Disgusting? … Or Lovely?
(The following story took place about 8 years ago…)
Checking Out the Artwork
My daughter had a violin recital. We had to get there early, so while they prepared for the performance, the rest of the family had to wait. Thankfully, the recital was held at a community arts center that had lots of artwork around the grounds to look at.
So that’s what I did… I looked at all the art work… all—that is—except one.
That one was a nude.
To be honest, I wanted to look at it, too… but since I still held the pornographic view of the body, I would not allow myself to look at it for fear that it would incite lust in my heart.
A Startling Question.
“Hey, Dad… did you see that one sculpture?” It was my 10 year old son. “Isn’t that disgusting?”
I was a bit surprised by his question, but apparently, I had already taught him my very distorted view of the body… without even realizing that I had done so. But he took that view to its logical conclusion… a conclusion that was self-evidently false!
And it was an uncharacteristic moment of clarity that informed my answer…
“Actually, it’s quite lovely.”
I’m not sure why I said that… I guess I was just too surprised by the question to respond with anything but the truth.
Look at it… how could such a sculpture ever be described as “disgusting”? Yet that’s exactly the perspective that I had somehow communicated to my son… without ever saying a word about nudity!
What Are We Teaching Our Children?
I can’t remember what I ever told my son about nudity. I don’t recall ever telling him to spurn the sight of human skin. I never told him that a woman’s nude body was “disgusting”… but that’s obviously what I had taught him.
In fact, it seems that he was confident that by coming to me and declaring it “disgusting,” he would be rewarded by affirmation and earn my approval for his insight. I must have taught him really well…
It’s a Lie…
The sculpture my son saw was not disgusting.
Yet I was as guilty of teaching him that lie as if I had spoken it from my own lips.
You see, we have culturally defined the unclothed body as a sexual condition, so we’ve concluded that it is “indecent” to be seen in any context other than the one where sexual expression is condoned (marriage). We have supposed that this perspective promotes moral purity… but instead, it promotes a lie… which leads inevitably to impurity! (That’s just what lies do.)
The Beginning of Understanding.
This incident with my son and the sculpture happened probably eight years ago. And it was several years thereafter before God more fully corrected my thinking about the meaning of the unclothed human form. But this was a beginning. I had been startled into speaking the truth instead of just reaffirming the lie that I had unwittingly taught my son.
It was moment of clarity from which—thankfully!—I’ve never recovered.
Ultimately, it was part of a transformation of perspective that delivered me from pornography and drove me to establish the MCAG website.
It’s time we teach our children the truth.
— Pastor David Martin
Sculpture above by Joan Bankemper, found at joanbankemper.com.
For more on this topic:
The Pornographic View of the Body
Lies That We Have Believed
Can You Spot the Pornographic Version?
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