Peter, talking to the council at Jerusalem in Acts 15:10 said, “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”
Let’s face it, guys, this commandment to fight erotic arousal has burdened the church and caused it to become 80% female, because no man can bear it. We are fighting against nature and frankly, we are fighting against God when we command men to act against their own biology.
So, I have to ask myself – Am I just making this argument because I want to look at porn and still go to church and identify as a Christian.
Yes – and No.
I believe in Veritas – in Truth. I believe in Truth when it hurts me. But I also believe in it when the Truth, “sets me free.”
I lived for decades attempting to control my erotic impulses. I felt guilty each time I indulged. My wife and I had many a tearful confession time. I did not, during those decades, attempt to rationalize my behavior or excuse it. I attempted to pray, to become more holy, to redirect my desires in “holy” directions. I memorized dozens of chapters of the Bible to quote during times of temptation.
Why didn’t I examine the Bible and see if all of my unsuccessful efforts were unnecessary? Because – of course – I didn’t want to simply justify my bad behavior by scriptural reinterpretation.
But, sometimes, just sometimes, the reason I am fighting so hard and failing is because God never intended me to fight that battle in the first place.
His argument is that “sex should only be shared between a husband and a wife.” The author is being deceitful here. He gets you to agree to add this word “only” and it seems reasonable. He then interprets the word maximally and pretends that you have agreed to this maximal interpretation.
So he says that masturbation is wrong because it is not shared between a husband and a wife. Stories of a virgin Christian couple’s honeymoon night is just a “lesser” evil because it is not shared “only” between a husband and wife.
So he has made his own reducto ad absurdum here. Masturbation was not discovered suddenly during Woodstock in 1969. It has been around since Adam took his first shower underneath the garden’s waterfall. Yet, somehow, God never thought it was important enough to include it in his very specific lists of forbidden sexual activities. Similarly, the author forbids publication of a married couples sex stories, but finds excuses for why the Song of Solomon is somehow only “informative” and not erotic.
As a psychiatrist, I understand what this poor guy is doing. He has a strong delusion. A fixed, false belief that is not subject to the normal restrictions of logic and reasoning. “Being aroused without a wife is wrong.” He knows that he is often aroused by sexual thoughts. He is engaging in the defense mechanisms of isolation, intellectualization, rationalization and deflection/denial to keep himself from admitting his problem. Because he is only “informing” his readers about sexual sin, he can become aroused during this discussion without feeling guilty. He then goes and humps his wife while feeling holy.
Guys, God said that when you jack off – take a shower and wash your shorts.
Leviticus 15:16 And if any man’s seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even.
17 And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the seed of copulation, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the even.
18 The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the even.
In other words, masturbation and couple sex is treated EXACTLY THE SAME WAY.
Masturbation was not suddenly discovered at Woodstock in 1969. It has been around since Adam took his first shower in Eden’s waterfall. If God had a problem with it, he would have told us.
In the attached link, a sincere Christian man is teaching other men how to fight down their “lust” (meaning their sexual desires). Look at how wide a battle front he must fight on. He forbids girls to let their thighs show. He forbids dancing. He forbids men to take off our shirts to swim. He has accepted the world’s definition that lasciviousness (lustful desire) is the same thing as erotic arousal.
So he declares war on Sex. Like Don Quixote he goes out to tilt at windmills, “To dream the impossible dream and fight the unbeatable foe, to march into hell for a heavenly cause.”
Now, it is true that you might be able to turn yourself into a barely sexual being, someone capable of siring children, but unable to sustain a hot, passionate relationship throughout life. The strategy is to starve the beast. Forbid any sexual thought, Turn your eyes away from every piece of exposed skin. Spend your entire emotional energy on one single goal – fight against erotic arousal. Let the beast out only in a dark bedroom – preferably under sheets with pajamas nearby.
It is even better if you live in a walled-in compound with women who all agree to help you never see any “immodest” apparel.
You might even succeed. If you do, then you have my pity. What’s more, you don’t have God’s help in your fight.
But you will probably lose, and badly, just as all the other sincere Christian men who have been trying this strategy for the past 50 years have been losing. How many good sisters have been blanketed in quilted clothes for decades in the name of helping men fight this unconquerable beast? And how many times have they been horrified to discover the internet search history he forgot to hide. How much money was spent on “dirty” magazines that were then thrown in the trash in an orgy of guilt after the underwear were washed?
Because LUST IS NOT EROTIC AROUSAL. Lust is the desire, intent, or plan to seduce a woman that is not yours. But if a man is aroused with the intent of fulfilling his desire in a lawful way, then his arousal is not lust, it is not lascivious and it is not sin.
