Category: Sexuality

Fifty Shades of Pornography

shadesThe Fifty Shades of Grey books are currently some of the most popular books on the market. It’s disturbing how popular this book series has become in such a short amount of time.

For those of you who don’t know what Fifty Shades of Grey is, it’s an erotica series that involves some pretty graphic sexual encounters, including B&D and S&M. Yet people talk about it like it’s a Harry Potter book – completely innocent, really fun, and something everyone should read. Do you know where I found a shelf of Fifty Shades of Grey books? Next to the preteen section. And if that’s not enough, I even found cleverly disguised erotica books for teenagers hidden in the bookshelves.

Why are we okay with this?

Pornography is traditionally thought of as something visual, such as pictures and movies. And since books aren’t visual – they’re based on the imagination – we don’t consider them to be in the same category as pornography.

We’re wrong to think that. Very, very wrong.

Think about this: men are typically visual, and are statistically the main consumers of internet pornography. But what are women the main consumers of? Steamy romance novels; stories that play out sexual fantasies, much like internet pornography does for those who are aroused visually.

Pornography comes in many different mediums, not just in internet pictures and in x-rated movies. “Romance” novels are just as much a form of pornography as pictures are. They cultivate lustful desires in the mind in the same damaging way that internet pornography does. The difference is that romance novels target the emotions instead of the eyes, and in doing so, they dodge the pornographic label.

There is nothing innocent about pornography in any form. It destroys marriages, it destroys relationships, and it destroys lives. I don’t say that to be dramatic – it’s a fact. (There are links below if you’d like to see the facts for yourself.)

Psalm 101:3 says, “I will set before my eyes no vile thing.” Vile doesn’t come just in the form of pictures – it can come in written form as well. So what are you putting before your eyes — written or otherwise?

Verses to think about:
Romans 8:5-6
Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.

Job 31:11-12
For lust is a shameful sin, a crime that should be punished. It is a fire that burns all the way to hell. It would wipe out everything I own.(Emphasis mine.)

1 Corinthians 6:18
Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.

Related articles:
Social Science Research on Pornography
Harmless Pornography
Pornography Statistics

Evils of the Internet

modemTechnology is a wondrous thing. We have become incredibly connected to an amount of information that we have never been connected to before. With the world literally at our fingertips, we can grow in knowledge and in wisdom.

But at the same time, we can use the internet in destructive ways; ways that affect our relationships for the worse. There are three pitfalls connected to the internet and your relationship.

Time Consumption
How much time do you really spend online? It’s easy to lose an hour (or four) when reading news articles, watching videos, or looking at various status updates and forum posts. None of these things are bad within themselves, but if you spend more time with your smartphone than you do with your spouse, there’s a problem.
Take note of how much time you spend on the internet this week. Try to match your internet time to your spouse time. Once a month, do a weekend media fast together. Find a place to get away – just the two of you – without phones, computers, or televisions. Reconnect on a human level, looking into each others eyes and reestablishing your relationship. In addition, put aside a couple of hours each week to spend together without any electronics. (A profitable time would be date night.) Even in a couple of hours you can reconnect on a deep level.

Bad Relationship Advice
There is a lot of advice on the internet: how to fix your computer, how to keep your plants alive, and how to cure a cold. But not all the advice you find is good advice, relationship advice included.

It is no surprise that people will search through whatever resources they can find in order to find the route to a deeper relationship, but not all internet advice is beneficial. For example, I have came across advice that actually told me to go out and get my heart broken. No, thank you. I’m pretty sure that’s counter-productive.

Aside from my example, there is some advice that disregards the larger picture of a deep, meaningful relationship, and is about fulfilling short-term wants instead. A lot of internet advice can end up being selfish and shallow, telling you the quickest way to meet your desires at the expense of your partner.

Also, information can be childish or useless. The one I see a lot is “Is He Into You?” This is an easy one to answer. If he asks you out, he’s into you. It’s that simple. Going through a bunch of criteria will not give you psychic abilities to help you see into the future of someone’s actions.

When you are searching for valid advice, use discernment. Ask yourself if the advice goes against the Bible in any way, shape, or form. If it does, throw it out. It will only cause you heartache and chaos. Also, make sure that the advice not only plays to your needs, but your partner’s needs. Make sure it deepens your relationship and doesn’t just feed your selfish wants. Some great websites for relationship advice are Focus on the Family, Relevant Magazine, and Boundless.

