Many people worry about pornography and it’s affects on the family. When I wrote my first book in 2007 my introduction painted a picture of a undetected killer that lurks within all of our homes. This killer was in the form of erotic material on your Cable and internet. The Church world is full of these kinds of descriptions of the dangers of pornography. I am just another pawn that has described visually sexual images in such a way.
I am known to meander through my blogs and talks. It is my style I guess. So I will do my best not to let anyone down in this blog as well. Though the kinds of pornography that ‘lurks’ in your homes potentially could be harmful if watched it for 10 hours a day, most do not watch it that much. With the many facets and genres of sexual images ranging from the normal to the brazen, one would think, if given enough time, a person would get sick of it after such exposure. Give a person who likes sweets sugar on end, and enough is enough. There is a moment of simply being done.
But there is a new porn to which I am amazed by how people continue to take in repeatedly, hour upon hour. Every day, every month, every year. This new porn has such a pull and lure on the human that they cannot give it up so easily. If they turn off the TV, they watch it on their phone. If they throw away the phone, the TV comes back on. The impact this new porn has on the viewer or listener is gripping without release. It is all the time; constant! Twenty-Four, seven. The sea of depression is where it leads. Your body will grow old with sorrow, your life zapped, but you still go to it. It is a trap, a trap it is…there is no stopping our appetites towards it!
A continual dripping from a leaky faucet this is! This ‘new porn’ wakes us up at night in panic! It says, “Update! Tune in now!” (Did I mention the fear that this kind of giving in does to us as a society?)
We look at one another different, objectifying one another as we can no longer see the straight…we are tainted, stained, manipulated…we become disillusioned, no longer able to see properly anymore. There is too much in our heads our hearts. And did I mention the fear? Oh, of course I did…the fear! Fear of them… afraid of what it might mean for us!
But what if someone finds out what I am watching daily? What if they knew the inner secrets of my heart, my mind. I’m afraid of that too! What does it say about a civil society (or me!) that claims to be civil yet at the same time watches more and more?
If they only knew my dreams that have been daily squashed due to my inability to turn it off! I desire so much to be a joyful person, but oh how can I with this giving over to the new porn I so love. You are my rose of Sharon!
I do not see the error of my ways. Everyone else does it, and they are fine… aren’t they? What a common issue I have, what could possibly be the danger? It is certain I am locked in place, unable to move where I would wish. Too much fear, too much fear! Who do I look to? Where to turn? I know! I will once again turn on the Faithful One for 10 hours a day. I can watch it with others in the home without shame now, for it is good! Yes, it is good!
Oh, I am tricked again! The music that was once in me, is gone. At one time, so long ago, my life was embellished with graceful chords and scales that filled the page, but now all I can hear is a simple little ditty over and over again. No more beautiful scale runs…no more gorgeous arpeggios, just that simple little ditty… over and over again.
The NEWS. That is the new porn! It ravishes hearts, and steels life, feelings and dreams. It brings out the worst in the human condition, as it feeds confusion and contradiction! So confused you will be! But you will be beyond recognizing this illness! As it births fear, so fearful you will go! And you thought I was talking about pornography!? Ha… gotcha!
If only… Imagine a world without the mainstream news…just image…
Just turn it off I might say. Just stop it, don’t watch it! Don’t you know your eyes are a lamp? Why do you click? Why do you tune in? Don’t you see what it is doing to you? Don’t you feel your fear, your hatred?
Your shrinking away. All your dreams you once had are long gone.
You make lunch and it is in the room with you. At night before bed you watch more…more and more till you are full.
Courage is all gone now. Courage is gone. You sit and stare, aroused by the screen and await death.
“And they will drink and stagger and go out of their minds”
At Running Light Ministries we desire to stay clear of the label of sex addiction. We have blogged and done Podcast on this issue on many occasions and I imagine we will do more in the future, Lord willing. We are not opposed to its general use, but we try our best to not overuse this term which has become quite popular in our media and Christian recovery climate regarding sex & pornography.
Here are reasons why we believe the way we do.
We believe that heroine, cocaine, alcohol and other chemical dependencies are different from unwanted sexual desires. When someone is labeled a sex addict, we are not saying that we never want them to have sex, but we want them to have sex a certain way within a Biblical framework. The equating of sexual desire or visual sexual stimulus with substance abuse is confusing and logically problematic.
The Bible speaks of sexual sin, iniquity and transgression. So we like to use those terms. We are not psychologist.
Addiction models create the same problems which started the problem. To call someone a porn addict or sex addict can create the feeling of shame, guilt, frustration, fear, & stress that lead them into the decisions they have made.
