This post is a part of a blog project for the Idea Camp. For more post on the subject of Pornography and Sex visit The Idea Camp Website or friend them on Facebook here.
A couple of months ago I followed the trend and created a formspring account. Now if you have never heard of formspring let me give you the short version of what it in-details. Formspring is an online service that allows you to ask questions to friends, give answers to questions that have been asked to you, and a great place to learn more about your friends on Twitter and Facebook. By setting up an account you broadcast to the world that your open for questions. I was about 6 questions in when I got this:
A little back story behind this question first. Earlier in the day I got a question from an anonymous person on formspring asking me if I struggle with pornography? My first reaction was, “seriously, you are asking me this on formspring?” I was a little surprised/annoyed with the question because it came from an anonymous person, and is the type of question that deserves a better answer then just a yes or no. You do not go on a first date with someone and ask why they are not married yet? Those type of discussions come after a couple of drinks (I am kidding). Naturally, I did not answer the question. About fifteen minutes after I received the first porn question I received the question above. Feeling that it could be taken that I was hiding something, I gave my reason for not answer the original question and then said that I would like to move that discussion to a different place. Today, I would like to have that discussion.
What struck me as odd was the opportunity for this question to be asked anonymously. How ironic is it that anonymous ask a question about a very anonymous issue. Watching pornography is one of the biggest activities that anyone can partake in without having to have an identity. It is a faceless problem that has thousands of statistics and numbers to back up its popularity. When I was in college, a student decided they wanted to do a research project around how many students were regularly viewing pornography on campus. When the idea was first presented in class, many said that the numbers would be low because the study would be done at a Christian College. But the numbers were shocking. The question was asked “Yes or No: in the last year you have viewed pornography by choice on the internet, movie, or magazine?” 92% answered with a yes. I remember listening in class as the student presented his findings and the discussion that took place after. One girl remarked “my boyfriend would never do that.” I remember chuckling in my head because I knew who her boyfriend was and the conversation that we had at the beginning of the year about accountability.
Its not that people don’t believe pornography is an issue, its that people see the face of pornography as anonymous.
I would like to believe that I am a normal male. But to be a normal male means that I have to like porn, beer, and sports. For most, that would describe the perfect night, and for me it use to be what consumed my nights (well minus the alcohol). Not always at once, but I was a part of the anonymous millions that viewed pornography. Mainly out of curiosity but also out of a deep desire and feeling inside, I googled pornography and searched the web to my hearts desire. After I was done I was able to leave that part of me behind, the shame and disgrace of what my eyes had just witness was deleted by one simple click of my internet history and I returned back to who everyone knew me as. Part of the addiction was that I was able to be someone else. An anonymous spectator consuming a product that seemed innocent and harmless. The only way it could stop was if my real life was confronted with my anonymous life. Those two crashed into each other way sooner then I expected.
I was confronted with my internet search history by my dad after he did some “investigating” of my web history. I remember the shame and embarrassment of being caught. It wasn’t that I was ashamed of looking at porn, it was that I had to put a face on my problem. I had to own up to what I had been doing and partaking in. I remember the next couple of months working to earn my dads trust back. I think that is what happens when our anonymous life and real life collide, we are forced to confront the ultimate problem, sin.
The ugliest thing about pornography is that it is not real.
As a teenager I didn’t understand fantasy from reality. So what I saw on the screen was what I thought reality was. As I continued to grow and understand love, emotion, relationships and even sex, I quickly started to realize what I was watching was fake. The feelings that I had as I consumed were not real, but a creation of the people on the screen and the creation of my mind. Porn stars stopped being anonymous and I started to realize that they were real people, no different then the my friends and even myself. At that moment, when anonymous collided with reality I knew that pornography was gross.
The perversion that overtakes sex can only be done anonymously. Why? Because its not reality, its not real. I realized that as someone who professes Christ and takes on the identity of His love, I was being confronted with my perversion daily. The rubber hit the road for me when my own sin was in front of me and I was challenged to develop a character, an identity of integrity not obscurity. I was not allowed to be an anonymous man, I had to chose an identity.
I do believe there is a redeeming quality of pornography.
The redeeming quality of pornography is that it forces us to confront the identity of sin in our life and forces us to choose to live anonymously or as a man or women of God.