"The major civilizing force in the world is not religion; it is sex."
Some fellow employees of mine were greatly excited because a Hooters opened down the street. I can't imagine a more fitting place to begin than with a reminder of a restaurant chain that possesses an official undercurrent of lust. I may well be close to being slapped in the face for such a comment, but I must ask those who would do so: What are you trying to accomplish by feasting your eyes on that which is not yours to taste?
One of the easiest traps to fall into in this world (for men, at least) is lust. The frightening thing about it is the rampance of the acceptance of lust within the context of a society that predominantly supposes Judeo-Christian values. Let's start there. Turn on your cable television, or, if you're like me, turn on the seven channels you get. If you watch long enough (unfortunately, no matter the number of channels), you will likely see an add for Victoria's Secret, which is one of the largest purveyours (if not the
largest) of lingerie in the United States. I don't quite know what these adds are saying to women. My wife likes shopping there because - and I'm paraphrasing - many of the products are comfortable and well-made (although good underwear is apparently expensive). All the same, she realizes with often irritated clarity that she will never be the woman in the commercial, and she furthermore has no desire to be such. I hope that all women are this way, and I imagine that most of them are - since I am not taken in either by any subliminal promises of Armani cologne ads. But really, what Victoria's Secret says to men is our great concern. If a lovely slender young lady entered my living room and began dancing in her underwear, my wife would likely throw some clothes at her and call the police (after a scathing verbal bout). Even if my hands didn't reach for her, the mere visual confrontation would pose great difficulty in reigning in one's mind. Thus is the case on the television, the internet, various billboards, and so on and so forth. Madison Avenue has realized what we often conveniently forget: sex sells. And it sells everything.
"Whoever looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." -Matthew 5:28
With these scouring words, Jesus shifted the paradigm by making the heart - which, according to Proverbs, is both difficult to understand and grasped by the Lord(Proverbs 20:5, 21:1, 21:2, 17:3) - the seat of all things righteous and evil in man. This is meant to convict us and cause us to see our need for repentance and grace, but we escape by changing the meaning of words. Lust becomes reduced to that which is superficial and thus unmistakable. It is no longer that which is in the heart. That tiniest twinge that you feel when you take a second glance is no longer lust. And we wonder why teen sexuality is so prolific in the church! Youth pastors should be able to spend time preaching about the grace and the mysteries of Christ, but they are seemingly forced to harp on this 'don't' day after day. But what kind of children are we raising?
Those who will be like their parents and role models, of course. That said, take the man in Hooters. He enjoys looking at the waitress in the tight shirt and skimpy shorts. Whether she means to make him lust or not is irrelevant, since it is his thoughts and actions we are concerned with. While, if you mention to him that he could cheat on his wife and run away from his children with this woman (whom he doesn't actually know
), he might say that such a thing is immoral, he still enjoys looking. He might even dream a little. What is the purpose of this? What does it do to his marriage? His wife is not beautiful according to Vogue Magazine like this waitress. What does it do to his sex life? Can he truly fulfill his wife's desires when he can't focus on her during sex? What does this do to his parenthood? If children indeed amplify the character of their parents, what will his son do more than look and dream? Will his son learn respect for women as people? Will he learn respect for a woman to be his wife? Will he learn sacrifice, or simply gratification? These aren't really things that we can prove, but when juxtaposed, they are oddly fitting.
I was horrified the other day to hear a friend say that she buys her boyfriend (whom she and her son live with) pornography. I can barely comprehend the twisted lies that Satan has told in order to make people think that this is productive. But whatever attitude it is that permits this behavior also seeps into the Church. The problem isn't simply that young men who are, in one way, dedicated to Christ are looking at porn. The problem is complicated by the fact that our God and this 'god' are supposed to coexist in the hearts of men! 'Pornography' comes from a Greek word meaning 'pictures of prostitutes'. In mathematical fashion, let's equate that with 'pictures of those who sell sex'. This is not a far cry from 'pictures which sell sex'. You can see where I'm going with this.
I was listening to a call-in radio show in the car yesterday, and a woman called in whose husband had a pornography addiction. I liked the way that both she and the host stated their conviction: Pornography emasculates men. While this is harsh, let's look at how. First, show me a man who looks at porn and doesn't masturbate, and I'll show you a pig that doesn't roll in mud after it's washed. Masturbation is often disputed as sin, since it is not specifically mentioned in the Scriptures, but, like all wiles of the Devil, it is deceptive. It is meant to mimick sex, yet it is nothing like sex. Sex involves trust, masturbation does not. Sex involves pleasing your spouse to the Glory of God. Masturbation involves pleasing yourself to the glory of whatever image is in your mind when you do so. Furthermore, pornography itself becomes a splinter in your mind. Like a chick imprinting on its mother, a husband is meant to 'imprint' on his bride on their wedding night. Those images never leave his mind. Neither does the image of any other naked woman he has seen leave his mind. They become scars that do not leave. They can and do resurface in him due to certain triggers like a soldier with PTSD.
And this is supposed to be healthy?!
"Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer - may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife?" -Proverbs 5:15-20
Even more, marriage was created as a picture of the Lamb and his Bride.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church - for we are members of his Body." -Ephesians 5:25-30
For pornography addictions, you can find helpful resources at XXXChurch.com
.Later note: I apologize for the disjunct nature of the post. I was in a bit of a hurry.