to please a man and submit to his needs. And of course, the boy hears his needs are to be fulfilled by the girl and he is the more important of the two as the leader. When those two ideas converge, it causes lots of confusion. Especially when the overall doctrine is one of the seeker's felt needs and sins are just 'mistakes'.

Let's teach both our girls and boys that they are to please God first.

Christiane said...

Good morning LYDIA,

I agree with you.
The Church and the Family are sanctuaries from a society 'gone wild'. Unless, they too, fail our children.

I know that many families are made up of divorced people and that they are good parents and provide stable homes for their children.

But I do know this, and I have seen it in my work as a teacher: when a family is going through that period before a divorce, and during a divorce, even if the adults are 'careful', the children are devastated. This can lead to trust issues and commitment issues in these young people. Put that tgether with the peer bonding that goes along with being a teenager, and you have some really emotionally needy, vulnerable young people.

No 'easy answers'. Divorce is necessary sometimes, I know this, and I don't judge anyone. But there is so much at stake: a family is a unit greater than the sum of its parts. When broken, something is lost that those children needed. Parents MUST try to protect their children from emotional fall-out, if they can.
The Church MUST provide guidance and pastoral care for these young people.

I think the answer lies in Christian compassion for our vulnerable young: they need support systems that are healthy and nourishing emotionally and spiritually.

There is nothing sadder than a heart-broken child crying in front of teachers who listen to their pain.
I have learned this first-hand.

Love, L's

WTJeff said...

As Shannah said, this has been a common phrase for over a decade, epitomized on the Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Gail come up with rules for "that". For too long, we've let boys be boys and left it to the girls to say no. Much of the training today focuses on getting guys to man up and treat ladies like the treasure they are. When guys embrace this and the relationship leads to marriage, it creates the most incredible, joyous, God honoring ceremony you can imagine. I was able to witness one this past Saturday and left having truly felt I worshiped.

For this reason, our churches must focus on bible centered youth AND college ministry. If your church can't have or afford a college ministry, then get behind your local BSM/BSU. God is working in this generation and it's truly humbling to see. Talk to your BSM/BSU director. You'll be amazed at the challenges they face and the work God is doing.

Benji Ramsaur said...

A few thoughts.

1. May our heavenly Father help us all as parents.

2. Parents, please do not let your children "get out" of hearing the word preached by "helping out" in the nursery.

3. I think it is good for children to have meaningful relationships not only with their parents but with different age groups in the local church [including the elderly].

4. I hope we will not be reactionary, but biblically thoughtful. If we react as parents and in reacting go to some extreme, then we may end up harming them anyway.

5. The chorus to the song "Turn your eyes upon Jesus" is what I desire for children. May the bloody body of Jesus be infinitely more desirable than naked flesh.

God Bless,


David Wayne said...

Hi Wade - first time commenter here, thanks for the blog. I pastor a PCA church in Maryland but before that was a youth pastor for 5 years in Florida. I ran into the same thing a few years ago and I was equally floored, and equally floored at how familiar my kids in the youth group were with this phenomena. I'm with Shanna and WTJeff - this was in the 90's and in a fairly conservative town in Florida. Sadly, in some situations it's probably worse than we can imagine. My youth group kids told me it was not uncommon for kids to go party hopping on the weekends, hook up with someone at one party, then someone else at the next, and so on and so on. I'm with you, it's a life from hell in the worst way. Have you seen any of Mark Regenerus's work? His book is "Forbidden Fruit," and it documents the sad reality of all of this.

Jon L. Estes said...


1 - What are three to four practical yet direct ways to address this with the church as a whole?

2 - If a pastor discovers specific youth in the church he is leading are living this life... what are solid ways to approach this (the subject, the kids, the families) without splitting the church?

3 - Will churches, in your opinion, who look the other way, attract the youth and their families who refuse to stop such behavior?
3 -

linda said...

Are we really surprised?

Have we taken a look at music videos lately? Listened to music lately?

(Note I said music, not rock music. This sick idea of selling with sex in just in rock, or country, or pop, but also subtly in many Christian songs and video.)

Have we watched a tv lately?

Noticed a commercial lately?

We live in a vulgar society.

(And no, it is not that way because of complementarianism--or egalitarianism for that matter.)

I suggest the first place to start is clean up our own homes--whether print media, tv, computer, music, whatever, including our own actions and language.

Put sex back in the married bedroom, not "in your face" all the time.

And then we can address the kids--including the books touted and read in the schools.

What we cannot do is sex saturate our culture and then be all shocked when the kids experiment.

Ramesh said...

This comment will probably rile lot of readers.

I am for abstinence.

But I am wondering, if Christian kids and children are engaging in these activities, and they are being taught about abstinence ... are they being protected from sexual diseases? Are they also being taught prevention practices, from a health care perspective?

If they are not, then Christian kids and children, if they are engaging in these activities are more susceptible to STD's than the rest of the population who use prevention.

Before you get upset, I am not advocating these behaviors.

Benji Ramsaur said...

One of the worst things parents can do in my opinion is this:

"Joke about their "wild days" back when they were teenagers in front of their kids."

I think that communicates to kids that since their parents did a little experimenting, then it is OK for them to do the same in the light of their parents' current "ha, ha, he, he" attitude.

I do NOT believe that if parents have sinned in the sphere of sex in their past, that their children will definitely do the same.

It's about attitude. It's about the fear of the Lord [Jesus Christ].

He's not a "my buddy" doll that we carry around. He has eyes like a flame of fire [Rev. 1:14].

Former FBC Insider said...

Jon & Thy Peace,

WTJeff has a good starting point,

"For too long, we've let boys be boys and left it to the girls to say no. Much of the training today focuses on getting guys to man up and treat ladies like the treasure they are. When guys embrace this and the relationship leads to marriage, it creates the most incredible, joyous, God honoring ceremony you can imagine."

I've worked with kids/teens/college aged young people my whole life. We won't be able to change the world they live in, we have to help make them strong enough to survive the world they live in.

It's tough where they have to live and attend school and hang out. I've seen church youth groups that would make your hair stand on ends.

One night in a church service some ushers heard heavy metal doors banging and clanking and when they went to silence the noise, it was 2high school kids who had dropped trou and were very busy. So bringing them to church is not the sole answer. This has to be a very personal, EARLY, heart moving decision on the kid's part, which involves the parents at home first.

They will be exposed to this culture wherever they go, even church.

Jon, getting the parents involved right away is of the utmost importance. Counseling the kids in a loving way is also crucial. Reaching their heart will help change their minds and actions.

The pressure is far greater than you realize. These kids want acceptance at any cost.

Jon L. Estes said...


I wonder how much spirituality some of these teens parents have. From a pastors perspective, many of our parents in the church are not sold out Christians and I see their kids treating Christianity identical to their parents.

When my kids became teenagers, this reality drove me closer to God and a desire for my kids to know the same.

Empty nester now... Wheeeee

Benji Ramsaur said...

Thy Peace,

I'm not angry, but I think the logic you alluded to communicates that the good of our children trumps the fear of the Lord.

It's actually the fear of the Lord that is what our children need.

I definitely think children growing up in church and learning the "let the little children come to me" side and not the "wrath of the Lamb" side of Jesus causes children to not take Jesus seriously.

It's like He becomes someone only worthy to be petted rather than worshiped. Getting Jesus right is serious business.



Christiane said...

Even in the best of families, troubles come. A family member raised four wonderful children. Both parents worked in the medical field at jobs that demanded a lot of time and a lot of responsibility. The father also served on several medical boards and taught an adult Sunday School class in a Protestant Church.

One daughter, at fifteen, wanted to go to a party with friends, but was told 'no', firmly. (The parents did not approve of the party arrangements.)
The child went to a friend's house and stayed 'overnight' and went to the party anyway. Nothing happened to her, thank God, but as a result of this incident, her parents sent her away to a Christian military boarding school for an entire year to get her away from these 'friends'.

I thought maybe so, at the time.

But when I read today's post, I'm glad they did this for her. And she has since thanked her parents.

She is now a nurse practitioner, married, and is in charge of a pediatric cardiac unit at a University hospital.

She survived her teenage years, thanks to the intervention of her family in a timely way. They did not ignore the 'warning signs' .
They didn't 'play',
so she didn't have to 'pay'.

I'm proud of my family. Love, L's

WTJeff said...

Another thing that can't be discounted is positive peer pressure. Students are constantly looking for examples to base their lives on. They can smell those who are "fake" a mile away and rarely give them a second chance. They can become quickly disillusioned by adults whose talk doesn't match their walk. That's why student ministry can't degrade into "let me entertain you" ministry. Students need a peer group that will encourage them to live out their faith and not stoop to the worlds standards. When they find they aren't alone in their desire to live for Christ, they're much more confident in living out their faith.

