Maybe you’ve heard the statistics about pornography. The staggering amount of men (and studies show women more and more) who are sinking into the world of consuming images. And maybe you’ve heard about the statistics of the world of pornography being built upon broken homes and broken families, and leading to more of the same (the book Silent War points out that up to 80% of women in the adult film industry suffered from sexual abuse in their past).
But here’s the best reason of all to avoid it.
Wednesday night, Randy Harris preached at Highland about some of the implications of living out the Gospel. It was a great sermon, and I highly recommend you give it a listen. At one point during Randy’s talk, he talked about how the general tension most of us live our lives in, is the balance between power and fear.
That is, we tend to act out of fear more often than we’d like to admit. And that generally, the way we try to overcome fear is by gaining power. These are the options that the world presents us with. It is the continium that we live on.
But it’s not the Gospel.
There’s a section in Paul’s letter to the Philippians that is one of my favorite in Scripture. It’s where Paul is talking to a church that is quarreling, over what appears to be some ego issues (good thing we’ve evolved so much) and right in the middle of this letter Paul starts quoting a song they all know.
Theologians call it the Christ Hymn. It basically is just a song about the gospel, and what Jesus did. It was the Hillsong of the day, and Paul quotes it specifically because the point it makes about Jesus. Here’s what it says:
In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Basically, Paul is saying why don’t you live like the God you sing about. But think about this for a second. Because Paul is tapping into some pretty significant stuff for our world. Everybody else thinks in terms of fear vs. power. That is the way we operate, but not if you follow Jesus because Jesus’ life wasn’t headed that direction.
And this is where Randy started to talk about sex.
The word Cruciform really just means cross shaped. It is to look at things through the lens of laying down your life. And so now the question becomes what does that look like for us today.
I must confess, as a guy I was taught implicitly by the culture, and conversations with other guys what sex was. It was all about pleasure. Sex was the most hedonistic thing you could participate in. This is not unique to American culture, or event the modern West. Babylon, Rome, they all approached sex this way. Sex was about what you got out of it. But that’s not the story that the Scriptures are telling. Think about the refrain of the Song of Solomon again. “I am my beloved, and my beloved is mine.”
It’s about self-giving, sacrificial love.
I think preachers probably harp on pornography a bit too much. Maybe a question we should ask behind the question, is “What kind of world do we live in that would use the sexuality of people like a product that can and should be consumed?”
Rob Bell once wrote in his book Sex God, that for most of the problem with the American approach to sex is that we want a part of the person, but not the whole person. That in reality, true life-giving, love-giving sex, can only come by being willing to die for the other person. That our fly-by-night, passionate soap-opera concepts of love are really at their core, selfish.
Because that other person is not just a product reducible to certain reprocductive organs.
Because behind that pixelated image is a person who has a heart and soul. And they shouldn’t have to sell it for common consumption.
Because the other person is worth dying for.
At least that’s what Jesus thought.