Pornography and Other Sexual Temptations
Sexual temptation is hard to avoid on the internet. No matter what site you’re on, there is always a pop-up somewhere with the purpose of leading you down a pornographic path. Avoid them. Many think that pornography will enhance their sex lives, but in reality, it harms it more than it improves it. Pornography contributes to far more cases of divorce than to cases of sexual satisfaction. (Read our article Harmless Pornography.) A good rule of thumb is to never click on a website that you wouldn’t click on if your mother was in the room.
In addition to pornography, the internet can increase other sexual temptations. The internet can be a great tool for connecting with old friends, but it can also open up some doors for connecting with men or women in a way that damages your marriage. Make sure to have clear boundary lines when it comes to internet chat. Stay away from sexual suggestions or cybersex, as well as frequent connections with intimate conversation.

The internet is not evil in itself, but it can be used for unwise purposes. The internet should be used as a tool, not a lifestyle. Disconnect from it every once in a while and reconnect with your spouse instead.

Speak

micro2I watched a news program recently that interviewed a pastor who said he made it a point to steer clear of the topic of sex, abortion, or same-sex marriage. He said that he didn’t want to “separate people;” he just wanted to stick to “what he was called to.”

As a pastor, you’re called to teach God’s truth. All of it. Even if you don’t necessarily like it; even if you don’t feel comfortable with it. You don’t worry about what other people think, you worry about what God wants to say.

But he’s not the only pastor I’ve found guilty of avoiding such touchy subjects. Even just the first of these topics (sex) is something I’ve watched pastors skip over, as if it is too dangerous a subject to expand on. But sex is everywhere. Adultery, fornication, lust– these things are ruining people’s lives on a daily basis. If Christians– who have access to God’s blueprints for sex– don’t stand up and speak the truth of its brilliant design, who will? Sex is not a secret. It’s a gift from God. He’s designed it Himself, and has blessed its purpose! And yet, sometimes it feels like the church sees it like a dead animal on the side of the road that no one wants to make direct eye contact with.

I agree that sex is somewhat delicate and private, and should be handled in such a way that does not stir emotions before their time. But people want to know about sex. They’re curious about what God has to say about it. And God has not only told us how sex can destroy our lives, but He’s also told us how to have the best sex there is. Without guidance from God’s word, people are trying out sexual boundaries for themselves and finding the results “satisfying enough” to settle for. They don’t even know there’s something better than what they have. But the church can be hesitant to be joyful when it comes to sexuality. Christians have the reputation of seeing sex as inappropriate discussion. But sex is holy. Since when has something holy ever been inappropriate?

God didn’t create rules for sex to make people “more spiritual.” He created the rules because He wants people to enjoy an awesome sex life, without remorse or regret. But people won’t know that unless we tell them. And we should, because we’re cheating people out of the very best if we don’t. It’s our job to speak the truth. All of it. Because the truth expresses the real, authentic love God has for us which is the overwhelming reality that truly changes lives.

Verses to Think About:
Psalms 78:4
We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.

Psalm 119: 43
Do not snatch your word of truth from me, for your regulations are my only hope.

Jeremiah 9:3
“My people bend their tongues like bows to shoot out lies. They refuse to stand up for the truth. They only go from bad to worse. They do not know me,” says the Lord.

Matthew 22:16
They sent some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to meet with [Jesus]. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You teach the way of God truthfully. You are impartial and don’t play favorites.

John 8:32
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Harmless Pornography

computerWe want to believe pornography is harmless. Pornography is everywhere in one form or another and more is done to encourage it than confront it. But think for a moment: What are the actual, solid benefits of viewing pornography?

How strong are the arguments in favor of it? Excuses that run along the lines of “It doesn’t hurt anyone”, “It’s natural to explore your sexuality”, or even – when grasping for the really thin straws – “It’s legal, so what’s the problem?”

The problem is our selfish desires. The problem is the perversion of sexuality. The problem is the destruction of intimate relationships.

“Come on now,” you may be saying to yourself. “It’s not that big of a deal.” Is it?

In each of us is a sex drive. This is a great thing. Our sex drives not only steer us towards procreation and intimacy, but even stoke our creativity, playfulness, and adventurous side. But in our attempts to satisfy our desires, we can fall into the habit of turning to lesser things that indulge us for a moment, but never fully quench our thirst. Pornography is guilty of the same false sense of gratification that alcohol, drugs, or any other form of addiction offers us.

