April 25, 2014

The Staggering Demand for Pornography

UPDATE: Added paragraph at end of post to make my point stronger.

• • •

Though many people want to argue that technology is neutral and what matters is how people choose to use it, I have always thought this viewpoint naive. A simple overview of the history of pornography in my lifetime shows that the development of new technologies which enable people to access sexually explicit material has completely overwhelmed our human ability to say “no” to such temptations.

I am old enough to remember when no hard-core pornography was readily or openly available and the soft-core variety, such as pin-up magazines, was hidden from view behind counters and had to be requested. X-rated movies were shown in seedy theaters in scary parts of town. Everything changed with the advent of the VCR and video camera, and it hasn’t slowed down since. Pornography has become pervasive, easily accessible by anyone and everyone, and the sexual perspectives and practices it advances have become “mainstreamed,” appearing in every form of media and entertainment. Technology has been a primary driver of fundamental change with regard to our sexual mores.

And now, a frightening article at Extreme Tech by Sebastian Anthony called “Just How Big are Porn Sites?” reveals that we can scarcely imagine the size and power of pornography’s presence on the internet. According to Anthony’s research, only such sites as Google and Facebook can compare with the mammoth scope of websites that purvey pornographic material.

According to Google’s DoubleClick Ad Planner, which tracks users across the web with a cookie, dozens of adult destinations populate the top 500 websites. Xvideos, the largest porn site on the web with 4.4 billion page views per month, is three times the size of CNN or ESPN, and twice the size of Reddit. LiveJasmin isn’t much smaller. YouPorn, Tube8, and Pornhub — they’re all vast, vast sites that dwarf almost everything except the Googles and Facebooks of the internet.

Anthony sets forth the technical figures, and they are staggering. An average home internet connection is capable of transferring a couple of megabytes of data per second. In contrast, some pornography sites are capable of transferring 50 gigabytes per second! He points out that, among mainstream sites, only YouTube has this kind of bandwidth.

YouPorn hosts “over 100TB of porn”, and serves “over 100 million” page views per day. All told, this equates to an average of 950 terabytes of data transfer per day, almost all of which is streaming video. This is around 28 petabytes per month, which means our 29PB estimate for Xvideos is on the low side; it probably serves 35 to 40PB per month.

It gets better! At peak time, YouPorn serves 4000 pages per second, equating to burst traffic in the region of 100 gigabytes per second, or 800Gbps. This is equivalent to transferring more than 10 dual-layer DVDs every second.

Sebastian Anthony concludes that “It’s probably not unrealistic to say that porn makes up 30% of the total data transferred across the internet.”

The world in which we live is becoming increasingly saturated with explicit sexual images, and, by the numbers, it appears that the demand for them is staggering and growing as technology continues to advance and make more and more available.

What I am saying is this: Humans have never lived in a world like this before. There has always been lust, and there have always been those who profited from it. Certain societies had whole swaths of people held captive to it: whether through immoral religious practices or the debauchery associated with certain classes. However, access to the most explicit pornography is available 24/7 today to anyone and everyone with an internet connection — and by the statistics quoted in the article above it appears they are accessing it.. What used to happen at the pagan temple is now available in your child’s bedroom and behind the closed doors of people all around the globe.

What does faithful living in Christ mean in such a world?

Comments

  1. “What does faithful living in Christ mean in such a world?”

    I just don’t know..

  2. “What does faithful living in Christ mean in such a world?”

    I would say it means we must take Christ at his Word, including the belief: Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

  3. “What does faithful living in Christ mean in such a world?”

    I think it means that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

    I think it means that no matter what sins have a hold on us, that Christ’s love and forgiveness are stronger, and will prevail, in the end.

    • This. After yesterday’s post I’m surprised to see a post today that falls into one of the traps of behavioral Christianity.

      If we eliminate this scourge from the land so we can finally live righteous lives free from this horrible demonic pied piper, we maybe can finally focus on the Grace of God through Christ! That’s the ticket!

      • I realize I knee jerked a bit hard there, I did not mean to offend, CM. To boil it down, I feel like my upbringing in the Christian establishment has unbelievably tainted my future sexual life with my future wife, through guilt & second guessing, more than any bit of pornography. If the church stops preaching & emphasizing morality, then more people will be able to come to Christ. I would love for this site to constantly point out the failings of attempting to deal with today’s trappings, which are by and large just another version of yesteryear’s. It’s an old man’s fallacy– “kids these days…”

        • Dave see my response below to DanSanto.

          • I have, and thanks for reading my criticisms whether founded or not.

          • Thanks Dave. I agree fully with you that moralism is not a good response in this (or any) area. That does not mean Christians should avoid discussing moral issues and the moral climate in which we are called to walk in Christ. The responses thus far confirm to me that the church has not done a good job fostering good discussion in this realm.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I feel like my upbringing in the Christian establishment has unbelievably tainted my future sexual life with my future wife, through guilt & second guessing, more than any bit of pornography.

          “The Devil sends temptations in matched opposing pairs, so that in fleeing one we rush into the arms of the other.” — either C.S.Lewis or G.K.Chesterton

  4. While there’s a lot of things I don’t know about the topic, there are a few that are obvious

    1) It is absurd how the look of the female body can turn a man’s soul inside out . . . and that’s how God created us.

    2) The Porn industry, while taking the advantage of #1, does its greatest damage by exploiting women, luring them by feeling “special” but turns them into a piece of meat without a soul. and by enslaving men, not to the porn itself but to the guilt product of porn. Virtually all men feel inadequate because of the guilt of wanting to see women naked. This guilt is Satan’s ring in our snouts. It is hard to estimate how much men have been compromised by this guilt. Men always feel that they are the only ones with the problem.

    3) The world would be a far better place if there was no easy access to provocative photos of women and if the porn industry didn’t exist.

    4) 50% of pastors say they had viewed sexually explicit material the previous year. The question is, how many of the 50% who said they did not . . . are lying?

    5) The gospel is powerful enough to erase all the guilt of all sin.

    6) All men have the power to resist the temptation of looking at porn . . . few do.

    7) If a woman really wants to understand how men are put together, sexually, they should look at the soft core stuff. It reflects (due to the knowledge of the business for its customers) the sexual nature of men. Yes, all men are animals.

    8) Many horrible sexual crimes and abuses came from people who allowed themselves to be consumed with porn, and through the law of diminishing returns, become more and more devious.

    9) While not at all good for the women, the Taliban understood how to keep men from having sexual thoughts . . . cover the female with layers and layers of heavy cloth. The most sexually pure time I ever experienced was the summer I spent living among a strict Islamic society. But like I said, this is not good for the women.

    10) The best way to empower porn, is to create a climate (such within the church) where you never talk about it . . . at leat on a personal level.

    • 10) The best way to empower porn, is to create a climate (such within the church) where you never talk about it . . . at leat on a personal level.

      and the most help I’ve gotten in this area has NOT been from any particular message or sermon, but from a tight knit community of friends, who ask and care, and share their own ups and downs in this area and more. I know this kind of thing (accountability) can become legalistic and toxic, but one ray of hope is the ‘body of Christ’ bieng “mat-carriers”, digging a hole thru the roof when needed, and helping us get to Jesus thru the rubble.

    • JMJ…I also think people need to be honest and realzie that not every guy who looks at pornograghy is going to become the next Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer. That’s often implied. Now for some people yes…it probably does happen. For some people it probably has been a motivation for rape or other crimes. But I don’t think that happens as often as it is implied.

      • The Previous Dan says:

        I think it does happen as often as implied. Child sexual abuse is very common today. Estimates as high as 1 in 6 for boys (1in6.org) and I would think as high or higher for girls. Even back in the late 60′s, based on what I remember, at least one of the people who abused me as a child was motivated by a desire to act out the porn he had been reading.

  5. Technology can help too.

    1) There are accountability programs which you can install on your computer, which will mail any ‘suspect’ activity to your chosen accountability partner. (https://www.google.com/search?q=accountability+program)

    2) There are programs to limit computer use to given times/durations – target market is generally children, but I know one guy who configured it to prevent him using the computer after 10pm, and got his wife to set the password.

    • Radagast says:

      Accountability partner… waiting for Eagle to respond to that one….

      As for Computers connected to the internet in the home…parents are naive if they believe filters and the like are going to combat all the garbage that is brought in (and goes out) because of the internet. It certainly makes our job that much harder, but then we bring in on ourselves. If boys aren’t searching the internet for porn, then girls are stripping before the camera on programs such as Skype (believe me, this is happening to the children of some of the most devout christians I know).

      In my house we combat this by having the computer in a central location, for us the family room, with all the filters on. Anyone who is allowing their children to have computers behind locked doors is just living in denial about what is going on.

      • Remember, an iPad, or iPhone, or iPod touch (through Wifi) or most other phones today are capable of surfing the web. If you give your child one of these (and I have) is equivalent to giving your child a computer behind closed doors. I think you have to guide and counsel, and then trust.

      • Radagast…I discuss my experience with an accountability partner below. It doesn’t work and only leads to people being burned and harmed. I had two situations with an accountability partner. One from Wisconsin where most of the pain is attributed to, and the other one here in DC. I’ve reconciled with the one in DC and we are close friends. For me, that has been a story of grace…if such a thing exists.

  6. It means a lot of struggle and shame. I think I only know of one guy of my generation(under 30), who hasn’t had some sort of struggle with porn and masturbation.

    However, I think the core issues of avoiding hurt and escaping reality have always been there. Porn and masturbation are just way more accessible and have gone up in usage in response to the increase in access. I have personally found that accountability programs and such are more band-aid/external solutions. The hard work is figuring out what is causing you to turn to porn. Thus the 2+ years of counseling I’ve been doing sofar.

    • Radagast says:

      It is tougher these days… thirty years ago when I was 17 we just had magazines regulary accessible. But even then it was damaging. My brother had a whole foot locker with the stuff and most was pretty mellow but all the reading (and lookiong) I did really caused me to learn some misconceptions that took me years to unlearn.

      These days not only do you have the women as objects thing going on but you have the brutality as well. Its like a video game that you can’t put down and pretty soon the calmer stuff just isn’t doing it anymore. So there is a lot of damage that can be done, especially to young unformed minds.

      I haven’t looked at the stuff since I’ve been married (20 + years). Thank goodness that all my computers are owned by the company I work for, that’s a huge deterrent there (I had to reprimand more than a few people that worked for me in the earlier days of the interent). But I think for me the deisre will probably always be there… at least until I am too old and would rather sleep….

      • These days not only do you have the women as objects thing going on but you have the brutality as well.

        Excuse me…but this will be a rant. Over the years I have often heard that pornograghy makes women into objects and that it demeans them in the process. Often time this is shouted by fundagelicals who rant and rave about pornograghy and the evils of porn. THEN you have some of these same individuals who push hard core complimentarism and view women as a “baby factory” like I saw in the church I attended in Arlington on Sunday afternoon. It became clear as I looked around the room that the only purpose for a woman was to submit to men, serve men, and be chained to the bed popping out at least 4 kids a year. Can fundagelicals stop the hypocrisy?!? To speak of the harm of porn on women in such a way and then turn around and treat them as objects, possesions, etc… Lets be honesy many fundagelicals through theology do the same thing that pornography does to women.

        • Eagle,

          I understand your rant given the experiences you’ve had. I am about as far from a fungelical and complimentarian (just ask my wife) as you can get.

          But this is how I feel on the matter…

          In the whole scheme of life pornography isn’t going to kill you if you view it. It’s not even going to leave you scarred if viewed in moderation. There is an alure for almost every guy to look at it because we, at our most basic reptilian self, live through our pecker.

          That being said most porn is geared towards guys and is not real life and is not from a woman’s perspective. It puts false ideas into ones head on how women are sexually and if viewed by young people could cause perceptions by the viewer that takes years to get rid of.

          It can cause a barrier in intimacy between you and your spouse as well as jealousy and a whole host of other relationship damaging behavior.

          And outside the American Porn industry there are a lot of women in internet porn that are forced into it – especially the off the beaten path stuff.

          My frame of reference is different from yours Eagle – I was once a drug user and have a suppressed addictive personality. I now have a wife and family – a wife who I work on intimacy with a lot and I had to unlearn a lot of bad behaviors/perceptions. I have four daughters, some of who are dating age which causes me to look at this stuff from a completely different angle (and reflect on my past behavior).

          Perspectives change over time big guy. And I believe no one should be judged over this, especially those who are single, but it is what it is.

