So What if Men Use Porn? (as long as it’s not my man)

As the use of pornography continues to grow I’ve heard more and more women say things like this:  It doesn’t bother me if my (man) uses porn, as long as he’s true to me and treats me good – OR – my (man) told me he used to look at a lot of porn, but he doesn’t anymore, so it doesn’t make any difference to me if men use porn.

I put “man” in parenthesis here in place of relationship status, such as son, boyfriend, fiance’, or husband because it is at the point of relationship with a man that women mosthidden-agendas often begin to consider whether a man’s use of pornography affects them.  The truth is that men’s use of pornography is affecting every relationship women have with any man.  Even if “your man” never viewed/used pornography, men using pornography affected him, and it affects you.

Women and men live in the sexual marketplace, like it or not, and sexual economics affects all our relationships, intimate or business or family.  Sexual economics is not a description of john’s, pimps and prostitutes, but a recognition of a basic truth about how commodities are valued and traded.  Sex is a commodity most people want.  When there is a steady supply of a relatively high quality commodity the market is flooded and the cost of that commodity goes down.  Think about it like this: if you lived in a place where every one had an orange tree in their back yard that produced great oranges, the price of oranges would be very low.  In the case of pornography the effect on the marketplace is radical because porn is an instantly available substitute for sex with a incomparably low price as compared to the real thing.

When a majority of men use a cheap substitute for sex, the value of real sex plummets towards the value of pornography.  Think about that.  When you see things in the media that are increasingly sexually explicit and when you see and hear people expressing increasingly casual attitudes about their sex lives, it is not just the results of the sexual revolution that set us free from our hangups about sex,  it is sexual economics playing out in the marketplace.  In the early 80’s cocaine was the drug of choice for only the very wealthy due to its high price.  Around 1984 a cheap substitute, easily made from over the counter ingredients hit the American market.  It was called crack cocaine, and suddenly anyone could get a cocaine high for next to nothing.  Now crack is used in epidemic proportions.  Pornography is sexual crack cocaine.

The sexual marketplace of today is flooded with virtual women with impossibly perfect bodies performing any fantastic act a man could want, and they do it on demand.  When men enter the sexual market their expectations for what kind of sex they can have with what type of woman and at what cost are shaped by their use of porn.  When real women don’t look or perform the way these men want them to, and/ when those women ask a higher price for sex than they want to pay (like three dates instead of one), men can choose sexual crack instead.

Women who are on the market for a man find themselves compared to cheap fantasies with which they can’t compete.  Those who “hold out for a good man” or who have convictions about participating in sex that present a high cost to a potential partner (like agreeing to a life long commitment in marriage) are not just swimming against the current, they are swimming against a tsunami of women who are underselling them, giving away sex at pornographic prices because they believe they can’t compete in the sexual marketplace if they don’t.  Men who “hold out for a good woman” or who have convictions about sex face the same marketplace pressure. Relatively inexpensive sex and very inexpensive porn are available, and the majority of their peers obtain one or the other or both. It is very difficult to keep valuing sex at levels so far above the market.

Before any woman considers how porn use affects her specific relationships, men using porn on the scale they are using it has already made a difference.  We’ve already touched on the most talked about affect of porn upon man/woman relationships: comparison of real women to porn-plastic women.  Comparison is no doubt a huge issue, but the biggest difference widespread use of porn makes is in the objectification of women and men.  Sometimes we joke about men or women being nothing more than “sex objects,”  but no one wants to be reduced to a bodily function; only good for having sex with and not much else.  Porn is the ultimate tool in reducing women to sexual objects, turned on and off at the whim of their digital master. This would be damaging enough if it stayed in the bedroom, but it cannot. (further reading on this in another article here) We are sexual beings all the time; in the boardroom and the bedroom and the bakery. We are sexual beings whether we have sex or not.  Enough men spending enough time using porn creates a critical mass of men habitually objectifying women.  These men begin treating all women like objects, no matter where in life they encounter them. Women begin accepting their objectification as normal, and start acting like objects.  Men and women who never use porn are drawn into this cycle of playing by porn’s rules because they interact with those who are playing on the pornographically objectified playing field.  We are all touched.  We are all reduced.

