Chances are very high that if you have ever been online (which you are because you are reading this blog) you have probably been exposed to pornography or spam emails soliciting sex. If you haven’t, then I would be very, very surprised. In fact, very shocked. I have talked about pornography before, especially as it relates to college students, but I have a renewed interest in this topic for several reasons.
1. Because in my MFT graduate work I am seeing the devastating effects of pornography and sexual addiction in families.
2. My work with college students in ministry, and my work with young children in my clinical counseling work has opened my eyes to the rampant sexualization of youth.
3. I think pornography and sexual addiction is a topic that effects many people and we choose to primarily keep it hush hush, ignore it, or completely sweep it under the rug.
I just finished up today a week long class on Addictions. When you think of addictions you think most often of alcohol and drugs. But then there are other addictions that are more acceptable, i.e. food, greed, caffeine, co-dependency, etc., etc. And then there are addictions that are very uncomfortable to talk about, i.e. pornography and sexual addiction. This morning in class the professor showed a video on sexual addiction and while that video was playing you could feel the tension, anxiety, shock, embarrassment, etc. in the classroom. Why? Not because people aren’t aware of this addiction (many are not), but rather because we don’t talk about it very much while many suffer and struggle with it.
As the professor got up and talked this morning he discussed at length this topic and some of his own intervention work with pastors with sexual addiction. I also remember writing my paper for my Practical Theology seminar on pastoral ethics, in which I did a case study on a prominent mega-church pastor who “fell” and lost the ministry and destroyed the church because of a sexual addiction that had gone unchecked. By that I mean, he, as many pastors, sometimes put themselves in places where they eventually become unaccountable to anyone. As their power and influence and iconic status increases they gradually move to places and positions where they become vulnerable to addictive behavior. Christianity Today asked the question this week in an article, Does Ministry Fuel Addictive Behavior?
This is an important topic for the church, especially since it is such a secretive topic that carries so much shame with it. I wonder how many of the people in our churches on Sunday struggle with sexual addiction? I hardly know of a guy who hasn’t struggled with pornography at some level, and instant internet access doesn’t help this out. This also just isn’t a men’s issue as we most often think, but there are many girls in our congregation struggling with sexual addiction, but it sometimes comes in a different form than how guy’s express it. Last night I was watching CSI and they dropped a reference to “rainbow parties.” What are rainbow parties you ask? Just read Michelle Malkin’s blog on this issue. As Michelle Malkin puts it, “A ‘rainbow party,’ you see, is a gathering of boys and girls for the purpose of engaging in group oral sex. Each girl wears a different colored lipstick and leaves a mark on each boy. At night’s end, the boys proudly sport their own cosmetically-sealed rainbow you-know-where bringing a whole new meaning to the concept of ‘party favors.'”
Oh, and what about issues related to online communities such as MySpace? I know of many who are not on my space just to avoid the temptation of some of the content on that site.
I could go on and on, and give you tons of statistics. But the reality is, is that the Porn capitol of the world is in our backyard here in Los Angeles, and our culture is being affected by it in many ways. We are seeing it in the sexualization of our children and in the young, very young clients I work with. We see it in our ministries. But the reality most often remains is that we approach the subject with joking or with avoidance. We joke and say things like, “Oh, all guys look at Playboy…men are men. That’s okay” Or we know that our kids are online for hours at night while we sleep, but we pretend that they are just playing online games. And when we choose to joke about a very serious topic or avoid it completely, we fail to help those in true need.
This next year I am going to talk about sexual addiction in the college group. I have touched on it briefly before, but this topic needs to have more attention paid to it, and my students need to hear the honest truth because this is an issue that I know they struggle with at times. I think that we would ultimately be surprised if we really knew who was struggling with this issue. It does not discriminate and affects everyone either directly or indirectly in some way.
Before I leave you with some resources, just let me say that sexual addiction comes in many forms from masturbation, to vouyerism, to visiting strip clubs, sleeping around, etc, etc….so I don’t want people to think that pornography and men’s struggle with it is all that I mean…but it is what is most often thought of and is a huge issue. So I hope that you look into this issue of sexual addiction….and if you need help, may you seek it…..and if you know someone in need of help, may you be the one person to step in and help them.
For additional information on sexual addiction, pornography, etc, I have listed some resources below. This is a very limited listing and there is way more information and resources out there, but I am only now beginning to learn about this topic more at length and how people can be helped.
Check out Celebrate Recovery, which offers sexual addiction help/support groups.
Visit the XXX Church website and check out the resources they offer. Listen to their podcasts as well which will illuminate and alarm you to the reality of pornography, etc.
Read Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families, which is a book I haven’t read yet, but am in the process of beginning because of countless recommendations.