We live in a hyper-sexualized culture. Sex is used to sell everything from chewing gum to automobiles. In addition, the internet has made pornographic material accessible, affordable, and anonymous. This deadly combination is destroying the lives of millions and damaging an entire generation of young boys and girls. What does the Bible have to say about a sexualized culture?
NOTE: Dr. Gail Dines, Professor of Sociology at Wheelock College in Boston, has been described as “The world’s leading anti-pornography campaigner.” The information in the first part of this article is based on her Ted Talk. 1
Dr. Gail Dines’s writes that pornography distorts the user’s view of sexuality and makes more difficult the establishment of real-life intimate relationships with women. She asks the question: “What does it mean to grow up in a pornified culture?” It’s an important question.
The Attack on Our Children
In a Details Magazine article entitled, “How Internet Porn is Changing Teen Sex,” they interviewed a pornographer called Joanna Angel, and she said, “The girls these days just seem to come to the set porn-ready.” 2 What does that mean?
Dr. Dines explains it this way, “This culture is socializing our young girls to be ready for pornography whether they ever enter a porn site or not. And the reason for that is that they are being taught to hyper-sexualize and pornify themselves.”
Think about the kinds of images that bombard them …
These images teach that this is what it looks like to be desirable. And they all come down to a young woman with an unrealistically perfect body — unrealistic because it has been computer generated …
So we are teaching them that they have to have an unrealistically perfect body in order to be desirable.
In marketing there is a concept called the Reader Inscribed Image. In simple terms it means that each image is meant to draw someone in – each image is talking to someone in particular. So, here’s a typical image of the girl-next-door, desirable woman …
Who is she talking to? Her mother? No. She is talking to a male. And what is she saying? Let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about Jesus? Wanna’ come to church with me? No. She is saying, “Come take me.”
What this says to a young girl is that, when it comes to boys, she has one of two choices:
1. Come take me look.
This is being forced on to her — A type of sexuality that she didn’t invent, she didn’t decide, because there are so few choices. She is forced into this false choice between being “sexy” or being “invisible.” For the girls, it’s these images of perfect female bodies which makes a healthy body image practically impossible. And for the boys, it’s pornography (unfortunately, pornography is a growing problem for girls too).
The internet changed everything because it has made the most vile and violent and perverted forms of pornography affordable, accessible, and anonymous. Which spells – out of control.
- Porn sites get more visitors every day than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined.
- Of 304 Scenes Analyzed: 90% contained at least one aggressive act where physical and/or verbal aggression were used.
- In 2007, global porn revenues were estimated at $20 billion, with $10 billion in the U.S.
- 64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women say they watch porn at least once a month. 3
Porn has become the main source of sex education for boys, typically starting as young as 12. Think about what’s going to happen to the next generation of boys most of whom are brought up on these images of hardcore mainstream internet porn. And much of it is free.
The first time the average 12 year old goes onto the internet and googles sex or porn, what do you think he’s going to see? The first images that will pop up at him? Graphic, violent, and demeaning sexual acts are what he will find. These images objectify women and normalize unrealistic and violent acts.
And that little boy is being told, this is what it means to be a man, this is what it means to arouse and captivate a woman, this is what it means to love a woman. This is what he is learning. And in that boys stomach is a toxic stew, because he is aroused, but he is also ashamed, and he’s also scared, and he’s also angry, and nobody has said to him, this is not who you are, this is not who you have to be, this is not what a real woman wants.
The Biblical Response
So what does the Bible say?
ONE – The Bible places restrictions on sex because it recognizes that human sexuality is a powerful force.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” (1 Cor. 6:18)
In fact, it is one of the most powerful driving forces in human nature – that’s why marketers have long used it to get you to buy whatever they are selling. They know that if they can get your heart racing while you see their product, that you will associate those powerful feelings with the product, and will buy it.
And it works – if it didn’t they’d stop using it. But human sexuality, like any powerful force – guns, money, corporate power, political power, sexuality (there’s nothing inherently wrong or evil with these) — when used the wrong way for the wrong purposes are absolutely devastating.
The Bible understands this and seeks to put limits in order to save you from that devastation.
TWO – The Bible places high importance on what you do with your body.
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?” (1 Cor. 6:15a)
Judeo-Christian theology is very much tied to the body. The ancient Hebrews developed a spiritual perspective that included, at all places and all times (even in the afterlife), the idea of a body.
Paul addresses this with the Christians in Corinth. They misunderstood their freedom in Christ to mean that they could do whatever they wanted with their bodies. Paul says, NO! He quotes two popular sayings in First Century Corinth in order to make his point.
Two Truths to Live By
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12)
1. Not everything is beneficial.
“Everything is permissible to me,” was the first century Greek way of saying, “if it feels good, do it.” And Paul is saying that it has limitations. Nothing in life is without limits, including freedom.
Just because I have the right to do it, doesn’t mean I should. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean that it is good. And the beneficial (according to Paul) is what is beneficial for the community, not the individual person. What is best for my family, for my friends, for my spiritual community, for the people who know and love me? What is beneficial, not just for me, but for the other.
2. Nothing should be my master.
It’s the old question: Am I using this, or is this using me. With drugs, for instance: There are many drugs that are extremely helpful (even life-saving), but when misused or abused they can enslave a person.
Sex is a drug, of sorts, in that it has the ability to alter, for a moment, the chemical reactions within your body, to produce feelings of euphoria – that’s basically what certain drugs do. So, you should not let it master you.
The Body in Christian Theology
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
He then points out three theological truths about our bodies (and the idea, of course, is that this impacts what we do with them):
1. Your body belongs to the Lord (1 Cor. 6:15-17, 20).
He draws an analogy to a man joining himself to a prostitute. The primary source of prostitution in Corinth was the temple prostitute.
2. Your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19).
God’s Spirit dwells inside of you and is dragged into everything you do. Your body was meant to be something God uses for good, to bring glory to his name.
3. Your body is an instrument of worship to the Lord (1 Cor 6:20).
You were bought at a price. The grace that gives you freedom in Christ is not a cheap grace. It is a costly grace. It cost Jesus his life.
What Can I Do?
1. Talk to your children.
2. Protect your home.
3. Get involved with a loving, healing spiritual community.
4. Advocate for Restrictions on Pornographic Expression. 4