Lust, Pornography, and Christiananity
Well this isn’t so much a personal story as it is a commentary based on personal observation and experience. If you haven’t noticed reading my blog, I don’t use a lot of facts and figures. This is about what I observe in the world. I work in a world of facts and figures and statistics. I don’t want to write about them. Other people cover those things quite well. This is one of those posts that people will wonder about the facts and figures. I say go find them. I don’t have them. I am not sure I believe the ones I have read, because of the nature of the questioning that would have to occur to get the results. As with so many things revolving around sex, we really can’t get to the heart of the matter, because of the many taboos even in conversation that exist.
I am going to start with lust. Lust is one of those words in the Christian world that gets thrown around a lot. It is always used to shame men. I won’t argue this, I have sat in the pews of too many sermons that are on the topic of lust. None of them have ever dealt with it in any way that is not shaming men. Its an easy target. Men want women’s body’s to be theirs to enjoy. Its a part of how we were built. God made us with a desire for women. The unfairness to this is women lust after men too. Its not completely based on body, but it is a part of the equation. Women like the bad boys who set their own rules. I rarely hear women chastised for this lust of theirs. We use this word lust, but what does it mean. http://dictionary.com gives us this definition”
1. intense sexual desire or appetite.
2. uncontrolled or illicit sexual desire or appetite; lecherousness.
3. a passionate or overmastering desire or craving (usually followed by for ): a lust for power.
4. ardent enthusiasm; zest; relish: an enviable lust for life.
5. Obsolete .
a. pleasure or delight.
b. desire; inclination; wish.
Notice something in that definition. There is nothing about looks. The verse that is referred to uses the word look, but lust is not about looking. Its about desire and appetite or craving. So women lust after men all the time. Women get horny. Women desire men sexually. Its just not based on something they always see. It might be wealth, power, prestige, or beauty. Women are not immune to lust. This is the verse used to go after men.
New International Version (NIV)
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
The context of this verse in Matthew 5 is Jesus calling out the judgmental people who sit back and do all the right things that they too are just as guilty as the ones who committed these acts. He is saying to the overly religious that if you want to judge the adulterer, then you tomust judge yourself, for what man has never looked upon a woman lustfully. He is speaking about the spiritual ramifications of these things. He is saying that for your spiritual well being you are no better off thinking about carnal acts with women who are not your wife than you are if you do the carnal acts. I would say that the core of this message is that no man is deserving of the saving grace of Jesus, and that being said we can do better. To do better we must stop worrying about our neighbor’s failings and start worrying about our own, for no man knows what is on my heart but myself. A verse rarely used for lust, but one that is used to attack homosexuality is this.
New International Version (NIV)
“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.”
I am not going to say anything about homosexuality. If you are a Christian then you are answerable to God on that issue not me. Verse 27 is the verse that is used for this. I have left it off on purpose. The word lust is clearly used in relationship to sex and women. Not only that, but its used in way that is derogatory towards their actions. I think the point can be made that women have lusts that are not Holy in nature. The Church needs to stop presenting this issue as a male only issue. One of the things that gets thrown at men in sermons is this lust, and as a side note women are told to be dressed provocatively is inadvisable and not very nice, but men you are still supposed to have it under control. The women’s dress is treated as cultural phenomena that women should think about, but has no spiritual consequence. There may be some truth to this assessment when you are talking about little girls, but you will notice that women will dress to show off the parts of their body that they know have men’s attention. For some women this is cleavage, and for others it is their legs, and for others it may be their stomachs. They are knowingly showing off parts of their body for the purpose of gaining male attention. Not just any male attention, but male sexual attention. These women lust for male sexual attention.
Pornography consumption is merely more of the same. Men and women watch pornography to fantasize about sex. They lust for what is being done on screen. There is an addictive nature to it, because of the chemical releases in the brain. I would venture to say that all lust has an addictive nature to it for the same reason. It is in the modern era that you can see porn without shame from society, so it becomes more prevalent. In the past to sit around and stare at women was a juvenile thing. If a woman was to look up at you staring at her while she was at the beach or pool, you would be chastised or she would move. Watching other people have sex is not something most people are invited to do, so again there is no historical corollary that really applies to be able to watch a couple of actors put on sex show in the privacy of your home. It is a kind of supercharged lust. The act of lust tends to kick endorphins into your system, and pornography gives you almost unlimited means to do get that release of endorphins. The closest anyone probably got to this in Jesus’ era was the temple prostitutes or orgies, but these things of course required participation.
