[Do not begin Part Two of this article without having read Part One (click here). That first section covers several reasons a woman might develop a porn problem and how her personal identity can be misshapen by the addiction.]

 

Opening the Door to Your True Identity

It’s basic physiology that an orgasmic response is functional in the male and female bodies of many animals. But the animal bodies of humans have an amazingly elevated status in creation. We surpass all other creatures, including angels, because we embody the image of the Creator. While a sex drive and the capacity for sexual enjoyment are parts of our total selves, our personally integrated self-image finds fulfillment only in reflecting the One whose image we bear. In that divine reflection alone can we realize our true value and true identity as individuals and as a race.

The modern church isn’t silent about the porn epidemic. But it fails both society and its many porn-addicted members by ignoring the human body’s crucial role in imaging God. That neglect is behind the many religious attempts to fight porn with woman-unfriendly solutions based on body shame. Yet the Bible’s first and foremost adjectives used for describing God’s image are not theological or psychological terms but physical ones: “male and female.” Because Christians—when it comes to women’s bodies—have generally avoided the practical implications of this divine revelation, I believe God let prophetic voices outside the church have the floor. It may shame us to say so, but those who unconsciously use His principles to denounce pornography are most often feminists.

women&porn6Feminist lecturers are notorious for being the loudest and most outspoken in lambasting our culture for demeaning and exploiting women by reducing them to female body parts. They urge women to rebel against this sexualization—to toss the script that has them playing the role of society’s sex toys. When feminists exhort women to see themselves wholistically—finding their self-worth in the valuable persons they truly are, not in cultural or religious patterns that treat them as sexual objects—they are unconsciously preaching God’s truth. Why do women who hear and heed this part of the feminist message find freedom? Because the truth sets people free.

Humanity’s “final frontier” isn’t to explore the cosmos but to discover who we really are. From childhood to old age, the search for personal identity is life’s grandest quest. Only in a personal relationship with “I AM” Exod 3:14), who created us as His image-bearers, can the question “Who am I?” be fully answered. New birth in Christ, who is “the express image of [God’s] person,” (Heb 1:3) begins the resolution of our cosmic identity crisis. But growth in Christ means learning to have His “mind” (Phil 2:5) toward others, who also bear God’s image. If we are putting others—like porn-models—ahead of ourselves (Phil 2:3), we won’t be profiting from their degradation but praying for their deliverance. Practicing Christ’s attitude of self-denial brings a market-crash to pornography, because the economy of porn is totally driven by self-interest.

Closing the Door on a False Identity

A false self-image translates into a false lifestyle. Eve took forbidden fruit because it seemed edible, pretty, and prestigious (Gen 3:6). It promised a world of physical, visual and personal satisfaction. But in warning us about gaining “the whole world” and losing our souls, Jesus said, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it,” (Mat 16:25). By living in surrender to “the mind of Christ,” we lose only our false selves, which have been either squeezed or stretched to fit worldly patterns. In union with Jesus alone we find our true selves, our full humanity.

women&porn3The porn-addicted woman’s freedom comes by living out her true identity in God, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Our human self-understanding comes from being created in the imago Dei. Male and female porn addiction, and the porno-prudery that fuels it, will persist until we mentally abandon the sexually objectified view of the human body taught by our upbringing. God’s evaluation of our naked embodiment—as His “very good” divine image and sacred temple—must reign supreme in our minds and hearts.

A divine perspective on human anatomy and sexuality also calls us to a Creator-honoring view of masturbation. Because almost all porn addiction includes a collateral addiction to self stimulation, porn-addicted men and women hoping to find freedom need to evaluate this controversial issue cautiously but realistically.

In closing the door on a false identity, the true self in Christ must dismiss the idea that retaining an obsession is essential for emotional survival. But many cycle through transient hope and recurring guilt from a unilateral condemnation of masturbation that isn’t found in Scripture. I believe that a more realistic understanding of the body’s sexual physiology may facilitate closure with this obsessive habit.

