The Pornified Culture

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Every so often I post about a topic that makes me nervous.  This is one of them.  Nervous? Why?  Because it is a topic that has the ability to wrench us out of our comfort zones and force us to confront the Truth.  So why bother writing it?  Because we desperately need to hear the Truth.

It is no secret to any of us that Pornography exists, and that its use is quite rampant in our culture nowadays.  What is less obvious however, is how it affects each and every one of our lives. 

Some of us have had the awful experience of discovering that a spouse, boyfriend, brother, or even father is a frequent porn consumer.  Even worse, some of us have discovered that a loved one is addicted to it.  These are wrenching and life-altering discoveries, to be sure.  The pain and conflicting emotions are difficult to sort through, and difficult to understand.  My heart genuinely goes out to those of you who can relate to this.  You are in my prayers. (please refer to the end of this post where you will find links to wonderful resources for help and healing  – both for you and your loved one).

Others among us, however, have not had this kind of personal experience with pornography (and I pray you never do).  How then, can I say that you too have been severely effected by its influence? 

Because our entire culture has become ‘pornified.’

Pornified?  Yes I know, I have a penchant for making up new vocabulary words, but I can’t take full credit for this one.  I thought I had coined it, but while researching I read it elsewhere!

Anyway; pornified – altered or distorted by the influence of pornography.   Our culture has become tainted by the abundance and popularity of this ‘drug’ called porn.  Way back when ol’ Hugh Heffner gave an innocent little bunny a make over, a cultural shift began.   Today the “adult” (I HATE that term) industry nets between 16 and 20 BILLION dollars annually.  According to 2004 IFR research, U.S. porn revenue exceeds the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC (6.2 billion). Porn revenue is larger than all combined revenues of all professional football, baseball and basketball franchises (1).

A well respected doctor and researcher, Mark Kastleman, wrote a ground breaking book that dubs pornography  the “Drug of the New Millenium.”  His incredibly well-researched book describes how pornography is more addictive than crack-cocaine, and how it actually alters and effects the brain of the consumer. (2) Could you imagine a world where virtually everyone walking around was a crack-head?  No one would be in his (or her) right mind!  Welcome to the Pornified Culture.   A study was attempted by scientists at the University of Montreal who wanted to examine men in their 20s who viewed porn, and compare their lifestyles to men in the same age bracket, who did not.  The study hit a major road block when the researches couldn’t find any men in their 20s who didn’t view porn! (3)  This is akin to living in a world where the majority of people are drug addicts!  How can that be “normal?”   How can that not affect us? 

Now let me take a moment here to clarify something.  I am not saying that ALL men look at porn.  I know many men struggle with it.  I know that at some time in their lives many men have seen pornography.  I am not saying that each and every man you encounter is a closet porn-junkie.  In the United States it is belived that 70% of 18 to 24 year old men visit pornographic sites in a typical month. 66% of men in their 20s and 30s also report being regular users of pornography.  Women too have become regular consumers of pornography.  9.3 million women access ‘adult’ websites each month (5) and one out of every six women grapples with addiction to pornography (6). 

Pornography is becoming mainstream.  You are more likely to interact with someone who regularly views porn than someone who does not.  With so many individuals in our society regularly consuming porn, we can expect our culture to be influenced by it. 

One obvious effect of pornography is that it paints an unrealistic and overly sexualized picture of femininity.   Study after study has shown that men who view pornography have unrealistic expectations when it comes to women, unrealistic expectations when it comes to sex, and often times, a fear of intimacy!  Thats right, while porn is giving men all kinds of crazy ideas about what we women like, want, need, and think, it is, at the very same time, robbing them of the ability to have an intimate relationship.  This can be very hard for us girls.  Porn directly influences the way that men interact with us and perceive us.  Unfortunately,  it is becoming harder for some men to remember that we women are persons, not objects, because at its root, porn objectifies women. 

Perhaps even more intrusive into our daily lives, is the subtle influence of porn.  Just look at our movies, at TV shows, at billboards…it all looks ‘pornified!’  Movies that a decade or two ago wouldn’t have even been allowed on-screen are now rated PG-13!  “Teen” movie has become a euphemism for ‘movie about attractive, yet shallow, high schoolers having sexual adventures.’  Nudity associated with sex is now common in movies – and even TV shows!  At one time any nudity at all would have been considered pornography.  Not any more – slowly the cultural boundaries are being shoved back as more and more people become desensitized to ‘soft’ porn, and ‘harmless’ nude/sex scenes in regular programming and movies.  This is only going to disproportionately harm women.  Just as in a bona-fide porn film, the mainstream movies and TV shows that have been ‘pornified’ portray unrealistic female characters.  This only serves to enforce the lies that porn tells about who we as women are, the respect we deserve, and how we relate to men. 