Pornography is often used as a filler or a distraction. It is used when someone is waiting for marriage and feels stifled in their sexuality. It is used when someone’s sex life is stale or on hold. It is used when someone is empty or stressed and wants some form of escape from their reality. And it works, but only for a very short period of time. Maybe only a day, or even just a few hours. That’s when a pattern evolves and an addiction forms. Someone longs for the distraction it brings; for the high their imagination gets from it.

The high from pornography, however, is something completely different from the satisfaction of sexual intimacy. Pornographic highs are caused by lust. Lust cannot be cured, it can only be fed. And sooner or later it will, in fact, demand to be fed. It will not stop despite the status of your sex life. When you are married and have a great sex life, or when you feel content and satisfied as things are, the lust that has been fed will still seek you out.

In addition, an addiction to pornography cannot be cured by marriage. Although some people think that they’ll just play with pornography until they get married, the truth is that most people who get addicted to pornography before marriage continue to look at it after marriage. This is a huge cause for divorce. According to a meeting by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in 2003, two-thirds of the divorce lawyers that met said the internet had a heavy contribution to their cases, with pornography relating to half of those cases.1

In reality, viewing pornography is an attempt to fulfill a selfish desire instantly, avoiding any human intimacy or responsibility. Michael Leahy, whose family was torn apart by porn and sex addiction, addresses this in his book, Porn University. He writes to his sons, “It was all about me. I made it that way. In fact, I was so into me that after awhile, I hardly noticed you or your mom at all.”2

The desire to have sex is not wrong; the act of finding a way to satisfy it outside of marriage is. This goes for many things: pornography, premarital sex, romance novels, racy magazines, or even television programs. All these can pervert or distort the view of sex, and in turn, it lessens the gratification of pure sexual intimacy. It doesn’t matter if the people in these forms of pornography are real or not. The destructive feelings are. The destructive patterns and distorted views of sexuality is what makes pornography harmful. It takes the beauty of sexuality and turns it into a selfish indulgence, free of real intimacy or commitment.

No one was ever cured of loneliness, a bad sex life, or sexual frustration by viewing pornography. It is not created to assist society in any way; it is really only out for money. The workers behind pornography will never take responsibility for– or even feel sympathy towards– what happens to your relationships or life due to an addiction problem. Pornography is not interested fulfilling your desires. It is only interested in fulfilling its own.

But we are not guiltless when it comes to the equation. We are the ones guilty of handing over our money, along with our intimate relationships, our self-control, and our pure and powerful sexuality.

Pornography is not harmless. It is as dangerous and destructive as any other kind of addiction that sinks its teeth in us.

 

1 “Divorce Statistics: Pornography.”California Divorce Online: Orange County Divorce: Do It Yourself. Divorce Wizards. Web. Aug 2011. <http://www.divorcewizards.com/Divorce-Statistics-Pornography.html>.

2 Leahy, Michael. “A Letter From Dad.”,Porn University: What College Students Are Really Saying about Sex on Campus. Chicago: Northfield Pub., 2009. Print.

Passion and Commitment

touch2The hero looks deeply into the heroine’s eyes, getting ready to say what she’s been wanting him to say for weeks, months, or even years. He wraps his arms around her so tight that she is unable to escape, and confesses his undying, unquenchable love for her. He can’t live without her. He’d give up everything for her. And then he kisses her passionately for a good 5-10 seconds… and all the women in the movie theater sigh.

Ah, the female fantasy. It always involves some tight embrace or deep kiss, doesn’t it? In the female mind it is usually the symbol of a man desiring her completely– physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. But in reality, that’s not primarily the case.

Now, I’m not saying men are emotionless when it comes to sex or kissing, what I’m trying to say is that physical passion doesn’t always equal emotional passion. Sometimes we want so badly to be accepted and loved that we will mistake someone’s physical desire for us as the emotional passion we’ve been searching for.

The passion we want actually comes from emotional intimacy. It comes from knowing someone on a deep level. It comes from being able to trust someone fully; to feel accepted and wanted for who we are. It comes from a completely committed relationship.

But we can easily confuse commitment and passion.

Sometimes we dive too quickly into physical passion because we want emotional intimacy but it takes too long to sit down and emotionally connect with someone. In doing so, however, all we get out of our impatience is a broken heart or a messy relationship with a shaky foundation.

