Look at porn?….Why not: Redefining sexuality for the church.

Everyone knows that it can prove very dangerous to mess up on grammar. You can really give the wrong impression with an ill placed comma or full stop. Or in the case of the title of this blog, a question mark.

 

You could read the title of this blog in two ways. Firstly, you could read it as a invitation to look at porn and a response to take that invitation up on its offer.

The other way you could read it is as an invitation, followed by a response detailing a few reasons why you wouldn’t or shouldn’t look at porn.lets eat grandma

I’ve definitely asked myself the very same question and answered in both ways, countless times in my life. But I think a question like this and how we respond shows us a lot of why churches are ill equipped to talk about porn or sex with their congregations. It’s not so much that it’s a bad question or even unhelpful, but rather not the best way to start conversations around sex.

Think about how traditionally the church has talked about sex or porn. We tell each other that sex before marriage is bad, that it’s not good for you and that you should wait. But…we’re never really told why. Sex is fun, so why do we have to wait? Does God want to simply control us or our enjoyment or is there something bigger going on?

The of course, there is porn. We’re told all the reasons why porn is bad. You could lose your spouse or your confidence or you purpose but as any addict will tell you; faced with denying yourself the chance to look at porn compared to all the things you could potentially lose, porn is going to win most times than wife/husband/children/job etc.

There are obviously times when we need to face up to potential consequences. We might actually be heading down a road that will cause us pain and anguish and they can be huge motivators. Yet, I can’t help but think there must be a better way. That those factors can only work for so long.

Christians have often been painted fairly or unfairly (mostly fairly) as spoil sports when it comes to sex. I think that sometimes those who aren’t Christian have a higher view of sex than we do. We’ve been told that it’s wrong so much so when Christian couples do end up getting married they’re kind of stuck when sex comes into play. Or that could be a good thing if you’re into that sort of thing. We don’t know where to put things. We’re kind of creeped out and rightly so when we think of God sitting up in Heaven being pleased with us like some cosmic voyeur simply because we were able to keep our dick in our pants for the duration of a movie on the couch. Or we’re bogged down by rules so much in church that this carries into our sex lives. We’re left pondering what is allowed and what isn’t, instead of being free to be creative and try things out.

We’ve been taught so much about boundaries that we don’t know how to dismantle them later.

But this was never the way we were supposed to treat our sexuality. This, like many things, is not the way it was supposed to be.

Whereas sex was something elderly vicars never spoke of from their pulpits, now it is porn.

There are many reasons for this. Fear of being the only one, the pastor is who is addicted and not really in the mood to talk about it, the shame we feel knowing we have let God down or simply just because we don’t know how to talk about it.

I’ve heard people who genuinely want to address the issue of porn tell me that we shouldn’t talk about it in church. How is that supposed to happen though? How can we address it if we’re not willing to stand up and be honest?

Like I said, fear can only get us so far, then we need to make a decision. Do we not talk about porn in church because some people won’t like it or do we talk about it because there are people who feel trapped by it and they are crying out for someone to say something.

One of those choices leads to more fear, one leads to freedom.

Another reason the church is ill equipped to talk about porn is in how we treat the porn industry. We look down on people who work in porn rather than acknowledging that many people who work in porn come from overly religious backgrounds. I think that says a lot about how we’ve dealt with it.

Last year, I read a post from a Christian leader in the UK who called for the boycotting of a list of magazines that were all published by a company that published one particular lad’s mag. Their argument fell along the lines that we are in a war and if some innocent people lose their jobs then so be it. How exactly, writers for Horse and Hound magazine or Wallpaper magazine losing their jobs, will have any impact on porn is lost on me.

I agree completely with those Christians who say we are in a battle, even a spiritual one. We’re not however in a war with other people. We’re in battle with distorted views of sex and ourselves. The porn industry is not our enemy.

This is why the recent closure of NUTS magazine is not something to celebrate as Christians. It is not a victory. If anything, it’s simply proof that porn is now almost exclusively a digital past time.

I want to propose a new way of talking about sex and porn and all the issues around them. Instead of talking about why we shouldn’t have sex before marriage or proving to people why porn is evil, let’s completely shift the conversation around to one where we share the beauty and freedom that is everyones when we learn to stay sober or wait for the right person.

Sex is messy. In many ways, and so there can never be a simple set of rules. There needs to be conversations and grace and love and peace. Is that too hippy? Maybe, but it surely beats shaming each other into acting a certain way and hence sucking the joy right out of sex. In the next week I will publish a couple of posts to help us have better conversations around sex and porn in church.

We need to start with sex is not evil. It’s not the enemy.

Then maybe we can get down to business.

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2 thoughts on “Look at porn?….Why not: Redefining sexuality for the church.

  1. Hey man
    I am impressed with what you wrote here. It is really not how people are thinking these days! We need more out of the box thinkers. Thanks for sharing…
    Rolain

  2. Paul,

    Just finished reading your post on John Piper. All I can say is “Thank You”! You obviously understand the issue and how to address it.

    I’m 64 yrs old. I got emotionally addicted to porn the first time a friend showed me a Playboy magazine as a Sophomore in High School (I had already had my “sexuality” corrupted as a toddler).

    For the last 50 years (yes, you’re reading that correctly), that addiction has “hounded” me like a junkyard dog! And, I’ve been a Born-again, Spirit-filled Christian the entire time! You want to talk about “shame”? Over the course of those years, I tried to broach the subject with a number of fellow ministers. They didn’t want any part of it! They all “ran for the hills” instead of confronting the issue. I eventually realized that I was “alone” in trying to bring the subject out into the “Christian” open.

    It’s only been in the last few years that the Lord has been able, by His wonderful grace, to separate the “real” me from the “shamed” me. It hasn’t been the haughty, “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” style of preaching that has helped, but the loving attitude of the Lord in the very midst of my own “condemning-heart” attitude that has finally started to breathe freedom into this heartless slavery of “porn”!

    Unfortunately, I don’t trust anyone to share with as a “support group”. The real help for me is the open “conversation” and “communication” about a stigmatized subject that is bringing the modern-day church to its knees (pun intended)! This is what you’re doing … even if it’s just on a Blog! Thanks for the timely help and encouragement.

    God Bless!
    Tim

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