Thursday, March 31, 2011

Battling Pornography. . . .

"We have a generation of young people for whom the call to repentance must include a call to turn from porn." Those are some terribly true words from Tim Chester in the Introduction to his challenging and helpful book, "Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn Free." Chester is right. Based on the stats he passes on a few paragraphs earlier, Chester would include adults in that mix as well. . . Christian adults to be exact.

Pornography is accessible, anonymous, and affordable in today's world. As a result, our culture has become increasingly "pornified." "So too," writes Chester, "is the church." According to Chester, a recent survey found that 50 percent of Christian men and 20 percent of Christian women are "addicted to porn." If those stats are true, then one-in-three church members are struggling with pornography.

I first saw pornography when I was 11 or 12 years old. It was with a group of four of my male peers. There are numerous words that describe how I remember feeling when I saw it. . . things like curious, enticed, excited, guilty, dirty, and yes, even disgusted. I remember feeling like it was fascinating, but it didn't measure up. I now know that the latter impression was intuitive. . . that it somehow wasn't what it was supposed to be. God's plan for our sexuality is so much better and so, so right.

Equipping people to battle pornography in their lives - the young and old alike - must be near the top of our ministry agendas for the simple reason that pornography is at the top of a growing number of life agendas. You might not know it, but it's safe to assume. Chester's book offers the best, most practical, and theologically sound start that I've seen yet. I knew it would be good based on the many people who were asking me, "Have you seen Tim Chester's book on pornography?"

Chester offers up five key ingredients that must be present and in place for someone to win the battle with pornography.

1. An abhorrence of porn. You have to hate porn itself (not just the shame it brings), and long for change.

2. You must adore God. Why? Because we can be confident that He offers more than porn.

3. You must be assured of God's grace. You are loved by God and are right with Go through faith in the work of Jesus.

4. You must avoid temptation. Be committed to do all you in your power to avoid temptation, starting with the controls on your computer.

5. You must be accountable to others. You need a community of Christians who are holding you accountable and supporting you in your struggle.

Tim Chester never claims it's easy. This isn't a "take these five steps and everything will be just fine" treatment. No, life is messy. And Tim Chester is writing about a messy battle. It's a battle we must understand, engage in, and fight with long-suffering intensity.

Our culture is changing and changing fast. If you think it's pornified now, just wait.


CEFC Student Ministries said...

Excellent review. I've passed along your review to my senior pastor and our men's ministry leader. This looks like a book I would want to read and share with my youth.

Ralph said...

Walt, one of the many things I really admire about you is your realization that there can be no sugarcoating or evasion of sensitive subjects. Kids will see right through it. It was great that you published the video of Lady Gaga and did not let the hang-ups expressed by the likes of one pastor deter you, and deny the rest of us mature enough to deal with it. You definitely have an acute understanding of today’s youth. Although I know you certainly disagree with my views on this Walt, I thank you and greatly admire you for not censoring them. And don’t forget – watch out for that “skubulon”. For everyone else, go no further if you get upset with a totally honest and mature discussion of sex and pornography.

Pornography was the second most profitable business when taken as a combined enterprise in 2009 (Business Weekly, February2010),” finishing only behind Exxon Mobil.

The word “pornography” is no longer the appropriate nomenclature. The word “pornography” is derived from the Greek “porni” (prostitute), and “graphein”, (to write or record). Pornography was anything written or recorded (art work), having to do with prostitutes. Obviously with the Internet’s influx of amateur and homemade photos, videos, artistic expressions of the human body, and others exhibiting their bodies that are not prostitutes, a re-labeling of displaying the human body is in order. I propose a new more accurate term - "naturography” – the recording of the naturistic human body, or shortened to just “naturo”. I understand that for a few of you this change is objectionable, even though more appropriate, as it does not carry the same satisfying visceral degradative connotation towards viewing the human body. This new term would also most likely fail to motivate the targeted benefactors.

I believe the evils of naturo to be non-existent. Naturo is the number #1 issue used by evangelists to build abominable self-edifying "Crystal Cathedrals". Due to the early Puritanical Church’s hang-up with nakedness and anything enjoyable, naturo has always been a “hot button” issue that always brings in donations and sells books. “Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” - H.L. Mencken.

Naturo, like drinking, gambling, video games, watching TV, following sports, etc., only poses a problem when taken to such an extreme that it has an articulable negative impact on one’s life. “All things in moderation.” - Aristotle

I presume Tim Chester is including such magazines as Playboy and Penthouse, as naturo.

No one has ever been able to present a sane argument as to why looking at the God-designed body of a woman or man is wrong.

The one issue the Church never deals with in conjunction with naturo, is the physical act that frequently accompanies the viewing of naturo. Is that act acceptable when not viewing naturo, or is it always an act of self-inflicted abomination. In order to have a comprehensive discussion of naturo I don’t think the two acts should be separated.