This is why effective ministry at the college level is so important. Everything they were taught as a youth will be challenged and they will need other Christians their age to help them hang on.

Lydia said...

" definitely think children growing up in church and learning the "let the little children come to me" side and not the "wrath of the Lamb" side of Jesus causes children to not take Jesus seriously.

It's like He becomes someone only worthy to be petted rather than worshiped. Getting Jesus right is serious business."

Amen, Benji!

Another side to this is that these kids rarely see true repentance. What they see is blanket forgiveness right away for sexual sin with NO repentance required. This is confusing to them. They start viewing sin as mere mistakes intead of the horrible crime against God that it really is which they can be forgiven for if they are truly repentant.

Much of this comes from the lost doctrine of regeneration.

John Fariss said...

I would have to affirm Christine here.

I used to know a childless couple who could (and did) tell everyone in the church how they "ought" to raise their kids. I knew another couple who used to say, "My children would never do THAT," whatever "that" happened to be at the moment. The lesson I had to learn compelled me to say instead, "My children have been raised better than that." But even at best--with church every time the doors were open, good communication, a stay-at-home-mom until they were in high school, and the deacon's kids as friends--both mine still were influenced by others. And WT Jeff is right too, teens can smell a fake a mile away. (Adults can too, it's just that we are often too courteous to confront them.)


Former FBC Insider said...


You're right about the teens reflecting the parent's values and service and commitment or lack thereof. But I've also seen the opposite extreme when 2 pastor's families in a church I was a member of both became grandparents when their son and daughter indulged before marriage. They grew up in very committed, loving Christian homes, both dads were/are pastors, etc... Like I said, getting them to church isn't a safeguard, it sure should be a huge encouragement like WTJeff commented.

Getting the parents informed by way of classes on subjects their teens are facing is great for opening up dialogue with the adults. Sometimes, just like Wade's case, you will be telling them something for the first time, something they've never known.

WTJeff sounds like he's seen much of what I've experienced as well. Those teen services, or classes or groups have got to be grounded in solid, Biblical, relevant to their needs, talks, open discussions, etc... They do smell a fake a mile away. Get real with them. Talk about consequences with them.

At first glance I was surprised that Wade was so blown away by just now finding out about this subject, and then I thought,
"Well, what teen in this world would go to their pastor and bring up the conversation about friends with benefits?" That's why we need to bring it up with them. Knowing what they are facing gives us much credibility.

(Wade, I'm just contrasting how this can be brought up in youth group/service and how I can see why teens wouldn't call a meeting with their Sr. Pastor to discuss this kind of thing. : ))

I pray your churches have youth leadership that have a great big heart for those kids. They can break your heart with the things they are faced with on a daily basis.

We don't need to be afraid to bring up what is already going on all around them. We are their helpers and their encouragers. When they face temptations, they need to have already thought it out to it's bitter end, hopefully in their youth group or with Mom and Dad.

Do you remember Spin The Bottle? I confess that I've never played it, but was in the room while others did on several occasions. Well, friends with benefits is just as casual as that stupid game. They will call each other up and hook up for the sake of doing so. There are no emotional reasons for it, but there are emotional consequences somewhere down the road. Even the girls, or maybe more so the girls are up for this.

It's another sexual revolution. We are right back to the 60's. It is more comfortable for them to experiment with a friend than to gamble their pride with a lover/boyfriend/girlfriend.
They feel less threatened and safer. It is also very convenient. When the urge hits you, act on it.

Can you imagine if we as adults were faced with all these teens are faced with in such an 'in your face way' on a daily basis?
Can you imagine the pressure of wanting so badly to 'belong' to something or some group that you would give yourself away at any cost?

There you have it.

Christiane said...

Is THE CHURCH the place to confront the issue head-on ?
Perhaps by organizing a forum on the topic?

Would the teenagers be 'surprised' by that?

Or grateful?

My bet is on the latter.

Tim G said...


"5. The chorus to the song "Turn your eyes upon Jesus" is what I desire for children. May the bloody body of Jesus be infinitely more desirable than naked flesh."

Indeed! Great Prayer!

Gram said...

song of solomon conferences are a good tool to present sexual purity to teens in a clear, frank manner. we've had several at our church for our youth and it is a powerful program. google if you are interested. (i also saw a 20/20 piece on "suburban prostitution" which indicated that sexual acts are frequently performed for money or clothes or cd's - a form of prostitution by middle-class teens from "nice" families.)

Spriggs8 said...

I have often said that the present day church is just 10 years behind the world in what we sat is "acceptable morals". I started saying this as a youth evangelist in the 1970's during the hippie sexual and drug revolution of the 60's and 70's.

Ramesh said...

Pastor Wade can you do a follow up post on how you combat this problem at your Church? Mainly in educating parents and young people. Thanks.

Former FBC Insider said...


I'd sure love to hear that as well.
There are some great youth leaders out there (here) that will contribute to a successful outcome for you to post about.

Thanks again for all your honesty

Anonymous said...

With role models like we've seen in the SBC top echelon, nothing any "pastor" says will matter for a lot of kids. There have been so many scandals, in various "Christian" spheres, that it seems everyone but us knows that all the sermons about purity are a sham. Some, like Driscoll, want to teach youth to play with fire.

This is a whole-Body problem, not a "youth ministry" problem. It's a life problem, and we're all responsible for our examples.

Christiane said...

Perhaps all the struggles of everyone to keep the school systems from 'teaching' sensitive information concerning 'those things that should be taught by parents' has finally begun to come home to roost.


Oh my goodness, see what has happened as a result of the schools teaching sex education to our young!!!! Shocking !


Maybe everyone should have worked together from the beginning to responsibly help our youth: the schools, the churches, the medical field, the counselors, the coaches, the parents, the Juvenile System, EVERYONE together,
IN COMMUNITY, in cooperation, with respect for one another.
Maybe then, our youth would have not be facing the kind of world we have created for them to deal with.

Three possible points of view. Everyone can pick their own justifying reaction.

Except the kids who needed us.
That is what is so sad.

TalkingTheTruth said...

We have allowed ourselves once again to buy the old line, "Has God said...." and nothing has changed. The God of the Old Testament saying, "You shall not...."(Ex.20.1-17[14]} is the same God (in the person of Jesus Christ) of the New Testament saying, "But I say unto you...." (Matt.5.27-30[28]). We know this, but continue to do as we please influenced by the culture rather than the Holy Spirit of the living God.

Too, what distresses me after more than 50 years of ministries around the world is the church (Baptist [SBC]) refuses to support preachers who stand and preach, from the pulpit, regularly, the old fashion message of morality. Many youth today, firstly, are not taught biblical lessons in many Sunday Schools and secondly, are some where else than in the main worship hours; many youth are not exposed to the preaching that brought most of us into the 21st Century. I may be old fashioned, but bless God for allowing me to surrender in the '50s and see this day. Jesus is coming soon, The church had best get it's act together to meet the Bride Groom 'cause He is looking for a pure body without spot or wrinkle. c.

Chester Estes, Jr., Revivalist

jasonk said...

I don't know who Gail is, I think you meant to say Elaine. And you didn't mention that in the end of the episode, they showed that a friends with benefits relationship does not work. Sure, they gave it a shot, but I never thought it promoted such a relationship as positive. Just my opinion.
However, many tv shows do portray such relationships as positive. Sex and the City, The Real World, and others. And I know many, many people who told me that while students at OBU, they engaged in such activity, even while preparing for a life in ministry.

Unknown said...


Just as deforestation effectively strips the land of it’s beauty, health, and natural resources for generations to come... the dechristianation of our government, public schools, and laws have effectively stripped the moral fiber of this once Christian land of it’s beauty, health, and spiritual resiliency for generations to come.

We are no longer just dealing with the influence of the “Unchurched” in our society, we are dealing with the much more corrosive influence of the “Dechurched” in our society. The difference between the two is that the Unchurched, while they do not attend church or consider them selves practicing Christians, still very much live withing acceptable moral boundaries... While the Dechurched cast off all restraint of tradition and morality and for the most part live in a world without boundaries... or at the very least they live in a world where each successive generation makes up is own boundaries with very little influence by the previous generations ideas of what is acceptable behavior and what is not.

For Christians, a world without boundaries, the world of the Dechurched, can be a very unsettling place... as you (Wade) have expressed in this article. I haven’t much to add to the above observation except to say that “Nations reap where they have sown...” and we are now reaping a bitter harvest from the weeds we have sown for the last 50 years in this nation.

As my father ingrained in me at a very young age “Decisions have consequences...”

Grace Always,

Anonymous said...

I am just thankful for The Word and the hope in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

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