Whew!  This reads a little grim!  Do not be discouraged though!  You see, porn is a lie.  It is false intimacy.  It is a fantasy. It is not real by any stretch of the imagination, and it therefore, cannot survive in the light of Truth.  And you, my dear reader, are a Light of Truth in this pornified culture of ours.   Your witness to femininity, your grace, your Faith, and your courage will work to dispel the pall of darkness that this insidious thing called pornography casts over our culture.  Even if you have been wounded by a loved one’s addiction or fascination with pornography – you can heal and you can help heal our society.

This is what we, as women, are called to.  Living boldly our feminine gifts – the genius that we have been given by God – we can bring about a cultural conversion. 

At the root of pornography use, is a twisted desire for…beauty.    Christopher West, a student of Ven. John Paul II, and an author/speaker on the Theology of the Body and God’s gift of Sexuality, explains that every man (and woman of course) desires beauty.  What happens in our fallen state is that this desire becomes twisted and warped.  The Father of Lies presents a false beauty, and ensnares men into the clutches of pornography.  Men who have become trapped in the chains of pornography addiction need our compassion.  For many many men their powerlessness in the face of this ‘false beauty’ is cause for extreme shame,  so many men have fallen for the lie and have only been disappointed to find that the porn is empty and shallow; and its pleasure short-lived and hollow.  Yet, they become ensnared, stuck in a loop of shame, loneliness, and lust.   What these men do not realize is that they are craving true beauty, a real relationship, and the validation, confidence, and fulfillment that can only come from God our Father.   

So what can you do?  You can show the world REAL feminine beauty.  You can witness to the gift of your Femininity – do not be afraid to be the beautiful, feminine woman that you are!  Speak the Truth – about God’s gift of sexuality, and the hollowness of pornography.  The lie cannot compare to the real thing!   Do not hesitate to demand respect.  Our culture has forgotten how to respect women, and conversely many men do not respect themselves.  Lovingly and firmly do not settle for anything less than the respect you deserve as a Daughter of the Heavenly King.  You are a princess, dear reader, and you deserve to ALWAYS be treated like one.  So require respect.  Let your attitude, your attire, your very being send the message that you a truly beautiful woman of God, and that you expect to be treated as such.  We must love our wounded brothers.  Those most especially who have been lied to about who women are, and how we should be treated.  It is up to us to show them and show our culture the Truth.  If enough of us do this, then we will turn back the tide of cultural erosion that porn has effected. 

Speak out!  Stand up for sensible laws that protect society against the influences of this pornified culture.  Advocate smart and safe computer use – at home, at work, at school, even in libraries and internet cafes.  If you are in a public place and you see someone accessing pornography on a computer or blackberry, iPod or the like, have courage and say something!  Explain, in all charity, that you are not comfortable with his or her actions and that pornography is degrading and insulting to you.  Ask politely that they pursue this form of ‘entertainment’ in private – and maybe even suggest that they check out the Truth about pornography use.  My recommendation would be www.mychainsaregone.org and www.nationalcoaltion.org

Are you serious??  Isn’ t that crossing a line??  No.  As Christians, we have been charged to speak the Truth – boldly.  As women we have been ‘entrusted with humanity.’  If you do not say something, who will?  I am reminded of the campaign to make smoking mainstream and accepted.  For a while this was the case.  Then slowly, our collective opinion of smoking changed.  People started speaking out – “Could you put that out please?  It’s bad for me.”  Now it is socially unacceptable to smoke – except in designated areas.  Laws have been passed enforcing this cultural mindset.  Smoking is still legal, and yet the majority of citizens in our society find the behavior unacceptable; only tolerated under certain circumstances.  What happened?  People stopped tolerating the behavior, and while they understood the horrible addiction, and were compassionate to those who were trapped by it, society as a whole called them to change their behavior – for their own good and the good of the community. People started speaking the Truth.  The Truth about the dangers of nicotine and tobacco use.  Truth about the societal effects of smoking.  Truth. 

