Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Christians and porn

According to this post, Christian men are more likely to watch porn than the average American male.

    From Steve Farrar's Finishing Strong:
    A number of years ago a national conference for church youth directors was held at a major hotel in a city in the mid-west. Youth pastors by the hundreds flooded into that hotel and took nearly every room. At the conclusion of the conference, the hotel manager told the conference administrator that the number of guests who tuned into the adult movie channel broke the previous record, far and away outdoing any other convention in the history of the hotel.

I have to ask myself what vice Christian women are more guilty of. Perhaps wearing more makeup, showing more belly, or cleavage? I wonder - do some forms of Christianity provide a more sexualized environment and therefore encourage the use of porn? I would be interested in your thoughts.

22 comments:

Peter Kirk said...

Suzanne, I'm surprised at you for doing some sexual stereotyping here. You refer to "Christian men" and "the average American male". But there is nothing about gender in the snippet you quote.

Perhaps the difference was largely down to other conferences being fairly gender balanced, but the church youth directors' one being largely, or perhaps completely (depending on the church), male. That would distort the statistics hugely, if as one might suppose men are far more likely than women to watch porn channels.

Also at a mixed conference there is more chance of the men's sexual desires being satisfied, apart from the porn channel, by meeting women in the flesh and with lots of it showing!

Anyway have the statistics been adjusted for the number of guests? The following quote from Justin Holcomb points out that that is important.

atimetorend said...

While I think Peter's comments about statistics above are valid questions, knowing Farrar's writing, I suspect that is not the case here, that he is talking to An Audience of Men. About Leadership by Men. In short. Very serious. Dramatically clipped. Sentences. :^)

My guess is it was an audience of young men who have an extremely high level of accountability and controls over their lives at home, whereas other conference groups would be populated by people more likely to have been able to check out what porn is about prior to attending a conference. The question would be then why their behavior would be different at a conference than at home, but I don't think that is a hard one to answer, being that even Youth Leaders are people too. Just my guess.

Anonymous said...

Don't these dorks realize that their cable movie selections are recorded in the hotel computer and added to and printed out on their bill - at usually a higher cost than the regular pay-per-view movie prices that makes it evident to whoever they turn in their travel voucher that they weren't watching The Blind Side?

I wonder if any of them had to explain the movie charge to the church treasurer? :)

Just sayin'...

Bob MacDonald said...

I have just been reading Robert Alter's description of Judah and Tamar. He sees sexual need as a motive in the relationship. Pornography is not just about sexual need, but also about the exploitation of the actors both on and off screen.

Read the spaces between the words.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

Charis said...

"do some forms of Christianity provide a more sexualized environment and therefore encourage the use of porn?"- Suzanne

Porn objectifies women: there is no true intimacy, no relationship, only fantasy. Some forms of christianity stifle a woman's equal God given dominion/authority by the way they teach "submission". A man cannot be truly face to face intimate with a creature who is viewed and treated as inferior.

As Bushnell observed in the early 1900's: "A wifely self-immolation which encourages masculine sensuality is vice. A feminine 'humility' which gives place for the growth of masculine egotism is vice." [source]

Here is a link to a large collection of stats about porn use by self professed Christians. I think bad doctrine about Christian marriage and women's identity contributes immensely to the pandemic of closet porn use among christians.

believer333 said...

Very well said Charis. You've hit it head on!

Anonymous said...

"I wonder - do some forms of Christianity provide a more sexualized environment."

Interesting, these are very half-baked thoughts of mine. I am exploring this issue on and off. I think it touches on body/spirit duality issues. I know someone negotiating a relationship in which he insists that the love he feels for her in the prayerful relationship they share is a wholistic love, not just a meeting of 'souls', he would want to express it physically and her language is promoting a duality, he insists. However, the scriptures guide us to the appropriateness of the expression of our sexuality and in what context it is pleasing to God ie in a monogamous marriage.

I think these two issues need clear teaching in our churches. That we respond to one another embodied, fleshy but there is a self-control to be adopted too as disciples of Christ.

I have never fathomed the Bible's position on masturbation. I would imagine that it is not honouring and I know that Leviticus has particular things to say about spilled semen. However, pornography is exploitative and so surely can not be something that any obedient church would promote.

gengwall said...

Hmmm. If the observation does in deed prove true, I doubt it is because somehow the environment is more sexualized than the culture. I can't imagine any environment being more sexualized than the one any "average man" can find on any given night on tv (which is basically porn light anyway). I wonder if it might even be the opposite - that males in a sexually modest, and sometimes even supressed, environment seek outlets for their unavoidable testosterone driven sexual desires (keep in mind that masturbation and porn almost always go, pardon the pun, hand in hand). Is it possible that an environment that is closed to discussion and even sometimes hostile to human sexuality might be actually in some sense driving Christian men toward porn?

gengwall said...

Anonymous said - "I have never fathomed the Bible's position on masturbation. I would imagine that it is not honouring and I know that Leviticus has particular things to say about spilled semen."