          By the way I could probably be having the same discussion if the subject was about smoking pot (and I inhaled when I was younger)…

          With sincerety,

          Radagast

    • Yes – as I’ve gotten off porn, I’ve realized that for a very long time I had been using it as therapy for deep emotional and psychological problems. I had used porn to bury my issues for so long that I hardly knew I had them, or at least didn’t know it was serious. Over the past year they’ve resurfaced and I finally have to really deal with them.

      • I think you make a key point: pornography is not the root problem. I might go so far as to say that psychological problems are not, either. Christians stuggle getting down to the core problems of our existence, and the ever-presence of threats of estrangement and non-being upon our lives. The formula is always the same: come to Jesus, and you’ll never walk alone; come to Jesus, and all your problems will be solved; come to Jesus and you will have the greatest, fulfilling marriage and family, etc. But it doesn’t work that way. We still face death everyday. We still face that cosmic loneliness. I don’t know if we ever stop to figure this out, or just still feel that nagging hole in our soul that needs to be filled. But the true Christian message is something else: it is not that I can live because Jesus solved all my problems; rather, it is that I have life in spite of death, fear, loneliness, and myself. I think this is the Easter message, that we have courage in the face of all that seeks to crush us, because He was crushed, but He is risen.

  7. If it weren’t for the internet, most young Christian guys would probably have no exposure to porn, aside maybe from the occasional abandoned skin magazine. The internet is to blame, but on the other hand I’ve learned so much about theology and faith that I never would have encountered otherwise.

    The real problem is that as the first generation to live with the internet, our parents really had no idea any of this was coming and didn’t really know how to protect and prepare us for it. Hopefully, our children will fare better.

  8. This is a complicated and difficult issue. It’s also one that I know touched many guys who I knew. Here’s one thing I will start to explain.

    Unless you talk about forgiveness and grace with such a topic.. THEN stop! STOP talking about it!!! Because many times it just becomes a tool to beat up many guys. Evangelicals do like to manipulate people…and sexual sin is one of the best ways to do so. The honest are hounded and banished from church for sharing their short-comings, while the dishonest survive. So unless you are going to talk about forgivness and grace with such a topic then Chaplin Mike, others… Don’t proceed further. Here is some of what I leanred over my life.

    1. Accountability doesn’t work. I got deeply burned by this. My accountability partner lived a double life and I didn’t pick up of detect on this for a while. In other situations guys who are technially savy can unprogram and re-install software without their accountability partner not knowing.

    2. More guys deal with this than many churches will admit.

    3. There is no easy fix with this complex and difficult problem. So if you deal with porn you are not going to have a “quick and victorious” life from it overnight.

    4. Sexuality is already criminalized…the church has thereby enabled and helped the problem. Then on the other extreme you have Mark Driscoll and the crap he’s saying. He’s made a “Christian” form of pornograghy to be quite acceptable.

    5. The last point is that I don’t know what the answer is. I wish I could have a neatly packaged answers but I don’t.

    There were several guys who lived with dispair due to this issue who I have met over the years. If Chirstinaity is going to be a faith for the broken there is no greater issue affecting so many guys than pornograghy. However, I also learned that Christianity is for the prefect becuase my sin confession really got me beat…and it came back to haunt me. And in the long term look at things it was one of the many issues that put in motion my spiritual crisis.

    • The Previous Dan says:

      I have often expressed to other guys at my church that I wish there was a weekly service modeled after an AA meeting where we could come clean by standing up and saying “My name is Dan, I’m a recovering sinner and this was a (good or bad) week because…” But no one wants to hear those testimonies at church. The only time you are supposed to talk about your troubles is after you “have the victory.” That way you can feel good about yourself and everyone else can too because you are confirming their perceived reality of the type of life they were “sold” when they became a christian. It is sad since this is a great hindrance to dealing with real sin in a real life.

      • “…I wish there was a weekly service modeled after an AA meeting where we could come clean by standing up and saying “My name is Dan, I’m a recovering sinner…”

        That sounds like the prayer of confession in most liturgies. The difference is that we come before God in the confession always as a sinner, not as a recovering sinner (actually, I think AA members always view themselves in the present tense as an alcoholic). The prayer is criticized by revivalists, because in their perspective we as Christians are supposed to cross the magic threshold where all sin and temptation goes away and from there on we are supposed to be victorious every day. The recent post here on Brennan Manning comes to mind.

        What follows the prayer of confession is the words of assurance, that we are forgiven. Then comes communion, but that’s another post.

        I recently heard a non-liturgical church address sexual sin in very gracious and forgiving terms, that it is a constant struggle through which we fall but get back up. That’s the beauty of grace, a righteous man [in Christ] falls seven times, but rises again [because He is risen]. Without grace, as in the case of the wicked mentioned in Proverbs 24:16, we too would be brought down to calamity. Sanctification is impossible without grace.

      • Philip Yancey in his book, “What Good is God?” writes that many alcoholics avoid Christian churches becuase they can’t find grace there, but that they find it in AA. My experience with my sin confession was similar. Grace is often a myth…there are some sins you can struggle with, but if you are a guy..you are SOL. Close the door behind you as your are driven from church.

        • I think that is the great part of public worship and confession: the guy next to you is right there with saying, “We have sinned against you in thought, word and deed and in what we have failed to do.” I’m not talking about that brutal motivation-by-humiliation like at…well, you know…that church that rhymes with “Tars Spill”. That crap just breeds hypocrisy, because no one wants to be revealed to be a fraud.

  9. Like most women, I am baffled and mildly sickened by porn…all I can ever think is that those “actors” are someone’s baby daughter, some one’s brother and son, and that they are God’s precious children.

    Because as far as I understand, the whole idea of porn is to turn humans, usually women, into THINGS for use and then abandonment.

    I have had males I love claim that the romance novels so many women devour are just as bad at inciting lust, but I can’t see the alignment, or at least not that the two are equal in severity, but maybe I am justifying.

    All I know it that GOd must be saddened…

    • Both have the tendency to objectify and demean an entire sex for the pleasure of the other. Both glorify unrealistic expectations, and neither tend to exist. Yes, there are notable differences (the chances that an actual person is being defiled, or worse, treated like an indentured slave during the process are very low), but the effect on the consumer is still the same: cheap fantasy is sold as reality.

      Of course, there’s a difference between “Pride and Prejudice” and “Desire Untamed” or some other random Fabio/Harlequin book. There’s also a difference between X-rated junk online and Venus de Milo.

    • I think that many women are more attracted to the written word to incite the imagination. Personally I would put this into the same category as pornography. Some of the ‘chick lit’ genre is pure smut. I know this because occasionally I check out what is on the shelves as I have teenage daughters who sometimes want to read adult material. It certainly doesn’t edify anyone involved in it – writer, editors, publishers, booksellers etc. It doesn’t have the same obvious impact as Justin points out but it can’t be good for us – maybe it impacts on other people in more insidious covert ways as our attitude towards the other sex is slowly tainted.

    • It’s not just a “guy” problem, though it definitely mostly is: http://dirtygirlsministries.com/

      I picked up their book Dirty Girls Come Clean the other day on a sale rack, but haven’t yet read it. There’s an Amazon link to it on the Website, but putting two links in a post here tends to send it to “Your post is awaiting moderation” limbo.

    • Pattie,

      You touched on something that us guys face as we get older and have children… the guilt of viewing this stuff in our younger days and then realizing these girls are the age of our teenage daughters… Heck my one daughter is of dating age and we are helping her navigate the pressures of becoming sexually active (the goal is that she not become sexually active!)…pressure by the boys EVEN after I’ve sat them down and had a pretty blunt discussion – and now I am re-looking at past behavior in my teeage years – ugh….

      But Pattie, we are wired differently… the whole guys like the lights on and gals don’t generalization. We tend to be visual (and so that dopamine starts flowing when we are visually tantalized) and so we are vulnerable. It also takes us longer to grow up….

      • So why do so many churches allow women to come dressed in the near equivalent to a bikini with a wrap around it? Do the other women not see the problems this causes with men? Or are they just afraid of making judgmental waves in bringing it up?

        I’m saying the women should be talking to each other about what is a reasonable dress for various occasions. No Taliban codes here but there does need to be some sanity.

        This is an area where the guys just can’t bring it up. For a multitude of reasons.

        • That’s the thing, though… It’s not that I necessarily think women should dress immodestly on purpose, but the whole concept of dressing modestly is a sliding scale. Things that are normal casual wear for women today, like blue jeans, would have been considered horrible immodest a few generations ago. Covering up a woman will not ultimately make men lust any less. Lust is an issue of the heart and mind more than the eyes. That’s actually a humorously ironic point Jesus was making on the Sermon on the Mount. If a man lusts, perhaps he should pluck out his eyes to prevent lusting. If he would do so, though, he would soon find out he didn’t solve his problem because even a blind man can fall prey to lustful thoughts.

        • Radagast says:

          I am laughing here David – boy are you in trouble for suggesting that the way women dress can be tempting – I’m getting out of the way…

          Actually though I have confirmation for my 8th graders this Thursday and I have now told both the kids and the parents about respectful dress – meaning no jeans (suits for the boys) multiple times and please oh please no dresses that are shorter than finger tip length (yes, last year we had dresses from both candidates and sponsors that were outrageous) – how times have changed….

          • I know I’m not PC here. Even in many Evangelical circles. But when women wear skirts that don’t allow men to be facing them when they sit down or strapless dresses with push up to Sunday morning services and classes, something is wrong.

            Finger tips. Yeah right.

            Tell me there would not be an uproar if guys showed up in competition swimwear and shirtless in most church situations other than some sporting events.

        • David – some of us do say things to our sisters but you do have to be very careful. I would rather they turned up looking rather less than dressed than not turn up at all so I will only say something very gentle about a specific item of clothing rather to someone with whom I was friendly on a level where they would be OK about it. So, for example, I’m not going to say to a teenage girl ‘That top is way too revealing’ but I will say to a colleague leading worship ‘When you raise your arms your knickers are almost visible.’ She really appreciated that – she had no idea! Maybe you should say more often what you are struggling with – most girls and women really don’t understand why they shouldn’t wear certain items in certain places – when it’s pointed out to them they are usually very happy to help you by being more careful as long as you are not being unreasonable. A bit more openness in church really wou

          • wouldn’t go amiss – is how I meant to end!

          • A man, especially one 20 years older, talking to a woman this way would NOT go over well 9 times out of 10. And in many situations start a long conversation with and without the man about “his issues”. And even an older woman doing it will cause issues due to a feeling the old fogies don’t get it. It almost has to be passed to my wife who might then be able to find another woman of similar age who can bring it up.

            This is a problem with the “ME” age.

  10. Apparently pornography is increasingly a problem for women as well. Don’t ask me for the research details but I know I have read about this trend in several national papers over the past year and the internet is the vehicle of choice for delivering images to women as well.
    I have my own issues to deal with but thankfully not pornography which has got to be one of the hardest temptations to deal with because it is literally available all the time in some form or another.
    My husband has battled with this for years – I think the hardest thing he has ever done is to tell me what he most hated about himself – he was so embarrassed but felt he couldn’t handle it alone any longer. Now he tells me when he’s ‘fallen’. We just go ‘OK’ and he repents and I make sure I don’t give him a bad time over it. Since we’ve taken this approach he has been able to have longer patches where it hasn’t been as much as an issue although it still feels like a ‘one step forward and two steps back ‘ battle at times for him.
    Grace and forgiveness and love is what is needed – not more condemnation. I suspect most men who struggle with this probably judge themselves far more severely than anyone else can.
    Based on my husband’s experience if I have any advice to give on it is simply this: give thanks for the patches in your life when it has been less of a problem and when you have stood firm against temptation. When you screw it up again know that forgiveness is still there for you. Jesus came to forgive all sins and redeem everyone. All have fallen short of the glory of God. All have the grace of forgiveness freely offered however many times they need it.
    Interestingly this is the only place I could talk about this because I haven’t given my surname. My husband is deeply ashamed of himself. He would love to have male friends to talk this through with but he daren’t approach anyone at church because he can’t trust them to respond appropriately.
    I really feel for women in church who have this problem as well – most Christians (especially preachers!) seem to assume women don’t battle with sexual sin as men do. But believe me – we do – but it’s even more unacceptable for a woman to admit to it.

  11. Living faithful to Christ means exactly the same thing it meant in the New Testament world, in the days when Roman emperors kept harems of young boys (Caligula) and staged “weddings” so they could “marry” them (Nero), when sex was a regular part of the worship of certain deities and orgies were common practice among the upper classes. It means “Love your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

    • CJ, you are correct that lust has always been a problem and emphasis on sexual immorality more prevalent in some societies. What I am suggesting is that we have never seen a world like ours today, because of technology. Sexually explicit material is literally available to anyone and everyone with computer access. What was once reserved for Rome’s upper classes is now being viewed in your child’s bedroom.

