Single Vision or Double Vision?
The central theme of MCAG is simple: adopting a proper, Creator-honoring view of the naked human body and its sacred meaning is lethal for porn addiction. Happily, a healthy view of nudity already exists in society, but it’s buried under a social and religious schizophrenia that describes nakedness as non-pornographic one moment and deems it sexually obscene the next.
Such double-mindedness is supposedly excused by calling these contradictory designations contextual. But in both contexts, the external anatomy is still absolutely naked. The only authentic difference between the non-pornographic and the truly obscene is the wholesome or unwholesome manner in which the unclad body is intentionally presented. The naked body itself is not and never was the problem.
The Corrective Lens of the Nude in Art
One generally accepted avenue for nudity’s wholesome presentation is the world of figurative art. Almost every artist skilled in depicting the human form had to study its structural anatomy. In fact, when I took art classes, my course in figure drawing was a great review of the bones and skeletal muscles memorized in nursing school. But figurative art students must become even more familiar with how the bare skin envelops these underlying structures. This requires many hours of intently observing and trying to capture on paper different nude models, both male and female, in a variety of postures at rest or in implied movement.
A shapely nude woman is no more pornographic in this educational context than if she had to be stripped entirely bare for emergency treatment in a trauma center. Since I’ve seen such nude females in both situations—and in those latter cases, more times than I care to remember—I know whereof I speak.
In both these environments, the naked body and the careful inspection of its bare surface fall into a category properly recognized as normal, nonsexual nudity. For the artist, as well as for those in healthcare, this natural, realistic view of nakedness can sabotage the porno-prudish mindset implanted by years of cultural training.
An Embarrassing Religious History
Why have young Christian artists not been groomed for excellence in figurative art? By their own well-documented testimonies, churches in early America were preaching a pornographic view of the body long before we became a nation. Christian preachers who deny this history jeopardize their ministerial credibility. Even worse, if they defend this past error, they sacrifice their spiritual allegiance on the altar of the religious status quo. How so? Because, by tragically abandoning a Scriptural view of our embodiment and adopting in its place a Victorian view that sexually objectifies gender-distinctive human anatomy, American Christianity has zealously and persistently contributed to today’s pornified culture.
When a religious obsession with the sexual aspects of the body pervades a society that is dysfunctionally obsessed with sexual self-gratification, porn addiction is inevitable. In the midst of these two worlds of toxically obsessive sexual fantasy, the healthy realism of nudity in art can be redemptive.
Gaining the Single Vision of the Original ARTIST. . .
The porn addict seeking mental liberation from both these sources of ‘”vain imagination,” must learn to see nudity with the same respectful gaze of the porn-free artist. A serious study of “the nude” in art history is an excellent way to regain this healthier view of the naked body, reforming a lifetime of porno-prudery’s false indoctrination. Such an endeavor actually follows the holy eyes of the Original Artist, Who designed the naked beauty of the human body in the first place.
If you decide to experiment with this, research the library or go to an art museum and begin a review of the nude in classic art (see my article “The Impact of Naked Truth” published by the Christian art appreciation website ArtWay). But also, study the few modern Christian artists who have defied prudery’s “flight from the body,” heretically assumed by some to be part of the Gospel. A bold example of using the nude artistically is found in the work of Edward Knippers, who has long incorporated into his paintings of Biblical scenes the naked human form as a strong Christian metaphor (see my article “A Modern Use of the Nude” also published by ArtWay).
Wholesome Reality vs. Sexualized Fantasy
If you’re ambitiously serious about allowing normal nudity in art to help wipe out your years of training in a pornographic conception of the body, try taking a figure drawing class yourself. I did (see my results). It won’t take you long to discover for yourself what I learned in both practicing healthcare and studying figurative art. My mind’s focus became the real thing. Whether it’s the body of a nude patient or of a nude model, the bare anatomy is seen as an extension of his or her personal identity. The wholesome reality of seeing people in their God-given birthday suits has a tremendous ability to quench the habitual fantasy that obsesses over a naked body part by isolating it from the human being who owns it.
