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Research shows that pornography use is prevalent among all age groups, gravely harmful to relationships, and erodes real community within your church or organization. Do you have a plan to help your people live porn-free?

15 thoughts on “What Christian Culture Has Gotten Wrong About Sexual Purity

  1. Wonderful article.

    That said I think there needs to be a line between what Christian culture gets wrong about sex and what Christian culture gets wrong about porn although a lot of these things would appear on both list.

    For what Christian culture gets wrong about porn

    1. Sex is steak porn is a cheese sandwhich, or some other cliche phrase about how sex is a better form of masturbation/porn. Sex and Porn/masturbation are totally different things.

    2. Just stop. Not sure why there isnt more christians talking about the chemical dependency that comes from the dopamine release from looking at porn, but it makes it impossible to just stop.

    3. All you need is magic bullet (whether its going to the altar, an accountability partner or marriage). In all honesty I am convinced that most christians addicted to porn were going to be addicted to something due to the stresses, abuses and neglegence they faced in life. Porn just got to them before the other addictions.

    For what Christian culture gets wrong about sexual purity. I guess my list is the things that Christians dont talk about.

    1. Christians dont talk to young people about the emotional or spiritual side of sex. I am a single guy who has not looked at porn in 3 years, I was floored when I accedently stumbled across a christian who talked about the emotional/spiritual aspect of sex. I was 27 when I first heard it. This was after going to christian school, and Bible college. Recognizing an emotioanl and spiritual aspect of sex really helped me with my porn addiction.

    2. Healthy relationships keep young people pure. Again I am a single guy, I do not know of any christian book on dating or courtship that talks about how to have a healthy relationship. They all basicly say two things. Date a christian, and dont have sex until you are married. Hate to tell you this but two christian virgins can have a toxic relationship.

    3. If you are an adult and you are dating an adult you have no excuse for having sex outside of marriage because the Bible says if you can not contain its better to marry than to burn. If you are an adult and dating an adult and you can not contain its okay to go to the justice of the peace and get married so you can have legal sex. If you are doing this on the first date you have a spiritual problem, but if you have been dating 6 months, a year or 2 years or more then marriage is not a bad thing, assuming you have a healthy none toxic relationship.

  2. I think this issue of “objectification” and criticizing men for “objectifying their wives” is straight out of the man-hating radical feminist playbook. Did Solomon objectify his bride in the Song of Solomon? He spent an awful lot of time talking about her body. Is a man not allowed to happily consume the vision of the woman he pledged to love unconditionally for the rest of his life? I get that the whole eye bouncing thing is silly, but don’t we want husbands to desire their wives physically? Are we going to become ascetics now as Christians and attack the masculine gaze when it settles on the one woman God has given him to be “intoxicated with her love”. The Bible says “May her breasts satisfy you always.” I guess we now need to be politically correct and change Proverbs to say “May her intelligence and excellent conversation skills satisfy you always.” Ugh.

    As far as I am concerned, I plan on objectifying my wife until death do us part. And nobody on this blog or any other is going to make me feel one speck of guilt about it.

    • Hi Mitch, I’m the author of the article. Thank you for your comment. I’m not sure if you wanted interaction or not, based on the way in which you wrote your comment, but I hope this is helpful nonetheless. You bring up a great point with Proverbs 5, I love that Proverb. But here’s where I see the difference in Proverbs 5 between your argument and I think what the Proverb is really saying. Looking at the line you mentioned, v.18-19…

      and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth…
      may her breasts satisfy you always,
      may you ever be intoxicated with her love.

