Summit Lecture Series: The Worldview Behind Porn with Sean McDowell, part 2

Summit Lecture Series: The Worldview Behind Porn with Sean McDowell, part 2 June 23, 2015

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To purchase the entire DVD set of the Summit Lecture Series, visit summit.org.

One of the greatest myths circulating around our culture today that involves pornography is this: “It doesn’t affect me.”

I teach at a Christian school, and in my class, we have many frank and open discussions. One discussion originated with the internet at large and it shifted into internet porn. There was one student – a great kid from a great family – who I could tell was getting very bothered by the conversation. So, when he came to me at lunch and asked if we could talk, I wasn’t surprised. What surprised me was when, before he got a word out, he folded his arms on the table, buried his face into his arms and began to cry. He then went on to tell me that for the past six months, he has spent hours upon hours each and every night looking at porn on his phone.

male in bed browsing the internet late at night with a tablet

He asked me, “What should I do?”

I simply replied, “How has this affected you?”

I’ll never forget his answer, “It affects how I look at women. I can’t look at a woman now without undressing her in my mind.”

In other words, women became objects to him.

St. Augustine said, “We’re supposed to love people and use money.”

But, too often, we use people and love money.

So, it’s no coincidence that Hugh Hefner said, “Women are objects to be used, and then discarded by men when they are finished.”

Pornography teaches that women are objects to be used for your pleasure. So, I looked at this young man and I thanked him for opening up, telling me his problem, and getting to the bottom of how it is affecting him. The truth is that if he were to continue down this path, he would never be able to love a woman for who she really is, in God’s eyes – women would merely be objects to him.

After a lot of prayer, accountability, and most importantly surrendering to God’s will, this guy has been redeemed, restored, and has an amazing wife and a loving marriage.

But this idea “It doesn’t affect me”, doesn’t match up with my experience, nor with what the data shows.Pornified - Pamela Paul

In fact, as Pamela Paul wrote in her book “Pornified: How Pornography is Damaging Our Live, Our Relationships, and Our Families”:

“A single twenty-something graphic designer told me he would find himself in bars berating himself over the way he scanned potential dates. “I’d be saying, ‘No, her breasts are too small, she’s not worth it’, then wonder, ‘Who have I become? Why am I judging women like this?’”

Gary Brooks, a professor at Texas A&M wrote:

“The problem with soft-core pornography is that it’s voyeurism – it teaches men to view women as objects rather than to be in relationships with women as human beings.”

And he’s right. Pornography reduces people to their physical parts – to the absence of the spirit, relationships, and emotions – and you are nothing more than an object to bring pleasure to the other person.

So, if it does, in fact, affect people, in what ways does this actually work?

Think of a “script”: A certain way that we have learned to behave in a different setting. So, say you go to a football game. You have probably learned how to behave and act at a sporting event: You don’t stand up and cheer when the other team scores; you don’t sit on the back of the seats facing away from the field; you learn how to purchase snacks and drinks from the roving vendors. No one has to tell you these things. You can walk into the arena, see what’s going on, observe how others are behaving, and you pick up on what’s going on and learn how to behave.

Same goes for going to a library. There is a certain “script” for how to behave in a public library that is much different than a football game. Now, even if nobody ever told you how to behave in a library, you would walk in and notice right away that people aren’t eating a whole bunch of food, people aren’t dancing, they’re not being loud, in fact, they are sitting quietly reading.

There are certain ways we act according to the “script” of the setting of which we are in.

Here is where I think people miss the target when they say, “Pornography doesn’t affect me.” Pornography creates a “script” for how you’re supposed to engage in relationships, even if you don’t realize it. You pick up on certain ways we treat people of the opposite sex – or the same sex for that matter – and it shapes our behavior.

So, here’s the script of soft-core pornography (the message it is telling us about how we are supposed to behave in sexual relationships): Sex is best experienced outside of a loving relationship.

Pornography is not about married people. Somehow, our culture has developed the idea that the most and the best sex – the real exciting sex – exists outside of a loving, committed relationship with a spouse. There was even a study about primetime television that showed that out of 15 sexual acts, 14 of them were by unmarried couples.

Is this true to life? Is the best sex experienced outside of a loving relationship?

There was an article by William R. Mattox, Jr in USA Today titled, “Aha! Call It the Revenge of the Church Ladies” that said that despite all appearances to the contrary, it’s actually “Church Women” who are having the most and the best sex today. If you look at the message our culture delivers, you would think otherwise, but the article laid out four reasons why this turns out to be true: Greater sexual satisfaction; Enhanced sexual fulfillment stemming from marital commitment; Lack of sexual anxiety; and a Spiritual commitment leading to sexual fulfillment. All of these exist within a loving relationship, along with Security, No Regret, Love in Relationship, Comfort and Trust.

Remember the original definition of Pornography: “Writings about prostitutes”. It mocks the institution of marriage. And yet, all studies show that it’s married couples, as a whole, who are experiencing the most (in terms of quantity) and the best (in terms of quality) sex… on the face of the planet!

This goes against what we are most often told, but as Christians, it makes sense, since we know that God designed sex for a purpose.

So, when someone says “Porn doesn’t affect me”, I tell them to wait a minute! They are buying into an idea about sexuality that goes contrary to the way sexuality actually works.

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