Can the art of the nude change a lustful heart? No. But the sacred light it reflects from the beautiful originality of our Creator can nakedly expose the darkness of prudery and the ugliness of porn. The glory seen in the Supreme Artist’s greatest handiwork—His own Self-portrait in human flesh—is bright enough to dim the fires of porn addiction and the prudery that fuels them.
It’s not what you think…
To correctly understand what the Bible really means when it associates shame with nakedness, we need to first take off the cultural glasses we’ve been wearing… and read the biblical text with a clearer understanding of the ancient context from which the scriptures sprung. To do that, we must first recognize—and reject—a false “marriage” of concepts that was foreign to the writers of the Scriptures.
The False “Marriage” of Nudity and Sex
Whenever a society is trained to interpret the sight of the unclothed body as a sexual event, it produces a “pornographic view of the body.” This sex-focused perception targets the nude body for sexploitation. Pornography thrives on this wedding of sexual stimulation to nakedness. When churches blindly “tie the knot”—teaching that God ordained this conceptual marriage—they unwittingly foster a “pornified” culture. Such blindness is self-perpetuating, for it keeps Christians from seeing that most occasions of nudity in Scripture are nonsexual.
My term porno-prudery effectively describes the widespread religious thinking that sanctions this unholy matrimony of sex and nudity. Prudery and pornography are fraternal twins, born from the same false, Creator-dishonoring concept of the body. Porno-prudery promotes endless debates between those who see “modesty” as hiding skin and those who see its correct biblical meaning: dressing up with internal virtues rather than external adornments.
Porno-prudery, by its very nature, sabotages an accurate understanding of the biblical shame of nakedness. By supposing that visible nakedness always has a sexual meaning, it treats the public sight of nudity as always shameful. Scripture does not support such an assumption.
Correcting Culturally Colored Vision
We moderns need to remove our culture-colored eyeglasses and stop reading back into Bible times the existence of swimsuits and private bathrooms. Archaeology helps us with this by showing how ordinary the sight of nonsexual nudity was in ancient civilizations. Not only were there public latrines and baths designed for group use, but in the Roman Empire, during the time of Christ, separate constructions to segregate males and females were deemed unnecessary. It is clear that our biblical ancestors did not share our present-day preoccupation with body shame.
In all ancient cultures, patterns of outdoor bathing and excretory hygiene reflected this same healthy body acceptance. The many examples of manual laborers working without the encumbrance of clothing also speak of a healthier attitude toward bare human anatomy than we now have. So, neither in Bible lands nor elsewhere was a condition of visible nudity exclusively interpreted as sexual or shameful in nature.
In view of this ancient way of perceiving nudity, we can begin to comprehend what the biblical shame of nakedness actually meant. But a full appreciation of that shame also depends on understanding the significance of clothing.
The Nakedness of the Poor
In the first place, the purpose of clothing in Scripture was not to hide the body, but to protect it from the elements and to adorn it either officially or aesthetically. Second, clothing was handmade and expensive. A single garment might be all that a working-class person owned. For the poor, literal nakedness and the coldness it brought were realistic possibilities that called for practical compassion. An outfit’s combined financial and practical value often made it the logical possession to take as a pledge to insure debt repayment, leaving its owner naked during the day while working off what he owed. Again, this is not new information, but missed information, which becomes misinformation in the mouths of teachers who read porno-prudish assumptions from the present back into the past.
Once we realize the extreme value of clothing—not for hiding anatomy, but for protecting the body—we can begin to understand the Bible’s most frequent references to shame in relationship to nakedness. Naked shame is almost always related to clothing being lost or taken away in the contexts of coercion, military defeat, or poverty (both physical and spiritual). Less frequently it’s associated with sexual violations or with personal and religious disrespect. Exploring these biblical examples of the shame about nakedness would require another article. But in contrast to these, the sight of the body’s exposure in work (John 21:7 [lit.]), in a prophetic role (Isaiah 20:2‑4; Micah 1:8; 1 Samuel 19:23‑24), or in outdoor bathing (Exodus 2:5‑7; 2 Samuel 12:1‑9) are never depicted by the writers of Scripture as shameful. Yet all these very public activities made the naked body commonly visible to friends, family, and neighbors.
