2006-09-09

Dear Porn Student…

WARNING: This blog is fairly explicit about the Christian faith, sexuality, and my own experiences. It deserves an "R" rating. Please do not read it if you are under 16 or 17. And if you do read it, please do not complain about the adult content.

This week a person calling themselves "pornstudent" (see his blog here) commented on a twocitiesblog which was dealing with child pornography and sexual consumerism. Pornstudent has made it the point of his blog to defend adult use of pornography as "good" and "beneficial". I felt called to reply on his blog. Here it is:

Dear Pornstudent,

You commented over on Two Cities Blog, and I followed you here. Some folks said we oughta pray for you and "dialogue" (i.e. debate) with you over the morality of porn.

But, you and I both know debate would go nowhere. You have your mind made up that sexual consumerism is good. You are arguing that it is good to pleasure yourself alone in a dark room to the light of computer screen, while watching a video of some nubile young thing and imagining it is you she is moaning for. You say it is good to use, and be used by, others as a pleasure machine. In the words of Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails: "I want to f*ck you like an animal… You bring me closer to G*d".

You are convinced that porn is good, and that your genitals belong to yourself. I am convinced that porn is bad, and that my genitals belong to the God who loaned them to me. You are convinced that you know what is best for life, based on what pleasures you most. I am convinced my Creator knows what is best for my life, and that this Creator has revealed Himself in the person of Christ, and in the Community that bears His Name (although we do a pretty piss poor job of bearing His Name most of the time… but that is another blog).

We come from utterly different worldviews, and so dialogue is next to pointless. It would take something like a total conversion or transformation in one of us to even gain a foundation for dialogue. Either you would have to come to believe that there is a transcendent Purpose and Plot to life given by a God who is Love, or I would have to come to believe that there isn't.

I have been where you are at. I would have (and did) sleep with any girl that would sleep with me. I went to the smoky bars and stuffed dollar bills down G-strings. I have sat alone in the viewing rooms at adult arcades. And I have done other things I am now ashamed of. When you are in it, you think it is "real life". When you are so numb inside it feels real to feel anything, even if it is just getting off to some thrice-removed simulation of true sexual love. I felt that way before Christ became a reality to me.

All I can say is that it isn't real life. There is something so much better. I have a "friend of a friend" who told his pre-teen child about sex and why adults do it. After listening the child asked, with a very worried expression, "Well, can we eat candy while having sex?" You see, the highest pleasure the child could imagine was eating candy. He couldn't imagine how sex could possibly be better than candy. So, he wanted to make sure he could have "real fun" while having sex. You think that porn and what the Church and Scripture label as "sexual immorality" are "real fun", while "traditional morality" and everything that goes with it are not.

That is a fallacy that can only be arrived at by inexperience of the real thing, in the same way that thinking one needs to eat candy to enjoy sex is a fallacy that can only be arrived at by inexperience of the real thing.

In this case, merely understanding the "do's" and "don’ts" of Christian sexual morality are not the whole story of the "real thing", any more than a pre-pubescent child can understand whole story of what sex is and what it means. In order to even begin to understand sex beyond the level of mere "plumbing", one has to have gone through puberty and have the hormones and life experiences that allow one to understand sex. So also, to understand what Christian sexual morality is, one must encounter a whole host of experiences, realities, and beliefs that make it make sense.

For instance, you have to believe God is there, that God cares for you more than you care for yourself, that God better knows what is best for you than you do, and that God has a purpose for your life that is better than your own. Not only this, but you must invite this God of Love to fill your whole being and bring you into His life. Not only this, but you must acknowledge that there are some activities- particularly those which use and objectify God and His children- by which we cut ourselves off from the life, love, and purpose of God. To put it another way, you have to acknowledge that there are some things we do which "unplug" us from the Source of Being, and lead us toward death. And, to top it all off, you have to want to be whole, healthy, and experience all that God has for you by turning away from all that destroys your connection with God.

These are the basic requirements of practical and theoretical knowledge that undergird Christian sexual morality (what philosophy would call the "epistemic requirements"). If all of these things are a reality in your life- not just a fleeting "that sounds nice", but a resounding "I believe"- only then can you satisfy the foundational requirements that make Christian sexual morality make sense. Anything less, and you are the kid asking "can I eat candy while having sex?"

But, it doesn't seem like you yet have met these epistemic requirements. And I have tried and rejected the epistemic requirements necessary to make sense of your position. So, I guess that dialogue will be useless.

From reading your blog it seems you come out of a Christian environment and you know the Christianese used in the "sex debate". In fact, it seems your entire blog can be read as the extended justification of a guilty conscience about porn addiction. I know, guilty consciences do not exist. They are the product of the religious imagination that somehow enjoys guilt (and they say Freud is outdated!). If that explanation works for you, great. But when your imaginary conscience starts ruining your life with real guilt, and you can't effectively medicate it with drugs or orgasms anymore, there is a remedy in Christ.

I know where you are at and where you are coming from. And, man, if any of this has been caused guilt-ridden Christian hypocrites who have tried to beat you over the head with a Bible, I am sorry they did that. They disgrace Christ. The Religious Right in this country drives me nuts, always thinking they can legislate people into being "nice" Christians. People have to choose to follow Christ, not be legislated to follow Him. So, ironically, I agree with you on many counts that the State should not "legislate morality". But not for the reasons you list. Not because porn is good. But, because if we are going to choose to follow Christ we have to be allowed freedom of choice, and the ability to screw up and the opportunity endure the consequences.

But there is a better way. It is the way of Christ. The way of Liberation and Freedom. The way of Victory over death by His resurrection. The way of selfless Love. You may not realize that now, but you will. And right now, logical arguments will probably not work. You probably will have to come to the logical endpoint of your own ideology and face the horrible consequences it entails, before you realize there must be a better way. That's what happened to me. If I try to logically argue with you what WILL and MUST result from "sin", it will only cause you to say things like "Well, that is not necessarily so. Testing by Anywho University shows that actually porn can help us if..."

Just remember, statistics can be rigged to support anything you want. After all, studies show that 87% of statistics are made up on the spot, and it is statistically provable that being born is the world's leading cause of death.

But, when you do reach the end of the road you are on, and your life is falling apart, remember that God still loves you and has a purpose for your life, if you will surrender and accept His Love and Purpose. Like Paul said: "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life… nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers… nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). He will be there to heal you when you decide you need to be healed. Until then, may you find what "works" for you…And I will pray for you.

May Christ fill your life,

Nate Bostian

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This is a bunch of stuff to make us think hard about our incredible love affair with the God of the universe, our astounding infidelities against him, and his incredible grace to heal and restore us through Christ. Everything on this site is copyright © 1996-2015 by Nathan L. Bostian so if you use it, cite me... otherwise you break the 8th commandment, and make God unhappy. You can contact the author by posting a comment.