This is what we need to do with pornography.  Never underestimate the power of the Truth.  Christ Himself said, “I am the way the TRUTH and the Life.”  He is just waiting for us, His beloved daughters, to courageously and boldly witness to it.  With Him on our side, we cannot fail!

 Pornography keeps men in the dark.  You can bring the Light of Truth! 

Here are some resources where you or a loved one suffering can find help Hope and Healing: **

www.mychainsaregone.org

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/socialissues/pornography.aspx

http://www.nationalcoalition.org/  (eCounseling and Resources)

http://candeocan.com/

“Healing Hearts and Mending Minds” by Dr. Mark Kastleman

http://www.sexhelp.com/  (Sexual Addiction recovery and healing)

http://www.cosa-recovery.org/

“Out of the Shadows”  by Patrick Carnes

If you want to do more, consider supporting this charity founded by an ex-porn star.  Her amazing testimony reveals the Truth about the porn industry, and her organization’s mission is to rescue women from the “adult”  industry.  http://www.shelleylubben.com/

Works Consulted:

(1) Internet Pornography and Loneliness: An Association? Vincent Cyrus Yoder, Thomas B. Virden III, and Kiran Amin.  Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, Volume 12.1, 2005.

(2) (http://www.amazon.com/Drug-New-Millennium-Pornography-Radically/dp/1930980639

(3) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/relationships/6709646/All-men-watch-porn-scientists-find.html

(4) First-person: the culture of pornography, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Baptist Press, 28 December 2005

(5) Internet Pornography Statistics.  Internet Filter Review, 2004

(6) Internet Pornography and Loneliness: An Association? Vincent Cyrus Yoder, Thomas B. Virden III, and Kiran Amin.  Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, Volume 12.1, 2005.

** Daughters of the Heavenly King does not endorse or speak for any organization or website listed as a potential resource.  They are provided for your consideration and your personal discernment as to whether or not they are relevant or helpful.  DOHK is not responsible for any content in the provided links that you may find objectionable or offensive.

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Ladies in Waiting

We have just completed the Season Advent – the time of excited waiting.   This Advent was very exciting for my family because my sister got engaged to the man she has been dating for quite a few years (talk about waiting!).  I actually drove up through that *ahem* snow storm we had on the East Coast to go see her after it happened!  Not the brightest thing I have ever done, but SO worth it! diamond engagement ring

Anyway, I began to reminisce about my own engagement – it was 1 year and 8 months long!  (The military sort of dictates when you can and can’t get married – if you want to attempt a honeymoon, that is)  I recall that engagement was much like Advent – expectant waiting.  Mostly exciting, sometimes maddening, sometimes frustrating slow, but waiting with anticipation and Hope. 

While I was meditating on these things it occurred to me that waiting is indeed a very feminine thing.  Think about it.  We spend quite a bit of time waiting for Mr. Right  – and I know a lot of you are still waiting for him.  Then there is the engagement period – more waiting.  Then after the marriage many women begin a whole new kind of waiting – Waiting on your husband!  OK that was a lame joke.  (One I shouldn’t really tell since just this afternoon I kept my hubby and four kids waiting for me in the car for 10 minutes while I tried to get myself out the door!)  Seriously, though, I am talking about pregnancy.  Nine months of very expectant waiting.  In fact, common vernacular refers to pregnant women as “expectant” mothers.  Women around the age of 45 often begin waiting for a whole new phase of life; and who among us doesn’t recall being around 12  or 13 waiting for the day your first cycle would begin? 

Part of being a woman is about waiting.  Waiting to be asked out, waiting to be asked to dance, waiting for some poor guy to get up the courage to call, waiting for your biology to do its thing, waiting for a baby to be born, waiting for a sparkly ring or to wear a habit…waiting is feminine

Well what about guys?  Don’t they have to wait?  Yes, usually for us!  But I would argue that men do not have the same relationship with waiting that we do.  Men are created to be initiators. 

Initiators?  What the heck does that mean?  It means that in God’s great design for men He wasn’t planning to have them wait around.  He created men to go out and actively initiate.  All the testosterone coursing through a man’s body helps him do this – to go and be aggressive. To go do, get the ball rolling, so to speak.  It’s in his nature to go and drum up enough courage to ask that pretty girl to dance.  It’s in his design to be the one who gets down on one knee with a shaky hand and pop the question.  It’s how God made him. 

