The Power of Porn
(Part 1 of 3)

A devoted father in our congregation called me with an honest, sincere, heartfelt request. “How do I protect my boys from the internet?” My response was as shocking to me as it was to him. “You can’t.”

Hoping for a bit of privacy, we meet on the patio of a coffee shop on a chilly day. I shared the things I had learned about the internet with experience from the boys in our church. I shared a few stories that were recent, shocking and unfortunately true.

*           *           *

Our youth do not have healthy spaces to talk about sex. I try not to avoid it. From time to time, I take anonymous surveys to find out what young people are thinking. Here are a few things I have learned.

 

Nearly every boy is watching porn, regularly, mostly on their phone.

Most girls watch porn, not simply for stimulation, but the expectation to be informed.

Every kid compares and questions their own body and suffers lower body-esteem.

All question their sexuality because they are stimulated by images both male and female.

The use of power in sex is distorting the image of making love.

Porn’s ability to raise the bar in terms of “bizarre” creates “bizarre” expectation(s.)

All mistakenly think they understand porn, keep it in perspective, and will rise above it.

Abstinence, fidelity, monogamous contentment, are no longer “a thing.”

The repetitive, unrelenting, daily exposure is having a greater impact

on this technology generation than any of us comprehend.

Recently, a young man took me for ice cream. We had developed a close relationship and I have grown to respect his character and faith. As we spoke I noticed a hair tie around his wrist. Now this young man sported a short, almost military haircut. He obviously couldn’t create a pony tail. So, I asked why he wore it. “Tim, I always wear it just in case a girl needs it.” With pure naiveté’ I joked how polite he was to be prepared for an emergency scrunchy crisis when he didn’t have a girlfriend. He could see my confusion. “Tim, if a girl is doing me a sexual favor then I’m prepared to keep her hair out of the way.”

Where did this expectation come from? It didn’t come from his home.

 Last month I had a conversation with a young man in college in a faraway state. This guy is blessed with wonderful charisma, a sharp mind and good looks. I asked all of the typical questions about academics and ventured into relationships. He confessed that he was not “really” dating but certainly “seeing” a few girls. I asked if he saw a potential long term relationship in any of these young ladies and he laughed uncomfortably. “Tim, I’m no longer sure I’m going to settle down and get married. I mean, I want a family for sure, but I’m not a monogamous kind of guy.” (To this day, I am so impressed with his honesty and vulnerability.) “I hang around with the guys from my team, and we do everything “together” as a team, including intimate relationships. (He did not exactly choose those words but I know what he meant.) I know! It’s crazy! But I can’t see myself ever going back to a traditional sex. And to be honest, I don’t want to!”

Where did this expectation come from? It didn’t come from his home. And how has this experience changed his life, forever?

The day before yesterday, I spoke with a young man whom I have enjoyed a tight relationship for a long time. He knows we can talk about anything. And he asked me about erectile dysfunction. After a long conversation, he worries that porn has trained his mind for a certain expectation and consequently he trained his body to physically respond to only that expectation. Nothing else satisfies.

Where did this expectation come from! I didn’t come from his home. And he wonders if he can repair whatever has been done. He also wonders if he wants to do what it takes to repair.

 Last fall I sat around a table of high school junior and senior boys. I attempted to challenge them on the effects of porn.

 “You may believe that porn is not affecting you, but you are mistaken. Pornography is making you even more sexualized. The endorphins that go off in your body demand to be repeated. The more porn is a part of your life, the more sexualized you become. The images stay in your mind and alter your perspective.

“On a larger scale, pornography is shaping culture. Pornography does not reflect culture. It has to be over-the-top to keep ahead of expectation to shock and tantalize. And yet porn makes the culture desire, expect and demand over-sexualized relationships. Eventually, culture reflects pornography instead of the other way around. On a smaller scale, pornography is shaping you.

“You might be thinking that porn will be a short term issue in your life. I bet you imagine that when you are sexually active and in a committed relationship that you will no longer desire pornography. That just isn’t true. Porn’s lure will always be a part of your life. And there might come a day when the person you deeply love will be deeply wounded by your porn addiction. It will make them wonder why you desire other sexual experiences other than them. It will cause a great deal of pain in your most important relationship.

“Now, imagine you had never seen pornography, ever. Imagine you had no expectation but the imagination in your mind. Would that have changed the way you look at girls when you walk down the hall at school? Would the absence of pornographic images in your head change your expectation when you go on a date? Would that kind of sexual naiveté be a beautiful gift? Or do you think porn is valuable because you feel. . .what. . .educated?

“The participation in porn is a selfish act. It is not self-love.

“There is harm. A lot of that harm is happening inside you. And you have within you the possibility of doing harm to others. You can’t imagine it, but you might already be diminishing people to sexual objects to fulfill your selfish desires, now, or in the future.

“Quitting porn is not easy. It will be a decision you will have to make over and over again every single day. You will probably need help. You will need tools and they are available. You are not alone. God will inspire your discipline. And I promise to help you if you want. Rest assured, everyone has their demons. We all have to fight some kind of unhealthy temptation. This may be your beast today, but how you handle it may help you with the other beasts you fight later.”

Pornography is not new. The availability is new. And young cultural acceptance is new. An entire generation is shaped by porn’s power. Our schools are not offering an alternative concept of sexuality. And I fear our homes and churches aren’t either.

*           *          

Both of us on the coffee shop patio are fathers. Both of us want to protect our children. Both of us acknowledge that porn has a window into our families that we can’t shut. It is not a question of how to eliminate the problem, but how to stand and fight the problem.

As parents, I wonder if most of us think we are good at teaching our children about sex. At the least, I imagine we are good at explaining the mechanics. I question whether or not we are good at raising sexual expectation.

Have you shared your perspective on sex with your children? Fathers, have you applauded abstinence in their presence? Have you shared the dangers of porn? Have you given in to our culture and simply accepted a diminished valued system for your kids? Have the youth convinced you that you are old fashioned and simply don’t understand? Can you join in on inappropriate innuendo but shy away from a heartfelt Godly perspective regarding intimacy?

We are wonderfully created as sexual beings. God has masterfully given us a great gift in physical intimacy. It has the power to bless our most important relationship and bring unity and bond between two people. When you have talked to your kids about sex, do you talk about God, the way God created us, and the role God intended sex to play in our lives? In the midst of explaining “how to” have you talked about “why not?” Because porn is offering an alternative perspective every day.

When we left the coffee shop, I challenged this great dad to formulate his dream for his sons, which included sexual activity, and find the right context to share that vision. . . .over and over and over and over again. And I pledged to join him by articulating the same message when his boys come to church.

“Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example

in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” I Timothy 4:12 

 

(Some day, I may write about my conversations with girls.

I remind them they are beautiful and empowered.)

 

In the opening welcome and introduction to this website, I shared the Scripture that inspired this online adventure, I Tim 6:20. This text is also the origination of the name; “Sacred Chatter.” However, my intent is not to be a singular voice. I invite your voice to be a part of the “chat” and I base this on another of my favorite Scriptures: Hebrews 10:24. “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.” I am considering how I can provoke love and good deeds in places beyond where I live. This is my attempt to enter into a Hebrews 10 conversation with you over social media.digitally. Now, I am interested in your feedback. Consider what provoking you can provide with your own Sacred Chatter.

What’s important to you? What really matters?

Add your voice in Sacred Chatter.

Love is ours to provoke. Good deeds are ours to sew.

That the wisdom of Hebrews 10 may flourish and grow.

Email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, they’re potential mediums for the Hebrews 10 plan.

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