Featured NewsPerspectives

Fighting the Porn Pandemic

Pornography sites are reporting record visits as the Coronavirus leaves people isolated in their homes. If the church wants to resist this evil, it can’t just fight lust; it has to address the crisis of loneliness.

According to a recent article in Psychology Today, the virus is changing not only how often people visit pornographic sites, it’s also changing what they’re looking at. Apparently, it’s long been known to sociologists and psychologists who study such things that external events have a measurable effect on what people search for.

The author of the piece, a Senior Fellow at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute, points out that the experience of an intense emotion, such as fear, can be interpreted as a sexual cue, pointing to “humans’ ability to fetishize virtually everything.” People are fearful when seeing someone in a mask on the news, the augment goes, and so they impulsively search out related pornographic content.

There’s no question that we live in a hyper-sexualized culture. From English courses at universities examining lesbian themes in Shakespeare to cartoons which do nothing short of groom children, our society has turned nearly every interaction into a sexual one. The Modern West is particularly ill equipped to examine reality through anything but a vulgarly sexual prism.

Pornography sites are reporting record visits as the Coronavirus leaves people isolated in their homes. If the church wants to resist this evil, it can’t just fight lust; it has to address the crisis of loneliness.

Sadly, the Church isn’t immune to this temptation. As an example, I recently preached on 1 Samuel18, a passage in which the beautiful and wrenching story of Jonathan and David’s friendship unfolds. In preparation, I read numerous commentaries and articles which took for granted the fact that their relationship was “clearly sexual.”

As I read the confidence with which the commentators made their audacious claim, it struck me that the sexual lens through which we in the West interpret reality is only half of the problem. The other half of the problem is the absence of deep, meaningful relationships which are not sexual in nature.

You see, the hyper-sexualization of our culture is the flipside of our anemic understanding of love. People are lonely, so they view pornography to feel a connection. They satiate a sexual desire because, we’re told, sex is the highest means of connection.

Yet, what if that desire for connection we all feel so acutely during this time is beckoning us to something else entirely? Once we put down our hyper-sexual lens, we can see clearly that not all of our desires are met most truly in a sex act. To the contrary, no amount of pornography will truly take away our loneliness. We don’t need porn. We need love—we need friends.

Yet, it must be asked: where are such deep, meaningful friendships to be found?

Insofar as the Church hasn’t made such relationships—committed, loving, sacrificial—plausible outside of a romantic relationship, she has failed in her mission of reconciliation.

Insofar as the Church hasn’t made such relationships—committed, loving, sacrificial—plausible outside of a romantic relationship, she has failed in her mission of reconciliation.

Sadly, Christians have too much reflected the low-commitment, nuclear-family-siloed West. This virus is revealing the lack of social bonds that exist in many of our churches. Too many of our fellow believers are turning to porn because they don’t know where else to turn. Where are their friends?

In the latter half of the last century, Lesslie Newbigin asked the following question which feels more relevant each day:

How is it possible that the gospel should be credible, that people should come to believe that the power which has the last word in human affairs is represented by a man hanging on a cross?

The answer he posits, in short, is the Church. As he says:

I am suggesting that the only answer, the only hermeneutic of the gospel, is a congregation of men and women who believe it and live by it. I am, of course, not denying the importance of the many activities by which we seek to challenge public life with the gospel– evangelistic campaigns, distribution of Bibles and Christian literature, conferences, and even books such as this one.

You see, our communities are called to offer a plausibility structure which makes the life of faith seem intelligible, possible, accessible—a place where Jonathans and Davids can be found in spades.

To be sure, the Church must prepare her people to fight the battle of lust. Yet, she must also train her people to connect with others in the fellowship, forming deep, lasting friendships. In other words, saying “no” to pornography will be much easier once we’ve said “yes” to forming meaningful connections with fellow believers.

Dustin Messer is Worldview Director at Christian Academy in Frisco, TX and Curate at All Saints Dallas. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Tags

Related Articles

Back to top button
Close

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker