Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Of Sex and Sin

Published with typos and without editing until I have more motivation.

When I was kid, growing up in the church, world view was very important.  If the basic world view of a person or group fit the Church’s, that person or group was seen to be basically good.  Rush Limbaugh and Doctor Laura are both good examples of this.  Both treat callers in an abusive and vindictive way totally incongruous with teachings of Christ, but both have managed, to one degree or another to remain the darlings of the Church.

Feminists stood up for things that Church cared about like abused moms and not objectifying women, but also things that Paul commanded the church to care about which weren’t always followed, like feeding the children of the poor. The Church held against feminists their pro-abortion stance and their anti-patriarchal leanings, and could never find anything good to say about them.  I remember Rush Limbaugh’s old saw “Feminism was created to put ugly women in power” being repeated often.

Dr. Laura’s belief that there was no Messiah (She’s Jewish) was remarkably, not an impediment to her heroization by people who believe that “If you deny the son you deny the father.”   People who aligned themselves with the world view of the Church were courted by it, and people who did not were ostracized, in both cases, totally regardless of theology.  (Bill Clinton, seen by many people I knew at the time as a harbinger of the Antichrist, was a Southern Baptist.)

The world view the Church gave us was a comprehensive package, with something to think about every issue we might run into.  Sex, of course, is of utmost importance to the Church’s world view.  There was an unofficial party line to every issue that might relate to sex in even the tenuous way.  Sex must be with the right person (your wife) at the right time (after marriage), in the right emotional way (out of love, not lust) and the right physical way (un-protected or barrier method birth control only after hours of prayerful consideration).

There were also a lot of “gray” areas that would be stated gray, but preferred action was black and white.  Masturbation was a good example of this.  The view was that while the Bible did not expressly forbid masturbation, it did forbid sexual fantasy.  Thus, masturbation is not being per say condemned, but of course it is.  What would be the possible point of masturbation without some kind of sexual thinking behind it.

Even sexual fantasies about one’s spouse were discouraged, again by the same gray-stated-black-and-white applied principals.  The argument went like this: Sexually fantasizing about your spouse acting a in manner your spouse would not normally act, was projecting the sexual heart of someone else into your spouses body.  Thus you were, in fact, not fantasizing about your spouse, you were fantasizing about someone else, (who just happened to look just like them) which was lust, and thus a sin.

By this token pornography was definite no no.  Pornography was a great evil, at a personal level, and a social one.  First off, to look at it was the sin of lust.  Second, to look and masturbate was equal to having sex with that person.  Didn’t Jesus say if you looked at a woman to lust, you had committed adultery in your heart?  Third, it was addictive.  Once you started looking at it, you couldn’t stop.  You would start missing work to masturbate and look at porn.  I was totally possible you would leave your wife if you looked at porn.  Forth, masturbating while looking at porn was giving a sexual experience that was rightfully your wife’s to a whore.  (This was true even if you were not married, because you were say, 14 years old.  God had a planned spouse for you, to “emotionally have sex” with any other was a form of adultery.  Fifth, porn would destroy you ability to have normal relationships with woman because you would  objectify woman and see their only purpose as meeting your sexual needs, instead of considering their needs. Sixth, by purchasing pornography, you were supplying helping keep woman in sexual slavery, and seven, by looking at pornography at home, you opened a pipeline of the demonic that would attack your whole family.

Hearing feminist demonized as I did, I was puzzled to find there is a group within the feminist movement as radically opposed to pornography as the Church, and with some minor restatement, for almost identical reasons.  When I began to read Christian books about the destructiveness of pornography, (I was terrified I was addicted) I was very surprised to find radical feminists, rejected even by mainstream feminist radicals, as the primary source of this information about how destructive porn is.

When I came to the conclusion that, if Christianity was true, the form I had been taught was at best, compromised, sexual behavior, and thus pornography was one of the first issues I had to deal with.

I wanted to reevaluate everything, start my world view with a clean slate.  I would, I decided, do what ever I wanted, regardless of whether it was a sin or not.  The first couple days, I was (pleasantly) surprised to find, that even with out Christ holding me back, I didn’t solicited a hooker.  I’d always been told that without God, one’s desires couldn’t be controlled and I knew I really liked sex, so I was surprised.

I decided that I wasn’t going to feel guilty for looking at porn anymore.  I was man, God made me a man, made me straight, and for thirteen years, had never provided me with any victory over this sin.  Those first day, I looked at a lot of porn.  It felt wonderful.  Since I was 12, I had looked at porn.  I’d felt like shit afterwards every time. To look at it and not fell bad was wonderful.

And then the next day… something strange happened.  I had the house to myself, I could look at porn all day, which is probably what I would have done the week before.  But the knowledge that I could look at it whenever I wanted changed something.  The internet would still be there latter that night, and latter that week.

Once I didn’t think it was a filthy, horrible disfiguring sin, I had no reason to never do it again.  And with no reason to never do it again, I had no reason to make every chance I had an all-you-can-view pornothon.

It’s been three years since that first “victory over sin”.  For awhile I thought porn was the coolest thing in the world.  I guess I was just growing up late. That’s a totally normal feeling for a 17 year old, though unbecoming in a grow man. Now, even though I still look at it from time to time, I see where the anti-porn people are coming from.  I know guys who really get into porn, it’s their whole life.  There is something not-quite-right in them.

I always looked at porn from a desire to be with women, not a desire to hurt them or master them.  So, I didn’t really understand what people where talking about when they said that porn is about men dominating woman.  Now, because I get to talk to a lot more people about a lot more things than I did when I was a Christian, I’ve talked to men who watch porn because they hate women, though rarely would they put it that way.

I think they hate women because they are jealous of them.  They would do anything to have sex with attractive famous women, yet the women do nothing to try and have sex with them.  At some deep level, it offends their sense of reciprocity.  They talk about it at work often.  They make masturbatory motions and say things like “That’s what you get, bitch.”

So, to the radicals who say porn is purely about hurting women, and to the radicals who say porn has no effect, I say, you’re both wrong, and I offer my explanation: Pornography is art and art has a message. When art must sell that message must be something that people want to hear.  Sadly, the message that a lot of men want to hear is “Woman are just here for you to use.”

But the fact that most purchasers want that message does not mean that all who enjoy the art do.  As I’ve grown as a person, pornography has become increasingly less satisfying to me.  I don’t look at it nearly as much as I used too, because for me, the message is wrong.  But if there was porn made with the message that I want, I want to look at it all the time, and I refuse to be ashamed.

The message I want is this:  one, that all woman are beautiful and two, that two people meeting sexually as equals is beautiful. I will not apologize for thinking that that is a beautiful statement, and I will not apologize for wanting to see art that celebrates it.  Most of the negative things said about porn are true.  Life doesn’t imitate art, art matches life’s message. The kind of people who really like the message “Woman are for me to use” are abusive little jackals, and the porn they like isn’t the only indicator.

But it’s not what I like, and I’m not going to pretend that I think seeing a real woman with the shape  that life and her choices have given her is bad just to not be confused with the jackals.

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November 22, 2008 - Posted by | atheism, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism | , , , , , ,

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