One danger described by Jesus is mental “adultery” (Mat 5:28). To “look lustfully” is an activity of the imagination. In an imitative way, masturbation spurred by lustfully visualized or fantasized human images implies this mental sin of adultery. Objectifying the imago Dei, even if only imaginatively, is not part of our Christian identity but a latent habit typical of the false self. Shut the door on it.

But open a door on realism. In Christ, we remain physiological beings. God’s created the mechanics of orgasmic function to include periodic discharges of the sex drive for our sense of well-being. This psycho-physical urge is often met by nocturnal orgasms. But when marital union is absent or orgasmic dreams fail, is it right to wallow in legalistic guilt for manually addressing this God-designed need?

As “male and female” in God’s image, we must live out our physiology whether or not our genitals serve their procreative and conjugal purposes. Accepting our sexual identities means thanking God for the dynamics of orgasmic function. When a physiological build-up peaks, why call its manual release a “glitch” or a “sin,” when we should be praising God for our “fearfully and wonderfully made” bodies? But when someone claims to need masturbation daily or imagines its release must be assisted with pornographic images or lustful fantasies, it’s clear the deceitful false self is still in control.

Conclusion: a New Way of Seeing

woman-at-crossMen can quit their pornographic game of solitaire by ceasing to treat the female body as a self-gratifying sexual commodity. Women who gamble at the same table can find freedom by no longer treating their bodies as slot machines for pleasure-coins minted by the porn industry. There’s no jackpot of authentic self-esteem won with porn’s “play-money.” Women must stop selling themselves short of their true value as sexually embodied persons. Also, they must strongly resist those voices that sexually objectify their femininity, even if they resound from otherwise respected and honored pulpits.

In a complete change of mind (metanoia, the Biblical word for repentance), a porn-addicted woman must learn to see and treat her body as a “temple” of the Holy Spirit, “fearfully and wonderfully made” in the image of her Almighty Creator. Her sexuality and its powerful drives are part of that holy temple and image. In that divine identity alone lies her freedom from porn addiction.

This closing poem conveys my strong feelings about the nature of our gender-distinctive bodies as God’s sacred territory. It is perhaps my most impassioned rebuke to society and religion for objectifying women, whose bodies were meant to reflect their Maker.

WOMAN

She is woman . . . and much abused:
Her lovely womb and breasts and buttocks were infused
With sordid meaning, twisted thought,
By vain imagination packaged, sold, and bought.
A wayward culture holds her chain,
And even sermons preach the sex-obsessed refrain
That turns her body parts and skin
Into ignition points for carnal lust and sin.

Yet in her flesh, along with man,
She bears the image of the Maker’s master plan
For a Self-portrait, so designed
That in their bodies they declare His holy mind.
God’s leadership and strength is shown
In shoulder breadth and muscle, for which men are known.
But women’s wombs, that swell for birth,
Reflect God’s own heart pregnant with creation’s worth.
And in their breasts, where babies feed,
We see the nurture from God’s bosom humans need.
These signs laid bare in wholesome light
Should launch our souls to praise God’s glory at the sight.

She is woman. . . . Lord, set her free
To be the temple You intended her to be.
And let Your church repent her rape,
By calling lewd the beauty of her shape.
Since in her flesh You wish to dwell,
Lord, damn these lies that make her form a path to hell.

David L. Hatton, 12/31/2009
(from Poems Between Birth and Resurrection© 2013)

Just as this poem expresses my heart’s true prayer, I pray this article reveals the truth that can set you free. Your freedom must begin with Jesus—the Truth Who is a Person and Who makes us God’s children by new birth. That freedom continues as Christ’s view of the body and of human sexuality affirms the sacred, gender-distinctive embodiment of both yourself and others. Believing, adopting and applying His view of reality will close your account with pornography’s fantasy world. God’s grace through the Holy Spirit is ever-present to support your decision to embrace His truth, and the pastoral team at MCAG are here to assist in whatever way we can.


 

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