STUDY FOUR: CONTEMPORARY SEXUAL CHALLENGES
Rosemary Bardsley 2009,2014
In this study we are looking at several aspects of our culture which make it difficult for Christians to live by God’s standards for sex and to apply the two foundational principles of respect for the human being and sexual purity. As well as these two principles, the four principles looked at in Studies One and Two also apply to our sexual decisions and are in conflict with current cultural perspectives
A. THE NORMALIZATION OF SEX WITHOUT BOUNDARIES
As indicated in the previous study biblical and traditional sexual boundaries have been removed by our society. Sex outside of marriage is considered ‘normal’; sexual experimentation is considered ‘normal’; homosexual actions are increasingly considered ‘normal’. This normality of sex with constantly diminishing boundaries puts the Christian in a ‘sore toe’ situation: virginity is rare beyond early teenage; faithfulness to one’s spouse is rare; sexual purity is even rarer. In their quest for sexual purity and for conformity to God’s sexual standards Christians are in an extreme minority, and have to fight against the strong current of the overt and explicit presence of sex, and of sexual sin, in society generally and in all forms of media.
The following quotes are from a presentation by Albert Mohler, previously available on the Australian Christian Lobby website:
‘The pervasive plague of pornography represents one of the greatest moral challenges faced by the Christian church in the postmodern age. With eroticism woven into the very heart of the culture, celebrated in its entertainment, and advertised as a commodity, it is virtually impossible to escape the pervasive influence of pornography in our culture and in our lives…
Two distinctions mark the present age from previous eras. First, pornography has been so mainstreamed through advertising, commercial images, entertainment and everyday life, that what would have been illegal just a few decades ago is now taken as common dress, common entertainment and unremarkable sensuality. Second, explicit eroticism--complete with pornographic images, narrative and symbolism--is now celebrated as a cultural good in some sectors of the society.’
This section will focus on a few specific contemporary challenges.
A.1 Fighting the wildfire – the challenge of pornography
The issue of pornography can no longer be ignored. Consider the following statistics:
Sourced from http://www.blazinggrace.org/cms/bg/pornstats :
17% of all women struggle with porn addiction
70% of men are involved in porn
70% of Christians admit to struggling with porn
39% of adults believe there is nothing wrong with porn
64% of Christian leaders questioned in one survey confirm they are struggling with sexual addiction
Every second - 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography
Pornography revenue statistics rank Australia fifth in the world by country, and fourth per capita
There are 4.2 million pornographic websites
25% of internet search requests are for pornographic content
47% of Christians say pornography is a major problem in the home
Of those visiting pornographic sites 28% are female, 72% male.
Complete Task #1 on the Study Four Worksheet now.
The following web pages provide helpful material or products:
[Note: I have not checked out everything these pages teach. What I have looked at appears to provide sound advice based on the Bible, but I cannot guarantee that everything that is said does so.]
http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/articles/teen_booklets.aspx [this list contains two downloadable booklets re porn and other internet sex-traps; written for young guys and girls]
http://www.settingcaptivesfree.com/courses/way-of-purity/ [provides a free 6-week on-line course]
http://www.citizenlink.com/analysis/sexuality/pornography-obscenity/ [a Focus on Family website]
www.blazinggrace.org [heaps of written material to assist those trapped by porn, and their spouse]
http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/index.html [top 10 internet filters available for sale]
http://www1.k9webprotection.com/ [a free content filter is available here]
http://www.covenanteyes.com/ [accountability software]
A.2 Recognizing and resisting other internet-based sexual dangers
As well as pornography there are other internet-based sexual challenges:
- On-line dating: ‘adult dating’ is ranked second after ‘sex’ in frequency of internet search requests, spread evenly over all age groups; 64% came from females; can be a source of infidelity.
- Chat rooms – can be a source of sexual temptation and infidelity; twice as many women visit chat rooms as men; chat rooms are a source of solicitation of youth; you can read chat room safety advice here: http://www.chatdanger.com/chat/safetyadvice.aspx
- Social networks – can be a source of sexual temptation and infidelity; recently some social networks have installed programs to minimize the dangers posed by sex predators.
- On-line sex shops – facilitate the purchase of prohibited sex-related materials.
In all of these we need to return to the foundational priorities of God’s glory, God’s kingdom and God’s will, and the priority of the other, all of which ban our involvement in any practice that is contrary to these priorities.
A.3 The question of ‘sexual preference’
The sexual preference of some is themselves: hence the terms ‘self-sex’ and ‘masturbation’.
The sexual preference of others is a person of the same sex: hence the word ‘homosexual’.
