Thinking Out Loud

November 6, 2008

When Sin Is Sin: Interview with an Addict

Filed under: addiction, Christian, Christianity, Faith, pornography — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:44 pm

mousetrapThe culture of Christian self-respectability is never at its most dangerous than it is when we refuse to admit that sin is sin.   So, many months ago, when the webpage I referred to a few days ago, Wrecked for the Ordinary, contacted me about an interview about the things that had led up to my writing The Pornography Effect, I never dreamed that the piece would appear under the rather terse title, “Pornography: An Interview with An Addict.”   Okay, maybe former addict.   For a brief time.   Briefly addicted.   Empathizing with those who are addicted.   Writer on the nature of addictive behavior.   But addict?  C’mon guys; isn’t that language rather strong; it was just a month or two;  I mean, what if someone I know, or someone who reads my blog page sees that?

But you know what?   If I hadn’t experienced the incredible, magnetic pull that internet porn can have on people, I probably would have been somewhat unqualified to write what I wrote in the way that I wrote it.   This stuff is dangerous.   If you’re looking at it, you’re playing with fire.   Sin is sin.   If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves; the truth is not in us.   Our Sunday morning righteousness is as filthy rags.   So if this week I need to be “An Addict,” then so be it.   I hope readers of their website will identify with what I’ve written knowing that I’ve been there.

If you haven’t read my take on this subject, then once again, we want to tag this post again in the hope that it will direct people — male or female — to the book.   It will continue to be a FREE online read through the end of the year.   It takes only 50-70 minutes to read.   When you get to the end of chapter six, click on “previous entries” to get to chapters seven and following.   www.thepornographyeffect.wordpress.com To read the interview, “Pornography: An Interview With An Addict,”  go to Wrecked for the Ordinary: Culture.

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8 Comments »

  1. thanks for the interview (and link), Paul!

    Comment by Jeff Goins — November 8, 2008 @ 3:49 pm

  2. Good to meet you Paul… I glanced over your book and it looks good. God bless you for being open about your past and ready to serve God.

    Comment by Phoebe — November 9, 2008 @ 1:11 am

  3. Interestingly enough, I don’t know of any place in the Bible where erotic imagery or depiction of sex are counted as sin. Hedonism, male homosexuality (but not female) and prostitution are specifically designated as sins. Everything else from porn to premarital sex are assumed to be sins but not stated as such.

    Comment by gfish — November 9, 2008 @ 4:23 pm

  4. Gfish,

    Whether intentional or not, what you’ve stumbled upon here is the much larger question, “Does something have to specifically mentioned in the Bible in order for it to be sin?”

    Clearly, the answer is no. While the viewing of erotic images does pass the “10 Commandments Test,” it definitely fails the “Sermon on the Mount” test. Not-so-peripheral issues like lust, self control, the stewardship of our time also play into this.

    Of course, in earlier days, before there was the internet, before there was photography, before, before, before; one didn’t necessarily see erotica as being at the expense of someone else. Today, much of the erotic images that exist exploit the subjects pictured.

    The technology brings with it a host of new ethical challenges that defy comparison to the naked images found in some classical art. (All technology does this, hence, as one example, the huge field of biomedical ethics.)

    It’s Sunday, and I’m not doing much blogwork tonight; but I’ll give this some other consideration and see what I can find for you on the topic of sins not specifically enumerated in scripture.

    BTW, there is a strong Biblical case against premarital sex, even though it’s not spelled out as plainly as one would like. The sexual act was seen as the sign of the marriage covenant — it’s actually a blood covenant, too if you think about it — and the problem comes when you place the sign of the covenant before the making of the covenant itself. It’s possibly not mentioned because in Bible times such a thing would simply be unthinkable among God’s people.

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — November 9, 2008 @ 9:13 pm

  5. Eph 5:3-5

    Comment by Phoebe — November 10, 2008 @ 3:10 am

  6. “…the problem comes when you place the sign of the covenant before the making of the covenant itself. It’s possibly not mentioned because in Bible times such a thing would simply be unthinkable among God’s people.”

    I wouldn’t say that. The tale of the Golden Calf in Exodus as Moses was getting the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai is a parable of how the Jews transitioned from polytheism to monotheism and left their pagan roots behind. Pagan religions traditionally celebrate fertility and sex so such things as casual or premarital sex wouldn’t just be common and accepted, they would be considered perfectly normal. The Ten Commandments are the big transition, as in “we’re going to do something else now and change our culture.”

    Abraham and his progeny made a covenant with God before the Jews were enslaved. After being brought out of Egypt, the Hebrew people made a covenant with the god Yahweh to worship him as the supreme deity and as their one true God. So it would make perfect sense that post-pagan Jews would need some instructions on how to be monotheists.

    As for Ephesians 5:3-5…

    The verses speak about something termed sexual impurity and sexual immorality but it doesn’t state what exactly that is. It’s kind of like publishing an edict which says that all people with bad hygiene are going to be rounded up and cleaned properly. What is the definition of bad hygiene? How do I know if I’m clean enough to fit the edict’s standards? This is why many seemingly simple laws are about 5 pages long. Every term is defined in black and white to make sure that if there’s a court case involving this law, the court can use a concrete, objective definition in its ruling.

