I am going to be jumping a bit as I have a lot of different yet connected thoughts.
Last week, a seminary student was arrested for sexual assault against his male roommate at school. I do not know him personally, but used to share ideas online through an Arminian group that he was once a part of. I did not agree with all of his ideas, but he was a good theologian.
It has not taken those who have disagreed with him to quickly pick up the story and spread it around with some of their own ideas on what probably happened. This type of gossip should not be tolerated by those who like to claim Christ as their Lord, but human nature prevails over what should and should not be done.
Basically what happened was that this person has been struggling with homosexual desires and thoughts alone. He gave into the desires and touched his roommate who happened to be sleeping at the time. I do not know all that he did, but this was not a case of rape. He has admitted guilt into what he has done and takes comfort in knowing that God is still with him. Those are all of the facts that are really known.
Since he committed a “gay” act and will be convicted for it, he will carry this stigma with him if he continues to pursue any type of career in the church. There will be those groups that will take him in, but if he continues with his academic pursuits of publishing, he will be discredited by many for his past. We all know this will happen no matter how much we like to think that Christians are above this type of petty and judgmental behavior.
So from there, we now jump to the world of porn.
For the last couple of weeks, I have seen more posts and articles talking about pornography and the struggle that men need to break free from. For those who do not know, porn is not a male only issue in the church. Men do dominate it, but it gets a hold of women as well.
Now I feel that porn does damage to all who partake of it. There will be those of you who say that it did not hurt you when you watched it and I understand your perspective on it. It is similar to how we compare our drinking or drug use to those who can not control it. It is not as damaging to our lives as it is to those who are addicted to it, but there is still a level of damage.
Example, many women can tell those men who have or do watch porn by their “love making” skills. Porn puts out this fantasy world image where sex is fabulous and grandiose. Men who have watched porn miss out on the sensual nature of it and there is less bonding during the acts. Watching porn did not dominate their life in a sexual pursuit but it has altered them.
Besides the performance issues, both men and women have to deal with the image issues that go along with it. Do they measure of to these performers? If they fail to live up to that self imposed standard, do they feel like they have disappointed their partner or maybe feel like their partner would prefer someone else? Women have long battled body image issues from magazines, so you have to know that porn does not help this area. Men also suffer from these body image issues. The majority of men who have been with a woman who has had more than one partner in her life will at some point wonder if they are as good or better than those who have been with her before them.
I will be honest and say that porn has changed my life drastically. Working in the industry, you develop a desensitization to what you experience. It is this desensitization that drives people further and deeper in to the darker sides of porn to try and find that level of excitement. People do not just start off thinking about having sex with children. They do not just have desires for multiple partners or role playing. These urges and desires develop from being exposed to the idea and then the desire to pursue them comes from the desensitization that develops from what they used to experience becoming ordinary and routine.
You can go out to Craigslist now and find men who claim to be straight but want to have oral sex with other men. They do not see themselves as being gay or bisexual but they are needing to raise the level of their exposure to try and find that excitement again. Couples advertise to add a third party or other couple so they can experience new things. People seek younger and younger partners looking for those “fresh” and “new” qualities that they feel like they need. People will go online and show the world what should be cherished in order to get approval from others to boost their self esteem.
This is what happens to some of those who become addicted and entrenched in the world of pornography. These do not happen to all people as some people are better able at controlling their level of exposure, but the dangers are out there and what propels the industry. It is what fuels and supports trafficking and other crimes about people.
It is not something that the church really wants to talk about either.
Like the man who dealt with his feelings of homosexuality alone, these people are almost always alone in their struggles. I know some people who embrace it and feel like it makes them alive, but the majority of people struggle and want out, but are so afraid of the shame and rejection that goes with it.
Why doesn’t the church better address itself with these things? I honestly feel like the majority of the churches like the ostrich approach. They can preach general messages about living a successful life, but can not handle the challenges to their faith and understanding when tackling issues such as this. Luckily, there are many who God has saved from these types of lifestyles who reach out to those still stuck in it.
The church barely addresses those people who cheat on their spouse under more normal circumstances. Is not that sad that there is a normal and an abnormal level in adultery? How many pastors have we heard about or know about who left their wife to be with one of the people on staff at the church. They may be asked to leave their job, but are usually free to go pick up their profession at another church. What about just the normal lay person who struggles in his / her marriage and then looks outside for comfort. These people are usually alone and do not feel safe reaching out to people, since they might be judged.
Reach out and take a look at the ministries that address issues of “sexual immorality” and try to help restore the lives of the people that it has tried to destroy. These ministries need to be supported both financially and with prayer.
If you have struggled with one of these areas, stop being ashamed. God has delivered you and is redeeming your life. So what if people talk about you. You are not alone in your struggles. There are many, many people out there who have similar struggles to you and feel lost and are just looking for someone to take the step of faith and make their struggles known. The devils best way of keeping us down and feeling lost is to make us think we are alone. Maybe once more of us step out and make ourselves known, the church will finally pull their head out.