Read It Again… Without the Cultural Filter
Again, a preconceived idea that weds nudity with sexual involvement can bring a blindness to the study of Scripture. This culturally performed wedding veils the eyes of Bible readers, so that modern culture dictates what they see in various passages where publicly visible nudity is either mentioned or implied. Even I—who reread God’s Word with that veil removed—failed for a while to see what was really taking place in the following passage, 2 Chronicles 28:8‑11, 14-15:
The men of Israel took captive 200,000 of their relatives, women, sons, and daughters. They also took much spoil from them and brought the spoil to Samaria. But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded, and he went out to meet the army that came to Samaria and said to them, “Behold, because the LORD, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand, but you have killed them in a rage that has reached up to heaven. And now you intend to subjugate the people of Judah and Jerusalem, male and female, as your slaves. Have you not sins of your own against the LORD your God? Now hear me, and send back the captives from your relatives whom you have taken, for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you.” . . . . So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the assembly. And the men who have been mentioned by name rose and took the captives, and with the spoil they clothed all who were naked among them. They clothed them, gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them, and carrying all the feeble among them on donkeys, they brought them to their kinsfolk at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria. (ESV)
What about this open nudity of 200,000 women and children prisoners during their long march from Judah to Samaria? It receives no comment of moral shock or reprimand. In those days, stripping clothes as spoil from defeated enemies was too commonly practiced and anticipated to be of special concern. In fact, this nakedness might not have been mentioned at all, if Oded’s prophetic words had gone unheeded. But in that inspired warning, not even God’s prophet drew any attention to the naked state of the captives. Instead, he decried Israel’s intention to enslave these unclad women, girls and boys.
Plundering hostages of their garments was a normal demonstration of military success. Because clothing was such a valuable commodity, it was part of the economic spoils seized from the defeated. Yet this was not a perverted stripping to gawk at the kind of nudity these soldiers had grown up seeing all their lives. If it had been, God would surely have spoken against it in the mouth of His prophet.
Was it shameful? Yes! Their naked condition displayed the shame of an impoverishing defeat, which always meant losing one of their most expensive possessions: clothing. The prophet Isaiah went nude for three years to preach this same kind naked “shame” that would befall Egypt and Cush. It was no more shameful for Isaiah’s unclad body to be seen by his neighbors than for these naked women and children to be under the gaze of their captors. Their shame consisted of more than just being stripped of clothing. They had lost everything. It was the naked shame of utter poverty.
Always remember that Scripture was written in a cultural context. It recorded only information that God deemed worthy of inclusion. What was too ordinary for comment was left out. Yet, in this passage, it’s the very absence of a moral concern about the sight of a naked multitude that makes it noteworthy to us. Its lack of concern shows how, in those days, the commonness of nonsexual, openly visible nudity was not so scandalous or inappropriate that it warranted explanation. We are hard put to imagine the shame felt by this poor crowd of naked captives, because it was not the visibility of their external anatomy. Their concerns were the shame of defeat publicized by their naked poverty and the painful cold of wind and weather to which such nudity exposed them during this long outdoor march.
Attitudes: Gained From… or Imposed Upon… the Scriptures?
An allegiance to cultural upbringing is difficult to overcome. However, when the Bible clashes against pet doctrines or inherited hermeneutics, the seriously committed believer will side with the authority of Scripture, no matter how large a mental paradigm shift is demanded. This biblical incident provides one of those opportunities.
This passage, and many more like it, confront the popular, widespread idea among many believers that nudity itself is intrinsically sexual in nature and its visibility a source of shame. From the perspective of the human author of 2 Chronicles, the context of captivity and potential slavery made this extremely large multitude of naked females marching before the eyes of male soldiers a culturally understood or even expected situation. It held no apparent sexual significance. God Himself drew no moral attention to the public nudity involved—not even to please a prudish group of future Bible readers.
