Dr Timothy Bradshaw, Oxford University Theology department

IN OUR western societies the churches have lost much credibility in speaking about sex, largely because of abuse of power and trust by priests and ministers.

Nevertheless it might be worth looking at one widening contrast between secular and sacred behaviour patterns, sharply focused by Nancy Jo Sales in her article Tinder and the Dawn of the Dating Apocalypse in the magazine Vanity Fair.

She conducted interviews of young professionals and students in New York bars and clubs about the dating app called Tinder, and discovered a whole way of life geared to casual hook-ups for sex on a huge scale. Technology has enabled faster and faster personal communication to gratify desires including sex.

The ‘dating apocalypse’ means a wholly new form of encounter, one deliberately not wanting a relationship, only a one-off sex act of an entirely voluntary, consensual kind. Participants are staring into their phones for the next hook-up immediately after the last one, according to the article. Men and women are equally enthusiastic, although a certain worry about the lack of meaning in this ‘click and collect’ way of conducting sexual life did emerge and women did seem more concerned about this than men.

Tinder is just one of such internet providers, and the recent hacking of Ashley Madison, the website for arranging affairs, shows that the demand for sex without strings attached is very great indeed.

Aldous Huxley, also once a writer for Vanity Fair, published his famous Brave New World in 1931, set in the future as world without pain and problems, in which sex was encouraged with no commitments at all and in which childbirth was banned as barbaric and all new humans were developed in hatcheries, raised in state nurseries.

Sex was fully detached from relationships, and love and families were abolished. Tinder would fit in well to Huxley’s imagined vision, an animalisation of sex as a quick orgasmic source of pleasure, and nothing more.

CS Lewis wrote a short article called Men Without Chests, the chest being the symbol for moral sense, lying between the head representing reason and the gut representing raw desire, claiming that ancient civilisations all had some form of basic moral shaping of sexual desire. The Christian view is that we are created in the divine image and are called to be more than just clever animals.

The gift of sex is set in a context of faithfulness and trust, the context for having children. Tinder is a secularist rejection of this faith vision of how the gift of sex should be shaped and preserved.

“Eat drink and have as much sex as possible, for tomorrow you die” could be its slogan. Christianity has been criticised for a lack of joy in its teaching about sex and marriage, although the marriage service emphasises it. Is the joy of sex much greater if detached from mutual commitment and love?

Tinder says yes, and faith disagrees – and swipes Tinder off to the left as a false and destructive option.