The sexual preference of some is multiple partners: hence we hear of ‘group sex’, ‘bigamy’ and ‘polygamy’
The sexual preference of others is family members: hence the term ‘incest’
The sexual preference of others is children: hence the term ‘paedophile’.
The sexual preference of others is animals: hence the term ‘bestiality’.
The sexual preference of others is violence/pain: hence the term ‘sadomasochism’.
Each of these is already being practised. Currently only the first two are accepted by secular society as normal. We will look at these, then make a brief statement about the downward spiralling moral standards that make it almost inevitable that, given time, sufficient lobbying by sexual activists, and community desensitizing by the media, the others will eventually share the same acceptance.
Masturbation. Christian leaders are divided over masturbation. Some see it as relatively harmless except under a limited range of conditions [mostly relating to its impact on the individual]; others see it as contrary to God’s plan for sex, and destructive to the individual and to the marriage relationship. In his book ‘The Sexual Man’ Dr Archibald Hart reports that 61% of married Christian men masturbate, and that 13% of Christian men believe masturbation is normal. Secular sex-education sees masturbation as normal, even healthy.
Is there any biblical command or principle?
- There is no command stating ‘Thou shalt not masturbate.’
- There is a biblical fact that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and belongs not to ourselves but to God; we should therefore glorify God with our body [1Corinthians 6:19,20].
- There is a biblical principle that the body of the husband belongs to the wife, and vice versa [1Corinthians 7:4].
- In the same chapter is a command not to deprive each other sexually, which potentially happens with masturbation [1Corinthians 7:3,5].
- 1Corinthians 7:8,9, when Paul faces the issue of sexual control for unmarried people, he states ‘it is better to marry than to burn’ not ‘it is better to masturbate than to burn’. Indeed one may probably conclude from this passage that to masturbate actually is to ‘burn’.
- There is the biblical command that we should think on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy [Philippians 4:8] while masturbation at best focuses our mind on our own sexual pleasure and at worst conjures up a great range of forbidden sexual fantasies, which tempt one further on to act out those fantasies in real physical life.
When masturbation ceases to produce consistent sexual pleasure, the strong temptation is to seek the visual stimulation of porn to meet one’s perceived needs, which in turn commonly leads to increased masturbation [one survey reports that 75% of adults masturbate while on-line, and another survey, that 72% use porn to masturbate].
Further, masturbation becomes compulsive and addictive. It is then out of control and has become our master.
John Piper has a sermon ‘Sex and the Single Person’ here: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/1981/280_Sex_and_the_Single_Person/
Here is an excerpt:
‘… do not seek regular sexual gratification through masturbation, that is, the stimulation of your own self to sexual orgasm or climax. Masturbation does not solve sexual pressure for very long, it tends to become habitual, it produces guilt, and it contradicts the God-given design of sexuality. Our bodies and desires were designed for the sexual union of persons, and masturbation contradicts that design. But perhaps worst of all, masturbation is inevitably accompanied and enabled by sexual fantasies in the mind which we would not allow ourselves in reality and so we become like the Pharisees: well scrubbed on the outside, but inside full of perversions.’
Homosexuality. We commonly speak of ‘homosexuality’, but it would be better if we spoke of ‘homosexual acts’ or ‘homosexual relationships’, to focus on the act, rather than the person. A foundational presupposition of the ‘homosexual lobby’ is that ‘homosexuality’ is something that one is born with – that it is not a choice. God, however, includes homosexual actions in several lists of sins and condemns such actions along with other sins [Genesis 19; Leviticus 18:8-24; Romans 1:24-28; 1Corinthians 6:11]. From God’s perspective homosexual actions are things I am tempted to do and then chose to do, things from which I can repent; I can change; I do not have to do these things any more than I have to be unfaithful to my spouse or have sex outside of marriage or have sex with my parent or my child.
The following web pages are instructive:
www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/1998 [there is a two-part sermon by John Piper on the homosexual question titled ‘The Dark Exchange’ Parts 1 & 2 listed in October]
The wedge principle. Only a few decades ago homosexuality was as far from normal as the remaining sexual preferences listed above. Yet now it is accepted as part of our society. The ‘wedge principle’ makes it certain that, short of a miracle, the other sexual preferences listed above will become increasingly accepted as familiarity generated by the media and by increased incidence dulls our sensitivity. There are several indications that incest between consenting adults will be the next step down in our declining moral standards. And, surprisingly, there are already pro-paedophilia lobby groups. Group sex, bigamy and polygamy are also brought to our attention by the media.
What is unthinkable or on the edge today may well be quite thinkable and near the centre tomorrow.
Complete Tasks #2 and #3 in the Study Four Worksheet now.