      • I’m not saying it isn’t bad now but all technology in terms of images and sound has aided and abetted this for well over a century. Many of the first movies were of porn. Ditto photographs. And phones were considered evil because people could “keep in touch” without writing letters during the day. I’m sure many of the first books were considered porn in their day.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I heard an anecdote once that the second thing printed on Gutenberg’s press (Gutenberg himself refused to print anything except the Bible) was bootleg porn his apprentices ran off after the boss had gone home.

      • I hear what you’re saying, CM, but between the various fertility cults and the presence of the oldest profession in any town or city of a decent size, there has always been exposure to and availability of sexual sin. Maybe if one lived way, way out in the boondocks somewhere, he could avoid a lot of it, but the more I study history the more I think people living in close proximity saw or were aware of the same things we are today. With the advent of photography in the Civil War, soldiers often carried racy pictures of women with them and of course, every war since Genesis has had its camp followers in one form or another.

        That being said, the basic principles remain the same. We have to be more hands-on in dealing with it, since now it can come into our homes via the idiot box in all its forms (TV, home computer, ipad). We need to be proactive with our children in heading it off and forgiving of those who have already succumbed.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that we may have to be more hands-on in dealing with it, especially where our children are concerned, but the basic principles of dealing with any sin remain the same.

  12. “What does faithful living in Christ mean in such a world?”

    What a challenging question! With the topic at hand, it’s easy for us readers to ignore the closing question, and offer our comments on porn. We know that porn is evil; we know it hurts people, both the participants and the viewer; we know it damages relationships; we know it’s addictive; we know it’s shameful; and we know it’s more pervasive than people care to admit.

    But, “What does faithful living in Christ mean in such a world?”

    Wow, CM, the best response I can offer is that we do live in a world filled with bruised, scarred, and damaged people who have suffered as a result of their own actions, who have followed the trends of the culture and found the emptiness that ensues. I had a great friend who was addicted to porn…He worked from 6:00AM-3:00PM, would get home, and immediately get onto the computer. He would sometimes be up until 4:00AM looking at pornography, and he said the thought that kept running through his mind was, “If I look at one more picture, one more video, one more website, I’ll see something better than what I just saw.” He lost a significant relationship with a woman he really loved because of his addiction.

    I offered him accountability and all the 3X Church links and all the stuff we Christians promote as the “cure”. It didn’t work. As he got deeper into his addiction and the associated shame, he turned off the software, and stopped calling, or responding to my calls.

    What does faithful living in Christ mean in such a world? Romans 12:2 says that we are not to conform to the pattern of the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We have to think differently…about relationships, about sex, about addiction, about pain and loss, and mostly…about grace. Brennan Manning once said that he believed that on Judgement Day, there was one question that God would ask us…”Do you believe that I love you?” Not “Did you live a spotless life?”; nor “Did you put on a good face at church and pretend you weren’t beaten up and damaged by the sinful world you lived in?”; not even “Did you give up your pet sins after you walked that aisle and prayed that magical prayer?”

    The ultimate question is “Can we believe that Christ loves us?”, “Us” being the flawed pastors, the prostitutes (not the glamorized, converted Mary Magdalenes of Scripture, but the ones trading their bodies for meth in our mobile home parks…I see them every day, along with their children), the good church folks who attend regularly and raise their children right…and those who participate on some level in the world of pornography.

    If we can change the way we think, transform our minds, and really believe that Christ loves us “as we are, and not as we should be” (Manning again), then we begin to understand grace. Then, our view of love, relationships, and people begins to change. Then, we begin to live as a people not seeking to impress God, but as people who are infinitely impressed with God.

    Faithful living, in that context, isn’t defined by how faithful WE are, and how well we follow the rules. In the context of grace, faithfulness is a work of Christ. He is faithful, even when we aren’t. We can’t forget that. Nor can we forget that He loves us…all of us.

    I hate pornography. Now that I have a daughter, I despise it even more. If I have a healthy understanding of grace, though, I’m not going to go out bombing the movie sets and homes of porn magnates. If I understand grace, my heart will be broken over the mess we have made of this world.

    • Lee, I think one of the worst parts about porn is the addictive nature of it, as you mentioned: “one more picture, one more video, one more website.”

      I also have a close friend who lost everything because of his addiction, only in his case it was child pornography, which has the added elements of felony and social anathema. His attraction to small girls got more dangerous and complicated with the advent of the internet, and then the digital camera, with which he began photographing 5-year-old girls. To make matters worse, he was a kindergarten teacher and did this behind closed doors at the school where he taught.

      He’s now serving a 16-year term in a federal prison, no parole, several states away from his family.

      Although his wife is standing by him, he won’t see her but once a year or so, and his children will be in their 20s when he gets out.

      I was at his sentencing in November, and in his testimony he recounted the shame involved, that he couldn’t seek help anywhere because of the nature of it. The addiction got the best of him and there was no way out but to get caught.

      I should also mention that he was a model teacher who had won a national award for excellence and creativity, a very conservative kindly person, a believing Christian, and every kid’s favorite teacher. None of us saw this coming.

      So yes, porn is dangerous, but the addictive nature makes it all the more so, and when children are added to the mix it becomes even more destructive and abusive of power.

      • Here in England there is at least one organisation that those who are offending sexually, especially against children, can ring to get help…they’re called the Lucy Faithfull Foundation & their Stop It Now! line is on 0808-1000 900, or help@stopitnow.org.uk. There must surely be an American conterpart, lots of people realise that some offenders really don’t want to do this, & welcome help. I’m sure these people would know.

        • In more and more states anyone in any kind of support group or leadership position must report child abuse (broadly defined) to the police. Or they themselves are committing a crime. Which makes such a help line hard to operate.

          • Britain also has these kind of laws, strangely enough, but often a helpful relationship can be started with a would-be/already is offender without giving any details that would identify them or render someone open to prosecution. At work I sometimes come across safeguarding issues I discuss but not report because I know there’s no way to get any evidence & no-one at all would testify, & there’s going to be no repetition of the event/s (if there was I’d report it).

            I would also expect that a person trying to resist urges would eventually confess to any illegality, with the help of those helping them.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Not “Did you live a spotless life?”; nor “Did you put on a good face at church and pretend you weren’t beaten up and damaged by the sinful world you lived in?”; not even “Did you give up your pet sins after you walked that aisle and prayed that magical prayer?”

      Yet that is what “Christian” and church have become. Play the game, wear the mask, and if your mask ever slips, they’ll turn on you like chickens pecking a defective to death in the barnyard.

      “Deliver me, Lord, from the vengeance
      Of saints who have never been caught.”

      • Wear the mask… very good HUG… hard to talk about things when you have to live up to perceptions.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          And, like that one Twilight Zone, when you wear the mask too long you find you can’t take it off — when you take off the mask, you find your face has become the mask.

      • To be an evangelical Christian one must project a facade. That was one of the issues I ran into. And I left in part because I wanted to be honest. I didn’t want to be dishonest to fit the “program” and be someone I was not. Christianity threatened my integrity and charachter.

  13. I’m going to be brutally honest. Fair warning.

    My exposure to masturbation began when I was 12 or 13. I vividly remember my first time and not really understanding what was going on. It happened when I was watching TV alone in my room with a door that locked. From then on, it happened frequently, but I typically thought of attractive girls at school. Occasionally I would find a Victoria Secret magazine in the mail, etc.

    I remember the staggering amount of guilt. It was overwhelming. I was in junior high, and I felt like I was doing the worst sin in the world. Every time I finished, I promised God I wouldn’t do it again. Even after my dad told me masturbation is normal and not something I should feel bad about, I couldn’t shake the guilt.

    Then came google image searches. Pretty mild stuff, but it put me on the fast track to porn. I think the first time I saw a naked woman was from a popup ad, and it scared me half to death. But eventually I took the “safe search” mode of google and started looking for nudity.

    By the time I went to (Christian) college, I was looking at hard core porn videos on a regular basis. I felt guilty after every time and truly wanted to stop, but I couldn’t (at least I felt that way). I went to a porn addiction group at the school, but it didn’t end up helping much. I think the longest I went without porn and masturbation was 6 months out of my second year at school. I was meeting regularly with a great group of guys, and we didn’t just focus on porn addiction. We talked about a whole host of topics that all ended up being about Christ.

    Then everyone had to move away from each other, and I went right back to where I was before. Then I started dating a girl my last year of school who found out pretty quickly about my addiction. She had dated a guy who had been bad to her and was also addicted to porn. It scared me (that I would be like him to her) out of looking at porn for a few months.

    Up until this point, I was a virgin. At a certain point, I think I decided that if a girl offered sex to me I would take it without a second thought. And that’s just what happened. I found that having regular sex made it easier to not look at porn…for awhile. Then I started looking at pictures of attractive girls on Facebook, etc. Not porn yet, but still wrong. Then my girlfriend and I had an argument and sort of broke up. I took that as an excuse to get back into porn.

    Eventually, I started going to Sexaholics Anonymous, but I graduated from college and had to move away. After about a year or so, I started dating another girl. Before we started dating, I told her about my problem. It was fine for awhile, then we ended up having sex. And it basically turned into the last relationship I had. When we broke up (not so long ago) I started to look at porn at least once every day.

    This is the scariest part about it to me. It’s not that I don’t feel guilt anymore. I do, even though it doesn’t last as long as it used to. What scares me is that I’m starting to not care about getting help. I’m starting to feel like I will never change. I work a full-time job and have a pretty normal life, and I’m starting to feel like my consumption of pornography isn’t really harming anyone. For awhile, I was mad at God because I had tried so many times to stop and none of it stuck. I felt like He was supposed to help me. I was hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and He gave me nothing.

    But now, I’m starting to feel like porn just helps me make it through the day. It numbs me from the troubles of the day. The days I have gone without porn or masturbation have been very emotionally painful for me. I’m starting to feel like we all medicate ourselves somehow. Porn is my way of medicating. And besides, God hasn’t helped me out of it; so He must not care all that much that I’m doing it.

    I know this is not the right way to think, and it scares me that I’m starting to think this way. But I don’t know if I can help it.

    • I really am not an expert in this area so take what I say with a large pinch of salt please. As a mere reader what impacted on me upon reading your story apart from your sense of guilt, is your description of porn being like medication and the phrase ‘God hasn’t helped me out of it; so He must not care all that much that I’m doing it.’

      I don’t think for one moment that God doesn’t care about this but maybe what is your priority to get sorted in your life is not His. Maybe you should stop stressing so much about this and see what God wants to do in your life in other ways. In time He may want you to deal with this – it could be He has other priorities for you and by focusing on this major issue in your life you are missing the other stuff He wants to deal with first. If we always focus on the obvious issues sometimes we miss the really important ones.

      I’ve always wondered what Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh’ was. A problem with his thought life would be particularly difficult to deal with so I’ve wondered it it could have been something like lust. Whatever it was though, if he had allowed it to define him, then the Christian church would be so much the poorer. Thankfully he had an excellent grasp of what it means to be the recipient of grace and pressed on. I hope you can also understand what it means to know God’s grace as well as you continue to live as his child. Blessings brother.

      • Ali, I’ve also thought that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was lust, or at least a debilitating attraction to women, which would have been just fine if he had married one (or perhaps the one that debilitated him was married?). It’s a real and powerful possibility.

        Whatever it was, he couldn’t shake it, and had prayed about it for relief from God. And he remarked to the Galatians, in 4:15, that if they could they “would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.” Could this be an allusion to Jesus’ teaching about lust, that if your eye offends you, pluck it out? Very possible.

        • I think it’s more likely that it was some of physical ailment, possibly bad sight (notice what he says about “writing big letters” at the end of Galatians). But of course we can’t be sure.

          • Yes – I’ve heard the bad sight suggestion because of Galatians but there doesn’t seem to be any particular indication that this bothered Paul though within scripture itself. I always read that part of Galatians as Paul joking about his ailment probably because I once worked with someone who had terrible sight but it never bothered him as he just accommodated it as normal for him – he’d say to me ‘Leave me a note but make sure it’s in really big letters!’ He saw it as an irritation sometimes but not a thorn.
            It’s all guess work though and what is a problem for one person won’t be for another – which is why Paul leaving it open to speculation is so helpful. We know what we need to know – the great apostle Paul struggled with something intensely personal and it bothered him to the extent that our thorns bother us yet he also offers hope in the middle of the struggle.

