As children, most of us were taught not to look at dirty magazines found in grocery stores, rubbish bins, or under a log in the back woods. Unfortunately, our learning was often head knowledge only; our eyes and minds still searched for sexually stimulating pictures.
Is “out of sight” really “out of mind?” Campaigns have been waged and won to get supermarkets and deli’s to remove certain pornographic magazines from direct public view. But have we won the battle?
What is pornography?
Degrading pictures of women and men? Pictures of people without their clothes? Printed tales of sexual adventure? A statement on the public toilet wall? It is all of this, and more.
Pornography is the visual image which allows and encourages a desire to look upon the naked body of another – whether of the same or opposite sex. Furthermore, the use of pornography is selfish in nature, used to excite oneself sexually. It may be overt, or more likely, covert. It grip is compulsive. One peek leads to the desire to see more and more.
Habakkuk 2:15 states, “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies.” The prophet doesn’t even suggest that sexual intercourse will take place, he only refers to the gazing on the naked body. Observe two things about this verse:
1) Its definition of pornography, and 2) the close alliance between alcohol and pornography.
Alcohol and pornography
It is important to note that alcohol is frequently used to prepare a person for seduction. When he or she has had something to drink, it is much easier to talk them out of their clothes.
Secondly, it is often necessary for the person who wishes to do the seducing (especially if the intended act is outside the traditionally accepted forms of heterosexual adultery) to also be inebriated.
Homosexual clients report: “When I prostituted, I also had to use drugs… If I ever returned to the gay lifestyle, I would have to remain drunk. There is no way I could handle my guilt.” It’s understandable that a drink is often taken before the family man slips out to a porno shop. During the business trip, a drink will make it just a little easier to indulge in that video or illicit act. Avoid alcohol, especially when you are vulnerable to sexual temptation.
As Christians, many of us have learned how to view pornography and still maintain our distance from it at the same time. Few, if any, of us subscribe to Playboy or Penthouse. Yet many have Newsweek, Time, or newspaper advertisements laying around the house. Have you ever looked at the bathers or underwear ads just for the sexual titillation? That, people, is pornography. The kind of pornography that you can indulge in while others are in the same room as you.
It is necessary to begin looking at pornography in broader terms than simply pictures of naked or semi-naked bodies. Any image, picture, statue, advertisement, writing, etc. whose purpose is to sexually titillate is pornography.
Thus, pornography includes not only underwear and bathers ads, but also the ads featuring the fashionably-dressed Gentleman’s Quarterly men and the men photographed for the Chippendale’s, Up Front and Buns calendars. Body building and teen magazines and various magazines for women also feature models that are displayed and clothed in a potentially pornographic manner. It is the pictures taken from these sources that are frequently found decorating the walls of flats and bedrooms of ministry clients. These pictures are found inside of the locker doors in many (Christian) universities, too.
The advertising industry is using the exploitation of the body more blatantly than ever before. Intimate physical details are no longer being airbrushed out of photographed models; such details are even being drawn in on newsprint ad models. Many men report using these same pictures as stimuli for their masturbation fantasies.
Pornography is designed for one purpose: to arouse, to titillate. It is used to sell almost everything, including alcohol, automobiles, and sex appeal. Pornographic images indicate that one is sexually attractive if …, or one is successful if .… And pornography distorts. If I don’t have …, I’m not successful, I’m unattractive, I am a failure. It is important to note that this dynamic feeds the root of envy in the homosexual person.
Are there Christians who are addicted to pornography? Most certainly. The Christian person typically tries to hide his Christianity while pursuing these activities. A number of years ago, a colleague stated, “I won’t place Christian bumper stickers on my car because I don’t want to have to scrape them off should I want to slip into a pornoshop.”
A pastor in Seattle told a university group, “If I could remember my Bible or Shakespeare as well as I remember all the porno I’ve seen, I’d be a very powerful Christian.” Leadership magazine carried an article a few years back, written by a pastor who used pornography compulsively. A salesclerk at a video store recalls the man in a cleric’s collar who rents X-rated films. If our Christian leaders are involved in pornography, what about the rest of us?
In an age of the video recorder, cable television, and the Internet, pornography has very easy access into our homes. A married man, white collar worker and former pastor, stated that his wife learned about his homosexuality when he left the sales receipt for a couple of porno films where she would find them.
The video recorder and the Internet have made pornography easily accessible for the suburban family man. He doesn’t have to go downtown and worry about his car (or the bumper stickers!) being seen. He only needs to run down to the local deli. It is even more accessible to the businessman; hotel chains like Holiday Inn have the films available in each room. Push a few buttons, the film is there and a charge automatically appears on your billing.
The solution to pornography
We need to create an environment within our churches where men and women who wrestle with pornography or other sexual problems can talk about their struggles. One of Satan’s biggest allies is darkness, secrecy. A person must be able to admit their shortcomings without the fear of rejection, chastisement, or bewilderment. The act of admission has a powerful affect of breaking the secrecy cycle. This is one of the keys in support groups using the “anonymous” format, such as Sexaholics Anonymous.
Confession to God is very important. Get counsel from your pastor, an elder, or a counselor who will help you take a detailed look at the sin. As you confess – that is, agree with God about your sin – you also need to repent. To repent is to turn from, to go the other direction. When dealing with pornography, it is a decision that often must be made continuously. Don’t stop repenting – even if it is the 8,472nd time.
A thorough separation from the pornography is necessary. This calls for a complete house cleaning. Get rid of any kind of magazine, video, or other pornographic stimuli within your home, car, boat, or other possession. Get rid of the VCR and television if you must. Watch out for covert pornography in Newsweek, Time, and National Geographic. They are not as innocent as they may appear. Take stock of your video collection; many PG and R-rated videos contain pornographic scenes (implicit as well as explicit.) Be honest about why you are keeping and viewing some of the videos you have.
If pornography does not seem to be your problem, God may still be calling you to clean your house of its subtle forms. God may be calling you to support someone who does struggle. You may have to hear some things which make you uncomfortable. But if Christians are going to find freedom from pornography, they need the support of those within the church. Be a part of that loving, accepting community.