Why are photographs of a woman’s breasts obscene, but those of a man’s breasts are not?

Naturo can be used as a great stress and tension reliever for those without a partner. Studies have shown significant verifiable physical and emotional benefits from sexual release.

Using naturo, my dates with girls were always more honest and enjoyable. There were never any hidden agendas or motives. Prior to meeting my date I released all tension.

For a teen bursting with sex hormones, it is literally impossible to control the desire to look at naturo and not follow through with tending to the resultant Autonomic Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Nerve Responses. Any admonition of a teen for looking at naturo and attending to the accompanying desire is unfathomably cruel. The sex drive is the strongest God-given drive bar none.

Continued into next comment

Ralph said...

Continued from above.

Now to address Tim Chester’s five key ingredients, which I found to be incredibly simplistic:

1. “An abhorrence of porn. You have to hate porn itself (not just the shame it brings), and long for change.” This is a ridiculous statement. How can one even try to hate something that they truly don’t hate? That is analogous to trying to get teens to hate pizza because of its destructive high saturated fat content. Silly!

2. “You must adore God. Why? Because we can be confident that He offers more than porn.” Of course we adore God, and of course we fully realize that He offers much more than naturo. There is absolutely no connection between enjoying naturo and not believing that God offers more than naturo. I enjoy nature documentaries but that doesn’t mean that I don’t realize that God offers much more. Again silly!

3. “You must be assured of God's grace. You are loved by God and are right with Go through faith in the work of Jesus.” One can be assured of God’s grace and still enjoy looking at a woman or man’s natural body. One is most definitely not exclusive of the other. I have absolutely no idea what the second sentence means.

4. “You must avoid temptation. Be committed to do all you (?) in your power to avoid temptation, starting with the controls on your computer.” Does he realize how totally worthless and unhelpful the words, “You must avoid temptation” are? The question is HOW? Thrice silly!

5. “You must be accountable to others. You need a community of Christians who are holding you accountable and supporting you in your struggle.” This is a prescription for disaster, as in making one feel a massive amount of guilt when they will inevitably let these others down, or feel compelled to lie to these others, so as not to let them down. Using guilt never works in the long term, creates feelings of low self-esteem and worth, and eventual feelings of great resentment toward the guilt inflictor.

How about we address issues to our youth, while not as financially lucrative to churches, are much more in step with Jesus’ teachings, such as tending to the needs of the poor through providing food, shelter (Habitat for Humanity), clothing, teaching them how to read and write, job skills, planned pregnancies, health practices, etc. Other than salvation, helping the less fortunate is without a doubt the main thrust of Jesus’ teachings, again, bar none! These teachings are best exemplified by the Jesus following worldwide loving and accepting community (not a church) of The Twelve Tribes. Unfortunately Jesus’ teachings fail to hit people’s donation button, as much as condemning looking at pictures of the beautiful human body.

Let’s see, where else did I just read of the Church’s role in misplaced and over-placed importance on condemning certain behavior? Anyone else see a pattern of the Church zeroing in on “hot button” donation motivating issues? Sadly, it’s all about the money.

How’s this for a change. Instead of catching people doing wrong and condemning them, how about we try catching people doing right, and praising them.

Ryan Phelps said...


I wonder if what seems simplistic and silly to you on the surface would become much more comprehensive (and serious) if you read Chester's chapter length explanations of each aforementioned point.


Ralph said...


Excellent point Ryan. Thanks for taking the time to shed more light on this issue. Do you agree though that on the basis of the synopsis of Tim Chester’s 5 ingredients that they are extremely simplistic?

In response to your specific point I have strong doubts that if I read the full chapters on these 5 ingredients that I would feel differently, here’s why. First, for Tim to present such totally shallow comments as sensible, is fully reflective of his mindset and train of thought. Second, if he was unable to present even one cogent concept out of 5, come on! Even in baseball you only get three strikes and you're out.

This synopsis was so ludicrous that I am embarrassed as a Christian thinking of a non-Christian reading this and believing this is the level our intelligence. It is the same embarrassment I felt in inviting a friend to share watching a Church film viewing. I felt that I was insulting her intelligence, but kept quite clinging to the slightest possibility that I wasn’t. And guess what, in no uncertain terms, she later let me know that I had.

I also felt insulted. In reading this I felt that I was 10 years old back in Sunday School class.

Two things relating to my initial comment. First, I retract my statement that I had no idea what the second sentence in the third ingredient meant. Merely adding a “d’ to the “Go” was all that was missing. I just failed to see that. Mea Culpa. Second, the correct pronunciation of “naturography” is nature-og-raphy. Let’s all start using it to change the present culture’s demeaning attitude on the beautifully formed human body, both male and female. “A small group of people could change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.

