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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Plague of Pornography (2) The Beauty and Purpose of Sex

We've got to talk straight, folks

There is a right decorum which the Scriptures throw across the subject of sex. Paul says that it is shameful even to mention what the wicked do in private (Ephesians 5:12). And yet in the previous verse he tells us to expose the fruitless deeds of darkness. So on the one hand we have to talk straight, but on the other hand, not too explicitly; the poetic form of the Song of Songs leads the way.

Two purposes
God designed sexual union for two purposes; first to unite a man and a woman in marriage. Sex would both cement and symbolise their oneness; in their union they would - in some mysterious and wonderful way - "become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) So powerful is sexual union between a man and a woman that even when it is a wrong union, e.g. between a married man and a prostitute, it still has the effect of binding them together - at least bodily, "Did you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body?" (1 Corinthians 6:16).

The other purpose of sex is procreation. Adam and Eve and every future Adam and Eve were commanded to be fruitful (Genesis 1:28).

God could have designed two separate biological experiences, one that produces children and another that unites a man and a woman; but he has united both of these "functions" in one, showing the powerful family context of sex: it generates not only union between the husband and the wife but children for them to care for (that is, a family).

The power of sex: God's glue
Sex is therefore extremely powerful: it has the ability to unite two human beings: there is no other force in all of human relationships so powerful; when used aright it is wonderful for the husband and wife, and glorifying to God. Paul shows the power of sex negatively when he says that "all other sins a man commits are outside of his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body." (1 Corinthians 6:18).

The sheer power of sex seems to lie primarily in the intensity of its mysterious pleasure; if it did not feel so good, no-one would be much interested in it!

The spiritual imagery of sex
Although some might struggle with this, sex is ultimately a picture of a much higher and more wonderful relationship, the relationships between Christ and his Church, the relationship between the believer and his Lord. This is brought out not only in Ephesians 5:31-32 "This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church", but in 1 Corinthians 6: 17 where Paul draws a parallel between human sex and our relationship with God "But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit." The bodily union of sex points to a greater spirit-union between each believer and the Lord.

So often in the Old Testament, when Israel's heart was turning away from the Lord to idols, God used the marriage image: his people - spiritually married to him - were running after prostitutes, rather than him (Exodus 34:15).

Sex then, is God's design to unite a man and woman in marriage. So important is this purpose that Paul expects every married couple to give themselves to one another and even calls sex a "marital duty" (1 Corinthians 7:3). When couples get married they should be instructed beforehand, "you are expected to give yourselves to each other in sex. If you don't want sex, if you are not prepared to give yourself to each other, regularly then don't get married, fullstop."

Solo sex: Eros defiled
Since sex is God's glue, solo sex is an abuse of sex, a wrong use of sex. It really is as simple as that. Any sex that does not involve a husband and a wife runs outside of God's design spec, and we must say lovingly, but clearly, is an abuse of God's wonderful gift.

This is where pornography comes in. The fundamental distortion of pornography is that it takes this beautiful gift and takes it out of its original God-given setting. Instead of  being used to unite a couple in holy matrimony, pornography turns sex into a selfish activity.

Sex now becomes, not a means (pleasure) to an end (union), but an end in itself: pure pleasure.

Pornography is the means by which that single end (pleasure) is reached. Sex is isolated from marriage, sex becomes distorted and twisted, Eros is defiled.

Sex can even now become an idol: something that those enslaved to it turn to for comfort, help and solace.

Under the influence of pornography, sex becomes sinful, ugly, perverted, wicked - and unrepented of, damnable.

Hope and Warning
There is hope in the Gospel for those enslaved  in this sin; we'll turn to that hope in a future blog. For now we pass on a warning for anyone who thinks that porn is a harmless passtime. The warning comes from a woman who was caught up in this sin. I have edited out a few of the "I wishes...." but you can read them all in the link below.....

Including it here, doesn't mean I agree with every sentence, but we ought to hear her sorrowful lament.

I wish......

"I wish that 10 years ago someone had educated me on pornography. What it is, what it does and what it reaches in and destroys in the hearts, minds and bodies of men and women.

I wish that someone would have told me that researchers have suggested it sabotages your sex life.

I wish someone would have explained how dopamine the chemical that is released every time you experience pleasure, drives you to return to what provided that feeling before.

I wish someone would have told me that the kind of pornography you're most turned on by is usually linked to a corresponding hurtful event in your life, further injuring your brokenness.

I wish someone would have told me I would begin to objectify men, build up images in my mind and think of sex day in and day out, to the point where I couldn't remain focused on anything else.

I wish someone would have pointed out pornography can establish your sexuality completelty apart from real-life relationships, causing huge problems in your intimacy with real significant others.

I wish someone would have told me that the dopamine and oxytocin being released from my watching certain types of pornography would cause me to question my sexual orientation, which in turn cost me relationships with friends.

I wish someone would have told me it would subtly create a "victim" mentality in my mind, causing me to be even more sensitive than I already was to catcalls, whistles, and even sincere compliments.

I wish someone had talked about how women watch it too, so I wouldn't have had to spend years living under the shame that comes with being "the only one" and thinking there was something wrong with me.

My "I wish" list is nowhere near complete, either. In the end, I simply wish someone would have told me why it was so harmful, instead of simply putting it on a list of things we don't talk about. We all know our rights and wrongs, but seldom do we know what makes them so. Had I known how much it would have harmed me, I would have left it alone."

See: What I wish I'd known......

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