    • The Previous Dan says:

      “I’m starting to feel like we all medicate ourselves somehow. Porn is my way of medicating.” You’ve hit the nail on the head there.

      I would just encourage you not to give up. Without Jesus the rules of the game were “one strike and you’re out” but with Jesus there is no way to strike out unless you choose to leave tha batter’s box. Don’t give up, don’t leave the plate, keep swinging.

      My story has similarities to yours. But now the addiction doesn’t have the hold on me that it did. I don’t know whether to attribute this to spiritual growth or to the decreased libido of being past my prime. Frankly I don’t care which it is, I’m just thankful for the victory. Don’t give up. Jesus already won the game, and if you keep swinging you will win this inning too.

    • I grew up in the drug culture of the late seventees and for a while I partook in it frequently. What I learned from that time is (because of the whole dopamine thing) that for as much as you are up, you’ll be down twice that. I hated living that cycle and so moved on. Porn and its effects are similar to that. It is a hard cycle to break and doesn’t go away by finding a partner. And especially when it comes to a partner it, like alcohol and drugs, creates a barrier between you and your spouse and affects intimacy.

      So Batman, I understand where you are, and my advice is – one day at a time. And you are going to lose ground sometimes because we are all human but get back up, don’t beat yourself up too bad and start again.

    • Thanks….consider this a HUG. Let’s be honest. People use porn in the same way an alcoholic uses alcohol. Or the same way guys use tobacco. It’s to medicate or soothe something. And I would suggest that why Christians do misison trips, and go on retreats, etc.. they want to get that same kind of high. I had a couple of Christians who admitted this to me over the years. I was stunned to realize this fact. But porn is used ot medicate…there is a lot of truth in that statement.

  14. A problem is that we have bodies, and when it comes right down to it, it appears that the primary function of the body – whether human, beast, bird, insect, or plant, as well as bacteria and viruses – is to reproduce or otherwise pass on its genes. As the T-Shirt or bumper sticker says, physical life is basically “born, eat, spawn, and die.”

    So if reproduction is the body’s primary programming, with all or much of its chemistry and physiology and functioning and search for food and shelter and safety geared toward that end, whether at the individual level or the larger level of nations and wars, it’s no wonder that trying to live by the Spirit is a war against the nature and pull of the flesh toward that which the flesh is seeking to do.

    (Full Disclosure: Years ago I read Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene.)

  15. The Previous Dan says:

    I believe technology is neutral, it isn’t evil. But what technology is is POWER. Put power in the hands of someone and their nature comes to the surface. We are all familiar with Acton’s quote. We now have the potentially corrupting power of self gratification like never before in history. Polite religion has no chance in this modern world. I guess we need to seek God for serious relational Christianity.

  16. DanSanto says:

    Oh the pain! The pain! The brain-wrenching pain of people who don’t know jack about technology try to make big numbers sound scary!!! Stop it! I can’t take it any more!

    Joking aside – trying to use big numbers to make something sound scary totally ruins your point to someone like me because the “techno-speak” you try to use is eerily similar to the joke about how dihydrogenmonoxide is such an dangerous killer and needs to be banned.

    I get your point and I even have some head-nodding-along-with-you-in-agreement areas, but your ZOMGWTF THE WORLD IS DOOMED!!!1!!11!! tone that you try to generate by horribly mangling and misusing “big numbers” almost drowns out the rest of your point.

    Allow me to paraphrase Augustine: When a Christian says all sorts of really stupidly ignorant stuff about some sort of non-Biblical issue, it really turns people off from paying attention to him when he says something about Biblical issues even if he’s dead-on about the Biblical issue.

    • Except that this is a biblical issue. It’s not just a culture-war distraction.

    • The Previous Dan says:

      “It’s probably not unrealistic to say that porn makes up 30% of the total data transferred across the internet.”

      That is a very straightforward number. I’ve heard higher estimates from reliable sources. There is no denying it is a real problem.

      • Agreed. I don’t see CM speaking in a sense of moral panic.

        And I’m sure that the Tech site linked to knows some jack. At least a little.

    • DanSanto if you read this site you will know we are not moral alarmists. I think the statistics quoted are perfectly transparent, and cited from an article that has no moral ax to grind. I also attempted to present the issue in such a way that would encourage open discussion, not knee-jerk reaction. I think you missed the point.

      • Amen, CM! Reason can be hard.

        • Like I said – the moral reasoning was fine and I tend to agree. It’s just that you tacked on the equivalent of a dihydrogenmonoxide scare in the technical “facts” you used as part of your article.

          It depends on what you call “Internet data”. If you just do all the people browsing, downloading, and uploading …. then if you look at the numbers the right way, 30% is possibly reasonable. Or you can look at page views and you get a drastically different picture. Or you can look at time spent and you get yet a different picture. Or you can look at the volume of traffic in bytes and you get an umpteenth (still different) picture.

          What was done here, and in a LOT of other reports passed around in news stories, is looking at a certain aspect of the statistics and then converting those statistics into bytes which makes for some really big-sounding numbers.

          And as everyone knows, if the number is really big-sounding it must be important!

          That was my point. The moral reasoning was just fine and non-alarmist. The technical “facts” that were put forward were ZOMGWEALLGONNADIE twist on reality. When the technical facts are used so screwily, then it tends to drown out the much more solid reasoning.

          • So you’re saying the article is wrong in its conclusions? I don’t think my conclusion differed from the author’s.

          • DanSanto says:

            You’ve taken an article that is designed to be dramatic – taking a view of the data that is selected to make the biggest possible splash. Biggest. Possible. Splash. You need to take articles like that with a HUGE grain of salt.

            Like I said – if you look at the data in just a certain way, and just at certain data then yes, you can get a 30% of the Internet is porn. There are a lot of other equally valid perspectives that give wildly different numbers. Time spent on topic. Number of pages viewed on topic. Only direct user use vs also including automated use. Corporate traffic? Etc, etc, etc.

            But, it’s not nearly as dramatic to use those other views. It’s a lot more boring to talk about porn being only 1-2% of page views, or consider that time spent on Internet porn is 4-10%. Or you can totally take all the pizazz out of it and talk about the number of total electronic communications over the Internet (files sent, financial transactions, automated alerts) which makes porn only around 0.6% of Internet traffic.

            It’s much more exciting to talk about the amount of data sent so that one can describe it as 30 kajillion bytes. A big number seems much more exciting than talking about how Internet porn is about half a percent of the number of total electronic communications being done over the Internet.

            Just because you read an article on the Internet doesn’t mean its true or a realistic depiction.

          • Thank you. I’ve persisted in this dialogue because I sincerely want to speak truthfully. You have cited some other figures. From where do you get them, and are they reliable?

          • Sorry, I should have kept up with this a bit more closely. Looks like the thread has died off. Better late than never?

            I have some whitepages around here somewhere … hunting, hunting. I’m not finding the paper I’m thinking of that broke things down by page views, but one can do a much less professional job based off some _reliable_ Internet-available stats.

            (I’m not going to rely on the article at all because it is a load of BS. They use directly conflicting numbers and wildly fanciful assumptions that have no basis in reality. For examples they accord xvideos with both 4.4 billion page views per month and later in the article give it 350 million monthly visits. Then they completely arbitrarily assign 15 minutes of video to EVERY SINGLE VISIT. That’s total nonsense designed to inflate numbers and make for a more exciting story because the numbers are !!BIG!!! And they get worse from there because they start conflating all sorts of different categories data that make zero sense to even compare.)

            One can do a quick sniff test on this: YouTube serves out 4 billion videos per day. Use the porn article’s estimate of 90MB for a 15 minute video. Divide by 3 for a 5 minute video clip, and you have 30MB per video. Times 4 billion per day and you have 120 petabytes per day just in downloads. According to the articles (BS) estimate, xvideos streams out 35 petabytes per month. YouTube is 100x larger than xvideos just in its viewing stats, and yet youporn and xvideo (the two biggest mentioned in the article) account for the biggest chunk of the “30%”. So does YouTube account for another 100% for a total of 130% of the Internet between porn and YouTube?

            The article is totally bogus on every level.

            Alexa provides real rankings, not back-of-napkin stuff based off whatever bizarre estimates an author would like to make up. The first porn site to make the list of most pageviews sites is xvideos down at 54th place with a grand total of 0.1767% of total page views. If you add up all the porn sites in the top 100, they still don’t add up to even half a percent of the total page views.

            So one can say (probably only inflated by a factor of somewhere between 5 and 100) that 30% of total bytes transferred from websites to individual users computers is porn. (note that doesn’t include P2P network transfers which completely swamps out everything else) Then describe that as umpteen bajillion bytes and make a couple spurious comparisons and it sounds really awesome, titillating, and/or alarming.

            Or, one can _ACCURATELY_ say that of all the page views on the Internet, less than 1% of them are of porn. But that’s not very awesome/titillating/alarming.

            Somehow I am not so worried that the modern world is entering a never-before-seen era of sexual temptation because of the horrible Internet.

            Is porn a serious issue? Absolutely.
            Does it totally distract from the issue to use wildly alarmist and inflated numbers? Absolutely.

          • Point taken. Thanks for keeping us honest.

    • Matt Purdum says:

      Remember when Jesus had to touch the guy’s eyes twice? After the first touch, he said, “I see people, but they look like trees.” In other words, like objects. This is very much a Biblical issue because it’s about how we view others made in God’s image: as full humans, or as “trees,” objects, things we can use/buy/sell. Until we can see all people as fully human subjects — not objects — and until we get that second touch from Jesus, this is all hot air.

      The churches that oppress woman and do not allow women ministry or leadership roles aren’t much different from pornographers. They believe women are here merely to “serve” male leadership. I go to a church’s website, click the “leadership” page, and I see twelve middle-aged white guys in blue suits, I know what I’m dealing with. How can a church with no female leaders be taken seriously? The subtext is clear: women are inferior and are put here to serve us. It’s the same subtext the pornographers promote.

      Until we are no longer male and female but one in Christ — until ALL the Christian churches take a Christian attitude toward women, all this scapegoating of pornographers is just hot air.

      • Matt,

        You post is offensive, and it takes a great deal to offend me. In fact, if we were in the old days the original IMonk would have slapped you down and put you in strong moderation if not a temporary band. Why Chaplain Mike has not is beyond me?

        Equating those who don’t feel women should be in ministerial leadership roles with pornographers is ludicrous and a very quick way to make sure no one else listens to anything you have to say.

        Austin+

        • I don’t know… It doesn’t sound too far-fetched to me. I’ve heard more than once people say the reason we shouldn’t have women up on the platform leading worship or teaching is that it may cause the men in the audience to “stumble”. I find there is still a lot of thinking among Christians that isn’t too far from the way Islam treats women. If a man a married man has an affair, for instance, you’ll still hear a lot of people complain about the woman who seduced him.

          • I’ve seen this as well. In neo-Calvinism this is an issue. See my post above but I can buy into this as well. Many neo-Calvinists can be no different than pornographers as both treat women as objects and blame them for their lust. One of the leading posts at “The Friendly Atheist” blog last year was over how CJ Mahaney packaged and taught about lust AND blamed women for tempting guys.if a guy has porblem with lust…then a women needs to dress up more. What bullshit! It fuels atheism..and I had to wonder if women in SGM Churches should start to wear burkas to services. It makes one wonder…

          • I think we are being unfair to the pornographers, they are not as a rule trying to keep women out of positions of power and authority.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Many neo-Calvinists can be no different than pornographers as both treat women as objects and blame them for their lust.

            Isn’t that the same rationale Extreme Islam cites to justify FGM, Burqas, Honor Killings, and locked-and-guarded harems?

        • cermak_rd says:

          And yet, I didn’t think the post was over the line or unreasonable. I see a lot of sexism in these comments, where people are concerned over the objectification of the female actor (note, don’t see a lot of concern about the males). Mainstream adult production studios don’t treat their actors unwell, and the actors are paid, sometimes quite well. The female actors aren’t helpless little things with drop dead gorgeous bodies. They’re intelligent business women with drop dread gorgeous bodies who are using their brains to choose to go into this line of work.

          So yes, I see a mindset that women need to be protected within complementarianism, because they aren’t competent by themselves. And I think a religious milieu where women aren’t good enough to serve as leaders (not necessarily even priests, for heaven’s sake) as just being part and parcel of that sexist system.

          • I think you’re dead-on correct here. There are, of course, situations where women are forced into sex slavery/pornography and I think we absolutely should help them. But most women in the ‘industry’ are there voluntarily.

