Hello friends! This week we continue our series on dating and relationships with a guest blog from a great blogger who I stumbled upon on Xanga.com, Mr. Josh Cunningham. I just so happened to find his blog one day while browsing around the Christian focused part of the site, Revelife, and his blog caught my eye; it was on pornography. I was so impressed by his writing and courage on this often taboo and sticky topic, and was moved by the way he handled the sensitive nature of the issue, I knew I had to get him to write for us here at The Waking. Thankfully, Josh graciously agreed to share his insight and thoughts with us all. So, without any further ado, we introduce you to Mr. Josh Cunningham.
I can’t remember the last men’s-only bible study, prayer group, or brotherly get-together, in which, in the course of opening up about our lives—our struggles and our victories—someone hasn’t mentioned their current struggle with pornography or masturbation.
It’s a very sad reality, but true: pornography is a pervasive force in our culture today, Christian sub-culture included.
Last month New York Magazine featured a three-part series, “Drowning in Porn.” The second article, “He’s Just Not That Into Anyone,” by Davy Rothbart addresses the topic of how pornography actually diminishes the libido of men who use it.
The common argument put forth by youth pastors, special speakers, and general church people alike when speaking to young men as to why pornography is wrong is that it degrades women—and this is absolutely true. But Rothbart draws attention to the fact that the man using pornography is equally degrading himself as well—and maybe this is what young men need to be told. Pornography hurts both women and men.
Rothbart attests to this fact when he hones in on the phenomenon by which men—dazzled by the fantastical pornographic imagery displayed on their computers—are often let down by what they encounter in real life. Constantly receiving sexual pleasure—and then satisfaction—through the use of porn, over time, desensitizes men to the intimacy and excitement of the sex act in real life.
The author interviews a 41-year-old New York lawyer who would sooner rush home to masturbate to porn online than have sex with his wife. “Perry insists that he’s still attracted to his wife of twelve years,” writes Rothbart, “Still, he says, she can’t quite measure up to the porn stars he views online.”
Pornography not only causes an addiction, it causes an unlikely (or maybe likely) attachment—a pseudo relationship between a man and what is—in effect—a fictional character on the screen. Rothbart quotes New York lawyer Perry again: “Not to be mean, but they’re (the women online) younger, hotter, and wilder in the sack than my wife,” he says. “Me and her, we still ‘do it’ and everything, but instead of every day, it’s maybe once a week. It’s like I’ve got this ‘other woman’ … and the ‘other woman’ is porn.”
Porn is perfect for men who don’t want to care about the women, only about sex. There is no risk of rejection, awkward introductions, or embarrassment. As a result when men who are addicted to pornography—or maybe recovering addicts—actually do have sex with a real woman, they can’t keep previously viewed pornographic images out of their minds.
Welcome to the 21st century, Internet sponsored, cognitive ménage-a-trios. A man might appear to be having sex with one women but there could be myriad other women also participating in his mind. What’s worse, even if a man would rather this not be the case—let’s say he truly wants to give his partner his fullest attention and affections—it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to completely block out the unwanted images.
Linguist George Lakoff explains how easily unwanted images are evoked in our minds in this way: If I tell you, “don’t think of an elephant,” what are you going to think about? The same rationale applies to sex. If you’re in bed with the woman that you love, and only the day before were looking at another woman online, every conscious effort you make to black out that unwanted image is likely to evoke it anyway.
I think many Christians have a misconception as to why pornography is so bad. Usually we talk about pornography in terms of its being immoral—and it certainly is. But why?
At first, we might think this too obvious. The word that’s thrown around the most is “lust.” Jesus says, “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28).
We know the act of adultery is wrong, we know that—as far as Jesus is concerned—lust is comparable to adultery, and so we know that lust is wrong and therefore a sin. But as the article reveals, viewing pornography is more than just another strike on the moral scorecard. It affects a man’s very personhood. When God made man, he imparted to him the image of Himself. Man, therefore, is a special creature because he bares this image (Imago Dei). To the extent that he strives to live like Christ a man reflects the glory of God. In so doing, he lives in a way that is truly human and fully dignified.
When a man uses porn it strips him of his god given dignity. He dehumanizes himself as he objectifies her.
Paul says, as Christians we are to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. The insidious nature of pornography is that when a man looks at it, it sticks with him. It seeps into his very consciousness. Porn can lead a man into developing sometimes conscious, sometimes unconscious relationships with a mere image, it can desensitize him from receiving good sex from the woman he loves.
Pornography will transform a man’s mind but never for the better.
We want to thank Josh for sharing his thoughts with us about this somewhat sensitive but very important subject. In getting Josh to share his thoughts with us we hope to shed light and create conversation on a much hidden struggle that plagues not only the secular world, but the Christian world as well. We hope that anyone who deals with this issue or similar things will find hope and strength in knowing they are not alone, and they do not have to be ashamed to talk about these things. We pray healing and restoration to all who struggle, may our God break the chains that bind.
Josh Cunningham is a writer in New York City and an editorial intern at Revelife.com. You can find more articles by Josh @ http://www.revelife.com/contributors/joshcunningham-xanga/