    Of course, I could also mention that the New Testament is an assembly of letters written by various religious pundits and thinkers of the time often taking on the names of the apostles to give themselves credence…

    Comment by gfish — November 10, 2008 @ 3:36 am

  7. Here are some things I grabbed from a quick tour online; and these were only the first page responses…

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Sex before marriage has become so common for many reasons. Far too often we focus on the “recreation” aspect of sex without recognizing the “re-creation” aspect. Yes, sex is pleasurable. God designed it that way. He wants men and women to enjoy sexual activity (within the confines of marriage). However, the primary purpose of sex is not pleasure, but rather reproduction. God does not outlaw sex before marriage to rob us of pleasure, but to protect us from unwanted pregnancies and children born to parents who do not want them or are not prepared for them. Imagine how much better our world would be if God’s pattern for sex was followed: fewer sexually transmitted diseases, fewer unwed mothers, fewer unwanted pregnancies, fewer abortions, etc. Abstinence is God’s only policy when it comes to sex before marriage. Abstinence saves lives, protects babies, gives sexual relations the proper value, and most importantly honors God. [GotQuestions.org]

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I like to start with Solomon’s Song, because it celebrates the whole package of the relationship — initial attraction, exciting emotions, longing, and sexual intimacy — and it connects all of this to the proper context or timing, when “it pleases,” a timing that is marked by public approval of the relationship, highlighted by a wedding (chapter 3). The whole relationship, including the celebration of the sexual aspects, takes place within the context of community approval — no, more than approval — rejoicing.
    I ask these young, unmarried singles, does the community — your friends, family, church — celebrate your private, sexual liaisons? When it appears that a pregnancy might result, is there rejoicing? No, of course not. Why not? The timing is wrong. The context is wrong. A private affair is being forced out into the public and is clouded by shame. You’ve “aroused love before its time.” [Boundless Webzine]

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Reason #2 – We Won’t Miss Out on the Blessing of the Wedding Night

    There’s something very special about a couple’s first time. In this physical act the two become one flesh. Yet it is more than just physical oneness — a spiritual union takes place. God planned for this exclusive experience of discovery and pleasure to happen only within the intimacy of marriage. If we don’t wait, we miss out on a very special blessing from God. 1 Corinthians 6:16
    Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.”

    Reason #5 – We Will Be Emotionally Healthier

    One reason God tells us to honor marriage and keep the marriage bed pure has to do with baggage. We carry baggage into our sexual relationships. Memories from the past, emotional scars and unwanted mental images can defile our thoughts and make the marriage bed less than pure. Certainly God can forgive the past, but that doesn’t mean we’re free from the baggage that can linger in our minds. Hebrews 13:4
    Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral

    Reason #7 – Waiting is a Test of True Love

    Love is patient. That’s about as simple as it gets. We can learn the sincerity of our partner’s love by their willingness, or lack thereof, to wait. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking … [Christianity.About.Com — knowing that you may not respect the Bible as authoritative in these matters, I selected three of the ten reasons listed.]
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    …sex outside of marriage is a sin, as the following passage also indicates:

    “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman [or, “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman,” according to the NIV footnote]. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:1-2, KJV)

    In the above passage, notice that Paul had a very specific reason why people should get married: “to avoid fornication.” Here is what the English word “fornication” means:

    * “to have sex with someone who you are not married to” (Freesearch Dictionary Offsite Link)

    * “Fornication: Sexual intercourse that is “illicit”, outside of marriage.” (Medical Dictionary Offsite Link)

    * “fornication n. sexual intercourse between a man and woman who are not married to each other.” (Law Dictionary Offsite Link)

    * “consensual sexual intercourse between two persons not married to each other” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary Offsite Link) [LayHands.Com]

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    In many ways, I find the last entry most compelling because it links to some non-Biblical sources for clarity as to the word meaning.

    On your other point, the style, tone, content, personal messages, parallel passages, etc. all leave me satisfied of that what we refer to as Paul’s epistles have a singular authorship. Romans is different from the others in many respects but better reflects the education that Paul had attained. The authorship of Hebrews is unknown, therefore shouldn’t be included in a discussion of the Pauline epistles.

    I think perhaps you’ve been influenced by writers such as Spong, Borg, Harpur, etc., who have sought to somewhat undermine scriptural authority by questioning authorship.

    Remember, if you can establish doubt, then you don’t have to believe it. If you don’t believe it, then you don’t have to live within its teachings. Putting everything into question gives you a nice “out.”

    Most people are not that advanced in their deconstruction of scripture. They simply question the idea of a global flood and a boat full of animals, and leave it at that; walking away from anything else the Bible has to say about anything that might affect their lifestyle.

    Comment by Paul Wilkinson — November 10, 2008 @ 12:49 pm

  8. All that’s wonderful and all, but again it’s not specified sins. As for trying to “undermine” the Bible by asking legitimate questions about its authorship, it’s a different discussion altogether. What I was referring to was the fact that the New Testament of the Bible is loaded with the opinions of its authors instead of legalese canon like Leviticus for instance.

    Scriptural authority is like money’s power to buy things. We say it’s true, therefore it becomes true to us. If the Bible is claimed to be the word of God, but it was in fact written by religious pundits digesting new ideas at the time, how would it still be the word of God? Being written by humans doesn’t mean the Bible is somehow bad, but it’s just an honest admission of the historical facts.

    If you want to live by it, great. But if others don’t, that’s their business.

    Comment by gfish — November 10, 2008 @ 2:29 pm


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