God does not condone nor confirm conceptual “marriages” that humans sanction against His will… such as this one between nudity and sex. Our society and churches are suffering the sexual havoc that springs directly from this pornographic view of the body. By marrying nudity and sex, Christian porno-prudery has made a huge contribution to that perverted, pornographic view.
Any successful attack on porn addiction by the Christian church must start with a careful and thoughtful review of Scripture passages like the one just explored. In the process, we might even regain the wholesome body acceptance of our biblical ancestors.
— Pastor David Hatton
 Missionaries discovered this the hard way by creating fertile ground for pornography through spreading prudery as a part of their Gospel to “naked people” groups. Modern cross-culturally savvy mission agencies warn their interns against this damaging practice of “clothing the naked” to morally cover the body. Wherever nudity is considered normal, an unnatural hiding of the body produces an unwholesome preoccupation with what’s hidden. The Western church is shamefully late in figuring this out.
 Obviously, with nothing to wear, the body’s need is warmth, as James 2:15‑16 clearly points out: “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” (NKJV). Just so, John the Baptist’s exhortation in Luke 3:11 implies that the compassionate duty of a person owning two outfits is to clothe a naked person with one of them: “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” (Luke 3:11, ESV).
 “If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down. For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious.” (Exodus 22:26‑27, NKJV).
 Isaiah 20:2‑4 (ESV), . . . at that time the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and loose the sackcloth from your waist and take off your sandals from your feet,” and he did so, walking naked and barefoot. Then the LORD said, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Cush, so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptian captives and the Cushite exiles, both the young and the old, naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, the nakedness of Egypt.”
There’s a general lapse of strong evangelical faith throughout Western culture. Viewing it from that perspective, I laud the stubborn attitude of believers who mistake MCAG’s message of body acceptance as just one more facet of the sexual insanity eroding today’s church. To be sure, strong stubbornness is needed to stand against the tide of moral confusion capturing the power-brokers of our nation. But stubborn beliefs, while laudable, aren’t always God-honoring or theologically correct. These faithfully stubborn saints will never entertain a message that separates nudity from sexuality, if they’re unwilling to test the validity of their religious conviction that keeps the two inseparable.
A stubborn unwillingness to change is not at all praiseworthy. Reformation in line with truth is the church’s historical lifeline. The truth of body acceptance has transforming power, both to liberate porn addicts and to reform sentimentally preserved errors in Christian thinking. If believers faithfully hold and teach any falsehood as a “gospel standard,” it will eventually destroy their Gospel testimony. When loyalty to church tradition supplants a commitment to truth, legalism can be accepted as divine light, and true light can be mistaken for darkness.
The Error of Body Shame
Social waywardness outside the church isn’t as dangerous as doctrinal error inside. Body shame is a destructive cultural dysfunction. It was a grave religious blunder for past church leadership to baptize it as a Christian virtue. The ripples of that mistake have become devastating tidal waves in the modern world. By treating this porno-prudery as sound doctrine, Christian teachers incorporated it into “the faith,” believing that Scripture supported them. Yet, a careful review of the Bible and of biblical history does just the opposite. It exposes how they read their religious porno-prudery back into the culture of Bible times.
One of my purposes in writing Meeting at the River—and why I played the devil’s advocate in the story—was to expose how the adoption of skin-hiding Victorian modesty as a Christian doctrine sabotaged modesty’s true biblical meaning. Creating a clothing-dependent morality was tantamount to cultural idolatry, and it remains so today, whenever believers dare defend it with the same zeal shown in defending the Gospel. This legalism is a perilous path, for it has either directly usurped God’s role in moral jurisdiction or religiously replaced His authority with human wisdom. This is grievous error and grave sin.
The goodness of Body Acceptance
I’ve written so much about the mundane normalness of body acceptance that I become redundant. But the truth bears repeating, especially when I get personally reminded of the first little essay I ever wrote on the subject (“What about the Hospital Nudity Problem?” on my “L&D Tips” webpage). Recently, I had a reverse-role clinical experience of getting a cystoscopy with a female attendant and a colonoscopy with two females assisting. The down-to-earth routineness of medical nudity broadcasts an obviously overlooked discrepancy in the porno-prudery most Christians doctrinally uphold.
