06/13/14

Coping with Our Porn-is-the-Norm Culture

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What would you say if someone came up to you after a church service and said:

  • “Dirty, ugly, shameful, unwanted and unloved are a few of the words I’ve used to describe myself. For twenty years I have lived in the darkness of sexual addiction.”

or

  • “I was a good, Christian boy raised in a good Christian home and community, and my life didn’t look any different from the world and what it promotes sexually. . . . I knew all the Christian doctrines, but in my heart I was helpless to resist, a slave to my desires—for the next 25 years.”

or

  • “After college I “stumbled” across pornography following a broken relationship. . . . After every fall I would be crushed with guilt and shame; I would ask for forgiveness; I would feel better; and then shortly thereafter fall again.”

Could you give these three people any hope and practical help for their struggles with sexual sin? One place you could suggest is Harvest USA. In their Winter 2013 Newsletter, you can read the complete personal stories of the three people quoted above. In that same newsletter, is the Dave White and Nicolas Black article, mentioned in a previous blog post, “Our Porn-is–the-Norm Culture.”

Another helpful resource that I’ve used regularly in Tim Chester’s book, Closing the Window. Chester said that porn is providing the sex education for a generation of young people. It is establishing their expectations for sex and marriage. “We have a generation of young people for whom the call to repentance must include a call to turn from porn.”

Chester gave a helpful, biblically sound definition. Porn “is anything we use for sexual titillation, gratification or escape—whether it was intended for that purpose or not.” So looking at ads or catalogues to stimulate lust, “undressing” someone with your eyes, fantasizing about sex with someone who is not your spouse, are equally pornographic along with sexually explicit material in magazines or movies or on the Internet.

The biblical starting point for this definition of pornography is Matthew 5:27-28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Chester suggested five key ingredients that need to be in place to win the battle with porn:

  1. Abhorrence of porn—a hatred of porn itself (not just the shame it brings) and a longing for change.
  2. Adoration of God—a desire for God, arising from a confidence that he offers more than porn.
  3. Assurance of grace—an assurance that you are loved by God and right with God through faith in the work of Jesus.
  4. Avoidance of temptation—a commitment to do all in your power to avoid temptation, starting with controls on your computer.
  5. Accountability to others—a community of Christians who are holding you accountable and supporting you in your struggle.

John Freeman, the President of Harvest USA, had this to say about Closing the Window: “This is a wonderful resource to add to the arsenal of anyone serious about finding freedom from the power of pornography. . . . It is an excellent pastoral tool to help those dealing with and impacted by the false promises and lies of our porn-is-the-norm culture.”

Several years ago I had a conversation with Tim Geiger, now the Executive Director of Harvest USA, about counseling individuals struggling with sexual sin. I frankly told him of my reluctance to counsel individuals with this issue. The problems were so entrenched. The denial and resistance was so strong. This was coming from someone who has spent most of his counseling career working with addicts and alcoholics. But that reluctance faded away after I read Closing the Window. This is THE resource to read and recommend to individuals struggling with porn.

Do you agree with Tim Chester’s definition of porn?

06/11/14

Our Porn-is-the-Norm Culture

“Those who argue that pornography has been with us since cavemen first drew fornicating women on earthen walls ignore the vast discrepancies between a world in which pornography was glimpsed on the sly … and today’s culture, in which pornography is omnipresent, accepted, and glorified.” (Pornified, p. 241)

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Today, according to Pamela Paul, “the entire culture has become pornified.” Paul is the author of the 2006 book, Pornified: How Pornography is Damaging Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. By pornified, Paul means that “the aesthetics, values, and standards of pornography have seeped into mainstream popular culture.”

In her essay, “From Porn to Porno to Porn: How Porn Became the Norm,” Paul noted how there has been a radical shift in the cultural landscape and social acceptance of pornography. Technology, especially with the Internet, “has made pornography more anonymous, more accessible, and more affordable than ever before.”

Porn stars are regular features in the same magazines that profile actors, singers and other celebrities. Americans rent upwards of 800 million pornographic videos and DVDs yearly. Eleven thousand porn films are shot each year, outpacing Hollywood’s yearly output of 400. More money is spent on video pornography (4 billion dollars) than on football, baseball and basketball combined.

A man rented “Smurfs 2” from a Redbox vending machine for his kids. After taking it home he discovered someone had overdubbed it with hardcore porn. Redbox said this was an ongoing problem. “This is an unfortunate incident caused by an individual with ill intent.”

Members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported in 2002 that 56 percent of their divorce cases involved one party having “an obsessive interest in pornographic websites. . . . 33 percent of the divorce cases cited excessive time communicating in chat rooms (a commonly sexualized forum).” The association’s president said: “While I don’t think you can say the Internet is causing more divorces, it does make it easier to engage in the sorts of behaviors that traditionally lead to divorce.”

And the statistics just keep coming. Daily Infographic indicated that twelve percent of all the websites on the internet (24,644,172) are pornographic. Every second, $3,075.64 is being spent on porn. In the US, internet porn brings in $2.84 billion per year. Worldwide, Internet porn revenue is $4.9 billion. There are 116,000 searches daily for “child pornography.” The average age at which a child first sees porn is 11; yes ELEVEN. The most popular day of the week to view porn is Sunday.

Dave White and Nicolas Black, of Harvest USA referred to the normalization of porn within the church as a silent crisis. “Pornography, which is now so widespread and accessible, seems to have become almost a non-issue for so many churches.” They mentioned a woman who said her 11-year-old daughter had been watching online porn for months. They had a call from parents saying that they discovered their 8-year-old son was watching bestiality videos on his iPod Touch.

White and Black said the church cannot afford to ignore this growing epidemic. “We must speak up… We must name the problem, proclaim that there is freedom and hope in the gospel, and patiently show our people how to manage their sexuality well.” They observed that one of the reasons for the weak and wavering faith of many in the church today may well be how “its people are capitulating to the sexualized culture and are immersed in sexual struggles and sin.” Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Sermons on sexuality and faith with real-life illustrations and strategies on an ongoing basis.
  • Adult Sunday school classes where practical strategies on how to live with sexual integrity are taught.
  • Gender-specific men’s and women’s groups that talk openly about real-life struggles in this area.
  • Youth pastors and volunteers need to be equipped to know how to help youth who are ensnared in sexual struggles and sin.
  • Parents must learn how to talk about sexuality to their kids and given tools to protect them from the dangers of unfiltered Internet usage on tablets, smartphones and iPod Touches.

Do you think porn has become normalized within the church and within our culture?