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).
What a lifelong go of it we are to have!