Indeed! What happens when these believers become patients themselves? Do filthy thoughts plague their minds when doctors and nurses see them naked? Their porno-prudery portrays the naked body as sexual in nature. So, are they suspicious that their opposite-sex attendants are having the lustful thoughts their doctrine predicts? If not, do they then logically question the validity of that doctrine, or just momentarily ignore the discrepancy? And what’s their take on a guy like me, an ordained minister who sees women’s breasts and bottoms every night in my L&D job? When I tell them I experience no lust in working with nudity, do they think I’m lying? Are they willfully blind to the fact that my testimony—corroborated by multiple millions of other healthcare workers—reveals the bankruptcy of their porno-prudish doctrine? Or have they just decided to live with the inconsistency, content with double-mindedness?
The Price of our Porno-Prudery
There may or may not come a day when a majority of Christian leaders finally recognize the deception in porno-prudery and repent of how it directly and indirectly fueled the rampant flames of pornography, human trafficking and gender confusion in today’s world. Religious porno-prudery not only affirms society’s unwholesome sexual focus on human body parts but also distracts attention from God’s focus on the real problem: wayward human hearts. But whether repudiators of body acceptance listen or refuse to listen, we must be faithful to call a spade a spade. No matter if we are heard or ignored, we must persist in telling fellow believers the truth.
A Future Reckoning…
Like the preaching of many Old Testament prophets, our message may change social and religious climate very little or not at all. But all truth proclaimed now will echo in eternity. God is “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34, KJV). Jesus was revealing His Father’s heart when He condemned those “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9, ESV). That leaves little room for Christians with the same audacity to be treated with impunity, when “judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17, KJV), especially if they let allegiance to those man-made doctrines close their ears to the truth. On that Day, when all minds and motives will become naked before the God of truth, any past stubbornness in upholding falsehoods will be indefensible. In other words, while the light shed on the darkness of porno-prudery may become for some a present liberation, it will become, for those presently and persistently repudiating it, a future liability.
— Pastor David Hatton
My previous post discussed how people in a naked culture grow up around the unclothed body with a normalized perspective, never learning to view the body pornographically. Can experiences of such cultures help us in porn-proofing our children?
You Can Stop the Cycle
A frequent concern raised in emails sent to us by fathers with porn problems and by mothers married to porn addicts is how they can help keep their children from succumbing to the strong pornographic mindset saturating our culture. There’s a very effective answer: stop promoting a pornographic view of the body in the home. It must be rejected by precept and example.
At their level of understanding, children should be taught the principles given on the MCAG website. They need to learn the truth of body acceptance long before they reach their teens.
You Have to Live It
But demonstration of body acceptance is more powerful than explanation. Children cannot be porn-proofed if a porno-prudish view of the body is continually reinforced in the home by how we act, even if the mindset is mentally and verbally renounced. Parents can pass on a true family legacy of body acceptance only if they practice it. In other words, nudity at home should be routinely seen without ever being treated as obscene.
For most American families, the practical living out of body acceptance would mean courageously reversing old prudish habits, establishing new body-friendly customs, and inventing creative opportunities for ordinary nakedness to teach its crucially needed lessons. Some new of these might be:
- Adopting the age-old, healthy habit of sleeping in the nude,
- Never shutting bedroom doors for dressing or undressing
- Celebrating a relaxed “birth-day suit breakfast” on the weekends
- Keeping bathroom doors open for sink or toilet access while tub or shower is in use
- Investing in a Hot Tub for no-swimsuit family fellowship
- Building a backyard enclosure for full-body family sunbathing
Practical changes like these are powerful when body acceptance is simultaneously taught as a moral standard. But to insure that this healthy understanding works at a social level—not just in the home—children must be shown that nudity beyond that of parents and siblings can also be decent and nonsexual. It might mean sharing that new Jacuzzi or backyard sunbathing enclosure with relatives or like-minded friends who are also trying to raise porn-proofed children.
