What value do we place upon human sexuality today? If you evaluated how we handle sexuality in our American society, you would probably struggle to make a distinction between sex and soap. Although this may sound ridiculous, think about it for a moment. We construct different versions of sex, we market it, we distribute it, and we sell it for profit. We have strip clubs, massage parlors, XXX movie shops, coffee stands, phone apps, television, movies and the internet as mediums in which we sell sex. Furthermore, we bathe ourselves in it, by consuming media with seemingly endless displays of sexual innuendo and exploitation. Pornography is the quintessential example in this sense. So the question we have to ask is, "Have we relegated sex to something which holds no greater value than soap?" Yes, we have.
The truth is that we live in a time when human sexuality is no longer treated as sacred. As I mentioned earlier, this is evident in how we treat sex as a commodity. However, just because we don't treat sexuality as sacred in America, that doesn't diminish the fact that our sexuality is sacred. The beautiful, powerful, intimate and erotic nature of our sexuality will always be something that is meant to be cherished and we have a responsibility to protect it from being exploited and devalued. Why? Because we cannot separate our sexuality from another central truth:
Our lives as human beings are sacred.
This notion of human life as sacred isn't foreign to our country, a prime example of this being found in our Declaration of Independence:
"When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which entitle them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
This incredible document makes it evident that the founders of our nation clearly understood the basis and application of natural law, which recognizes there are aspects of our humanity that are unquestionably sacred. Yet, this didn't stop them from allowing the bane of slavery to exist in our country. So it is today, where the conditions of our time are such that we are fully aware that countless lives are being sexually exploited in numerous ways throughout the nation, yet we have still allowed these conditions to exist. How long will we allow these violations to occur?
A Violation of Purpose
Ravi Zacharias, in his presentation at the Veritas Forum called What Does It Mean To Be Human¹, defined evil as "a violation of (God's) purpose." He's right. When we take something like sex, and we violate the purpose for which God intended it, we end up with exactly what we see today: a society where the bodies of men, women and children are blatantly used to gratify the selfish desires of some person or company through pornography and other mediums such as television, movies, ads, social media, etc. But there is a dual effect. We have to account for the individuals who end up doing great damage to themselves personally and relationally by consuming such content.
The result is that those who are used, and those who use, are left wounded and buried on the battlefield of Self.
Moving away from perpetuating such incessant damage requires that we hold tightly to the value, meaning and purpose God has given to our lives, while taking steps in our culture to recognize there is a steep cost for living for ourselves and the fulfillment of our selfish desires.
MAN AS GOD
"In traveling down the road of self,
One is never far from entering the valley of I,
Where man is god,
And God is placed in a prison marked Who and Why?" - E.G.
What happens when we as human beings place ourselves in the position of being the ultimate arbiters of what is good, just and right? We become blind to the dehumanization that occurs when we seek to establish our own moral law, particularly when issues of privilege, power, profit and pride enter the picture. We have examples of this in our American history, one primary example being the enslavement of black men, women and children by white members of society who believed they had the moral right to bind them, to separate them from their families, to beat them, to rape them, to kill them and to subjugate them by denying them a proper education. Their privilege, power, pride and desire for profit enabled them to view these incredibly bright, beautiful and resilient individuals as nothing more than property.
The remnants of such evil still exist through the racism woven through the fabric of our country today, and yet our pride has blinded us from the truth of how slavery still exists through the more subtle means of sexual exploitation. Simply consider how many lives are being destroyed through the subjugation, rape, abuse and selling of those caught in the trap of the sex industry. Also consider how many individuals are addicted to pornography, a legalized substance which we now realize adversely affects our neurology,² in addition to the emotional bonds in dating and marital relationships that are broken because of one or more member's use of pornography. Each of these significant issues distinctly reflect the outcome of us choosing to play God. I have to wonder . . .
"Did we really think we could continue violating the sacred nature of our sexuality and get away with it?"
In our striving to be like God, we have become superficial, detached from the spiritual and sacred elements of our being in which we find meaning and purpose in life. And when it comes to God himself. . . ah yes, I remember now. We'd like to keep that door shut, while leaving the masses to ask, "Who is God?" and "Why do we need Him?"
The Demise of Pornography
I often ask people the question, "Do you think we can put an end to the production and distribution of porn?" In most cases, people say, "No," and though I still venture towards a "Yes" response, I understand where they're coming from. The pornography industry is huge, and shutting it down seems nothing short of impossible. Nevertheless, this doesn't mean we shouldn't be fervently aiming to accomplish that end based on the amount of human suffering taking place within and because of that industry.
That being said, there is one thing I'm certain of:
The production, distribution and viewing of pornography are all issues of the heart.
The demise of pornography in this sense comes when we understand for ourselves, and help others to clearly see, that every life matters and contains immeasurable value.
Mother Teresa, in her 1979 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech³, had the following to say about this:
"Our poor people are great people, are very lovable people, they don't need our pity and sympathy, they need our understanding love. They need our respect; they need that we treat them with dignity."
Her powerful statement affirms that your life, my life, and the life of every man, woman and child deserves to be treated with the utmost dignity, respect, nurturance and love because we are all made in the likeness and image of God. Moreover, it is our unyielding love for each other, that prevails against the pride, selfishness and evil so prevalent in our world.
Pornography is an extension of such evil, regardless of how others seek to frame it. Yet, its power individually and societally is limited by the degree to which we love our neighbor by refusing to sexually exploit them, and by our readiness to require that our society cherishes human life, and does not close its eyes to the desacralizing of human sexuality presently taking place all around us.
1. Zacharias, R., (2010), What Does It Mean to Be Human? Veritas Forum Presentation, September 14th 2010.
2. Hilton, D., & Watts, C. (2011). Pornography addiction: A neuroscience perspective. Surgical Neurology International, 2, 19.
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Eric Gomez, MS LMFT MHP
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Fulfilled Christian Counseling