Walt Mueller said...

Friends. . . rarely do I step in and say "let's move on" but I think we need to move on from the tone of the discussion we're having here. I know it's a judgment call on my part and some may not agree with it, but it's a judgment call I'm making in this case. I want to encourage you all to take issues with things only after you've given them a fair read. . . especially if the topic is a book. Thanks!

Tammy Robinson said...


I deliberately did not mention Tim Chester’s name or his book, yet kept the comment relevant to your posted subject. I respectfully disagree with pornography having such priority in relation to other issues – “ Equipping people to battle pornography must be near the top of our ministry agendas…” I have never read anything about you introducing one social justice issue at any level to our cherished and impressionable youth. The submission of that poem was my small attempt at doing so. The reason I did not comment on Tim’s book is because his other writings emphatically balance this book in taking an unquestionable stand on social justice. I have read and many times shared his book “Good News to the Poor: The Gospel Through Social Involvement”. Let me excerpt, “Our concern for the poor and the oppressed cannot be limited to those within the covenant community”, and, “Evangelism and social action are inseparable”. I am quite the admirer of Tim Chester. Jesus would be also. Not only was Jesus the Son of God but He was also the epitome of a “social justice crusader”.

Non-strict, non-literalists, non-fundamentalists, and non-evangelical Christians who place emphasis on social justice issues may be taking a slightly different path, but we all will be reaching the same destination. Neither group will be denied entrance into God’s Kingdom.

My fourth interpretation of “tone” - Do you feel the poem insulted the former US Attorney General John Ashcroft, a person you hold in high regard?

The fifth and last interpretation of your use of the word “tone”, that I can think of, involves the one I most strongly believe does not apply but must be considered nevertheless. By “tone” are you referring to my claiming that I feel there are more worthy causes to commit our “time, effort, money and feelings” toward, and thus these words possibly redirecting these resources toward issues other than anti-porn projects that you so resolutely support? Rest assured Walt, that will not happen. Your followers are fully inculcated with strict adherence to only literalist evangelical dogma (Although appropriate, I hate that word). This was never more evident than in the 60 comments in the Lady Gaga post regarding homosexuality. Of the thousands of followers who read those comments, NOT ONE gave even the slightest recognition that Diane Rueling’s comments gave them pause to think, even though afterwards still maintaining their original belief. NOT ONE acknowledged that perhaps she did make at least one interesting point that held the slightest merit. Trust me, you have absolutely nothing to worry about in regards to your followers redirecting their resources, if in fact that was your concern.

In conclusion, this is your blog site and you have absolutely every right to censor comments that fail to meet your guidelines for any reason whatsoever. Since I fully support your many other positions, and the fact that this is the very first time I’ve noticed you take such a censorial position, I will most definitely revivify my enthusiasm for your site. But after expressing how very meaningful that poem was to me, in my censored comment (“it touched me like no other”), you brushing it off as easily as one would brush a crumb off a table, was most hurtful.

Tammy Robinson said...

Walt, thank you so much for publishing the second part of my two-part comment submission. It is truly appreciated. But since the first part of my two-part comment was not published I don’t know whether you received it or not. Perhaps I mistakenly failed to send it, or you did receive it and found something in it to be objectionable.

Sooooo, to resolve this confusion I am resubmitting the first part. Please feel free to delete anything you find objectionable (I’ve already deleted one sentence from the original). If you are willing to publish a non-edited or edited version could you possibly place it before my already published comment so as to have it make sense? Also, I am resubmitting the poem for you to consider editing as I propose in the following first part of my two-part comment. So, to fit all this within your character limitation I will be submitting this comment and two additional ones. Again my sincere thanks, and obviously there is no need to publish this comment

Tammy Robinson said...

Walt, I am saddened and stunned beyond words that you censored my comment. My comment included a profound and passionate poem concerning social justice – a most definite Christian concept. I cannot express how shocked and hurt I am. Totally ignoring a person’s effortful, time consuming, and heartfelt comment, is a slap in the face. Your unexplained censorship is telling an individual that their submission is not even worthy of a response. Only those comments that are outright obscene or hideous deserve such inattention. Please read the entirety of my expressed feelings before dismissing this response.

You stated that you didn’t like the “tone” of the comments and therefore were not going to accept anymore, and then censored my already submitted comment. Absent any explanation of what you mean by “tone”, let me cover the only interpretations I can think of.

The first interpretation of “tone” perhaps refers to sexually graphic words in the submitted poem. If you were offended by the words referring to a certain part of the upper female anatomy, I feel the respectful thing to have done would have been to inform me that you would only be willing to publish the poem if I granted permission to allow you to edit the offensive words. I would then have given permission to replace the offensive words with the wording, “a part of the female anatomy”, in parentheses. Although the poem would have lost its artistic value if it had been edited, it still would have contained its social justice value. No request to edit was made.