Religious people tend to self diagnose themself a sex/porn addict due to the conflict with actions not fitting there belief.
Society’s use of sex addiction is constant when there is no understanding of a baseline of what constitutes healthy/good/proper sex. This again is confusing.
Your identity is in Christ. You have the ability to say No! And under the right circumstances we all do and will!
The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, so we desire to understand the Gospel better in our groups. This is why we lay a heavy emphasis on our time in the Bible.
Calling someone a sex addict oversimplifies the issues in a persons life that cause them to act out. Dissatisfaction with ones life, resentments, anger, fear can lead one to states of depression and unhealthy decisions. Underlying stress too leads to ways of acting out. Others simply enjoy sex & sensuality. There are many reasons why a person does what they do. The Sex Addiction label can bread a fear to talk and work through these complicated issues.
Calling someone a sex addict minimizes the Bible’s teachings on the infectious nature of sin. This creates a separation between other sins and sexual sins, which in turn leads to blame, judgement, shame and feelings of separation from “normal” people.
Sex addiction tends to place blame on the lustful culture or our biological inability to make healthy decisions instead of on our misplaced worship.
We do not subscribe to your brain on porn. It is again confusing due to the differing studies available on the subject, and what is defined as pornography. The teaching that you are incapable of making right decisions due to your VSS (Visual Sexual Stimulation) undermines the teaching that we can make decisions. This is confusing.
Calling a spouse a sex addict can create shame, undermining the Bible’s teachings of how to respond to the sinful actions of another.
When we call someone a porn addict, we are not meaning that looking at sex is wrong. We are saying that looking at the wrong people having sex in the wrong contexts is not glorifying to God and therefore wrong. Using the term porn addict is an oversimplifying term.
The Bible does not call those that sinned repeatedly in sexual matters sex addicts. They are identified as people of faith.
Addiction models and it’s accompanied psychological concepts can change over time within society (i.e. LGBTQ & masturbation were once thought of as addictions and/or a disorder, but is no longer). We would rather focus on the clear instruction from the Bible as our guide in helping others.
Using the term addiction distracts from conversations on sexual desire, wants or wishes which are needed in a relational context.
2nd Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
“The great tragedy is not mainly masturbation or fornication or acting like a peeping Tom (or curious Cathy) on the internet. The tragedy is that Satan uses the guilt of these failures to strip you of every radical dream you ever had, or might have, and in its place give you a happy, safe, secure, American life of superficial pleasures until you die in your lakeside rocking chair, wrinkled and useless, leaving a big fat inheritance to your middle-aged children to confirm them in their worldliness. That’s the main tragedy.”
With great beauty in Christ, a humbled group of us gathered to worship the Lord last weekend. It was a pleasure to worship along side those that have been a part of the work of Running Light. Some were leaders in the ministry and others simply attend one of the groups. My heart was welting with emotion as I thought of the past 15 years. God is good, so merciful and kind. His compassion is new every morning, great is His faithfulness!
Two of our previous leaders who moved out of our area are back in Tucson now! Both were leading the service and both exalted Christ in using their gifts in ways that encourage us all. Bethany is our Beauty For Ashes leader and Katy has been one of our public speakers on lustful attitudes that women fall into. The later took opportunity during the service to share her personal testimony with us. This was a day I was looking forward to for years now. She shared with great vulnerability which came of so strong! Strong vulnerability? Is there such a thing? “Let the weak say I am strong, in the strength of our Lord!” I was thinking that when listening. As failures were shared to the audience with such quietness covering the room, grace and mercy were exalted. The Fatherhood of God came forth in His discipline in her life. Always so caring and gentle through such difficulty.
Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
The fruit of this kind of Fatherhood is a holiness the scriptures tell us.
Hebrews 12:10 “but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.”
And this holiness begins here with the hope of a future grace of complete holiness! This hope allows us to “strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” (Hebrews 12:12)
You too might have biffed it pretty good. Is there hope for you? Oh there is! We hope that Running Light Ministries is a place to hear our own stories of God’s grace and goodness.
Isaiah 40:31 “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
Today is a new day to wait upon the Lord. Let’s do that together!
Being involved in a ministry that discusses pornography over the past 15 or so years has it’s interesting moments. Nothing has been so interesting as hearing what other people in the Church culture say about it. It, being pornography. Over the years there is a constant sound as to the dangers of pornography; erectile dysfunction, not wanting to have sex with a real person, escalating to child pornography are to name a few. But the list could go on; sex addiction…you’ll go blind! We’ll… not the you’ll go blind talk, but we have to remember that it used to be one! And there were many other ideas as to lustful behavior and how to curb it.