As radical as that last suggestion may sound, it is therapeutically realistic. In the context of such social realism, fathers fighting porn or mothers struggling with poor body image often gain as much healing from past thought-patterns as their children find reinforcement for a wholesome view of everybody’s body. Beyond-the-family nudity won’t be intimidating if home nudity is already a comfortable routine.
Instill Body Acceptance
A picture is worth a thousand words, but words are still important. The family practices mentioned above can quickly kill body shame and instill body acceptance. But open verbal communication is just as essential in porn-proofing children as open visual illustration. Children will be strong in behavior only when strong in understanding. Still living in a world where the body is toxically sexualized, they will be bombarded with sex-obsessed messages in the media and confronted by people indoctrinated by them. When questions arise, parents must be prayerfully open and ready to discuss the truth and its implications. Body acceptance is a holy way of seeing that is stronger than the cultural falsehood of body shame. Only by keeping children grounded in the truth about the body can they walk in freedom from the lie of porn.
Pastor David L. Hatton
Imagine your child being completely unimpressed with porn… disinterested… unaffected by its allure… is that even possible?
Yes, it is.
Bear in mind, however, that we told you MCAG is Radical and Revolutionary… you may be surprised by what you read here. And if you haven’t read the main series of articles on the MCAG site, you should probably do that first.
It Starts at Home
When I was barely five, I remember being in my mother’s bedroom and seeing her naked pregnant body as she dressed. When she let me put my ear to her belly, I recall saying, “Hello in there!” After she gave birth to my youngest sister, I often saw her breasts as she nursed. Not until years later did I see those breasts again, when I did an EKG on my mom in the ER where I was an RN. Finally, caring for her at home as she died of a brain tumor, I saw her fully naked several times. How beautiful her body was, even at age seventy-five.
Here in modern America, most of our parents stopped letting us see family nakedness early in childhood. The assumption behind this restriction is that, after “the age of innocence,” the naked body becomes a sexual temptation. Unfortunately, that assumption itself plants the seed of such a temptation, the restriction inevitably cultivates it, and society reaps the harvest of a pornographic view of the body.
I’m not blaming my parents or yours. They were misled by the prevailing culture, just as their parents were before them. But I do blame the church, not just for its past and present leadership in promoting a sexualized view of the body, but for its negligence in theologically correcting this error through a mature, realistic, incarnational view of human embodiment.
The Assumption is False
Missionaries and cross-cultural workers living among naked people groups get to see what happens when this aversion to nudity is absent. They themselves quickly become accustomed to seeing nakedness everywhere. Although they learned the body taboo just as we did, they soon stop experiencing the sexual temptation it preaches. This alone should cause church leaders to tremble and ask, “What have I been teaching?” But culture is blinding. Its authority can render normally intelligent minds oblivious to the obvious.
But stop and think. What would it be like to grow up in a naked culture? What if the bare bodies of friends, neighbors, and family members became a daily sight? Bodily growth from infancy to old age would be routinely visible. Adolescent emotional worries about the physical changes of puberty would be replaced by realistic expectations. Young people would grow up with total visual knowledge of the opposite sex, thus eliminating any prurient curiosity about body parts and their functions. Pornography could gain no foothold in such an environment, because a pornographic view of the body would be nonexistent.
In the next blog post I will discuss some practical ways to teach and practice a non-pornographic view of the body as a means to porn-proofing our kids.
Pastor David L. Hatton
We’re Not Alone
We launched the MCAG website knowing that our articles would be unique and controversial. We ourselves had been converted from skepticism to realism, and we could not be silent about the truth. Imagine our surprise at discovering that our website was validated by the teachings of a published psychologist.
Not long after our website was up and running, a lady wrote to congratulate us. Our message, she said, was similar to that of psychologist Gary R. Brooks. She attached an excerpt from his book, The Centerfold Syndrome, photocopied from a college anthology. What an encouragement to find ourselves “on the same page” with this counselor!