Jesus was naked in front of hundreds of people when the voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well-pleased”
I have proof.
Yes, I know you can’t believe it. Our nudity taboo is so bred into us since Victorian times that it rises to the level of delusion. But the early Christians were baptized naked. The men who were told the story by people who were there (people who lived in the 1st and 2nd centuries) all painted pictures of Christ naked during his baptism. Yes, completely naked, locker room shower naked. It wasn’t until centuries later that we got more holy than Jesus.
During an NFL game, Domino’s pizza runs a commercial showing a tasty pizza. My desire for pizza is inflamed. I call Dominoes and order pizzas for me and all my living room friends who showed up for the plasma screen. I didn’t “lust” after the pizza. I didn’t break into Dominoes and steal the pizza that was shown. Instead, I followed the lawful process of obtaining the pizza that I could afford and was available to me. I had no intention of breaking the law to obtain the pizza. So it was not lust. It was desire. It was, in fact, normal and even Godly desire.
Now, during the same game, an internet hosting company runs a commercial with a girl in a wet tee shirt (you know the one I am talking about). My desire for sex is inflamed. After the game I go to the bedroom with my wife and make love. I didn’t attempt to contact the girl on the screen. I didn’t want to break into the internet company’s headquarters and kidnap her for my own. I did not break my morals to fulfill my desire.
Here’s a scenario to consider. A married Christian man sees a “Lord have mercy, Baby’s got her blue jeans on” lady on the street. His sexual desire is enflamed. Question, is his desire enflamed for just that woman, or for women in general and for his wife in particular. Will he think about ways to “get in her pants”? Will he proposition her? Will he wish that he had the social or economic status to successfully proposition her. Or will he go home and make love to his wife? If he turns his desire towards his wife, has he not done the healthy, Godly thing? Did not his wife benefit from the “pretty lady walkin’ down the street”? I submit that even if he looked a second and third time and appreciated the finely formed body of the lady, he did not lust after her if he had no intention or desire to have an affair with her. If he appreciated her fine looks and remembered when his wife looked that way (6 children and 25 years ago), then went home to make love to the wife who he remembers as very fine indeed, then he has acted as a Christian and will continue to have a healthy and fulfilled family life.
The normal viewing of pornography is neither sinful nor ungodly, despite what Mama said. Jesus condemned lust, not erotic arousal. The Bible supports the creation of erotic art. The mainstream Christian world did not condemn nude or erotic art for 1800 years. The early Christians were nude in public without guilt. The modern evangelical attitude towards erotica and pornography is not based in scripture or Christian tradition, but is rather the outgrowth of William Wilberforce’s “reformation of manners” and the resulting Victorian moralist views of the 19th century and the Social Gospel of the early 20th century. Finally, as New Testament Christians, our question should not be, “Is porn sin.” We should rather, using scripture as our guide, ask, “Does watching porn make our lives (and our neighbors lives) more or less Godly, fulfilled, and healthy?” I believe that the question can be “Yes.”
I will develop each of these themes in a separate post.
The greek word “pornio” is interpreted as fornication and can be more loosely translated as simply “sinful sex”. The greek word “eros” refers to sexual arousal. “-graphy” is, simply, writing or printing. So, technically, the difference between erotica is anything that increases sexual desire and pornography is the writing or printing of representations of sinful sex. Pornography, then, is erotica that is about sinful sex. So, by a strict Bible interpretation, pornography would include any depiction of a sex act with 2 or more people that were not married, but any act between married persons would NOT be pornography and would simply be erotica. Meanwhile, depictions of masturbation (which everyone agrees – I hope – is not sinful and does not cause hairy palms or blindness) would also not be porn.
This, of course, is not the definition that anyone in the rest of the world would agree with. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously proclaimed that he didn’t know what porn as opposed to erotica was but, “I know it when I see it.” In popular use, erotica is considered sexual depictions that can proclaim to be art, while porn is low-budget erotica. So, Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ” is erotica, but Playboy TV’s “Adult Film School” in which (most often) married couples make a sex tape is considered porn.
The false dichotomy is silly. The artsy world of elitist high art is not known for being particularly less sinful than Hugh Hefner. Therefore, for the purposes of this facebook group, I will use the words interchangeably. We will probably want to have a discussion about whether depictions of sex between unmarried persons is sinful while depictions sex between married couples is allowed. In that case I will simply use the term married couple porn and porn with unmarried people.