      So the wife in question is here isn’t young anymore. She’s old and the husband is being told to still be satisfied with her breasts. In the world of objectification, satisfaction is found as the breast being the end in and of itself. So we fixate on certain sizes, shapes, etc., but those sizes and shapes change over the decades. A wife’s breast at age 23 are going to look different than at 63. So the Proverb here is going past objectification, the breast being the end in and of itself, and seeing breasts as the gateway to something greater, which is the intimacy of the relationship. You can be satisfied with the breasts of your wife when you’re in your 60’s and older because you have intimacy together, and the breasts are a major gateway to that intimacy, as well as symbol of it. The way you talk about objectification it almost sounds like you love your wife’s breasts more than her, which I hope is not the case. Or that you only love your wife because she is the set of breasts you get to have. Which is not what the Proverb is saying here. I do desire my wife physically, I was never making an argument against that. What the Proverb is telling us is to enjoy our wife physically no matter what shape and form her body takes over the years, whereas objectification tells us that at some point we won’t be able to enjoy her physically because she has lost the shape or size that we want. It’s also important to note the proverb says to be intoxicated with her “love”, not with her breasts. Love and breasts are different things, and that’s an important distinction to make.

      You seem to feel very strongly about treating your wife as an object for your consumption. I wonder what she would think if you asked her if she’s comfortable with that? I think a comment later in this thread from a woman, Kay, was very helpful:

      I think that “objectification” is a more useful term than “lust” when you are making these distinctions. No woman, including your wife, is here on this earth to be an object to you. Many women tell me that their husbands use them for sex, and they know it. Their husbands aren’t emotionally invested in the relationship, don’t really care if their wife is interested in sex or not, apply pressure for sex, etc. This is using a woman for lust or objectification, rather than desiring her as a person. The relationship and the connection you feel with that person can cause you to become aroused. You have sex because you have an emotionally connected relationship, and sex is an expression of that connection.

  3. Did Solomon objectify his bride in the Song of Solomon? He spent an awful lot of time talking about her body. Is a man not allowed to happily consume the vision of the woman he pledged to love unconditionally for the rest of his life? I think you are uncomfortable with the essential basics of masculine sexuality. Before Adam sinned he was turned on by the sight of Eve. There is nothing inherently wrong with this.

  4. Thank you Noah for the thoughtful insight and perspective! Keep up the good work you are doing. Porn and sexual addiction is way farther widespread than any drug or alcohol addiction in the world today. The churches responsibilities are lacking and “pornograghy” is often a tag on when preaching about the evils of drug and alcohol addiction to the community. My opinion is that sexual addiction leads in many cases to the transferring to other addictions in an attempt to escape the guilt and shame of acting out.
    Blessings to you

  5. Loved your ideas about validation but am confused about lusting after my wife. What is the difference between lusting after my wife and desiring her sexually or being turned on by her? Are all three the same? If I wasn’t turned on by her body, why would we have sex? What would cause me to become aroused and pursue sex with her?

    • I think that “objectification” is a more useful term than “lust” when you are making these distinctions. No woman, including your wife, is here on this earth to be an object to you. Many women tell me that their husbands use them for sex, and they know it. Their husbands aren’t emotionally invested in the relationship, don’t really care if their wife is interested in sex or not, apply pressure for sex, etc. This is using a woman for lust or objectification, rather than desiring her as a person. The relationship and the connection you feel with that person can cause you to become aroused. You have sex because you have an emotionally connected relationship, and sex is an expression of that connection.

    • I agree with Kay for the most part, men shouldn’t objectify their wives and they should emotionally invest in the relationship. However, in response to this “The relationship and the connection you feel with that person can cause you to become aroused”, I think it is important to realize that many times it can be different for men. Men many times are simply aroused more easily and are so based on visual stimulation. Men should seek an emotional connection with their wife, but sexual arousal for men is typically based more on the physical than the emotional. In other words, don’t expect men to be just like women. (not that you are saying that, just wanted to clarify).

  6. “The standard line in the Christian subculture is to bounce your eyes from lustful images and direct them back to your wife. First and foremost, this gives single men zero options. But worse than this, it teaches us that instead of objectifying the women in porn or the women we want to do a double-take on, we should objectify our wives.”

    I wanted to talk about this a little bit, partly for myself. As a husband I know that I have, at times, objectified my wife. At the same time, however, I believe there is something to the idea of me, as a married man, redirecting my sexual desires toward my wife. Yes, if I was single I wouldn’t have that option, but I also believe that if there is a godly outlet for sexuality then I have freedom in that. I believe most single people that have strong sexual urges are not called to celibacy, so there is something to waiting for that day in the future to help with the struggle. Also, I don’t think ogling over a woman in a magazine is the same as admiring my wife’s body. But, I know that I have also pressured my wife in this area too, like asking her to wear things for me she wasn’t comfortable with (in private).