Are you aware of the poet’s background? Claire Braz-Valentine is an award -winning poet who works with disadvantaged, at risk youth. In the state of California she was given clearance to work with maximum-security prisoners, many who are victims of the government’s misplaced priorities. No need to say more.

The second interpretation of “tone” I can think of relates to your request to keep the comments “civil” such as you made in your Lady Gaga post. That back and forth discourse was the most I ever found on any site – religious or secular (full credit to you). Your request on that post was then strictly followed, allowing for many more interesting comments. Why no such request here? In making that request here, censorship could have followed on a comment–by-comment basis. Any uncivil comments deleted individually, thus allowing those people who wanted to opine on the issue, the opportunity to do so. Here you made it clear that you would delete any future comments, thus denying perhaps many who would have liked to contribute. I’ve been told that you have never done that before. WHY did you do it differently this time?????

The third interpretation of “tone” could relate to you stating, “ I want to encourage you all to take issues with things only after you've given them a fair read… especially if the topic is a book.” Your post was two-fold – introducing us to Tim’s book, and expressing your ardent belief that pornography “ at the top of our ministry agendas.” I chose to comment only on the latter. My comments were quite appropriate to the topic of pornography. I’ve given the topic of evangelists making fortunes on self-righteous condemnation of pornography more than a fair read. Check out the palatial residences of some of the biggest demonizers of pornography – Evangelists Ken Copeland, Peter Popoff, Rod Parsley, and others too numerous to mention. Pornography condemned even by sincere evangelists is open to disagreeing with their over-emphasis on pornography, while overlooking social justice issues that Jesus most definitely would have prioritized, and is essential to introducing to our Christian youth.

Tammy Robinson said...

On January 28, 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft, announced that he spent $8000 of taxpayer's money for drapes to cover up the exposed breast of The Spirit of Justice, an 18ft aluminum statue of a woman that stands in the Hall of Justice, Washington, DC.

This poem was written and read at the Santa Cruz Celebration of The Muse at Cabrillo College, in 2002. The evening was a benefit for survivors of breast cancer. I was there, and this poem touched me like no other.


John, John, John,
you've got your priorities all wrong.
While men fly airplanes into skyscrapers,
dive bomb the pentagon,
while they stick explosives into their shoes,
and then book a seat right next to us,
while they hide knives in their luggage,
steal kids on school buses,
take little girls from their beds at night
drive trucks into our state capital buildings,
while our president calls dangerous men all over the world
evildoers and devils,
while we live in the threat of biological warfare
nuclear destruction,
you are out buying yardage
to save Americans
from the appalling
alarming, abominable
aluminum alloy of evil,
that terrible ten foot tin tittie.
You might not be able to find Bin Laden
But you sure as hell found the hooter in the hall of justice.
It's not that we aren't grateful
But while we were begging the women of Afghanistan
to not cover up their faces,
you are begging your staff members to
just cover up that nipple,
to save the American people
from that monstrous metal mammary.
How can we ever thank you?
So, in your office every morning,
in your secret prayer meeting,
while an American woman is sexually assaulted every 6 seconds,
while anthrax floats around the post office,
and settles in the chest of senior citizens,
you've got another chest on your mind.
While American sons arrive home in body bags
and heat seeking missiles,
fly around a foreign country,
looking for any warm body,
you think of another body.
And you pray for the biggest bra in the world John,
because you see that breast on the spirit of justice
in the spirit of your
own inhibited sexuality.
And when we women see
our grandmothers, our mothers, our daughters, our granddaughters,
our sisters, ourselves,
when we women see that
statue the spirit of justice
we see the spirit of strength
the spirit of survival.
While every day
we view innocent bodies dragged out of rubble
and women and children laid out
like thin limp dolls
and baptized into death as collateral damage,
and the hollow eyed Afghani mother's milk has dried
up underneath her burka,
in famine, in shame,
and her children are dead at her breast.
While you look at that breast John,
that jug on the spirit of justice,
and deal with your thoughts of lust,
and sex, and nakedness,
we see it as a testimony of motherhood,
And you see it as a tit.
It's not the money it cost.
It's the message you send.
We've got the right to live in freedom.
We got the right to cheat Americans out
of millions of dollars and then
just not want to tell congress about it.
We've got the right
to drop bombs night and day
on a small country that has no army,
no navy, no military at all,
because we've got the right to bear arms
but we just better not even think
about not the right to bare breasts.
So now John, you can be photographed
while you stand there and talk about
guns, and bombs, and poisons,
without the breast appearing over your right shoulder,
without that bodacious bosom bothering you,
and we just wanted to tell you,
in the spirit of justice,
in the spirit of truth,
there is still one very big boob left standing there in that picture.
Claire Braz-Valentine