Can sex friends stay best friends?
Stars Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman explore this 21st-century predicament in the new movie “No Strings Attached,” which opens Friday. Lifelong friends Emma and Adam unexpectedly become more than friends one morning, so to protect their relationship, they agree to a “no strings attached” sexual relationship – no commitment, no expectations, no jealousy and definitely no lasting love.
It’s the ultimate friends with benefits scenario, and without seeing even a minute of the film, I can venture a guess that these two will find more than lust in the end.
“So we just do this until one of us feels something more,” Portman’s character says in the trailer.
“Well, it won’t be me,” Kutcher’s character responds confidently.
“It won’t be me,” Portman retorts.
The fact that Hollywood has produced a film solely to explore a sex-only relationship indicates a significant shift in our culture’s views on dating and sexuality. This is not a recent change, so I doubt Kutcher and Portman were thinking of such implications when they walked the red carpet at the movie’s premier last week.
As Catholic singles, many of us know that such a lax view on physical relationships completely contradicts Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, which is one of the soon-to-be-beatified pope’s greatest legacies in the church. It was his Magna Carta on sexuality, one that is just as spiritual as it is practical. Whether you’ve crossed a line with a friend or significant other or have been called on for advice from someone else who has, Pope John Paul’s theology is a good place to start.
The core concept?
Sexuality is a “sincere gift of self.” He wrote:
“The human body is not merely an organism of sexual reactions. But it is, at the same time, the means of expressing the entire man, the person, which reveals itself by means of the language of the body… Participating in the eternal plan of love, the language of the body becomes a kind of prophetism of the body.” (TOB Aug. 22, 1984) p. 397
One cannot separate the body from the soul for mere physical expression; this is not love.
“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience love and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.” (Redemptor Hominis 10)
We can assume that the characters in “No Strings Attached” come to this realization in the end.
May we all come to accept the truth Pope John Paul laid out, that sex without commitment, love and marriage is hollow. So let’s pass on a trip to the movie theater this weekend and instead rejoice in the simple truth that God has love, real love, waiting for each of us in our relationship with Him – no strings attached.