            It’s funny how our wonderful feminist society believes women are all strong, capable, and independent, and then plays them as victims according to the ‘old’ mindset as soon as it is convenient. Which is it going to be? You can’t have your cake and eat it too!

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            It’s funny how our wonderful feminist society believes women are all strong, capable, and independent, and then plays them as victims according to the ‘old’ mindset as soon as it is convenient.

            Like so much else, “Heads I Win, Tails YOU LOSE!”

          • I think that those who are saying complementarians are like pornagraphers and that the women involved in porn are powerful and smart and there on there own choice don’t know much about true complemenatarians or the porn industry.

            DSY

        • Matt Purdum says:

          Austin, I’m really glad that you are offended. That means I’m aiming right at the target. C’mon. If you see a website named “Submissive Sisters,” how would you know whether it was a porn site or a Calvary Chapel site?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            If you see a website named “Submissive Sisters,” how would you know whether it was a porn site or a Calvary Chapel site?

            GOOD LINE!

            And if the URL was Mars Hill Seattle, it might even be both at once…

      • That is a completely ridiculous view of people who don’t think women should be in leadership. You clearly don’t know what you are talking about. Oh – and I write as a woman in leadership.

      • The Previous Dan says:

        Yes, that’s a great way to start a reasonable debate on complimentarian versus egalitarian views of Scripture (feel the sarcasm?)

        Demonizing those who disagree with you only alienates people. You will never get another to see your point of view that way.

      • This is ridiculous. Maybe some churches abuse their power like this (we have seen a lot of problems with ‘leadership’ lately), but MALE leaders are ultimately to be servants as well! No church I’ve ever heard of has taught women as “inferior” to men, only different (which is immediately obvious to anyone with their five senses functioning correctly.) Your argument is a flaming straw man.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          There are churches that DO, Kyle. Most of them independent fundagelical splinter churches, though there are some quasi-denominations and megachurches, too. (Independent Fundamental Baptist comes up in a lot of these accounts, along with general spiritual abuse complaints.) Just check the archives of blogs like “Wartburg Watch” and “No Longer Quivering”.

          There’s a lot of “Me Man! Me Say Fill-in-the-Blank! You Woman! You Shut Up! God Saith!” out there, and claiming “God Saith!” cosmic authority is always the ultimate weapon for an abuser in a power struggle.

          • But Matt has tarred all of us with the same brush, HUG. Conservative protestants (of whatever flavour) as well as Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. I’m sure that rooting around on those sites you mention will produce plenty of horrors – but all of us are like that? Really?

  17. This post makes me think of Rob Bell’s Sex God book (also reminds me that I should read it again). In that book he makes the point that sex isn’t really about sex. It’s about something else altogether. It’s about our desires, fears, dreams, etc. and that’s why it’s so powerful. I think the reason that it’s so hard for the church to deal with pornography or sex in general is that 1) we spend a lot of time addressing the symptons without addressing the cause and 2) everyone is broken in some way in their life regarding this issue if we’re honest with ourselves. We need to be wounded healers, but admitting we’re wounded other than in some superficial way isn’t really tolerated very well. I don’t even think it’s a matter of propriety or even relegated to evangelical churches. We really do want to believe that there are some people who have it all together.

  18. Chaplain Mike, pardon me for interrupting a very serious post and series of comments, but my inner editor forced me to giggle uncontrollably when I read “with regard to our sexual morays” in your post.

    You meant mores. Morays are eels.

  19. How to live when it’s all around us?

    First, it doesn’t hurt to remember that we’re not alone — in more ways than one. Those letters by St. Paul imply that debauchery was all over, glorified by the culture and had seeped into the church. That said, we still have access to it from right inside our houses, and we’re even indirectly paying for access to it.

    What to do (and speaking to men, since I am one)?

    A) Be open. Not bragging or trying to top each others’ stories (something I know we men can get into, it’s a good replacement for “being honest”), but openness about struggling about lust is putting you on par with so many other men in the church. Not just now, but in the past 2000 years. Individualism is all over our culture, and it’s fueling our addictions. You’re not alone!

    B) Be defensive. OpenDNS is a free filter for just about anything. It’s great and extremely customizable. AdBlock Plus for good browsers keeps ads off your computer, including X-rated ads on sites when you honestly do accidentally type the wrong thing in. Others are out there as well that give you an accountability partner. Yes, any of these can be defeated. A filter will not “cure” things, as Lee implied. But neither will washing your hands cure salmonella — it’s a defense.

    C) Be fair to others. Stop being so surprised that men like pretty women (and by extension, women like romantic, emotionally available guys who look like Fabio). Their way of responding to that desire is destructive, and our goal should be to point people to something greater. Yes, it’s not always easy — and frankly our culture of delaying marriage until our 30s is not helping — but it’s more rewarding.

    c2) Less marriage seminars by celebrities, less shaming of singles who are lonely and in their adult years. Please? Less people who have it all worked out telling us how to do it like them.

    D) Remember: God loves you. Aggressively. You have not sinned too much to be beyond his forgiveness. The world’s pull is strong, but Jesus has overcome the world. If you sin, he forgives. It’s not a license — it’s a promise.

    • Joseph (the original) says:

      D) Remember: God loves you. Aggressively. You have not sinned too much to be beyond his forgiveness. The world’s pull is strong, but Jesus has overcome the world. If you sin, he forgives. It’s not a license — it’s a promise.

      amen…

      porn has such a strong visceral reaction: either outright repulsion, or innate attraction. there would be no such industry if those that promote it weren’t doing something with such a powerful attraction. something about porn is very attractive or it would simply not be such a widespread problem…

      when my boys were in high school, they were given the names/addresses of certain websites that were of the deviant sex category. they got them from their teammates. since my boys did not know that using the home computer kept the previous search history, they were caught.

      my ex-wife had a meltdown & shamed them. i simply took control of the situation & talked to them calmly & with understanding. i told them there is some very, very raunchy stuff on the internet & that you could find anything you wanted to if you looked hard enough. but the deviant sites were there for X-treme shock value & they should not think it healthy to view such gross things…

      i did not tell them to promise me they would not view porn, or that the attraction to such things was evil, bad, or made them some kind of weirdos. and no, i did not ever put any filters on their computers or insist on some type of accountability. i said they would have to deal with the challenges as men & they would need to understand that some things in life better left alone…

      all my boys young adults now & they have had to navigate the internet world they were raised in unlike what i had to. i understand Chap Mike’s perspective as one observing the proliferation of smut in electronic form when it was rarely available in print+pictures when i was their age…

      God is not worried, or anxious about the overwhelming problems. He is still Lord over the internet & His grace sufficient to deal with the issues.

      sidenote: since it seems the porn industry is vast, are there any stories from the inside of people that have been abused by it, or worked in it, that are now out of it & sharing their horror stories now? and by stories, something well documented & valid, not just more sensationalism???

  20. I comment here sometimes under another name, but I would rather post this anonymously because the material is so personal. Because it is so long, I’ve decided to split it into two posts.

    This is indeed a very troubling issue. While some people talk a lot about how the mainstreaming of homosexuality as damaging to society and to a healthy view of sex, I’ve thought for a long time that the proliferation of pornography is much more problematic. I have struggled with it since high school at least.

    By the way, the statistics here don’t even include stuff that may not be “technically” porn by strict definitions but basically counts as it because it has a similar purpose and is often used the same way – Youtube has a lot of it, and there are big sites devoted to softer material! So it’s really an even bigger problem if you define it more broadly than “videos of people having sex” (and I think you should – I had internet porn problems for years and seldom touched the hardcore stuff).

    For many years I prayed about it, read a lot of Christian books on the subject, memorized Bible verses, the usual things. It seldom resulted in any real progress. I confessed to people a few times and tried accountability partners and accountability software, but it didn’t really work. My experience is that often neither partner really likes to bring such an awkward subject up, so it often goes untalked about after the initial confession and maybe one or two more times. I think Protestants need to find a more structured way of doing serious individual confession. As my (AMiA) pastor said once, “I like the way Catholics do it weirdly [it was tongue-cheek, for any Catholic readers here] better than the way we don’t do it all.”

    Reading the book “Wired for Intimacy” by the Christian neuroscientist Bill Struthers made me realize that the habit of viewing porn and getting sexual gratification from the computer had become very deeply entrenched in my brain and that it would take a long time to untangle it. Sometimes people treat “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds” as if Paul meant that just believing the right things will transform you, but I think he had something slower and more difficult in mind. In the short term, I didn’t do anything after reading the book besides confessing to someone again and committing for the thousandth time to stop, which didn’t last long. I think reading it did have an impact in the long run though.

  21. Last year I moved to a new city and I knew I had to really do something, especially since being lonely in a new place would make it that much better difficult. To use Biblical language, I decided I had to cut the hand off and die to myself instead of just trying harder. That is, I made the decision of not having an internet connection at my apartment. I still have a computer and can access internet in public places like coffee shops or the library (even if being a porn user doesn’t have much social stigma anymore, viewing it in public certainly still does!), so my life can function normally in this technological age without it. I don’t have a smartphone either. I know some people need internet at home for their jobs or other things, but a lot don’t – some people should seriously consider doing what I did.

    I have had a few small relapses from leftover stuff on my hard drive (gone now) and other things, but for the most part I have been free of it for the past year. For the first few months I felt like the lack of it would destroy me, but over time it’s gone better and I think my mind is slowly detaching itself, though there’s still a ways to go. Perhaps one day I will be able to trust myself with internet in my private home, but not now.

    Sometimes I don’t feel comfortable explaining to someone why I don’t have internet (especially women), and I tell them it’s because I waste too much time on it if I do – which is essentially true, even if it’s not the full reason. Not being able to waste time on the internet (even benign things) whenever I want to has given me a lot more time to develop new hobbies and interests!

    Recently I realized that I have serious emotional and psychological issues that I had used porn to bury for years. Now I need to deal with them and stop hiding.

    • Anon,

      I really agree with your decision not to have the internet – taking away a source of temptation. It doesn’t relieve things entirely (there is our imagination) but it takes away the alure, the pull to think about it more often. When I was moving out of my drug phase (I literally moved away from where I grew up for two years) and had finally moved back to continue school I did not seek out or renew any of the friendships with people that continued to embrace that lifestyle. This helped me to become stronger while I found more positive things to fill that void. It also helped me (once my head was clear) to be able to look for and face the root of the issue.

      Good story….

    • We can’t really get rid of internet access in our house, but we did decide to not get cable or satellite TV when we moved. We do have a TV still and occasionally watch some things, but, really, not having that has been a blessing. It’s amazing how much more time it seems like there is in a day when large portions aren’t spent being brain-dead in front of a glowing screen.

  22. cermak_rd says:

    I tend to shudder when I see Christians talking about porn. Mostly, they appear quaint to me. Some of the things I find odd about how Christians talk about pr0n:

    The claim that porn destroys marriages always makes me giggle. I can see it if the porn usage has become obsessive (by the clinical definition such that it impedes other parts of leading a productive life); but in most cases, folks watch it and get on with their lives. I think the only marriages it destroys are those where either the marriage was weak beforehand or the other partner is offended by the usage. Or the pr0n watching is obsessive at which rate it becomes a psychological problem which should probably be dealt with therapeutically.

    The worry about the objectification of women. The women in the professionally shot videos coming from reputable production houses are very well compensated. These women are not victims. They are making a hard-headed business decision that this is how they are going to make their way in the world. Besides, does anyone worry about the objectification of men in the gay pr0n videos?

    The attempt to make a sin out of masturbation. For heaven’s sake, this is the safest form of sexuality there is! And I don’t recall a single Scripture that it goes against unless one wants to get super strict on the lust rule (which better outlaw fantasies too!).

    Now, that said, I will say there is some sick stuff out there. Stuff that uses people that can’t give consent due to age for instance, stuff where actors are actually harmed or where animals are harmed. Stuff like that is inappropriate and I would question the psychological health of anyone who enjoyed watching it.

    I think guilt and shame are powerful emotional forces and I think Christianity uses them to tighten their hold on people who are susceptible to them.

    • We’re not trying to do that here, are we? I just think we have an unprecedented situation that it would be good to talk about in terms of how we understand and deal with it.

      • cermak_rd says:

        No, you’re not, but some of the comments are alluding to stuff I’ve seen other places that do these things.

        The pr0n industry was the first to monetize the internet. The first ones to figure out how to make a profit. In a way they were trailblazers in creating the internet as it is today, so in a way, I feel I owe them a debt of gratitude.

