Monday, October 19, 2015

Itches and Scratch

The obsession in Evangelical circles about "porn" makes me cringe, because so many bad arguments are used, which discredit "our" side, and the disproportionate focus on it. I recently sat through a sermon (unfortunately one of my young kids was with me) from someone who was not the church's pastor, but had been doing a sermon series on "first things" when it comes to following Christ. This was supposed to be a sermon on Satan and his tactics. Yes, doctrine holds that Satan is a real, spiritual (not physical) being who interacts with human beings.

Despite supposedly being about Satan, it was more about porn than anything else. One must wonder what Satan was doing before the advent of photography.



The speaker included popular cable television shows such as "Game of Thrones" because they have nudity and sex scenes. I suppose it is OK to read Song of Songs or Song of Solomon, which has much sexuality, because it is in the Bible?

He encouraged congregants to get filtering and accountability software for their computers, and to have accountability buddies. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, what such programs do is report to your buddy what you've been doing online, with the idea that if you were going to porn sites, your buddy would call you up or sit you down and "help" you. Gee, knowing that hackers love to steal personal data and publicize potentially embarrassing information (*cough* Ashley Madison *cough*) this sounds like a very risky "solution".

It's very irritating to me when, especially for work, I need to visit a non-pornographic site and it is blocked by some ridiculous software. I feel like a toddler having to go ask for permission to get the site unblocked.

I have to wonder how many guys have deliberately chosen an "accountability partner" who has agreed they will stay off each others backs and keep it from their wives?

And what if we applied this concept to other things? How about a Mouth Monitor that records everything someone eats, so we can make sure people aren't being gluttons? Or, it records everything someone says, so we can be sure they're not gossiping?

To the preacher's credit, he did mention gossiping, if only fleetingly. He also mentioned human trafficking, but I think he might have been associating that with porn. That's one of those bad arguments. If porn is bad because of human trafficking, well, then, we can't wear clothes, either, because the garment industry has had a lot of human trafficking.

There is no Biblical passage that directly tells people not to view porn. That is because it didn't exist when the Bible was written, at least not in the sense we're talking about. When you cut through all of the bad arguments against porn and the red herrings, which I may have detailed before, and if I haven't I will detail in the future, it boils down to this: immodesty and "lusting in your heart". These seem to be issues only for very religious people, with the second one being specifically a Christian issue. I think there may be some wiggle room even with these, because when Biblical passages about those things were spoken and written, it was in reference to actually being around other people, with whom you could actually fornicate or commit adultery. Arguably, pixels don't count, especially when you're talking about fiction and performers with whom you'll never be alone, and are not likely to even meet (these days, they could be entirely fabricated by computer animation anyway). I say there's wiggle room, but this could be one of those things were you just kind of go by the "smell test" which indicates it's wrong. But then you have to wonder if that "smell" is just the influence of people who've said it is wrong.

Dr. Laura has a secular show and, at least recently, has been very clear in telling wives that it isn't a problem for their husband to view porn, at least as long as it isn't keeping him from his obligations or tending to the wives' sexual needs. She's even told them they should consider watching some with their husbands. This no doubt infuriates many of her conservative, Evangelical female listeners, but again, her show is secular and she herself doesn't seem to be practicing a specific religion since moving away from practicing Orthodox Judaism. (Her advice to girlfriends/fiancees is usually to dump their porn-viewing men, but that might be as much about saving him from having a nagging wife than a disapproval of porn... or it could be, I say cynically, because he hasn't "paid" and thus isn't entitled to orgasms.)

Anyway, even agreeing that it is wrong, we can still say there should be balance in addressing the issue and bad arguments and red herrings should not be used. I can't help but think it is such a frequent target because it is seen as a male problem, which lets the ladies off easy, which may make attending services and Bible studies and partaking in Christian media easier (there are more women doing these things than men), but also means their struggles are not being addressed, or addressed enough.

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