Here are the five principal components of “the Centerfold Syndrome,” with quotes from Dr. Brooks:
- Voyeurism: “The culture at large seems to be generally indifferent to this trend [of female body glorification], seeing it as harmless titillation, pretty much a natural product of men’s biological makeup. I strongly disagree with this position. It is my contention that this mania, this explosion of glorification and objectification of women’s bodies, promotes unreal images of women, distorts physical reality, creates obsessions with visual stimulation, and trivializes all other features of a healthy psychosexual relationship.”
- Objectification: “. . .when a man in a relationship is continually distracted by a fantasy life dominated by visual images of idealized bodies of strangers, that man will frequently be emotionally absent from his partner; he will be unable to have intense, here-and-now experiences with her. Tragically, if he spends most of his emotional energy on sexual fantasies about inaccessible people, he frequently will not be available for even the most intimate emotional and sexual moments with the most important person in his life.”
- Need for Validation: “[Men] are programmed to crave validation of their masculinity, and they frequently view women’s bodies as a medium for that validation. This need for validation disempowers them and creates an odd yet vitally important inversion of the traditional power relationship between women and men. . . . When women are envisioned as sexual objects and made the centerpiece of men’s visual world, they become imbued with enormous psychosocial power.”
- Trophyism: “While collecting new and different sexual trophies may be celebrated among adolescents, it is a sign of emotional immaturity in the world of adults. . . . Women’s bodies age, losing their trophy-like characteristics, especially in comparison to newer varieties. Hence, the trophy-hunting man, initially satisfied with his trophy-wife, must eventually face the maddening reality that his prize will eventually lose her luster, while other potential prizes will emit near-irresistible allure.”
- Fear of True Intimacy: “. . .men are taught to suppress their needs for intimacy and sensuality, and come to invest too much emotional and psychological power in some women’s bodies. Fearing their potential overdependence on women, men develop a preoccupation with sexuality, which powerfully handicaps their capacity for emotionally intimate relationships with men and for nonsexual relationships with women.”
Dr. Brooks sees the Centerfold Syndrome as epidemic in America. His personal experience in counseling men suffering from it has made him an expert in describing the problem of a pornographic view of women’s bodies. In fact, even if you have no trouble grasping the concepts we share on MCAG, studying his perspective will reinforce your understanding. For that reason, we obtained his permission to use two large excerpts from his book as a resource for our readers. We encourage you to purchase and read the whole book.
— Pastor David
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How do I know? Because He did with me.
He’s Patient, but Not Passive…
I used to parrot the “moral majority” by defiling my Gospel preaching with a message that unwittingly portrayed women and their breasts as sex objects.
Sadly, this cultural idolatry pervades the American church.
God has already passed judgment on this pornographic view of the body by turning over our nation to the scourge of porn addiction that inevitably results from it.
It’s Cultural, Not Natural
Blind to how culture shapes thinking, many Christians teach that men are compelled by the sin nature to lust at the sight of women’s bodies, especially their breasts. If this doctrine were true, it would eliminate from fallen humanity all societies where breasts are customarily naked in public, yet such societies exist.
This ridiculous falsehood is further exposed by the response to it from these cultures themselves.
Breasts Are for Babies, Not Men
Carolyn Latteier, the author of Breasts, The Women’s Perspective on an American Obsession, wrote,
We do have a peculiar obsession with breasts in this culture. A lot of people think it’s just the human nature to be fascinated with breasts, but in many cultures breasts aren’t sexual at all. I interviewed a young anthropologist working with women in Mali, a country in Africa where women go around with bare breasts. They’re always feeding their babies. And when she told them that in our culture men are fascinated with breasts, there was an instant of shock. The women burst out laughing. They laughed so hard, they fell on the floor. They said, “You mean, men act like babies?”
They’re Beautiful, Not Sexual
This false theology may sound funny to them, but to me it’s emasculating. As a man who has helped tens of thousands of women nurse their newborns, I’ve never lost any male appreciation for the beauty of breasts or for the part they play in God’s awesome design of femininity.