The bible actually doesn't take a position on masturbation. The passages in Leviticus are addressing cleanliness, not sexual sin.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I am pretty sure that the context implied this quote was referring to men.

I don't remember exactly why I posted on this topic, but thanks for all your comments.

Amanda said...

I think that any form of Christianity that majors on a bunch of moral rules just because that's somehow what we're supposed to do--that will intensely cripple us in pursuit of holiness. In such a case, our motivation to live purely is only as strong as our accountability, because we have no reason to do the right thing other than a vague notion that we should.

However, when we see righteousness as the way we walk with God, get to know Him, and experience Him, then it's no longer just a seemingly arbitrary list of rules. We are motivated out of love, and out of a hunger to know God more. We understand that our hearts are damaged by our sin, whether or not anyone is looking. We may still stumble sometimes, but we'll hate it, and we'll resist it with all that we have.

The gender issue would certainly compound this, as it relates to porn usage. But I think the root of the problem is being driven by legalism rather than love. Legalism is more of "What's the minimum standard I have to give to the Lord today?" and love is more of, "How much can I give to the Lord today?"

Nicole said...

Porn usage can be one of two things: average sinful management of the sex drive, or the attempt to use self-pleasure to medicate the void/brokenness in themselves.

I don't find it odd that it happened at a pastor's conference. Without any knowledge of happened at that specific conference (but knowing what happens at other conferences), there was likely a lot of celebrity pastors who have it all together (emphasizing how imperfect the attendees are), lots of manipulation in terms of what one must do to be Christian, and overall browbeating of "be better, be better, be better, souls are in your hands, you are not good enough."

Combine that with the fact that paid ministry is death to marriages (there are some statistics out there, don't remember where) along with the churches message of "don't think of sex, sex is dirty, sex is awkward and bad, and just don't do it," what results is a spiritual mess.

If this conference is one where compism a la Piper is emphasized, with the man leading at church, leading at home, responsible for souls at church and every detail at home, when can a guy get a break to just be human? What if he is running on empty and wants to be able to sit back and do nothing?

Add in the very common problems of burn out, politics in church, spiritual deserts, depression, and I am really surprised that everyone else is surprised.

DespzdNrejectd said...

Amanda, you got it. :-)

I've long said that an externally-applied morality is shallow and won't stand when it gets a chance to run free, as this incident shows. Had the conference-goers been trained to love God and order their lives according to what pleases Him, they would not be like chained animals who suddenly broke loose.

Objectification of women is only part of the problem, but surely a big part. And just as emulating Hollywood macho actors gives people an unrealistic expectation for themselves and each other, such is the case even more with porn. This is compounded by teachings of inherent superiority, another un-Christian idea on its face.

Further, this goes ultimately to the issue of salvation itself: do people want merely to escape hell, to get a license to sin, or to be reconciled to God and thus live to please Him? Salvation is reconciliation above all, and Christian behavior must flow from this source. This incident, if it proves anything, shows a fundamental lack of reconciliation with God and other believers, especially the female ones.

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Muff Potter said...

Just out of curiosity, why does it seem that infractions and violations of a sekshull nature are the most egregious in evangelical Christianity?

E said...

Not for men only:

Church Counsels Women Addicted to Pornography

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/03/us/03addiction.html

Mark Turney said...

I believe that the matter of how Christian women dress is unrelated to Christian men and pornography. The pornography is fomenting the lust, not the Christian women. It may be that modest attire has been redefined of late, but that will by no means affect how men will fantasize. In fact, conservative clothing could turn into some sort of fetish.

Mark Turney said...

I believe that the matter of how Christian women dress is unrelated to Christian men and pornography. The pornography is fomenting the lust, not the Christian women. It may be that modest attire has been redefined of late, but that will by no means affect how men will fantasize. In fact, conservative clothing could turn into some sort of fetish.

gengwall said...

Mark - do you believe that how non-Christian women dress is unrelated to Christian men and pornography? I suspect not. So what if Christian women are dressing no more modestly than non-Christian women? Maybe the church you go to has lots of women who dress modestly but I have been to many churches where the hemlines are as high and the neck lines as low as you see in a Fredericks of Hollywood catalog. Maybe what you meant was that dress is NEVER related to pornography. Or maybe you meant that Christian women are always modest. I'm not sure but I would say from personal experience that neither conclusion is correct.

Anonymous said...

gengwall said...
"as you see in a Fredericks of Hollywood catalog."

and where did "you see" a Frederick's of Hollywood Catalog to compare here?

O the hangups Christians have to deal with.

Jamie said...

I think Christianity is one and doesn't actually come in any number of forms. I also believe that it is not in anyway sexualized. Any sexualisation we see in the world is from our own minds; it isn't encouraged or facilitated by anything/one.

gengwall said...

Jamie - Let me make sure I'm clear on what you are saying. Do you believe that as Christians we have no responsibility in our own conduct to not be a stumbling block for our brothers and sisters?