Netflix and Chill: Can We Enjoy Sex Without Commitment?

Marriage is not something most young Kenyans are interested in right now. In fact, the idea of volunteering to enter into an institution that’s perceived as stifling has become laughable! The modern generation tends towards ‘Netflix and chill’. You know, just come over, chill out, maybe get together, see where things go…

Our generation does ‘Netflix and chill’. You know, come over, chill out, get together…

Loads of young people are choosing cohabitation over marriage. There’s no hectic commitment, just a ‘see how we feel each day’ approach. Meanwhile, remember those series we’re watching together on the couch? They are validating this choice. Let me give you an example.

The Tale of The Marriage Story

Noah Baumbach wrote, directed, and produced the Netflix film Marriage Story. It has already won over 100 awards (from 247 nominations), including a nomination for best motion picture at the Oscars in 2020. All that, barely a year after its release. But Marriage Story doesn’t have the typical fairytale ending.

The couple don’t ‘live happily ever after’. Quite the opposite, the film revolves around a married couple, Nicole and Charlie, locked in a divorce battle. There’s infidelity, heated arguments and tedious legal battles. Eventually, they split up. Marriage Story is a tragic tale.

As far as many young people are concerned, divorce is fairly normal.

Regrettably it tells a familiar story. For divorce has become prevalent among recent generations. We actually have dozens of movies and TV shows indicating this trend. Therefore, as far as many young people are concerned, divorce is fairly normal. But more than this, divorce is often the surest and most reliable route to happiness. It’s an escape from enslaving and unhappy marriages.

The Case Against Marriage

Mandy Len Catron, who writes about love and love stories, reviewed the movie in her article, The Case Against Marriage. She writes, “Marriage Story is actually a pretty good argument against the institution of marriage, but it’s not one against the idea of love.” Baumbach presents good people who are mere victims of a bad institution: marriage.

Many today have adopted this view: They consider marriage a threat to love.

Many today have adopted this view. They consider marriage a threat to love. As one blog post puts it, today many people claim that marriage traps people in loveless commitments, coercing fidelity long after the flames have flickered out. However, we can and must learn to learn to love, for our affections can be trained. As the writer puts it, “By loving one another, even when we are unmotivated to do so, we can become better lovers.”

The Perceived Freedom of Cohabitation

Baumbach’s parents divorced when he was a teen. Years later, his first marriage ended in a divorce. One can quickly infer why he wrote a film that demonstrates the searing pain of broken marriages. But these experiences and their expressions on screen go further than mere observation. Running from an institution that is perceived as stifling, our generation tends towards ‘Netflix and chill.’ As I mentioned before, many young people are choosing cohabitation over marriage. For cohabitation does not bring any commitments.

Many young people are choosing cohabitation over marriage. For it does not bring any commitments.

Does Marriage Ever Work?

One of our Kuza App writers just celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. This news was quite a big deal for me, as a young man aspiring to marry soon. Sadly, it is a rarity in our day and age.

Daystar University released a study in 2019, revealing that 77% of marriages end before the 10th anniversary. Statistically, 3 out of 4 marriages don’t reach ten years. The study also showed that 42% divorce within their first five years of living together. That means, nearly half of all marriages don’t survive five years! Thus marriages are failing at an alarming rate in Kenya, and the world at large. I’ve even noticed that the institution of marriage is sneered at in our society, even opposed.

Such statistics always leave me asking: does marriage ever work?

The Power Of Commitment

It’s not in my place or power to tackle this question the way it should be. I am currently preparing for a wedding and have never previously been married. However, as a student of the Bible I can offer some insights into marriage. With these I hope to challenge my generation’s issues with marriage.

The viral catchphrase, ‘Netflix and chill’ is an idiom frequently used by the youth to refer to casual sex. We live in a sexed-up nation, where hooking up is hyped. Romantic relationships are typically superficial, lacking meaningful commitment. If this is our view of love, then future marriages will not survive. If we desire to glorify Christ in marriage (Ephesians 5:32), we must be committed to God, our spouses, and the marriage institution itself.

1. To Love Others We Must First Love God

It’s impossible to have a successful marriage if you are not devoted to the one who initiated it. Job advises us, “commit yourself to God completely” (Job 11:13). As another article at TGC Africa recently put it, “You cannot love your spouse if you do not first revere Christ (Ephesians 5:21).

All love toward your spouse must start by drawing on Christ’s love for you.

All love toward your spouse must start by drawing on Christ’s love for you. Self-sacrifice can only be sustained by reverence for Christ and his lordship.”

2. Commitment In Marriage Breeds Love

I’ve heard my friend’s boast that they are not in a relationship, yet are engaged in sex. Everyone desires the benefits of being in a committed relationship. But few people want to commit to a single person. This behaviour seeps into marriage. Thus the vows made at the alter become empty promises. God established marriage as the relationship within which we can enjoy sex. Therefore the best sex flows from commitment and fidelity.

The best sex flows from commitment and fidelity.

3. Use Accountability To Strengthen Commitment

Joseph Okoth, the author of Redeeming Weddings, said something that has always been in my heart: “The saddest part about holding off introducing a partner to one’s parents until ‘we’re at least certain about getting married’ is that it shows a relationship was entered into without first a commitment to marriage.” We hide those we are dating from our friends, family, and—even worse—from our fellow believers. This approach leaves us with zero accountability and, in turn, super-lite commitment. It creates the space for ‘Netflix and chill,’ before breaking-up and moving onto our next sexual conquest.

Netflix and Chill Forever After?

‘Netflix and chill’ may give instant gratification, but it leaves us with long lasting repercussions. Our media and films celebrate casual sex while casting aspersions onto commitment, especially the marriage institution. But if we believe that God ordained marriage then we must affirm its goodness, rooted in his wisdom and design.

So if you want to enjoy sex and glorify God at the same time, start by committing your life to God and being obedient to him.