        You’re right, pr0n is more available now than it has been before, though didn’t the WWII guys have their girlie mags? And certainly the phenomenon of couples watching pr0n together is a novelty. Heck, I saw an ad on TV recently that made an allusion to pr0n (it was a drain clearing product of some sort–the woman starting fantasizing about sexy plumbers).

  23. This isn’t really the point of the article, but whenever I see statistics about x% of internet traffic is pornography, or comparisons of the size of large, e.g., news sites and pornographic sites, I think it’s important to remember that a great deal of that is due to the nature of the pornographic content, typically images and video. Lots of content on the rest of the web is still pretty text heavy and where there are images and video, these are often compressed in ways that pornographic sites might not find acceptable. If the rest of the web published everything as audio and video (which some news sites seem to be doing (personally, I’d much rather *read* my news, thank you, hrmph)), the percentages would chaneg dramatically. For instance, this article and the related comments took me 5 to 10 minutes to read. An audio or video version would have been *much* larger. So, while the demand for pornography is distressingly high, I’m always skeptical when inferring “percentage of *content* on the web” with “percentage of traffic”. Just a cybersecurity researcher and software developer’s pet peeve here. :)

    • Point taken, but doesn’t the article discuss traffic as well as site size?

      • DanSanto says:

        No. Not in any detail.

        The specifically use total bytes (of a particular subset of Internet traffic) as the basis for their numbers because it makes things look a lot more dramatic. Other ways of looking at the data can get you anywhere from porn being half of one percent of traffic to 10-15% of traffic.

        I mentioned this above.

        JT, as another cybersecurity guy I feel your pet peeve, brother!

  24. I don’t know but my two cents on this issue are that I would rather have the statistics about internet porn we have now, then the 55,000-80,000 prostitutes in London in the mid-19th century, (those numbers would have meant about 1 prostitute for every 36 men in the city.) Remeber, several of our founding fathers had syphilis, something they didn’t get from their wives. Or the believed even more rampant prostitution in ancient Rome.

    I mean I feel that tighter regulation of the porn industry would be a good thing, but you can’t have a conversation about this issue without people becoming hysterical. You can’t ban porn totally as it would just go underground, so it would seem some kind of regulation might help to protect those individuals who choose to work in the industry.

    In any case, I found that when I was very religious I suffered a ton of crippling guilt over porn and masturbation. Once I become more of an agnostic and viewed masturbation as just a natural function I found my porn consumption dropped on its own. Maybe that is also a solution. If we didn’t fetishize porn so much, the illicitness of it might go away. Wasn’t there a study that showed that the more religious a state is, the higher its porn consumption? Anyway, just some of my thoughts.

    • You make some good points. What you say is one reason I think a lot of the preaching about sex and the “pornifying” of the marriage bed going on today probably only contributes to the problems we have rather than relieving them.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Which leads us into some of the complaints and criticisms regarding Mark Driscoll & Ed Young…

    • CCsoprano says:

      I don’t know but my two cents on this issue are that I would rather have the statistics about internet porn we have now, then the 55,000-80,000 prostitutes in London in the mid-19th century, (those numbers would have meant about 1 prostitute for every 36 men in the city.) Remeber, several of our founding fathers had syphilis, something they didn’t get from their wives. Or the believed even more rampant prostitution in ancient Rome.

      For another historical reference: Dabhoiwala, Faramez. The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution. Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.

      Everything changes in the 1700s.

      • For another historical reference: Dabhoiwala, Faramez. The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution. Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.

        Interesting…did you read an advance copy? Or on the Kindle? It sounds like the sexual revolution may not have been a bad thing. At least not when 18 year old girls are being hung on the accusation of having sex…

  25. David Cornwell says:

    This has turned out to be a great discussion. I can’t help but remember how I got my early sex education. It didn’t come from my parents, for the most part. However they weren’t negative toward the subject. When I was 14 I went to the library and read a book called something like: “What Every Boy Should Know About Sex.” It was written by an M.D. and mostly just discussed facts, what was normal, and even some of the deviations from “normal.” It was simple and to the point, and relieved many of my anxieties. The other thing was I learned from was the rabbit business I started. I began with two and ended up with about 40. Bunny rabbits like sex!

    The Church needs to develop a theology of sex that is based not only in theory, but also in practice. It needs to make clear the place of grace, not just the law. The human, physical body must be part of this theology.

    I like what Daniel P. Sulmasy says in his book “From A Balm for Gilead: Meditations on Spirituality and the Healing Arts”:

    “So what St. Paul seems to be saying is that all of this is also true of the human body. After all, it is in human bodies that worship happens. It is in human bodies that the words and rituals of our religion are safeguarded. It is in human bodies that all the historico-spiritual events of Christianity have taken place. Most important, Christians believe that God’s self-revelation took place succinctly and completely in the human body of the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. The human body is a sacred space.” (Sulmasy holds the M.D. and Ph.D degrees and is a Franciscan Friar holding the Sisters in Charity Chair in Ethics at St. Vincent’s Hospital-Manahattan).

    So much of what we’ve been taught about the body, and about sex has been negative. This narrative needs to change.

    And we need to pray that the Kingdom of God comes into and invades our own personal space as well as the space around us. Pray often “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” And also “forgive us our sins, as we forgive others…”

    • I don;t think many guys had a sex ed. My parents never spoke to me about this topic. And I leanred from my Dad that I shouldn’t ask questions becuase of how blushed he got. Actions speak louder than words and my Dad’s actions taughtme that I shouldn’t ask questions. This is why many guy learn from porn and even friends about sex. But that’s not healthy or good either.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I don;t think many guys had a sex ed. My parents never spoke to me about this topic.

        Neither did mine.

        * All my father would say is he would tell me “when you’re old enough to understand.” He died when I was 39 and never did tell me.

        * All I remember from my mother was “It’s all a sin and God will punish you for even thinking about it.” She died when I was 20, with an emotional age of about six.

        * Then after Mom died and Dad remarried, my stepmother kept pushing me to grow up by becoming sexually active. She kept pressure on me to grow up and get laid; I caught hell when I was dating Ann and she found out I hadn’t gotten into Ann’s pants. (I was respecting Ann, which turned out to be a big mistake. 25 years after our breakup and it still hurts. I have never been able to break whatever bond I formed with her.)

        The concept of emotional bonding and long-term companionship has always been the most important to me — and the most impossible to find IRL. All I can figure is I’m a lethal mutation, a human who bonds emotionally and mates for life, belonging to a species which screws like Bonobos. (Or dolphins, if you remember the pre-Bonobo Sixties & Seventies.) No wonder these days I find myself mooning over the likes of Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, and Fluttershy. I can only see a woman as virtuous if she is visibly NOT human.

  26. Tokah Fang says:

    When I considered the answer to your question, I realised that it is hard to divorce the answer from your faith tradition and still be helpful. Some of the things I would have suggested, if taken out of a life that includes the sacrament of repentance/confession, could just crush someone under a fatalistic load of guilt.

    Ultimately, the struggle for chastity (in the broad sense) is an ascetic struggle. It is a struggle against the beastial nature of our flesh and for the likeness of Christ. While this particular ascetic struggle is harder in our technological age, the tools are the same as the tools in any such struggle through the ages. But even then, the tools can’t be used outside a full integrated christian life… so again, it comes down to your christian tradition. So what to say?

    When asked which was the greatest commandment, our Lord replied “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

    Foundationally, it is all about showing love to God and man. When we see the people in pictures or movies not as as entertainment objects, but think of them as persons made in God’s image, persons for whom he died, we make a good start. When we actively think of our bodies as temples of God, we make a good start. And when we fail, we confess our sins to God and are cleansed of all unrighteousness, and then we start the first day of our new life. This the great battle of of our life, the battle to love.

  27. Isaac (except when I'm Obed) says:

    I’m reminded of something Dr. Cox said on Scrubs: “I’m fairly sure if they took porn off the Internet, there’d only be one website left and it’d be called ‘bring back the porn’”

    I think it’s one of the biggest indicators that the Church needs to bring the Gospel front-and-center. We all know the stats of how pervasive porn addiction is and we all know that most of us and our fellow Christians are at best adopting a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” policy about porn and at worst outright lying to each other about it. I’m thinkin’ that maybe if we could all take off our masks, and focus on Christ and his grace together we might be able to help each other get better in spite of ourselves. I certainly know that when my focus is on Him rather than my sin, I end up getting a bit better without even realizing it. Most of the time. At least a little bit. Usually.

    (BTW, I HATE the check box to prove I’m human… I forget it almost every time. It’s too easy to overlook)

    • So click your back button, check the box, click Post Comment.

      • Isaac (except when I'm Obed) says:

        Oh, I do… always with fear that I’ve lost my post. In fact, that last aside was added after one such back click.

        • Yep. I know how it can be a pain. But I’m an admin on another blog and SPAM has gotten to 20 to 40 per day. Past the automatic filters. I’m thinking of implementing a “human” button so we can turn off moderation.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      We all know the stats of how pervasive porn addiction is and we all know that most of us and our fellow Christians are at best adopting a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” policy about porn and at worst outright lying to each other about it.

      Or even worse, “Just Like Porn, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!” Christianese knockoffs just like has been done with everything else. (Driscoll and Ed Young are starting to dance on that edge, and I’m sure there are lesser-known others.)

  28. I work in college ministry, and one thing I’ve noticed is that porn has become so normalized that people don’t really feel any shame or embarrassment about viewing it. I attend a Freethinker discussion group on campus, and at least once a year we have a discussion about whether or not pornography is ethical. The overwhelming opinion of everyone in the group is that it’s perfectly fine, and that viewing porn is normal and even healthy. The men AND women in the group are open about the fact that they watch porn. They even discuss specific sites that they like to visit.

    Are these attitudes going to lead to the collapse of society as we know it? I don’t know. The people in this group seem like intelligent and functional human beings. They are successful students at a top-ranked university who are probably on their way to good careers. But my heart breaks over the way they view sex. The idea that sex is supposed to be something sacred – something representative of more than just the act itself – is dying. Sex is just an appetite to be satisfied. The idea that it is good or healthy for two people in a romantic relationship to expect or desire that the other person will remain faithful – both in action and in THOUGHT – is disappearing.

    If I was dating a girl who had an addiction to porn, that would be painful for me. It would be hard for several reasons – one of them being that it would enflame my jealousy. Is it not naturally disturbing for most people to imagine the one they love gratifying themselves through images and videos of other people? A Christian friend of mine who attends this same group once shared his testimony about how his addiction to porn had damaged his relationship with his girlfriend. The people in the group said that it never should have damaged his relationship because there was nothing wrong with it. They said that it was his girlfriend’s problem for making a big deal out of it.

    As far as I’m concerned, this jealousy that some of us still feel – this desire for our significant other to be committed and faithful both in action and in thought – is not wrong. The jealousy itself can provoke us to sin, but I don’t think the feeling itself is a sin. Our God is a jealous God, and we are made in His image. Polyamory is, I think, a rejection of this aspect of God’s image – and porn is polyamory of the mind.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      If I was dating a girl who had an addiction to porn, that would be painful for me. It would be hard for several reasons – one of them being that it would enflame my jealousy. Is it not naturally disturbing for most people to imagine the one they love gratifying themselves through images and videos of other people?

      This is a pattern I wondered about during the peak of Twilight fandom. Came up regarding the public silence of Mr. Meyers (the author’s husband) when Mrs. Meyers (the author) was visibly the number-one fangirl of her own sparkling sexual-fantasy creation. If I was married to a Twitard who kept letting me know “Edward Cullen is my EDWARD (sparkle sparkle) and YOU’RE NOT”, I sure wouldn’t be quiet about it.

      • cermak_rd says:

        And yet I wonder about that. Shouldn’t we all, even married people, have the right to channel our own Walter Mitty from time to time? I mean, marriage does not imply (at least in my mind) an ownership over the mind of the spouse. Even if the spouse is benevolent that would be a form of tyranny.

        So I think “purity” of mind or being faithful “even in the mind” is too much to ask for a spouse. I’m old fashioned, I only ask for avoidance of adultery (because that was part of the vows, if I recall rightly). And by adultery, I mean adultery as the people who wrote those commandments meant them (well, with the modern addendum of ix-nay on the olygamy-pay).

