Tuesday, April 23, 2024

FAITHFUL OBSERVATIONS — A biblical world view: The challenge today

by Bob Shillingstad
| August 15, 2020 1:00 AM

“For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world.” — 1 John 2:16

Quick question, should followers of Jesus be more concerned with the sexual practices of Christians or non-Christians? The answer is easy, but it seems we talk a lot more about the ever-changing sexual landscape of today’s culture then we talk about was is happening within the church walls. The issue of pornography and its pervasive influence on our culture, young people and families affects everyone and yet it is a topic we seldom mention.

Is that because this is something Christians are immune to? Of course not. In fact, Christians have some real issues that need to be dealt with because the ramifications could damage the church for generations. Porn is the churches’ dirty little secret that we need to talk about.

Young Americans do not think pornography is a negative thing. When they speak about pornography with friends, 90 percent of teens (ages 13 to 17) and 96 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 24) say they do so in a neutral, accepting, or encouraging way. Only one in 20 young adults and one in 10 teens say their friends think viewing pornography is a bad thing. For culture-warring conservative Christians, this issue reinforces your belief that America is in some sort of moral decline. Pornography is a single wave in a larger tsunami of social change. Statistics like this seem like further proof that the “traditional values” you hold dear are fading fast.

Most of us know how damaging porn can be, but we don’t really understand just how big of a problem it is within the church. Let’s be clear, porn kills love. Porn is in no ways harmless, and recently, the news broke that many of the major porn websites host material that shows the clear physical and emotional rape and abuse of minors and other women.

Porn kills love, destroys marriages and ruins lives. We also know that it rewires the brain like a drug and can have lasting effects on a person’s physical ability to have healthy sexual relationships. The American Church cannot be silent as pornography becomes ever more prevalent. We cannot ignore the way the industry contributes to the notion that women are little more than sex objects to be dominated by men. We cannot ignore how the industry has often preyed on children and exploited teenagers for financial gain. And we cannot ignore the way pornography usage among curious kids has often sexualized them in their most innocent years.

Compulsive sexual behaviors and pornography addiction affect men and women, regardless of race or financial status. And those inside the church are not immune. Naturally occurring pleasure chemicals are released into the brain when someone views sexually charged images. And whenever someone is depressed, angry, lonely, tired, unloved, rejected or even just uncomfortable, they may use sex and pornography to activate this “pleasure system high” that can lead someone into deeper stages of pornography addiction. Any use of pornography is sinful and cripples the ability of the abuser to see sex and intimacy in a healthy and biblical light. It also subtly and increasingly changes the user’s perception of the opposite sex.

If you are on the internet it is impossible to avoid the “click-bait” images inviting you to a site that goes deeper into sexual images. Giving a teenager a phone or other device that is tied into the internet is like giving them a closet full of X-rated magazines and telling them not to look at them. The temptation is overwhelming. Now is the time to open the word of God and talk about love, marriage and the role of sex in this context. A family meeting with rules laid out regarding the internet. Perhaps that all devices are only used in the presence of others and what is being viewed is visible to all. Become a good model for your family on how you use the web. Consider blocking software or a search engine that, from a Christian perspective, stops certain content from coming through.

Finally, realize the internet has tremendous positive aspects, how would Jesus have us use this as a blessing? Remember that social media is an aspect of meaningful community, not a replacement for meaningful community. Don’t be online all the time. Find balance and protect boundaries. Don’t be an “undercover Christian” online, share your faith. Encourage your pastor and church leadership to talk about the dangers of pornography especially to our young people.

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” — Philippians 4:8

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Bob’s religion columns appear Saturdays in The Press. Email Bob: bjshill@mac.com