Archive for the tag “pornography”

Departure-lounge Christians aren’t following Jesus

departure_loungeIs there anyone who doesn’t hate long layovers when you’re traveling alone? The airport teems with people, but they’re all strangers. Some wander aimlessly about the terminal, but most travelers have their eyes riveted to a “mobile device.” Virtually no one is looking to interact with a flesh-and-blood human being. The Airport Authority tries to make the place more interesting, but the best they can do is a nondescript shopping mall like the one you have back in your own city – where, by the way, you are as rootless and lonely as you are at the airport.

Author Michael Frost thinks the airport departure lounge is more than a powerful metaphor for postmodern life. He also sees a warning of grave danger for Christians who claim to follow a God who “became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood,” as one colorful paraphrase of John 1:14 has it.

The airport departure lounge is “full of people who don’t belong where they currently find themselves and whose interactions with others are fleeting, perfunctory and trivial,” says Frost in his new book, Incarnate: The Body of Christ in an Age of Disengagement. Even though the core idea of the Christian faith is incarnation – the idea that God took on flesh and came to live among us – Western Christians today are being swept away by a culture that is rootless and disengaged, “connected to our world more and more through screens, rather than face to face.”

Frost calls it “excarnation.”

The spiritual climate produced by this disembodied faith “is a culture of individualism, narcissism, materialism and triviality,” says Frost, who is founding director of the Tinsley Institute, a mission study center in Sydney, Australia. “In such an excarnate environment it is easy to objectivize others, rank feelings above morals, prefer the therapeutic above the transcendent and nonconformity over authority, and absolute freedom becomes an intense form of slavery.”

Self-absorbed people inevitably treat other people as objects. On one hand, Frost says, morality becomes disembodied and the vulnerable are decimated by pornography and sex trafficking. On another hand, reason is disengaged, exalted as the road to knowledge, and “ruthless ideological debates” rage against other people we have reduced to cartoonish stereotypes.

“We are creating new generations of believers who know more than they choose, who understand things they never act upon, who discern ideas they never use,” Frost says. Churches resort to “stagecraft, sensory pageantry, charismatic leadership and an upbeat, unchallenging vision of Christianity to provide their congregants with a powerful emotional religious experience.”

Instead of making disciples who make disciples, we create “shy, socially awkward, emotionally removed and risk averse” cripples who are “unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships ….”

When faith is reduced to knowledge, the church has abandoned its mission of being the body of Christ among the broken souls around it. A generation distracted by its mobile devices thinks it can pursue its mission of multiplying God’s justice by clicking and hashtagging. We are quick to Like on Facebook and text to donate, thinking we have done good, yet we never get personally involved with someone who needs to be set free from the power of sin and death.

Everyone wants “to take the ‘road up’ to a poverty-free world, but no one [is] willing to get there via the road down, into the gutter, among the poor themselves,” Frost says. “But the incarnation teaches us that the way up is via the downward road.”

He adds: “In a time of disengagement and excarnation, the body of Christ is required all the more to embrace a more thoroughly embodied faith, a truly placed way of living that mirrors the incarnational lifestyle of Jesus.”

God-in-the-flesh came to live among a particular group of people. He walked among them. He touched the lepers and healed the blind and lame.

Frost says: “Instead of churning out books, manuals, DVDs, podcasts, websites, tweets, status updates, Jesus took a band of protégés to his elbow and humbly but relentlessly passed on the ‘hidden rules’ of service. Like Jesus, incarnational leaders model it, live it, breathe it and invite others to copy them.”

And more: “What the world so desperately needs are incarnational servants of Christ to wade into the muck and stench of this world and to partner with the locals, as broken as we all are, in helping to shape human society as God intended it to be.”

From God’s lips, to your ears.

Departure-lounge Christians aren’t following Jesus. He’s out in the neighborhood.

———
Cross-posted from here.

Online porn ‘twisting children’s view of sexual norms’

Sandra Laville reports for The Guardian that social media, mobile devices, and online pornography in the United Kingdom are exposing children to the dangers of sexual exploitation.

The exploitation “is violent, it is sadistic, it is very, very ugly,” Sue Berelowitz, deputy children’s commissioner, told the home affairs select committee. She said the issue of how social networking, text messaging and pornography was being used as part of the exploitation of children and young people – often by teenagers not much older than themselves – was of serious concern. She said she was concerned about the viewing of pornography by young people, which contributed to the problem of child sexual exploitation.

“They are watching it and then they are enacting it. Parents think they know what their child is watching … the reality is children can get anything they like on their mobile phones and they are,” Berelowitz said. “This is affecting children’s thresholds of what they think is normal behaviour. Social networking sites can be a source of real problems in this area.”

Read the full article by clicking here.

For more information on how porn harms children, click here.

Porn is a justice issue

Conservative evangelicals long ago grew weary of the fight against pornography, but people with a passion for justice must focus on pushing back on that darkness. Porn devastates every life it touches. Women and girls, men and boys, gays and lesbians — everyone in front of the camera is oppressed and victimized to produce porn. Men and women who watch it are ruined for meaningful relationship. Innocents are sexually abused and assaulted because of porn. The Internet and mobile devices have made porn so widely available, and so many have been ensnared, that the foundations of civilized society are actually threatened. This isn’t about moralism; it’s about stopping an oppression and helping people find wholeness and abundant life.