The next time you are tempted to accept the thought that porn only matters if it happens in your relationships, remember this:  It is happening in your relationships when it happens in your community, your country, your culture. Don’t accept it as “normal” or “liberated” or “victim-less.”  Even if you don’t feel abused by it, you are, and your friends and family are.  People are not healthy when we are reduced to mere bodily functions.  We were made to love and be loved radically, regardless of our functionality.  We are not just useful; we are beautiful.  All of us.  The gospel released us from the need to perform. It says loudly and clearly that we are not useful to God, we are beautiful to God.  That is a high opinion and it is either true or it isn’t.  If it is true, Jesus provides us with a powerful tool to fight the tyranny of pornographic reduction; he gives us irrevocable love beyond function or performance.

Why Phil Robertson is Indefensible

Phil Roberstson, aka patriarch of the Duck Dynasty Robertsons talked about a lot of things in an interview for an upcoming GQ article.  The A & E network placed him on permanent leave from the images (1)show after bits and pieces of his comments “leaked.”  The internet is on fire with these things today.  You probably already noticed.  Depending on your FB friends list you are either being flooded with “I support Duck Dynasty/Phil” posts or “Phil and Duck Dynasty are evil idiots” posts.  Hopefully you have some of both (if not, you may be a little too isolated in your own little world, and that isn’t healthy).

So what’s the buzz?  It is Phil’s comments on homosexuality, right?  Depending upon your feed it is either Phil as Apostle Paul or Phil as Adolph Hitler.  If you haven’t done so, it would make sense for you to read the actual article and see for yourself what he said.  This is merely being intellectually honest on the one hand and can save you from being a pawn in someone’s publicity war on the other.  Internet fires are almost always set by people who have something to gain, and there is nothing so volatile as a spark of controversy thrown into a pile of dry ignorance.

Now I’ve taken the time to read the article, and I think its a well written piece.  I’ve also seen and read some other things about Duck Dynasty and Phil Robertson, and so I feel very comfortable giving you this opinion:  Phil Robertson is indefensible.  Not just what he says, but who he is.  His entire person is not defensible.  He is unworthy of defense.  What’s more, his whole family is the same thing.  Unworthy.  Indefensible.  I am not going to waste one word giving you a case for continuing to watch Duck Dynasty or to buy Duck Commander Duck calls or to write A & E in protest of firing one of their stars.  It is an utter waste of time.  And I guarantee you this:  Phil and his gang would agree with all of that.

The whole point of Christianity is that we are indefensible and there is nothing to be done about it.  That we are unworthy and there is nothing to be done about it.  Phil may or may not be a homophobic jerk – read the article for yourself to see if he comes across as a hater – but the truth is that even if he is hateful against a particular group of people, that isn’t the half of how bad he really is.  He is much worse than homophobic.  He is much more broken and ugly and marred than even he imagines.  It is so bad that if you or I were to see the real Phil Robertson as his essence really is and his past really attests, none of us would try to defend him, and none would bother to condemn him.  The filth would be so obvious that it wouldn’t be worth pointing out the truth.  I don’t want to defend Phil Robertson and I don’t want to condemn him.  Its a waste of time for me.

But Christ chose to defend the indefensible and to befriend the unworthy.  This is gospel.  This is the gospel.  It isn’t the start of the gospel or the end of the gospel, it is the whole gospel and it continues to be the gospel.  Jesus, the only person ever to live a life worthy of God’s commendation – in other words a life that did not need defense; he did not need a lawyer to get him off for something stupid he said or did in an unguarded moment – this Jesus gives that perfect record to people who don’t deserve it, can’t earn it and won’t live up to it.

The Christian gospel is God taking up our case even though it is a losing case; an indefensible case.  Here is an interesting thing about the current Duck Dynasty flap: everyone on both sides would never want to be judged every day by their own standards.  None of them.  None of us.  We are failures by our own standards.  We may be righteous and loving in defending someone today; gay, straight, believers, atheists, but this afternoon our intolerance for the high school drop out in the McDonald’s drive-through who messes up and forgets our fries proves how loveless and unrighteous we are. You know it and I know it.  If I am the only judge of me, I am losing my case.  If there is a Judge, I can’t hope to win my case.  Christianity is hopeful not because it contains no judgment or Judge, it is hopeful because even in its judgments, the gospel offers a final verdict in our favor – in spite of every bit of evidence to the contrary.  For those of us with no Judge, you have no choice but to keep trying your case endlessly before an empty bench, and in the end this is nothing but despair.  I’ll tell you something about having a favorable judgment from The Judge, though; if you’ve really received it and know what it cost and how you could not possibly get it without Jesus’s help, you don’t get real upset about lesser judgments against you for too long and you don’t feel the need to rush off and defend the indefensible.