        • …sure you may have the legal right to think what you want. That doesn’t mean it isn’t sin. How do you determine a moral right? You surely wouldn’t say that no thoughts can be sinful, would you? I mean, FWIW, Jesus seems to have addressed the topic pretty clearly in Matt. 5:27-30. …and Paul seems to think that marriage DOES imply ownership of the entire PERSON of the spouse, in 1 Corinthians 7. But coming from a dude who also demand that we be perfect (Matthew 5:48), which we know is impossible, I suppose we should take it with a grain of salt….? :P

          • cermak_rd says:

            Just chalk it up reason #123457 why I’m not a Christian…unreasonable standards.

    • This has been a a good discussion, yet painful, because of walking in on my husband a few weeks ago while he was watching porn. I guess I am a very naive woman, I didn’t think he would go there…

      So Ryan, I am a bit relieved to hear you say: “It would be hard for several reasons – one of them being that it would enflame my jealousy. Is it not naturally disturbing for most people to imagine the one they love gratifying themselves through images and videos of other people?”

      Jealous was my first reaction, then angry or should I call it what it was: RAGE… Then very insecure because I am a 57 year old woman who has had children and though I take care of myself I can’t compete with those images. So much was swirling around inside of me and I suppose to some here it might seem I was over reaching when I felt that he had betrayed me…

      We are unpacking this as I write, the only good that came out of it is that we are talking in ways that we haven’t for years, finding Dan Allender’s video a couple of days after this happened opened my heart to look at my weapons/defenses and to listen & hear my husbands woundedness because how serious medical issues have impacted him as a man, and how shut down we both had become the last five years… I would appreciate prayer.
      http://t.co/k9wAfHkA

      • Gail, the best thing that you can do is continue to love him. Make it clear that you do not support that behavior but that you won’t pull away from him regardless. I think that in marriages, what starts out as a small porn problem becomes a big one when the wife decides she’s going to use that as justification to withhold sex/stay emotionally distant from him, which will only drive him deeper into it! Only God can break through sin like that, but your love can help.

  29. There have been a lot of good comments today. Before I add my two cents, let me heartily agree that grace and forgiveness must play a prominent role, personally and corporately, if any believer is to survive in our sexually pervasive world. I have my own sexual baggage, as I am sure most people do, and I will spare you all the details, but I frankly admit that I need the grace and mercy of the Lord.

    “What does faithful living in Christ mean in such a world?” When I think of the Incarnation, how God became a man, and being a man myself, I must come to the conclusion that Jesus had a sex drive. I say this with much fear and trepidation, and with all the holy reverence that is within me, but if Jesus did not have the powerful sex drive that is common to men it is hard to imagine Him as a man! The Gospels do not record a woman ever rejecting Jesus, suggesting that the perfect man was appealing to women! How did Jesus overcome the temptation not to take advantage of women who were willing to follow Him?

    While the Law obviously informed Jesus’ thinking, I do not see a determination to follow rules as His solution. He loved the fellowship of His disciples and friends, but He was alone for long enough periods of time to make it evident that “accountability” was not His solution either. I believe it came down to love. When Jesus saw a woman, He saw someone’s sister, someone’s daughter, someone’s mother, someone’s wife. Sexual relations outside the covenant of marriage are always harmful (hence the Law) and Jesus simply could not hurt anyone.

    Of all the balms available for sexual healing, grace and mercy from God and a Jesus inspired love for others have proven to be the most beneficial. Grace and mercy give me reason, as someone has already said, “to stand in the batter’s box and keep on swinging”. Jesus inspired love actually gives me a chance to get a hit! The method is not foolproof because my ability to receive grace and love others is flawed, but I can honestly say that these things have been more helpful than anything else I have known. The monster of sexual depravity lurks in my soul and raises his ugly head from time to time, but when I know that I am forgiven and I look at the object of lust as a real flesh and blood person made in God’s image and loved by Jesus, I am much less inclined to follow through with the thought or the action.

    Faithful living in Christ means that we love people so much that we would not take advantage of them or harm them no matter how easy it is to get away with it.

    Thank you, CM, for bringing this up for discussion.

    • David Cornwell says:

      “When I think of the Incarnation, how God became a man, ”

      It’s when we forget this that we run into trouble. We have a tendency to think that Jesus was somehow above it all. Well, he wasn’t. He left the “above” and came to us as fully human, in every possible way. I don’ like the pictures of Jesus with a halo. He was down in the dirt of this earth just like it was and is.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I have my own sexual baggage, as I am sure most people do, and I will spare you all the details, but I frankly admit that I need the grace and mercy of the Lord.

      Chill, I don’t think it’s possible to grow up these days WITHOUT developing some sort of sexual paraphilia. The best you can hope for is that your paraphilia is only embarrassing instead of actually destructive.

      • The Previous Dan says:

        “The best you can hope for is that your paraphilia is only embarrassing instead of actually destructive.”

        +1 Ain’t that the truth!

    • anonymous x2 says:

      Chill you hit the nail on the head. I’ve had trouble for about 20 years and it’s only lately that the desire has gone away. I confessed it tomy fiancee a few months before we got engaged, and though i”ve had trouble afterwards, when I’ve confessed she’s forgiven and never withheld love. Having a living example of Christs love has greatly reduced the desire. And I had a 3-4 times a day habit! REminding myself of Christs sacrifice for me I think retrained my mind. I’ve veered close to it sometimes but have only looked at it once maybe twice this year.

      And it was therapy for me It gave me something to do and it somehow oddly made me feel wanted. I’d never had any luck with women, and I was lonely.

  30. Hmm, my comment seems to have gone to moderation purgatory. Shall I try again? If it posts twice, feel free to delete one of them.

    This has been the biggest sin of my life, as I’ve said here a couple of times previously. I could probably go on and on about this, but I’ll try to limit myself to a couple of thoughts (which, now that I think about them, won’t really be helpful unless you’re Catholic or in a very similar tradition):

    Sacraments. Sacraments. Sacraments. IM is always going on about sacramental theology–but sacramental thinking does more than just ensure that we’ll get the Gospel on Sundays, even if the sermon sucks. Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, and receiving absolution in the confessional have been so immensely helpful to me in this area. All the accountability partners, all the software, all the elaborate systems that we set up, only serve to increase the guilt when they fail. And they cannot hold a candle to the exchange: “I have sinned, I repent.” “I absolve you.”

    Works. Asceticism. I know those are dirty words for a lot of people here. But just because we are justified by grace, doesn’t mean that works aren’t part of the Christian life. Yes, overemphasis on works can lead to legalism (and as the Chief Dufflepud once said, you’ll find the water powerful wet). What about a complete underemphasis on the fact that works are supposed to be part of the Christian life? What about writing off the enormous amount of early Christian literature that treats aspects of Christianity as an ascetic struggle? This is part of it. Christ sweat drops of blood–we need to learn to sweat out the times of blue balls. Our animal bodies want orgasms, and don’t care much for limits. So we need to teach our bodies that they have a new master. He is King Jesus, and he offers grace for the struggle, and forgiveness for our falls. As much as we need, and infinitely more.

  31. Pornography has hurt me so much. It has affected every significant male relationship I have had in my life.

    It is the reason my dad said he molested me for years.
    My first husband wanted me to “be” the porn star. He wanted me to do all kinds of crazy and degrading things that he had seen. He told me I was a “dead f___”
    My live in boyfriend had trouble having orgasms during intercourse. He would record porn in the middle of my daughters barney videos to hide it from me.
    My husband struggles with it now. I have even caught him rewinding girls gone wild commercials on tv while I am in the next room. He says all men do it and it is just normal. He says it has nothing to do with me or if he is happy and satisfied being married to me. He says he does not want to cheat. He says he does not compare me with them.
    All of this has wounded me. I feel broken. I feel less than. I feel like I dont want to have sex because I cannot compete. My body is flawed and not perfect. I feel shame and guilt for not wanting to have sex. I feel like I am a bad wife.
    I pray and ask God for healing and wholeness. I ask Him to make something new and pure and holy between my husband and I.
    thanks for this conversation, h
    That His grace is sufficient for me….

    • Heather,

      I hope it is ok to respond… I am so sorry. My heart goes out to you, I was sexually abused as a child and all that you say is where I have traveled… Have you ever read The Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan Allender? I know a book isn’t going to ease the fallout from what you have suffered, but it sure helped me sort out a few things. You are in my prayers this afternoon. I posted above if you want to link to something Dan said on conflict & forgiveness.
      In His Love, Gail

      • Please know Heather that I was in no way thinking that the video I posted on conflict & forgiveness is what you need to hear… no no no… Dan does a sexual abuse recovery week, a Wounded heart seminar, that brought slow incremental change to my heart 10 years ago… I’m still a work progress…

        • Hi Gail,
          Thanks for your kindness and Im sorry for your pain as well. I have not heard of the book you mentioned but I will look into it.
          This has been such a constant battle and wounding in my life for sooo long. I know God has brought some healing to me but as I read this discussion and posted, the tears just fell. It surprised me. That I could still weep uncontrollably about this. All of it.
          My husband has really been trying to change his behavior and I am very grateful although it is hard to open up and trust him. I try not to guilt and shame him as I know that is not the answer. I feel like I need so much reassurance from him and I always wonder what he is doing when he is home alone. Some days it can feel paralyzing. For me it is all so personal. For him not so.
          I do think forgiveness makes all the difference. I love and forgive him. as best I can the way I want and need Christ to love and forgive me.
          I am very grateful for your prayers and I offer mine in return.

          fast friends, h

  32. Chap

    I’ve been reading these all day waiting till I could sit down at home and collect my thoughts. I have several thoughts.

    There is a lot of brokenness in our world. Sexual brokenness is part of that. I do think though that we run the risk of falling into the same old trap of equating guilt with repentance. What we need to do is find ways to encourage folks (certainly speak truth to what is sinful) but still encourage folks and walk with them on this issue just like we would any other. There are a lot of folks addicted to porn and other things, but I do not doubt for a minute that there have been an equal number of people ruined for happy marriage bed relationships and turned into walking guilt trips because of wrong headed teaching or rather over emphasis on sexual matters.

    I want to be very very clear. A man should never use his wife as an excuse for sin but the reality is (thank goodness I’m not one of them) that some people have wives or husbands that have been so conditioned to see sex as dirty that they are frigid and not giving of themselves sexually to their spouse.

    I blame youth programs. My brother (older brother- everybody should be lucky enough to have on like mine) and I had a running joke (not really a joke) that we would never want to marry a girl raised in the same type of churches we were. Neither of us did:)

    Why? Here are some of the ridiculous things I was subjected to. Every single youth event had to revolve around sex. Super Wow (if you don’t know what that is then consider yourself blessed) always had the wild eyed college couple lecturing us kids over how they were even waiting to kiss before they got married, we were given talks about how everything from holding hands to back rubs could lead to sex. I was, on my honor, told that you should keep a bible between you and your date in the car on the seat. And I had to endure at an FCA camp for boys one time a guy giving a lecture over how dirty masturbation was, but that if you could do it without thinking of anyone specifically you know (not hard for a teenage boy- often a stiff wind will suffice) then it might not be sinful.

    I came of age right at the beginning of True Love Waits. Now they have promise ceremonies (creepy in my opinion) where dad’s and daughters do some type of ceremony. It’s not that these things shouldn’t be talked about, it’s just that they are talked about too much.

    I’m not a rube or old fogey. I teach middle school kids and coach high school kids. What some of you fear about them is true for a lot of them. The girls are every bit as crazy as the guys and sometimes even more so.

    I may be misquoting this b/c I’m too lazy to dig this up, but C.S. Lewis I believe said basically that sins of the flesh are sins and are bad, but things like strife, envy, pride were even worse. The former a weakness of the physical nature, the other an issue of the spirit or something like that.

    I could go on and on about this topic b/c there is so much cognitive dissonance on the subject. Baby Boomers (of all people) are now expecting their kids to wait till after college to marry ( I know I’ll get jumped on by folks who are single and tired of hearing that marriage is the answer to everything- but the reality is that for most people it is) and they are still playing some sort of game of self-denial that it is natural for someone not to have a sexual outlet at 22. Come on. Who are we kidding? Anyway the marriage thing was a rabbit so sorry for chasing it.

    Chaplain Mike,

    I like learning from you older guys. I’d love to hear these questions addressed.

    1. What age did you guys talk to your sons?

    2. What did you tell them about masturbation?

    Peace,
    Austin

    • David Cornwell says:

      Lot of common sense here Austin. And putting off marriage waiting for this and that isn’t natural. My granddaughter was married during her sophomore year in college (no, she isn’t pregnant). She can do this because the entire family, on both her side and his side are in support of it. We make is awfully hard on younger people these days to be anything like normal.

    • Austin,

      We have a lot of kids and I am still in the thick of it so….

