(Warning, possibly triggering and some of the links are of the not safe for work variety.)
Recently I started thinking about pornography. Not that I was partaking it in, it’s never done anything for me. I might as well be looking at a pile of rutabagas or dirty socks. It is what it is, but it never did much to make me experience sexual feelings of excitement. But then again, I did grow up in New Orleans, with its capacious amounts of ever present sex shops, hookers, strip clubs and just general debauchery. I was jaded about such things by the age of eighteen and have never viewed them as erotic in any way.
Plus I understand the Feminist views on pornography objectifying women and the effect it has on the male mindset about sex. That makes more sense to me as a reason to be anti-porn than any amount of scripture.
But in my old church pornography was rated right up there as one of the worst sins, like abortion or murder. It wasn’t one of those white sugar refined sins, like, gossiping or uh, sassing someone. Oh no, no, no. The usual verses were trotted out to defend the church’s stance against pornography. But some of them always struck me as borderline at best. Porn is not mentioned even as porn did exist in Biblical times.
It’s not like pornography hasn’t been around in some form or another even pre-Jesus. Some of the oldest pornographic depictions go back to 37,000 BC. Some other finds near Jerusalem go back around 10,000 years. I remember about fifteen years back hearing that some of the oldest obscene graffiti dated to Roman times and involved the Roman word for fellatio. The first porn film was filmed in 1896. It is an old form of entertainment or arousal source.
So here we have the church yet again trying to exert control over a population to the extent that they want to nose around in our bedrooms. I heard many times in my old church that the only sex allowed was missionary position man on top get it over with quick strictly for reproduction sex. I didn’t believe it then and I don’t believe it now.
Actually, what business is it of the church at all to regulate sexuality? What happens between consenting adults that doesn’t harm others should be no ones business. So yet again it’s all about control. Why else worry about what happens in the bedroom but for reasons of control.
Back in my old toeing the line during my fundegelical days I knew a few members of our church self confessed that they struggled with pornographic addictions and I felt bad for them. One of the most constant confessors of pornography addiction is the subject of my series “Who Was That Masked Man?” Poor Tom Smith! He’d weep in front of the altar and say he was never looking at online pornography again, making a big public show over his sorrow and repentance. And then six months later he’d confess again with much weeping and gnashing of teeth. It was one of the few times I ever felt bad for him, because to me it seemed like he was merely feeling guilty for being a sexual being, like we all were created to be.
What type of creator God would make people with driving sexual urges and then tell them their own bodies are sinful, leading straight to an eternity in a fiery pit? Some kind of cruel sick bastard?
There was much discussion of how to overcome the desire and sick sick (they thought) behaviors pornography induced in these men. The discussions were almost to the level of the advice in the pamphlet “Overcoming Masturbation” Very silly.
When Tom Smith was on his anti-pornography high horse he’d haughtily offer to put special porn-blocker filter on all the brothers in the churches computer for free, be their accountability partner and monitor it for free. There were never any takers, which told me volumes. Once he came over and offered to do this for my husband. I kind of laughed, turned it into a joke and said I didn’t even own a pornograph (like phonograph? Very old word for a record player..)
Even then I would sit there and think what was the harm in looking at a few dirty pictures if it made you happy and your significant other didn’t mind it. Looking at a photograph of the beautiful curve of a woman’s thigh or nether regions was not going to turn anyone into a masturbation machine or someone that cannot control their carnal urges to the point where they start raping the mass populous. ( I might have to rethink that one. Between the time I originally wrote this I saw in the paper that one of the upright married young men I knew as a God-fearing home-schooled child at my old church has been arrested for rape. Sexual repression strikes again I guess)
The only thing that insisting the church members tamp down their natural in born sexual needs did was create a great deal of guilty secret behavior. Making something forbidden almost guarantees people will do it, it’s that old curiosity, or why is being bad so much more fun than being good thing most of us have at times.
Once we left our old repressive church I started looking up percentages of Christian men that regularly look at pornographic materials or struggle with pornography and came up with some surprising figures. The numbers are almost identical to the unchurched. Some numbers.
- Christianity Today: 70 % of all men – 50% all Christian men.
- Shelley Luben Ministries: 70 % Christian men
- CNN 70% Christian men
- Marketwire – 50% Christian men & 20% Christian women
- 1996 Promise Keepers survey – 50% Christian men
Some of the stats used are from the Urban Ministries website and there is much more information at their website. The stats aren’t that different than the usual sinful out in the world non-Christian.
Interesting that very few surveys included women. The church erroneous believes women don’t look at pornography.
While researching the numbers I found many websites pondering why ‘Good Christians’ struggle with pornography and offering some of the same simplistic solutions listed on the masturbation pamphlet. All recommend ‘focusing on the Lord’ I even found a “Christian Pornography” site that advocates producing Biblical porn instead of the nasty stuff most people are looking at.
Would that be the same ‘Lord’ that designed us to want to smash our private parts together with others private parts?
The areas of sexuality and sexual behaviors is one of the most guilt inducing and dangerous slippery slopes in Christianity. You wanna stop your people from struggling with a biological imperative? Simple.
STOP TALKING ABOUT SEX AS IF IT’S SOMETHING UNNATURAL and then people will stop obsessing over it. And stop pretending that viewing the erotic is something less than normal. The numbers don’t lie even if the people and church do.
Useless useless guilt.
Comments open below
Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Roadkill on the Internet Superhighway
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce