Wednesday, September 26, 2007

No Greater Harm

Edit: It has come to my attention that Michael (not Debi) wrote this article. The original letter was address to Debi, and I mistakenly assumed. My apologies. Please make note of this error as you read my post. However, since they are "one" there is much difference between the two.

My sister sent me an article. She said that she and her husband "really like" it and thought it would be a good resource for the book I'm writing. I really like it when people send me material to consider. It pushes me to think and re-evaluate my ideas. However, the ideas presented in this article are on par with the statements I felt the need to rebut in my "Flirting with Sexual Jerks" post, and so I feel the need to respond.

This article comes from a "ministry" named "No Greater Joy". My wife has read another of Debi's works and really liked it. So, I guess this goes to show that one must be very careful when representing Christ because, obviously, we all get it wrong from time to time. That being said, I pray that I will share "the mind of Christ" [1 Corinthians 2:16] and not spread more harm.

Please feel free to read the entire article before wading into my tirade.

Good. Moving on.

I will overlook the issues with the original note for now. The biggest problem I have with it is that the husband is not (according to him) looking at porn. So, why does everyone treat him as if he is? Oh sure, his TV use seems high, but the reason he's sleeping in his shop is probably because he isn't "getting any" (her words: "join myself to him") so why in the world would he want to sleep in the same bed? In short, she is not helping the situation; in fact, she is perpetuating the problem and driving her husband to porn.

How?

Well, the basic problem of pornography is not sex, or sex drive, or anything like that. Rather, it is linked to your relationships. If your relationship with your wife is cruddy, then why would you go to her for sex or anything at all for that matter? You wouldn't. And if she is demonizing you as a "porno-freak" and "pervert" then there is no way you'd go near her. I'm reminded of the passage: "God's kindness leads you toward repentance" [Romans 2:4]. Grace and mercy are much more effective at brining people to Christ, probably because that is what He was all about.


Debi talks about "husbands [who] are secretly following porn queens". Sure, there are certain girls (Camilla Belle is my current obsession) whom I "follow", but "porn queens"? I don't think my issues with porn are that different from other Christian guys. I know that many guys who have abandoned themselves to porn may latch on to certain "porn queens"... but, that doesn't fit with my experience. I don't like porn queens. I'm not interested in porn queens. I never have been. There is one "babe" whom I think is beautiful, but that's about as far as that goes (that being the header of my book's blog).


"At one large meeting of several thousand 'Christian' men, over 50% of those present confessed to having 'used pornography' in the previous seven days." The fact that she puts "Christian" in quotes shows her damnation of these men. I am sick of people who claim that because you sin you are not saved. That kind of thinking runs counter to the Good News (and it really is good news) that we are sinners saved by Grace alone. Do we then have license to do whatever we want? Of course not, but that doesn't change that fact that at its heart Christianity is about sinners. Romans 6 talks a lot about no longer being slaves to sin, but by becoming "slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life." When we turn our lives over to God holiness is the result, not the aim. We get there by a proper understanding of God's love for us, and this process is life-long.

"If you isolate yourself in a room and indulge in pornography, you are not sick; you are evil." As I know, and I throw myself on God's grace. ...I'm sure that if you took a moment to consider your life, motives, and thoughts, you'd come to the same conclusion.

"You are part of a disgusting group of perverts, all piled onto the same image together. And somewhere there is a sexually dysfunctional editor enjoying the extent of his erotic powers." Now I like what Jason said once: How is liking girls perverted? Beyond this, from what I know of porn producers (granted, I only know one) they are doing what they can do make a buck, not reveling in their "erotic powers".

"You are not oversexed. You are not even sexed. You are alone." And here Debi gets as close as she is going to in the article to the truth about pornography: It's not about sex. Unfortunately, she disregards the fact she just pointed out and says that pornography is about sex. It's not about sex. It's about a lack in relationships. It's about being/feeling alone.

"Adam fell, but you are falling even further. You are plunging your soul into eternal destruction, moving as far away from God as you can get." This statement is ludicrous. How does she even begin to rationalize depths of "falleness"? It's about as binary as you can get. In fact, we start out damned and then have the option of being saved by God's grace... there isn't any plunging involved at all. Dead in sin, or alive in Christ [Romans 8]. Odd; why does this article make me feel like I have to go back to the "Roman Road to Salvation"? I see that my Blog Title is well chosen: There isn't much greater harm than messing up the Gospel.

"You justify your addiction"... no I don't. Porn is a problem. It's bad, destructive and not good. But how about offering a solution and talking about what's really going on instead of just liberally handing out "Get Into Hell Free" cards?

"You are having communion with the devil – bowing in worship of the flesh. You are a disciple of evil." Ouch. I wouldn't go that far, unless you want to apply that brand to every sin... which you don't, or you would have said something like: "You also are a disciple of evil who desperately needs God's grace too." Hmm... let me say that: Debi (and my sister, and you who are reading this): You also are a disciple of evil who desperately needs God's grace too.

"You have taken the downhill slide into Hell, and there is absolutely nothing to stop you except your willingness to apply the brakes." Again: Lunacy. Sin is always an issue of will, and we need God's grace and power to intervene. My desire to be good does nothing for me. C.S. Lewis in "The Screwtape Letters" demonstrated this well. Do we have a part to play? Absolutely. Repentance is an act we do. But to get off the path to Hell requires God's intervention. As with most things on this subject, Debi resorts to sensationalistic verbiage to try to make her statements more meaningful.

"There comes a point when any attempt at a normal relationship is nothing more than assisted masturbation. Your world grows ever smaller until you are alone with your semen. You stink of self. You do not deserve a woman." This is very true, but why? Because pornography is at heart about relationships, not sex. So, relationships are damaged by porn, and porn is reinforced by bad relationships. As for "deserving" of a companion... who would dare to say they "deserve" a spouse? If you dare, you have serious pride issues and a completely unrealistic view of self. The only way we "deserve" anything is as adopted children of God, which would make Him get the glory, not you.

"Don’t tell me that pornography is a substitute for a good woman." I wouldn't dream of it. Pornography is not about substituting sex, it's about substituting relationships in the "male" way. Read Dr. Sax's "Why Gender Matters". And then consider the actions taken in the letter that spawned the article. Again, telling your husband you won't have sex with him because he looks at porn will just push him toward pornography (thankfully, Debi does not condone this). If you refuse to have a relationship with him, he will gladly find that relationship somewhere else.

"[T]he drive for pornography is a cultivated, perverted passion that has nothing to do with love and marriage." I agree it has nothing to do with love and marriage, but it wasn't something that I cultivated. It is a twisting of perfection via my fallen human state, but "perverted passion"? If by "perverted" you mean "not ideal"... okay, but "perverted" has many negative connotations that I think are merely here for sensationalism (the line "If sodomy is sin, pornography is its 'significant other' " would indicate that I'm right).

"The children of godly parents are protected from unclean spirits by being under their moral umbrella. But when a father gives his mind over to wicked lusts, he removes the hedge of protection around his family and invites impure devils into his home. ...Any prayers you pray for their safety are negated the moment you open the pages of a pornographic book or glare at an electronic image." ...I agree that there are spiritual strongholds and physical locations of demonic activity. I even agree that engaging in certain sins opens the door evil spirits. However, the protection we have is from God, not our "moral umbrella". Where is Christ's Blood in this woman's writing? The lack of Christ indicates to me that she has lost sight of salvation and is now resting on "personal holiness"... may I never get there: Son of David have mercy on me and my family!

"If you think you can indulge in pornography and still be a Christian, you are blindly hoping against the clear statements of Scripture. ...You are dangling your soul and the souls of your children over the fires of eternal damnation." While it is true that sin is what we need saving from through Christ's Blood, I would challenge everyone to read Galatians 5:22-26: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other." I fear that there is much conceit and a significant lack of "fruit" from the article. And so I would suggest that we all "continue to work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling" [Philippians 2:12].

"I have not been as hard on you as God will be in the day of judgment." That is up to God and my relationship with Christ. It has little to do with my sin, and nothing to do with you. But here, for the first time, Debi begins to talk sense. She starts to mention turning our lives over to Christ. That's good.

"I have done you a service by increasing your guilt... The good news is that Jesus Christ ...died the death you should die. If you repent toward God, God will remove the guilt and free you from sin’s power." I think guilt is entirely Satanic, which is why God removes it. So, I think it is sinful to go about "increasing" the guilt of others. And, while the rest of what Debi says is true, it ultimately lacks the point: "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" [Romans 5:8. She also does not delve into the much more important detail of how God frees us from sin's power, what it means to be a "new creation", and how we walk blamelessly. She just assumes that you automatically do so. This is not at all the case, and, since I buy into Inaugurated Eschatology, it won't be fully here on earth.

"Your children, your wife, and your God are waiting." If God is waiting, you're toast. God isn't waiting; He's very much active. He didn't just send Christ to die and now is sitting back waiting to see who responds.


"How do you joyfully participate in your nuptial duties when you know that you are simply a receptacle for the eroticism stirred up by his vice? I have to admit that it stretches the limits of my faith to tell you that your duty remains the same." I find that sad. If Debi understood pornography (it's not rooted in sex), then she would tell wives to seek ever closer relationships with their husbands, not merely keep doing their "duty".

"You can wrestle with it for years and never get any relief, but once you learn your lessons in faith and trust, God can work the miracle of deliverance." I believe this is also true for those who struggle with pornography.

"God can and will work to defend you and the children if you will truly commit it all to him and perform your duties cheerfully." I don't know how Debi feels she can say this. This is clearly not true, and the "hope" she can offer women who are not defended by God is that they were not "truly" committed to Him.

"[Tell your kids that] you are grieved that [your husband] is going to hell for the lack of Christ in his life." Well, she damned me. Impressive. If my salvation is bound to my holiness, I'm damned. If my salvation rests in Christ then I have hope. I prefer to live with hope. I am still curious about what Debi has to say about her own sin....

"Cantankerous wives can provoke their husbands to all kinds of anger and bitterness" and porn use. "But let me be clear, a lousy wife – a lousy sex partner – is not responsible for a husband turning to pornography." Responsible? No, we are responsible for our sin. But that does not change the fact that a bad relationship fuels porn.

"Finally, there is hope. Put it in God’s hands and wait patiently. Others have seen the victory. You can too." Finally. Wish she had painted a picture for how guys can do this with the damning sin--heh, all sin is damning [Romans 6:23]--of pornography.

Do I have the answer to porn? No, but I'm working on it. And a posture toward God, even mired in sin, is something that Debi never considered. Let me assure you: God can make the foulest clean.

May He turn His face toward you.

~Luke Holzmann

3 comments:

Songbird said...

Great rubuttal. I just found you guys on Boundless. I think your perspective on sexuality is so needed. If you are interested, you can read this article (which I agree with) on boundless: http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001679.cfm. However, as much as I like your points, how you do it is no better than most of the way most Americans argue: uplifting something by degrading something else. In this case, it is holiness and rules; legalism is huge problem, not allowing flexibility but bashing holiness and people for desiring holiness is just as bad as not showing grace to the 'weaker' brother. From your writings, you seemed to disregard the desire for holiness and sexual purity. I mean, what is your stance on pre-martial sex, co-habitation, adultery, sexual objectification and sexual purity. I'm sorry that I'm being like this and being this annoying but some of your points raised a concern for me just as much as the legalistic view of purity and sexuality that is being spit out.

Also, what about those who have sex addicts? I want to see you going about this issue as well. Here a link to look at a real life person who had once been married to a sex addict and a serial adulterer (http://elasah.com/Ame/?cat=56). There are such these as sex addicts and regardless of how got to be one or how few they are, that is no excuse for anyone to commit adultery and to dishonor oneself and his or her spouse by using sex and beauty as a means for manipulation and control.

Songbird said...

Here is another link of the same woman

http://amexpression.blogspot.com/2006/06/opened-and-laid-bare.html

Luke said...

Songbird,

Thanks so much for your feedback. We greatly appreciate everyone who takes the time to seriously consider what we say and critique our thinking.

Allow me to apologize for how my post "sounds" in "No Greater Harm". What I was responding to (the ideas of Michael Pearl) really disturbed and angered me. Whenever I think back it still pains me. In all seriousness, I will probably never get over it; that much truth with those subtle twists and lies is so damaging...

However, you are correct, and I have grown a lot since September. I should have approached the issue with more love and grace. I should have been more uplifting instead of just tearing down his ideas.


But my personal response to Mr. Pearl is not our book. Our prayer is that our book does not degrade others in our attempt to demonstrate the truth. We do our best to show the error of ideas and mindsets, and try to avoid pointing fingers.

Our problem is not with holiness, or even the desire for Godly holiness. Rather, our problem is with the fundamental pride and human destruction that comes when people seek to make themselves appear holy. In this next draft of our book, we hope to address that more clearly.

My stance of pre-marital sex is that it is a sin and, like all sin, should not be done. Same with adultery and other sexual sins. Sexual purity should be a desire of one's heart, and should be pursued. But, we tend to approach it the wrong way and so end up causing problems instead of blessing one another.

Co-habitation of boyfriends and girlfriends should also be avoided. However, as I've written about elsewhere, my wife and I had a girl living with us without issue. So, I just want to make it clear that these issues have far more to them than the black and white of my youth.

Hopefully our book will better demonstrate our complete thoughts about sexual purity, honoring women, and relationships than I can do in a few paragraphs on the internet.

As for sex addicts: That issue is beyond the scope of our book. My personal feeling is that with the grace of God and the love and support of those around them, they would turn around ("Touch the Sexual Sinner"). I pray the same for me in my own life and sins.

There really is never any excuse for any of our sins, but we still do them. Our prayer is that by rethinking how we approach the issues of lust we will be able to build one another up. Using sex and beauty for manipulation is wrong, and so we must seek ways to use the gifts God has given us to bless those around us.

We pray that is what we may do both in what we write here on the internet and in our book.

Thanks again for your response, Songbird. May God continue to bless you so you may be a blessing to others.

~Luke