Just look at a man’s body.  Everything is out there.  There is no interiority –  nothing is hidden.  Contrast that to a woman – she has great interiority.  Her womb is hidden; in fact all her uniquely female organs are internal.  And what does her body do?  Its waits.  It waits for her man to enter and to initiate a life-giving communion with her.  Then again, her body waits.  Has a life been created?   If so, then a whole new experience of waiting begins.  

  This interiority, this waiting, is called “Active Receptivity.”   Many of us confuse waiting, and being receptive, to being inactive and passive.   This is not the case.  God did not design women to be passive and to demurely sit and twiddle our thumbs idly.  That is why I like the term active receptivity.   We may not be designed by God to be initiators in the same way that men are, but we are by no means wallflowers!

Lets not get ahead of ourselves here.  I do not want you thinking that I have some strange belief about women never being able to “start” something  – to initiate.  We all know that we can and do initiate lots of things – whether at work or home or with friends and family.   Male Initiation and Female Receptivity are biologically and psychologically a part of who we are as men and women.  God made us this way to compliment each other.    It’s not to say that women can never be initiators and men can never be receptive – in fact, when it comes to God, men have to be receptive…..which brings us to our greater point.

As we have discovered time and again, the realities that are male and female – our biology, our psychology, and interaction with each other, all point towards a greater reality:  God.

In a way, men and women are archetypes  – “perfect examples of” (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary) – aspects of God that He wishes us to understand.  In the case of waiting, receptivity, and initiation, Men represent God the Father, and Women represent humanity.  Through our interpersonal relationships and our very being as men and women, God wants to reveal to us how He wants to relate to us. 

Lets take a closer look at waiting.

We determined that waiting is a very feminine thing.  We are also hypothesizing that this can tell us how humanity should relate to God.  We should wait for Him?

Yes.  Have you ever heard the phrase “waiting on the Lord?” 

“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…” Psalm 37:6-8,

“We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield,” Psalm 33:19-21,

 “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD, ” Psalm 27:13-14,

“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation,” Psalm 5:2-4

 “I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in him,” Isaiah 8:16-18,

 “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isaiah 30:17-19,

“I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”Lamentations 3:23-25……  *

Thats just a small sampling!  God uses your femininity to reveal to humanity that we need to “wait on the Lord.”  Thats why Scripture so often refers to humanity, and by default, Israel, in female terms.  More than any other literary device in Sacred Scripture, the Bride-Bridegroom analogy is used.  God is always the bridegroom, and His people (us, nowadays) are the bride.  So how are we to relate to God?  Your femininity is the clue!  We wait on Him.

But wait on Him to do what?! 

Can you take a guess?  Look at what we have been discussing.  Our gift of femininity shows us how humanity is designed to relate to God, then it stands to reason that masculinity reveals to us how God wants to interact with us……so that means, we wait for God to……….initiate!!!   That inherently masculine characteristic.  God desires to initiate a relationship with us.  If we are actively receptive to this initiation, then a beautiful communion begins – a true relationship – we with our God.  One on one – with God bringing us ever deeper into His mystery and Love for us.

God, however, is a gentleman.  He desires so much for us to allow Him to Love us.  His initiative is never forceful, or intrusive.  If we are not receptive to Him, He will not force Himself on us.  But if we recognize His repeated attempts to initiate a relationship (or deepen the one we already have – see A Knight in Shining….blue jeans?), and we respond, there is no limit to what He will do for us.  remember this is the same God who led the Israelites out of Egypt, who tumbled the walls of Jericho, who gave Abram and Sarai, Elizabeth and Zechariah, children in their old age, who rescued Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace, and who gave us His one and only Son.   A relationship with Him is anything but boring! 

 All He asks is that we wait on Him..  In Faith, in Trust, and in Hope. 

Are you ready to wait?

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* (all  Bible Quatations copied from the online New International Bible Concordance http://www.biblegateway.com/)

Happy New Year!

Hello everyone!  Happy New Year!  Now that all the festivities and fun are winding down I will resume my blogging.  You can look forward to the first Post of 2010 in a day or two – “Ladies in Waiting.”  Until then, may your New Year be blessed and full of happiness and health!  For those of you who are Catholic – Happy Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton – patroness of the Daughters of the Heavenly King!

Peace and Blessings,

Laura