I blame the Church for so much of the damaged sexual relations in Christian marriages. The Church has painted a picture of men being predators and uncontrollable lust monsters while women were pure and virginal(even when they weren’t) lustless creatures. Women were warned to watch out for the men. The men only wanted one thing mentality. Here is one of proverbs warnings against adultery.
New International Version (NIV)
Warning Against Adultery
5 My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
turn your ear to my words of insight,
2 that you may maintain discretion
and your lips may preserve knowledge.
3 For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;
4 but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
6 She gives no thought to the way of life;
her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.
To me this warning is clear. Men watch out. She will entice you. She will make you feel good, and she will drag you down to your death given a chance, and she will be none the wiser about what she is doing. There are plenty of verses that make it clear she is not absolved of her actions, so I won’t read into this that she is somehow innocent. The context of the Bible must be read as a whole. The problem here is the Church gives her a pass for her adultery all too often. It is blamed on the men. It is blamed on her husband’s failings, and on her lover’s charms. She was helpless to do anything about it. This is bunk, and everyone knows it.
Now lets get to my experience. I found that in my marriage, pornography was a problem. Not that I consumed it often or in large quantities, actually quite the contrary. Lust for other women and the temptation to just take a peek were there all the time, unless I was getting regular and quality sex. I only remember a very brief time in my marriage that happened. I think it was driven by some guilt on her part. I noticed right away that these temptations were almost completely absent during this time. As we separated I found that initially these temptations were huge. So was going out to pick up some woman just to have sex with. I gave in these temptations. I do not regret it. It has given me an understanding of things that I would not have had before. The absolutely carnal sex of pornography and casual sex was addictive in nature. I craved the endorphin rush, and the I craved the adrenaline rush of the chase. So what changed. I met Sarah. She was very sexual, but this was hardly casual. This was albeit short lived, a relationship. She was a person, not a body. She met other needs I had, and had needs I met. For me the sex was incredible. I had never had regular, healthy sex in a relationship, since high school. I know many will say sex out of wedlock is not healthy and spiritually speaking they would be correct, but psychologically speaking the definition expands some. Here is the kicker. I desire the healthy(or healthier) sex to the other stuff. I have not been tempted to go seek out the sex of pornography or one night stands after we split up.
Sarah never used sex as power. We had great sex up unto the day before she decided to move on. Sex as power in the relationship is at the core of what the Church teaches women. They are taught that there is no consequence to their actions sexually. They are taught that it is not their fault. Men are to get in line and do things right, and if they do, then their wife will desire them. There is the power play. The wife can say that he isn’t doing this spiritual thing or that spiritual thing right, and that is why they don’t desire their husband or worse strayed to another man. Of course if it were some womanly spiritual discernment that made them not desire their husband, then that same discernment should have told them that the man they were fucking on the side was in it just for the sex. Christian women hold men hostage with sex. I know women in the culture at large do this as well, but it is far worse in the Christian world, because the men will stay with these women because of their faith, and be tormented by their failure as a Christian husband.
I think that if the Church were to spend less time talking about lust and sexual purity, and more time about truly healthy relationships. If the Church taught Biblical truth about love, marriage, and leadership, things would be better. If the Church took the time to worry about spiritual successes rather than failures in its teaching, then men and women would strive to reach those heights. Too often people will look at the failures that are being talked about, and look around and see a sea of people who are doing worse, and decide that the teaching isn’t for them. I think that all too often the Church in focusing on the sins of men and women, they put the ideas into their head to become distracted by. How many people chose to look at pornography out of curiosity. To see what all the fuss was about. Those images are stuck there, and won’t go away. What if the Church stood up and said wives it is your duty to sexually please your husband? What if, instead of telling men to keep their lusts in check, they said husbands it is your duty to direct your sexual desires on your wife often? What if?