“I have been in sin and need prayer” or “I have a problem with lust” are common confessions within the church context. Those with a bit more courage will at least admit that they are struggling with pornography or wandering thoughts about females. But even that has become so normative and “every man’s battle” that it seems to be a collective “oh well, at least you admitted it, and we will pray for you.” The problem is, we have no idea about how to address the root causes or how to actually begin to honor beauty and not devour the feminine.
We must begin to view pornography, at the very least, as abuse and violence. Research confirms that “Aggressive acts against women in pornography occur in roughly 87% of the scenes, and 95% of the time when these acts are committed, women respond with expressions of pleasure or neutrality.” 1 This means that many of our young men and boys are taught that sexual aggression is customary—and even enjoyed—by women. I know this was my story and what led me to be an unsafe and abusive man in my late teens and early twenties. I believe the minimization of pornography has impacted us not to tell the truth about what porn is doing to our ability to attain healthy sexuality.
Instead of calling porn a “lust problem” or even merely a “sin,” what if we had the integrity and courage to call it “domestic terrorism.” Literally, it is terrorizing young men’s sexual development, and terrorizing women’s view of their own beauty and sense of worth. Everyone who encounters it becomes an object and less human. Rather than minimize porn’s impact (I have a “lust” problem”) we must maximize it and truly feel the weight of exploiting another image bearer of God.
We do not need to be afraid to call on men to become more. We can’t treat men as helpless “baby cavemen” without the ability to have deep emotions or engage their deepest desires. Men are brilliant and capable, and yes, sinful. But men are more than their unresolved childhood wounds. The church has catered far too long to insecure, violent, and adolescent men. This doesn’t mean we should shame men, because shame never leads to transformation. We are seeking to create deep humility, not humiliation.
God is Truth and the more we tell the truth (and do not minimize it) the more we experience God and God’s glorious liberation.
1. Ana J. Bridges, Robert Wosnitzer, Erica Scharrer, Chyng Sun, and Rachael Liberman, “Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best-Selling Pornography Videos: A Content Analysis Update,” Violence Against Women 16, no. 10 (2010): 1065-1085