    I also know that when I broke free from porn I was focused on turning off the part of my brain that found the female form attractive. This helped me with porn but it also hindered me in enjoying the physical appearance of my wife, if that makes sense. Of course, part of this may been due to my addition to porn in the first place.

    So I think I agree with you in that one can objectify their own wife, but I think they can also appreciate their wife’s form in a healthy way also.

  7. Thank you for the blog post, it was really encouraging!

    I understand the parts where you write from your own perspective, as a man, but when addressing the reader, I think it’s REALLY important that you include both men and women in your audience (please please please). For women reading this, the implicit assumption that porn/lust/fantasizing is only something that men deal with can be really harmful and drive them deeper into silence and shame. (I checked, and unless I missed something – this isn’t just a men’s blog, right?)

    I really thought that most Christian authors and bloggers would be realizing the effect of broadly calling this a man’s problem by now, but it’s never too late to start changing our language to help all members of the body grow and pursue deeper fellowship with God! Keep on it, and keep writing out the truth!

  8. I am nervous to leave a reply on here. First of all, thank you for sharing your thoughts. There are some interesting thoughts such as the “church needs to do more than just say porn is bad for you, stop doing it” and the need to get to the root. I also agree that it goes beyond porn in that our culture is full of beautiful people and many are dressed in a way that draws attention to them in a not good way. We also are bombarded with advertisements, magazine covers etc..

    What I am having a hard time with about the article is the that people are after acceptance not body parts. I agree we all struggle with acceptance and many try to find it in relationships, sex, achievements etc. That is not good and I agree. What bothers me is that you are saying that we find acceptance in those that we deem valuable and that the women men ascribe as being valuable are the hot and pretty ones or porn stars. This is where you completely lose me. The women men ascribe value to have nice body parts don’t they?? As a woman who is average or less than, this just reinforces everything that I have ever been taught: that a certain type of woman, the hot ones, are the ones of value and that I am garbage. I even got told by my ex that when he looked at porn he knew there was a God because only God could have created such beauty. Yeah, airbrushed often surgically enhanced beauty. I am getting mixed messages on this site about looking at the opposite sex to just appreciate their beauty. I think in our culture a lot of what is defined as “beauty” is really sensuality. Would these women appear as beautiful or valuable without the tight or revealing clothing or lack thereof or the perfect hair and make up? Our culture has a way of putting out this image and it is everywhere from magazines to the news.

    I agree that we shouldn’t objectify anyone. I see boucing the eyes as a way of fleeing sexual immorality. It can also be looking at a person’s face rather than looking them up and down. Fleeing is mentioned in scripture. I think we can also deceive ourselves that we (woman and men) are just appreciating that someone is good looking when we actually are walking a slippery slope. If we are truly to see each others as brothers and sisters, then appreciating beauty or handsomeness should not enter the equation. I get ill at thinking of appreciating my flesh and blood brother’s looks. Let’s encourage others to appreciate the beauty of a sunset or a lake or a puppy. Not the opposite sex. I think singles have a little more leeway in this in that they could determine what they find attractive in a future mate.

    For singles, yes it is hard to deal with these things. If you have a wife, yes it would be good to try to delight in her and see her beauty. Like in the proverbs it talks about being satisfied by your wife’s breasts and in the Song of Solomon they are delighting in each other’s bodies. It does talk about enjoying each other’s body parts! I have read other things here and other places about your wife being your standard of beauty. No you don’t just use your wife, you put your energies in to the relationship with her. It is spiritual, emotional and physical!

    I write this as someone who has struggled in many ways and different areas. I really just wanted you to know how a woman could take this. We just started with covenant eyes as we have a teen and all of us need the accountability.

    • Hi, Sue – the comments are moderated, and I have accepted it just now. I trust that Noah will reply to your concerns. Thank you for offering your concerns constructively, as that is not always the case – hence the need for moderation :)

      Thank you for using Covenant Eyes,
      Chris

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