Why Hating the Haters Doesn’t Work

Calvin must drink a lot of water.  He shows up everywhere peeing on something.  Jeff Gordon, Chevy, Ford, Cowboys, Redskins, Bin Laden.  That dude can pee on anything.  I saw an ad that showed Calvin and his stream falling on a “place your text here” sign.  One that caught my eye recently had Calvin peeing on the word “haters.”  Everyone agrees with that, right?  Peeing on haters is right.  It is righteous.  If anyone deserves the Calvin treatment, it is haters.

But honestly, isn’t peeing on someone a hateful thing to do?  If we are going to be consistent, shouldn’t there be a stream of urine falling on Calvin’s head too?  Make anything in this world into the “hated object” – the thing we are allowed to hate – and the way you treat it will be hateful.  You will become a hater.  Fine, you say, some things are worthy of hatred; Its ok to be a hater of “those things.”  Everybody knows that (fill in the blank) is despicable, but its not true.  And it isn’t just innocuous things like NASCAR drivers, NFL teams, or the makes of cars.  The Bin Ladens of this world are not universally hated. In fact many of the things we hate are beloved by others.  It turns out that hating the haters isn’t so easy.  It makes us into haters and it divides us in ways we can’t account for or reconcile.  It makes for a world full of Calvins peeing on Calvins who then feel justified in peeing on some other Calvin.  Everyone feels like they are gettingdownload urinated on by someone and so they return the favor.  Sound like a good world to live in?

The story of the world according to Christianity is that we live in a good world gone bad.  Everything in creation was created good and retains the essence of that goodness AND everything is fallen and is marred by that fall.  In this story of the world, the source of the fall; the thing that scars us, is not from within the world, but comes from without.  This thing is worthy of hatred, and what it does to everything is worthy of hatred, but no object in the world is worthy of hatred on its own.  The power of the gospel is that it frees us from being victimized by The Hater and from becoming haters who perpetuate the cycle of hatred he introduced to the world.  Actually the gospel is that Jesus, the only one of us to live a life of pure love (zero hatred), has all the hatred of all the ages poured out on him, and instead of standing up and pouring it back out on the heads of the haters, he quenches the fire.  He puts it out.  No hateful thing ever done goes unnoticed.  No hater ever gets away with their hateful ways.  Jesus took all of it, and because of him and in him, Love has the final say.  Love reigns.  If hatred reigns in your heart it may be time to get a new heart; a heart so beloved it never feels the desire to pour out hatred on anyone or anything; a heart so complete it can’t be taken from you by a little boy peeing on it.

What to do about Breaking Bad Withdrawals

Breaking Bad is done, but if you want to have great insights into where a show like it came from, read Brett Martin’s book Difficult Men.  It is a history of what is being called the third golden age of television.  An age ushered in by shows like Oz, The Wire, The Sopranos, and continued by Mad Men and Breaking Bad.  I listened to the audio version and drove out of my way some days so I could hear an extra 15 (2)

The Gospel and the Police State

“We have to remind ourselves – just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should do it.” – Philadelphia Chief of Police

If we become a fear based culture, anything done in the name of keeping us “safe” will be impossible to argue against.  It is not the libertarian cry of “losing our freedoms” that should motivate the Christian living in a progressively intrusive state – the Christian should be motivated by rejecting fear as a motive for their actions.  Those who believe the gospel should not be persuaded to act based upon fear-mongering.  This includes the way we raise our children in our homes and the way we vote in the voter’s booth.

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Breaking Character

I went to a local production of Fiddler On the Roof on opening night.  It was a great performance from a group of high schoolers and went off without a hitch.  Well, only one hitch.  In the next-to-last scene of the play, one of Tevya’s daughters ran to the middle of the stage and fell down.  At first I didn’t know if this was part of the play or not.  The girl got back up and ran off the stage, but Golde couldn’t hold it together.  She turned her back to the audience and tried to suppress a laugh.  Her character broke open and we saw what was inside – not the strong, sharp-tongued Jewish matriarch – just girl in a high school play.

Soon after the play my wife wanted to watch the Miss Universe pageant (something I usually avoid at all costs, along with figure skating and the Hollywood gossip shows), but I didn’t have the energy to resist so we watched.  Miss USA walked out for the evening gown “competition”, took about five steps and fell right on her bum.  Usually this would have made me laugh pretty hard, and I still chuckled a bit, but the woman got back up, smiled, and continued to work the catwalk.  She didn’t cry, or hurry through her walk to get away from the embarrassment.  A fall didn’t break her character, it revealed it.Miss-Universe-404_737934c