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Porn and the Failure of a Robust Evangelical Sexuality

I was reading the “MIM Porn Pandemic Handout,” the other day and thought I should write something about it. Psychiatrist Norman Doidge, author of the best-selling book The Brain That Changes Itself (Penguin, 2007), writes,

“Pornography, by offering an endless harem of sexual objects, hyperactivates the appetitive system. Porn viewers develop new maps in their brains, based on the photos and videos they see. Because it is a use-it-or-lose-it brain, when we develop a map area, we long to keep it activated. Just as our muscles become impatient for exercise if we’ve been sitting all day, so too do our senses hunger to be stimulated.”

To put this in very different terms, porn changes the way you view the world, yourself, and others. It gives you categories to place ideas and desires that alter how you engage reality. It is certainly not news that porn is ravaging the Christian world. But more importantly, perhaps, is the reality that as evangelicals we simply do not have categories of sexuality by which to respond personally or culturally to this epidemic. It is this point I want to hit on a bit.

Sexuality is certainly a part of who we are, and is not necessarily tied to sexual activity. Monks are still sexual beings even if they are not, hopefully, sexually active (keeping in mind Juno’s allergy to that phrase). But the way we wield our sexuality sexually, if I can put it that way, is integral to who are are are sexual beings and who we are as lovers. The created location of sex itself is in relationship, just like our innate human sexuality is relational (that is what it is to be human). Sex and all it incorporates are relational things. Among the many problems with porn and issues like masturbation (which I’ve blogged about here), is that they occur without relationship and actually make the non-relational aspect the most titillating. I have a hard time believing, in other words, porn films feature supposedly married couples. The newness, uniqueness and thrill of engaging in sexual activity with people you don’t really know becomes the thrill rather than the deeply relational engagement of a couple over a lifetime.

But, and maybe most importantly, this can go both ways. Sex within a marriage relationship can easily become a type of non-relational self-indulgence. Sex can easily become a replacement for pornography and/or masturbation. Rather, I suggest, when the end is relationship, that should all change. Our ends should be knowing and being known, entering into one another in a deeply honest and emotionally vulnerable way that is intimately linked with one’s spiritual growth and calling. When relationship drives the ship, so to speak, it colors everything else. When sex drives the ship, relationship takes a back seat to self-fulfillment. And this is where a robust evangelical sexuality needs to rise to the surface. The self-giving nature of the Christian message, and the deeply relational aspects of Christian living, all harbor a natural sexuality. Rather, what we tend to find in evangelical conversations on this matter are an emphasis on sex as an act, rather than sexuality in a dynamic of growing in love. I noted the many problems with evangelical views of masculinity, and the problem seems the same. We seem obsessed with dealing with the world on its own terms, rather than our own. Instead, we need to grasp the reality that the Gospel has resources for the abundant life, in all of its facets, and to dig deep there is to find the ways of life so often pronounced in Scripture
Tags | Morality

Comments

I have a question: is it erotic massage, like tantric massage Hong Kong for example, forbidden by the evangelical principles? I am a very religious person, but I also have this desire of trying this massage and I don't want to break any of the rules... So, if anyone has an opinion/suggestion, I would be very grateful. Thank you!

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About
Kyle is a theologian, author, and ministry director for Metamorpha Ministries. His interests are theology, spiritual formation, and community life under the reign of Christ. His passion is to help people “think Christianly."


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