Many desire to grow in there walk with Jesus yet still find the lure of pornography a real thing. I know. I and some of my colleagues do too. I was talking to a thirty year old today and sharing with him something that I have shared on Podcasts over the years. ‘The normal thing for human beings to do is to watch other people! We are voyeurs at heart! We love to watch people. Pastors at times will use animals… a wolf, tiger or cheetah to show a Biblical truth. Just as a animal does this or that, so we should be fierce like the wolf, alert like the tiger or fast to follow God like a cheetah. I’m sure you’ve heard those kind of talks. But I haven’t found one that uses Bonobo’s! Bonobo monkey’s are narly! And humans have the potential to act like one! If not in our actions…in our minds. We are voyeurs . Haha…I laugh at this. Think of it this way…do you want to go to a empty mall and walk around? No! We actually have a empty mall by our house and we find know one wanting to congregate in it! People rarely desire to congregate to a mall at Christmas time when it’s dead. Life is what we want to see, and that means people! And with sex it is the same. People want to see others. What prevents us many times from watching one another is shame, guilt or embarrassment. And these issues plague their hearts and tear at them repeatedly. But don’t get this wrong…watching people is normal.
An interesting thought is that Adam and Eve were naked. They did not wear cloths (Peter and I discuss this a bit in our Leviticus Podcasts). Their kids (if had) along with mom and dad would not have worn clothes. What a interesting thought. The point is that seeing a naked body would have been normal. And this truth makes many quite uncomfortable. But why? It might say something of our own issues of shame, guilt and embarrassment with our bodies, especially our sexual organs. But when you are married, you tend to see your spouse naked all the time. Or is that just us! And it’s not like you are aroused every time you see your spouse naked or immediately need sex when skin is shown. That would seem weird. But there can be a enjoyment of seeing your spouses body. A thankfulness of your commitment to another or even a intrigue of what their body looks like! Enjoying looking at a naked body is normal to most people on the planet. Watching pornography is a endeavor in watching. I believe a crooked one, but none the less, one.
Now another interesting note about this is that this has not always been the case. You can get an idea from Christian influenced Europe that nakedness was seen as a bad thing. Even with your spouse! Just read over the early church fathers on there views of women and sex. Yikes and hold on when reading them. Seeing a naked body, no matter who’s you were looking at could initiate the carnal lusts. So sex would be under the sheets or done with most of ones cloths on. Long skirts would be lifted up and men cloths would have frontal flaps. So what did the world do, of old, to help there lusts? Nothing but rape, have mistresses, go to brothels, enjoy polygyny and concubines! Sounds great right!? Really grievous if you ask me. Reading over the Bible can be such a grievous adventure knowing how women were treated in a middle eastern culture filled with lustful, patriarchy on steroids. Do you like to look at your spouses body? That could be seen as a evil thing in the past. A step towards escalation only maybe to wind up drinking and spending the household fortune on whores.
There is not a simple cause and effect here. Seeing a naked body will make you do this… or that… Some will desire sexual things when they don’t see a naked body at all, and others will desire sexual things when they do see a naked body. Which person will go right? or left? or straight? We can’t tell. There are countries where they bare it all and others that don’t allow any woman’s skin to be shown. Both cultures lust and both have ill, sexually violent, misogyny. And in both cultures women will be blamed for men’s lust. There is something more complex going on in us, then a simple equation of: see naked body = uncontrolled lust
One man (of the ancient world) will have sex with his wife of 14 and have such fun and excitement that he will want more and more sex. So much more than any one young lady could take! And his desire for more just continues until he finds others to indulge with. Another man, of old, will have sex with his wife and not be that excited about the sex at all. Both men could be Church going men yet for one sex has become an event to participate in regardless of the hurt it might cause and for the later it is a family obligation, no matter the hurt it might cause! Sex and nakedness just hit them different. Why, how and what will be the ramifications are all questions people look for even today. Do all people that view nakedness in pornography rape? Do they escalate to child pornography? Chatting? Hookers? Strip clubs? No. But for some the unquenchable lust continues and continues with the only escape is a radical amputation from such a fervor like a rehab or the like. But for others even a rehab will not help.
Now what is a tragic about pornography is the recording of the sexual acts of people on to a technological device to be viewed by millions of us. Did you get what the tragedy really is? It’s the fact that one day the person being filmed will no longer want their video all over the internet to be viewed by anyone at anytime. They will have had kids like most of us do. And would they want there children, student, teen, young adult to watch mom or dad having sex with so many people? Or have there bodies displayed they way it is being looked at? Or how about the teenager that is sexting and years later finds that her picture in on random porn sites! Think of the tragedy of a young lonely man who sends out nude pics of himself only years later to find one of those pictures on social media to his shame. He was lonely. She was lonely. They were bummed at there family life, maybe scared of their parents. They could have felt insecure or simply curious. Maybe the person wanted to make money and had no education for anything else but sex work. Or it could be that others just enjoy sex work and saw a financial opportunity (Rahab?) Let’s hope they do for their entire life, because now days what’s on the web is open source!
The reason I bring this up in a blog is that too many talks on Pornography don’t go very far. Seldom is there even the question asked, “what is pornography.” There are books upon books in the Christian culture now about it. I find most filled with data and statistics that are predictable. It is good fodder for fearful wives or men whose burden by guilt before a holy God is at it’s limit. It also seems useful to those who don’t really like sex or sensuality. They can read and simply agree without thinking. We will find the ramifications of these books in the years to come. Will the Church be more in love with Christ and compassionate thinkers. Or will we be doing what the Church has been doing for years and years…(pointing out the ‘evils’ of sex etc…) We shall see how it all pans out.
In a popular Christian podcast I was listening to the other day, the topic happened to be Christian leadership and it’s compromise of God’s standards for holiness. Men in the pulpit view porn they shared. And that was their example. Out of all the examples they could have shared about compromise in the pulpit of God’s standards for holiness they choose the Pastor who likes pornography. I sat back and laughed and cried inside me. Laughed because I should have known that would have been the example. Yet cried because it was the example. Lack of love could have been the example as in the Good Samaritan. Or it could have been the love of money like with the Rich Young Ruler who approached our Lord. It also could have been the pride that blinded the disciples on who was to be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. But nope…it was pornography. Did they discuss there own lustful inclinations? No. Did I hear any vulnerability or discussion of there own sexual selfishness at times? No. What we can take away from this Podcast? Probably exactly what we can take away from the sermons for the past 70 years or so that are in the same vain. They don’t have a problem with lust. If they did, they would fail the test they are putting others to. And what is the standard? Are you walking in holiness? Like who? Like Jesus! I can only think that if there were any thought given into there personal holiness compared to Christ, they just might…I’m just saying…they might fall just a bit short. Should they stay in leadership? When should they be shelved? Are they blameless? Are they in habitual patters of selfishness and pride like the rich young ruler? I find it very interesting that those that are prideful don’t know they are being prideful. They just are. Jesus encountered religious people who believed to know the truth and to walk in holiness with God and man. Upon encountering Jesus they were confident of this. There leadership was affirmed by such holiness of life and religious duty. There was no doubt of their good deeds. But they were utterly wrong.
To contrast, Jesus picked a motley crew of dudes that had some interesting lives. He continued to affirm his love for them despite there personal failures. They rejected his leadership, mis-understood him, shared there vulnerability at times and confessed there outright sinfulness. I wonder what there sex lives were like? Yet he affirmed his love and commitment to them and called them friends. They were friends of Jesus! The religious people weren’t. The Apostle Paul calls himself, before he dies, the chief of sinners. Such weakness and humility is rare, and there is something beautiful in the scriptures which teach the need to be holy yet the inability to do such a task. Our only hope is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It can put us in our place and provide us the humility which is so needed as human beings. Also it raises up the sinner to new heights of hope that are indescribable and life altering for many! Very awesome indeed.
I have to believe that the leaders on the Podcast really enjoy Jesus. I would ask that next time they go over such a topic that they share there failure for leadership first, then talk about the standard for the Ministry as in 1st Timothy 3 and Titus 1. That’s my opinion and only my opinion. I see a pattern Biblical for such a statement. The reluctance of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Moses, Solomon, David. Ah, David! I wonder just what he would have said if on the Podcast. Now that would be a awesome listen, but one you might be kind of shocked to hear!
Our society; the financial world, social world etc…is many times; sinful. We live in it, and we participate in it. There is no way around it. We are up to our eyeballs in it. We are anything but blameless in this culture. We live in a time like judges. In those days people did what was right in their own eyes. And God raised judges to deliver Israel from her adversaries. And leadership in the Church is much like those leaders… Good points, bad points, and some quite horrible points. But the Lord used them and raised them for such a time. Let’s keep working on our personal holiness before the Lord! Let’s continue to talk to other leaders about our issues and use one another as help to leave old behaviors. Some will be a lifelong pursuit! And keep fighting the good fight in the Church! Keep serving and enjoying Christ in the process. If there is no grace, then there is no forgiveness for sin. Remember that! We need grace…not that we used to need grace! For know-one living in righteous in your sight (Psalm 143:2).
Let’s continue to purify ourselves in the fear of God (2nd Cor 7:1).