      My wife started talking to our daughters around 9-10 and I think it was the same for me and the boys. We started with having them read a book, a chapter a night, and we would talk about it (again I had the boys and my wife the girls). We do not shy away from the topic of sex and now that some are dating age we can be pretty explicit. I have already sat one suitor down (twice) and told him what my definitions of dating are and are not (and I was pretty explicit too). I am not a person of the cloth so I can get away with that.

      Masterbation – do it and you’ll go blind – just kidding … I told them not to focus on that but that they would probably have some dreams…I am Catholic so we do tend to have some focus here… Did this stop them – no. But I did tell one of them that his mother would stop doing his wash if he left his used socks around. I did tell them that it could lead to being over-exessive (got some funny stories here but they probably won’t pass moderation).

    • Austin – I agree with the whole thing about too many church youth events focusing on sex. I think I am probably just a bit older than you (for me it wasn’t True Love Waits but Josh McDowell’s Why Wait?). But the general experience is still the same. I could probably count on one hand the number of lessons and Bible studies I had on growing in grace and the teachings of Christ. But every other lesson was on sex, drugs, or alcohol (or some combination thereof). Some of the advice was no doubt practical and helped some people. But it was limited in its scope and treated us as less than full human beings capable of discussing a wide range of subjects.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      There is a lot of brokenness in our world. Sexual brokenness is part of that.

      I’ve stated before that Christians are just as screwed-up sexually as everyone else, just in a different direction.

      There are a lot of folks addicted to porn and other things, but I do not doubt for a minute that there have been an equal number of people ruined for happy marriage bed relationships and turned into walking guilt trips because of wrong headed teaching or rather over emphasis on sexual matters.

      “The Devil sends temptations in matched opposing pairs, so that in fleeing one we embrace the other.”
      – either C.S.Lewis or G.K.Chesterton (from memory)

  33. Robin Cranford says:

    Austin,

    I teach high school as well and it is as you say. Also, my husband and I are expecting our first child (a boy) in two months. Neither of us want him to grow up in the creepy youth group culture we did. Any suggestions on books down the road. I want my son to know that Jesus Christ was crucified for the forgiveness of sins but I really, really, really don’t want some 25 year old youth minister talking to him about masturbation or “how far is too far.” Yuck!

    • Well that’s good, as long as your children really know they can come and talk to you when they have those questions, which they will. The vast majority of kids I know do not trust their parents enough to ask those kind of questions, and believe me, they they are seeking answers. I teach Bible to high school boys (private school), and if I got a dime for every time I got a question of similar nature, I’d be rich. …and its my first year teaching. As much as I agree about the general creepiness of youth group culture (raised in it myself, it gave me a very skewed understanding of sexuality), one can hardly blame the creative entrepreneurial types of youth pastors for going there. They see themselves as addressing a need. Here’s the real need: Turning the hears of parents to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents. If we could stop accepting family dysfunction as normal, perhaps these conversations could be handled in a far less creepy and more emotionally healthy way; in the home, where they belong.

      • Either due to my upfront, no-bull nature, or my nursing education, I was VERY blunt with our sons (now adults) starting with a strict no-nicknames rule for body parts and functions when they were still in diapers. My nursing texts were freely available, and they recieved a complete grounding in facts prior to the start of puberty, which is when we started to focus more on morals and motivations. BUT…we were also clear that if they fathered a child they would be dropping out of school to support said child for 18 years.

        • Bravo!

        • Right on!!! Totally did what you did – not a nurse but worked in hospitals – various departments. Non-judgmental attitude, no embarrassment, open discussion, matter-of-fact teaching, always available to talk – even into the night!

  34. Randy Thompson says:

    This has been a pretty amazing discussion. Thanks, everyone, for your part in it.

    I’m not sure I have much to offer here, but one thing has been crossing my mind as I’ve been reading through these posts, and that is this: Christians spend much time trying to God, but do so in a way that they don’t know themselves. They spend a lot of time addressing behaviors, but not nearly as much time addressing how their hearts and minds work. With little or not self-awareness, we leave the door of our minds and hearts wide open to the world around us, failing to see that the issue isn’t what’s entering our consciousness, but why we’re letting it enter. Knowledge of God with little or no self-knowledge leaves us crippled.

    I have learned much about analyzing my thoughts and desires from the writings of those within the monastic traditions, eastern and western. Specifically, I’ve learned that lust, or anger, or whatever, doesn’t just appear and fill our consciousness, although at times it feels that way. Often, these things creep into our consciousness below the radar. Because we’re not paying attention to ourselves and to what we’re thinking or how we’re thinking, our thoughts are shaped by images arising either from our senses or memory. The next thing we know, the images feel like they “own” our consciousness. One ancient Greek writer said that prayer and attention go together like scouts going before an army. Attention is the scout. It goes out in front of the mind (army) to see what’s there; but, when it finds the enemy (let’s say lust), it is not strong enough to fight it. It goes back to the army (prayer) which fights the battle. A foolproof technique for managing lust? Probably not. But, it seems to me that seeing prayer and attention as two sides of the same coin goes a long way in equipping us to fight the “unseen warfare” that is the Christian life. And it really is a life-long war, too.

    That’s a helpful metaphor too, “unseen warfare,” and I’m not referring here to Pentecostal demon-chasing either. The real spiritual warfare is the war we fight with ourselves within ourselves. Attention and prayer are both essential in the “spiritual combat.” Without prayer, attention leaves as like deer staring into the headlights of an oncoming truck. Without attention, the images and whispers of the enemy distract us from prayer and overwhelm us.

    A book that has helped me understand how this “warfare” works is an Orthodox classic: “Unseen Warfare,” by Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain and Theophan the Recluse. (The latter figures prominently in a great collection of teachings and sayings about prayer, “The Art of Prayer,” which is excellent.)

  35. I am very aware of the epidemic nature of this particular problem, having taken a few blows myself in the fight. I sometimes wonder whether the discussion, though, can become a bit alarmist at times. I mean, there is no denying the destructive effect that porn has had on countless lives. However, I don’t think people are necessarily sinning more than prior to this technological enablement, or that we have somehow become more sinful because of the internet. Honestly, I think that men have always been lust-filled creatures, and this has always had methods of expression in thought, word, and deed. If what Jesus says is true, that lust is as bad as adultery, then I think we as a species have been pretty consistent at this sin through the centuries.

    On the other hand, I do feel that internet porn, as a particular expression of the sin of lust, is an exceptionally damaging one, as it has drastic consequences on the individuals creating it (business savvy or not), the users consuming it, and the society tolerating it. We may never know how deeply this is hurting us, but consider this: The more we eat a particular food, the less we are satisfied with it (the law of diminishing returns). Conversely, fasting rejuvenates the taste buds. I’m not advocating celibacy, but our culture of “instant gratification” does much, I believe, to cut away at our ability to truly enjoy anything. I think an overall effect of porn on our society is a depression that robs us of the ability to attain satisfying enjoyment out of life, at least in some areas. He who sins sexually sins against himself. There’s a reason that masturbation in years past was called “self abuse.”

    Faithful Christian living means not accepting this as normal. It means for men to find their strength to resist in the joy of the Lord, and to “delight themselves in the wife of their youth.” Young men may be loosing the ability to make one woman truly the “apple of their eye.” This undermines marriage, which in turn undermines society.

    Here’s what I simply cannot understand. I’ve heard so many stories from women whose lives have been severely impacted by their husband’s use. Yet I know other women who don’t mind their husbands/boyfriends using porn, some even sending them off to it when they aren’t in the mood themselves. This just defies understanding. Can somebody explain it to me? I think a woman should be bothered by that.

  36. I could only repeat what others have said at this late hour by relating personal experience so I would just make the hopeful note that sexuality is a central theme in the mystery of the church. That knowledge can be a helpful balance in this difficult struggle.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Sexuality is also a central obsession among Witchfinders-General and other sin-sniffers.

  37. This might be too off topic but the mention above about the father-daughter promise ceremonies (I agree – slightly creepy) made me remember a question I always had about them – specifically, do the churches/communities that practice them have similar ceremonies for the boys? Mother-son purity dances or something similar? And are there other examples of rites of passage for teenagers that encourage sexual purity but don’t have the “creepy” factor?

    • Joseph (the original) says:

      there are these “Rites of Passage” ceremonies where the intent is to honor the teenager on the threshold of adulthood. they can include purity pledges/rings or knighthood themes (one such party/ceremony i attended with my young boys for a friend of theirs).

      i think the motivation can be sincere, yet i feel it can still be misguided. it’s as if the ceremony/ritual itself, or the training leading up to it, somehow going to compensate for, or replace, bad parenting skills and/or strained less than healthy relationship between parent+child.

      it may be the father/daughter purity ring/pledge that is the most misused rite. fathers feeling awkward as their daughters approach puberty, so they think this Christianized formula will delay or avert sexual awareness, exploration, experimentation. it could be such rituals are ways to avoid the awkward ‘talk’ with frankness & accurate physiological information as well as respect & dispelling fear & pointing out cultural excesses.

      i did a better job talking to my boys about sex, puberty, resposibility, respect for women, etc. than my dad ever did for me. however, my awkward attempts still painfully inadequate (i feel) because the topic between parent & child cannot be objective. that is why i feel good sex education in school is a great support although not intended to be a total substitute…

      i know a now retired pastor that had his teenage daughters due the purity ring/pledge thing. didn’t prevent them from being sexually active though as my son discovered thru the ‘youth group grapevine’, facebook & texting. so much for the Christian canned program that somehow has enough Magik to thwart all hormonal awakenings, social interactions with the opposite sex & extensive information thru all forms of media…

      heaven help the naive… :(

      • The Previous Dan says:

        I have to say that the “creepy vibe” may be due more to the collective dirty mind of an oversexed society (every 3rd cop show on TV has a father molesting his daughter) than it does any creepiness in the mind of the well intentioned people who created the ceremonies. Also I don’t think that ceremonies, purity rings, etc. were expected or intended to have any magical power. They are ceremonies that will meaningful to some and ignored by others. Just like baptism, communion, and marriage.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      there are these “Rites of Passage” ceremonies where the intent is to honor the teenager on the threshold of adulthood. they can include purity pledges/rings or knighthood themes (one such party/ceremony i attended with my young boys for a friend of theirs).

      Some years ago, there was this Focus on the Family(?) version of a “Knighthood Theme” that used Sir Lancelot as the type example and hero to emulate. Lancelot? Whoever came up with that one had never read the original Arthurian Cycle or even watched the move Excalibur.

      it may be the father/daughter purity ring/pledge that is the most misused rite. fathers feeling awkward as their daughters approach puberty, so they think this Christianized formula will delay or avert sexual awareness, exploration, experimentation.

      As well as giving off extremely creepy vibes. I have read on other blogs about “Father/Daughter Purity Balls” patterned after a Prom that have a very creepy “Incest is Best!” overtone. I hope that is just cluelessness. Others report a creepy male-supremacist vibe like the daughter places herself in submission to her father with overtones of a piece of property to be given/sold to her husband.

      so much for the Christian canned program that somehow has enough Magik to thwart all hormonal awakenings, social interactions with the opposite sex & extensive information thru all forms of media…

      Notice you spelled Magic with a “K”. Typo or deliberate? If deliberate, I understand Creepy Crowley’s spelling was actually “Magick”.

    • Radagast says:

      There is a Silver Ring Thing (i beleive developed by a non-denom group) that has been adapted to the Catholic view in our diocese. Its a one night event and not bad until you get to the Catholic add-in where some stuffy older person gets up there and gives the technical schlock and loses the kids interest entirely…

      Bottom line is that education from the parents, constant communication and a whole lot of checking up is going to be the only thing that will help a parent keep in the loop with their child. there are some parents who believe that the kids have to learn how to fail – but in my opinion, not in this area. There is so much pressure and a lot of these kids are pushing the limits because of that pressure. But they are subconciously looking for someone to pull them back as well – even if they don’t admit it initially. Parenting is a tough jobb and requires that time be put into that job – especially in the teenage years….

  38. Joseph (the original) says:

    Notice you spelled Magic with a “K”. Typo or deliberate? If deliberate, I understand Creepy Crowley’s spelling was actually “Magick”.

    my deliberate spelling that represents Christianese Superstition where the motive is really a hope in spiritualized things that garner divine guarantees due to God’s Holy Nod of Approval…

    hope that clarifies it…

  39. Thank you for reminding us just how pervasive this is. It is important to see how far this reaches and be spurred to action.

  40. Chaplain Mike, you may want to delete that previous comment.