I have never been convinced by the Madonna-Paglia argument that pornography liberates and empowers women; but one does not have to agree with that argument to see that pornography has been normalized in society. When one reflects on this, it is hardly surprising: the detachment of sexual gratification from committed, monogamous heterosexual relationships happened a long time ago. We are now at a point where someone who does believe that sex is exclusively reserved for such a context is portrayed as sexually repressed and socially retarded in popular culture and decried as a hate-filled bigot by the political media. Further, there has been a radical abolition of the distinction between the public and the private, fuelled by everything from twitter to reality television. If sex is primarily for personal pleasure and there is no boundary between the public and private, then the acceptance of pornography as normal, harmless diversion is hardly an unexpected development. Indeed, those Christians who feel a compulsive need to tweet their every private thought and to live their lives as a public performance might do well to reflect on the possibility of a connection between that type of behaviour and the growing social acceptance of pornography.Read the rest.
Internet pornography is probably the number one pastoral problem in the world today. I wonder if it is set to become yet more so: as the social shame dimension passes away, it will be harder to maintain discipline on this issue. The Christian church is currently mesmerized by developments relative to sexuality, not least because these development are couched in the rhetoric of civil rights and have serious legal implications. I wonder if a more serious and lethal internal issue for the church will actually turn out to be pornography. Holding the line on this will probably not come with direct legal and financial penalties attached; but when even The Spectator carries not one but two articles in a single week which assume the harmless normality of porn consumption, the pastoral challenge of preaching and maintaining basic sexual purity in the church is set to escalate beyond our wildest nightmares.
In my experience, I tend to agree, especially in terms of the scope of the pastoral problem this raises for our churches. I would guess that every single (not married) guy in my church is incapable of handling any sort of internet device with sexual purity without some serious and intentional restraints and structured protections. The poisoning of our minds creates zombies that are incapable of spiritual sensitivity. It's tragic.
Books by Carl Trueman:
- Fools Rush in Where Monkeys Fear to Tread: Taking Aim at Everyone
- The Creedal Imperative
- The Real Scandal of the Evangelical Mind
- Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative
- Reformation: Yesterday, Today and Tommorrow
- Histories and Fallacies: Problems Faced in the Writing of History
- Minority Report: Unpopular thoughts on Everything from Ancient Christianity to Zen Calvinism (Sent to Save)
- The Wages Of Spin: Critical Writings on Historical and Contemporary Evangelicalism