Commitment should come before passion, not the other way around. We need to protect our hearts, and not get carried away by feelings or the thrill of living romance novel scenarios. A kiss can be passionate, but if it’s not true, what good does it do us? In waiting for commitment first, we deepen the spiritual and emotional intimacy we’ve been seeking from physical contact, and we end up making it far more sweeter than it could ever be outside of commitment.

Passion isn’t commitment, but commitment winds up producing passion.

Redirection

roadsign2Sex drives are irritating beasts. Just when you think you’ve tamed it, it attacks you; and just when you think you’ve outran it, it jumps in front of you.

As Christians, we recite the rules involving our sex drives:

→ “I shouldn’t have sex before marriage.”
→ “I shouldn’t think about that guy/girl in that way. That’s lust.”
→ “I shouldn’t cross any physical boundary lines with this person.”

It seems to me that these thoughts don’t solve our problem, they just end up confusing and frustrating us. We question them.  What are the physical boundary lines I’m not supposed to cross?  Why can’t I think of this person in this way – just for a little while?  We recite the rules, but they don’t keep us out of trouble.  Their weight doesn’t even really impact us.

Sometimes “the rules” end up being nothing more than something similar to a rubberband snapping against our wrists whenever we have an impure thought. Is that helping us stay pure?  Does reciting the rules keep us from crossing boundary lines?

I want to suggest redirecting our thoughts. We focus so much on what God has told us not to do, that it’s we forget why He set up the boundaries in the first place. It has to do with wanting the best for us. It has to do with wanting to give us full, radical intimacy.  The reasons for the rules are actually incredibly exciting!

So try these thoughts on for size instead:

→ “I want to wait for sex until marriage because I know that will make it more rich than anything I can have right now.”
→ “My sex drive is bothering me today, but I know God intends to fulfill the desires He’s given me in due time. So I just have to pray and wait, not get frustrated or antsy.”
→ “Even though I could explore this physical act with this person now, it would be more exciting and satisfying to explore it with my future husband/wife later.”

God did not come up with rules to torture us, but to give us something more rewarding. If we dwell on what we can’t have or what’s forbidden, we will miss out on not only contentment as single individuals, but on the satisfying results of waiting for physical involvement until marriage. God can help us change our thoughts to be something more than just a weak rubberband snapping against our wrists. He can help us change it into a great hope and anticipation; a desire to wait and be satisfied while doing so.

Virgin is Not a Dirty Word

mute2There used to be a sign in my middle school health class that said, “Virgin… it’s not a dirty word.” For some reason the words of that poster stuck with me and still do to this day. At 25 years old I am happy to say that I am still a virgin and saving my body for my husband. Praise God! I mean, what is there to be ashamed about?

It feels like there is little respect for the idea of virginity. Television shows and movies are completely full of– or even based on– not waiting until marriage for sex. It feels like the world is actually encouraging having sex by high school or college. Losing your virginity is not like losing your baby teeth or learning the alphabet: there is no standard time frame in which it should be done.

God tells us to wait until marriage for sex. He wants you to preserve your virginity for your spouse. Not because He wants to kill your fun or because He wants Christians to simply act holier-than-thou. God wants sex to be enjoyed to the fullest, without complications or chaos. He wants people to experience rich and deep intimacy with their spouses.

Take a look at Song of Solomon 4:12: “You are my private garden, my treasure, my bride, a secluded spring, a hidden fountain…”

Look at how much Solomon delights in the virginity of his bride. She saved her body for him, and he takes great joy in her waiting. It adds such a beautiful element to their romance and marriage. Solomon doesn’t want a woman with “experience”, he wants his bride to belong fully to him.

And your future spouse– whether you’re a man or a woman– will delight in your waiting as well.

“Virgin” is a not a indication that you are unattractive, a horrible person, or a social outcast. It’s an indication that you are waiting for the right time– whether you get married at 19 or 55– to enjoy sex with your spouse to the fullest, the way God designed it. And there’s nothing dirty or shameful about that.

The Waiting Game

waiting“Why wait?”

This seems to be question behind many marketing strategies these days. Why should you have to wait on a slow internet connection? Why wait in line at Disneyland when you can get a Fastpass? Why wait for something to cook in the oven when you can put it in the microwave?

The world has been flooded with impatience. Not that there’s anything wrong with getting a faster internet connection, but there is a problem when we become so consumed by instant gratification that we complicate and destroy our lives.

Such is the issue with sex. It is an instant gratification issue that people have accepted, same as a faster internet connection or using the microwave. However, people fail to see that the consequences of premarital sex have a bigger impact than other forms of instant gratification. The consequences of emotional distress, pregnancies, and diseases have conveniently been forgotten because of a small string of widely held defenses.

But these defenses have holes in them.

“Sex isn’t really that sacred. It’s just for fun.”

A relationship in itself has value. We wouldn’t hold relationships with one another if they had no value. If sex is an expression of your relationship, then it too has value.

Even the media knows that sex has value; marketing value. Sprinkle in a little sex with your sitcoms, commercials, and music and you get more viewers, buyers, and listeners. Sex has marketing value because it is valuable to the public.

If sex has no value, then why do we try so hard to satisfy our urges? If something is important to us, it is constantly on our minds. If it didn’t have worth, then we would not spend so much energy on it. And because sex is important to us, we compromise until we get what we want, even by telling ourselves that it’s not as valuable as it really is.

“It’s part of human nature. To deny your natural urges is unhealthy.”
People confuse sex as a need. Food and water are needs; if you deny yourself of these needs, your body and mind will fail . Your body and mind will not fail if you choose to wait for sex until marriage. There is an argument that says if a person denies sexual urges when they arise that it will cause that person psychological damage, but society has conveniently confused sexual self-control with sexual repression for the sake of winning an argument.

Abstinence and sexual repression are two different things. Sexual repression has to do with guilt and fear that keeps a person from having anything to do with sex, not how often the person has it. Think of it in this way: people who have repressed memories do not have this because they do not use their memories often enough. They have repressed memories due to the negative emotions attached to them. Choosing to regard sex as something that holds high value is far from unhealthy. In fact, it will help you make better decisions which lead to fewer sexual problems and a healthier psychological state.

“It’s my body; my decisions on what I do with it only affect me.”
Even when we think people aren’t watching, they are. Everything we say and do has an affect on others, regardless of it being “personal” or not. Even our own thoughts ripple out into society, because whatever we think affects our actions and speech, and those in turn affect others.

Humans beings will naturally compare themselves to one another. When someone respects or looks up to a person, he will mimic that person. A child who is proud of his father will most likely be as kind or as rude as he is. When you admire somebody and refer to them as a good person, you will align your actions with theirs. Even in the sexual realm.

Think of the possibilities of who and what your sex life can affect. It can affect your relationship with your parents. It can affect the actions of your siblings and family members. It can affect your future husband or wife. It can affect your partner’s future husband or wife. It can affect the actions of your friends. It can affect the actions of your children or other people’s children that look up to you. Your sex life affects you– and you affect other people.

“I’m very responsible when it comes to sex. I make sure my partners do not have any sexual diseases and we always use a condom.”
As adults, we are responsible for many things, such as work, family, and bills. Now say you have a $200 car payment due by the end of the week, which is just the exact amount you have available in your bank account. Despite your car payment, there is a product you really want that costs $100, and will only be on sale for that week. So you decide to spend half your money on this product, and half your money on your car payment so you don’t get in trouble. Does this make you just as responsible? Of course not. Trading in what is best for what you want is not mature nor is it responsible. You have dodged the consequences, but you have also compromised the best action. Responsibility is not about what you can get away with, but what the best response to a situation is.

And since when did condoms become guarantees? And when did people forget how to lie? Someone can tell you that they are a virgin or have no sexual diseases, but that proves nothing. Nobody is above denial or stretching the truth a little to get what they want. If there are consequences, who are you to them? Satisfying an urge might be your entire worth to someone.. Whether or not you catch a disease or become pregnant is not a concern. Without a ring on your finger and a license in city hall, there is absolutely nothing stating that someone cares about you enough to take responsibility for your relationship.

The Idea

Abstinence is more than just preventing pregnancy and STDs. It is about sharing a deep, intimate relationship with your husband or wife that is separate from any other relationship. Abstinence not only deepens your relationship with your future spouse, but it also protects your life the sexual chaos of such things as unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and complicated relationships. Your sex life should never be complicated. It should be something you can enjoy to the fullest.

The idea of abstinence is not that sex is bad. Sex is anything but bad. Looking forward to sex is as pure as looking forward to your 21st birthday or being excited about buying a new car. It gives you something to be excited about and work towards. But you don’t celebrate your 21st birthday at 19, and you don’t buy a car on blocks because it’s the first thing that is available. You wait for the right time for these things because waiting makes it that much better. Compromising and doing things sooner than they should be done is settling. Sex before marriage is settling. Instead of asking “Why wait?” the question should become “Why settle?”