Yet, even at the outset of my nursing career, I realized I wasn’t reacting to them in the lustful way I’d been taught to expect! My culture had fed me a lie, and that deception came most consistently from the same lips that preached the Christian Gospel.
Repentance… Not Prudery
The bottom line is “we’ve acted like babies!”—not in a ludicrous way that makes bare-breasted women in Mali laugh—but with such utter immaturity that we should be shedding tears.
- How could we—while claiming to honor the Creator—so decadently degrade His anatomical wisdom and artistic design in the female breast?
- How could we—by social and religious precept—lead generation after generation of children to turn their natural, wholesome attraction to breasts into a lifelong perverted obsession?
This ungodly behavior calls for repentance!
Mistaken “Modesty” promotes Lust, Not Purity
Immodesty isn’t the occasionally naked breast but the exploited one, strategically hidden or partially revealed by social custom. The habit of making breasts visible only for sexual activity socially defines them as avenues of sexual enticement.
More modesty is shown when they’re laid bare for nursing on a crowded subway, exposed for modeling in an art class, or uncovered for sunning on a clothing optional beach.
Treating unclad body parts realistically and respectfully is always modest. But when clothing is unnaturally trusted as a moral prevention for lust, then immodesty infects a whole culture, as it has ours. Our mistaken morality wraps the body up in a fantasy that tempts sinners and saints alike. I believe God abhors it.
God’s View, Not the World’s
Did you grow up with our culture’s pornographic view of breasts. Your only hope of expelling it from your mind and heart is by learning to see breasts the way their Designer does. His view is the truth, and only the truth will set you free.
— Pastor David
This article is also found on Pastor David’s Blog.
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God’s Kingdom is founded on truth. Only submission to “the God of truth” brings spiritual redemption (Psalm 31:5). Deception led us into sin. Truth alone leads us out (John 8:32). If a lie gives you apparent relief, it will be only temporary. This is why so many fail to find freedom from pornography through strategies based on the lie of body shame.
The Creator of our bodies uses the truth of body acceptance to free people from the chains of porn.
But knowing the truth intellectually isn’t enough. Truth must be internalized. Traditional approaches to porn addiction focus on the external, trying to control what is seen. God wants to plant His “truth in the inward being,” teaching us His “wisdom in the secret heart” (Psalm 51:6, ESV), changing how we see.
The Undraped Body Is Not Perverted
When the God of truth spoke creation into existence, He deemed everything “very good” (Genesis 1:31), including naked male and female bodies. The sin of our first parents didn’t change the truth about that goodness. All parts of the human form are still “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
It was the heart—not our gender-specific anatomy—that became corrupt:
- A sinfully perverted perception of the body usurped our Sovereign Maker’s evaluation.
- Misled human reasoning replaced the truth of God with a lie.
- What was pure in God’s creative reality became pornographic in the human imagination.
Debunking the Doctrine of Body Shame
Modern responses to nudity, in the context of art, healthcare, or cross-cultural experience, also fail to substantiate this popular religious doctrine. In such cases, the absence of automatic sexual arousal at the sight of the nude body disproves the inevitable lust predicted by this teaching.
Actually, these ordinary naked situations affirm the original goodness God saw in bare bodies. They prove that body shame is culturally learned, not humanly inherited. If it was inborn, all descendants of Adam would naturally have it. Since they don’t, this doctrine must be false.
Repenting of Cultural Idolatry
Allegiance to this dysfunctional cultural standard undermines God’s truth about our bodies. Under pressure to conform to false thinking in a fallen world, we must surrender our bodies to God (Romans 12:1, 2). The truth of body acceptance liberates us by the power of Him Who embodied Truth (John 14:6), God Incarnate (1 Timothy 3:16), the Word made flesh (John 1:14).
Our male and female bodies, just as God made them, play a central role in His creation plan. Let the truth about them displace all distorted images with His image. Make a radical departure from cultural falsehood into a life where the God of truth—and the truth of God—dispel all lies. This the way out of porn.
— Pastor David
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