Barrett Duke offers some solid insight about porn’s devastation in a new column on Baptist Press:

WASHINGTON (BP) — The pornography industry has had another STD scare in its ranks. No one should be surprised. Its mistreatment of the human body and complete disregard for human dignity is bound to lead to the destruction of those who engage in it.

But pornography destroys not only those who engage in making it. It also destroys those who view it. While men and women are attracted to pornography for different reasons, the impact is devastating. Pornography introduces women to a fantasy world of false relationships that substitute for the real thing. It enables men to imagine sexual relationships without responsibility. For both, the result is isolation from members of the opposite sex and the loss of relationships that give meaning to life.

Pornography also devastates marriages. The loss of genuine intimacy is one of the leading causes of marital problems, including divorce. Women who discover their husbands are viewing pornography feel a deep sense of betrayal and insecurity. Their feelings of betrayal arise from the knowledge that their husbands are actually fantasizing about other women while they are engaged in acts of intimacy with them. They are insecure because they believe they are no longer personally appealing enough to their husbands.

Men who discover their wives are viewing pornography feel a deep sense of betrayal and isolation. They believe their wives are engaged in the equivalent of affairs with other men. This can lead to a sense of insecurity as they believe that they have failed to keep their wives’ interest. It also results in greater isolation in the marriage as the wife looks to others for emotional engagement and interaction.

Some advocate viewing pornography as a way to enhance the physical experience between couples. This is outrageous. Couples aroused by viewing pornography end up using each other as a means of self-gratification. God intended the sexual relationship to be an act of selfless giving, where the partners are focused on satisfying the needs of each other. In God’s design for sex, personal satisfaction results but it occurs within the context of mutual giving. Pornography reverses this and makes the desires of each person the central focus and the satisfaction of the partner a byproduct.

Pornography is not only destructive to marriage. It also destroys the viewer’s sense of decency. A multitude of studies have demonstrated that people who view pornography start out watching what is mislabeled as “soft porn.” Eventually this level of pornography is no longer stimulating, and the viewer seeks out more graphic forms. In time, many viewers end up watching things they would have originally thought to be thoroughly sick.

Pornography also destroys male attitudes toward women. Pornography is principally about violence against women. In pornography, women are merely objects for male aggression. No meaningful emotional relationship is developed in pornography. It is all about the male’s satisfaction at the woman’s expense. Pornography is implicated in nearly all acts of sexual violence. It feeds the basest aspects of the male psyche and produces in some men an insatiable desire to fulfill their violent fantasies in real life.

The sexual relationship is the ultimate form of intimacy between a husband and wife. God intended it to be something unique and special between them. Through it a husband and wife become completely vulnerable to each other, engaged in an act of complete self-giving. The physical act is only part of all that is supposed to occur between a husband and a wife in the sexual relationship. Pornography reduces this beautiful expression of human bonding to a mechanical act devoid of anything except selfish physical gratification.

Our children, our marriages, our communities and our nation all have a stake in ridding our homes of pornography. Let me encourage you to make sure that no one in your home can view pornography on any device. Do all you can to keep computers in public spaces in your home. Put accountability and filtering software on your computers that prevents access to pornography and that also sends a record of Internet sites visited to another monitoring computer. Anonymity is pornography’s best ally. Accountability is the best defense against it.

If you are struggling with pornography, don’t think lightly of it. It is corrosive and utterly destructive to the user, to all his or her relationships, and to communities. Find a trusted friend that you can talk to about it, and start with your spouse and your pastor. Then find some professional help that can guide you back to an appropriate, biblical attitude toward sex and all of your relationships. Finally, I hope you will work to eliminate pornography from your neighborhoods, and work with local and federal lawmakers to help put in place some effective policies that will rid our homes of this destroyer of all that is good and pure.

*****

A postscript to the article lists 10 pointers for combating the influence and damage of pornography:

— Make time for God every day. Praying, reading and memorizing Scripture will make a big difference in your life.

— Commit yourself before God to avoid situations on a computer or in a bookstore where temptations may abound.

— Place computers in a common area of the home, clearly visible to all members of the family.

— Don’t roam the Internet aimlessly. Always have a definite destination in mind. Avoid surfing the Web late at night when you’re alone and tired.

— Find another individual with whom you can be accountable. Share your struggles and hold up a moral standard for each other.

— Decide what online activities and how much time online are acceptable and communicate these to family members.

— Share phone and computer passwords with your spouse.

— Monitor children’s computer and smart phone data usage akin to monitoring their TV viewing.

— Periodically review file names stored on a computer. Names ending in GIF, JPG, BMP, TIF, PCX, DL and GL commonly refer to video or graphic images you can check.

— If struggling with any form of pornography or moral impurity, your pastor or a biblical counselor recommended by your church likely can help you. A pastor or counselor also can help relationships damaged by the pain of pornography.

More information and resources on combatting pornography can be found by clicking here.

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