Thursday, March 6, 2014

Red Herring

As I began this post, I realized that I do not know the origin of the term "red herring". I shall detour to wikipedia, then return to finish this.

Ok. I'm better informed now and may continue without distraction. The subject of my writing today is PORN. By that I mean primarily images of nude women or images of people engaging in sex. There are pornographic magazines and, of course, the now ever ubiquitous internet porn.

It is my assertion (although I didn't come up with this on my own, my genius husband pointed it out to me)that someone, perhaps Satan, is using the issue of men (primarily, although not exclusively)viewing pornography to throw us off the trail of identifying other harmful and sinful habits and practices within the church.

For example, instead of focusing on the lusting going on within the congregation, and instead of being concerned about women clothed immodestly, we will just harp on pornography every week so we can sit smugly in our pews and say, "Well, at least I'm not doing that!"

In the American church today, a person would be tempted to think, based on the number of websites dedicated to eradicating it, that "viewing pornography" was the worst sin mentioned in the Bible, instead of one of many. Oh wait, it isn't mentioned at all.

What do we mean, anyway, when we say that a man is using porn or has a problem with porn? What is he actually DOING? Basically he is looking at naked women to whom he is not married. Is that sin? Is it always a sin to look at a nude woman who is not one's wife? What about doctors and other medical personnel? Don't they do the same act?

For a moment, let us turn our attention to Scripture. Matthew 5:28 says,

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

That is the verse most frequently given for why men should not view pornographic images. What I noticed about the verse is that it does not say anything about a nude woman. As a matter of fact, it is likely that Jesus was referring to a woman who was fully clothed. But it really doesn't matter, because the sin is not in the looking, it is in the lusting. It is a sin that happens within the heart of the man doing the looking. It is not what he sees or whom he sees that makes him a sinner, it is what he thinks about what he is seeing.

So, we don't condemn the doctor for looking at the nude woman because we assume he isn't lusting. Of course, we don't know his heart. And we don't condemn the man who uses the internet for reading the news, because we assume that he isn't looking at the female newscasters in order to lust after them. Again, we don't know his heart. But when a man is viewing pornographic images, we assume that he is looking at them in order to lust after them because there is really no other reason to be viewing them. Yes, yes, I know, some men read Playboy magazine for the articles.

To return to my original point, why do we focus so much on the object of a man's lust, rather than on the sin itself? Why is it so hideous for a man to lust after a nude woman and not such a big deal for him to lust after the youth pastor's wife? Of course they are both equally sinful. Although, in reality, lusting after women that are in one's acquaintance is much more likely to result in adultery, the destruction of marriages and the destruction of churches. Lusting after a woman whom one does not know and with whom one has no contact is not likely to evolve past lusting.

Again, why then the focus on porn? Simply because it reveals the sin. The man was a lustful sort before he dialed up those images. But we didn't know it because he can lust secretly. Thus, the devil would have us pour out our wrath on the man caught in his lust so that he (the devil) can continue his evil work in the lives of the women and men who don't have their sinful hearts on display.

All the psycho-babble about viewing pornography leading to more and more debauchery and to serious crimes like murder is just another means Satan uses to steer us away from much that is evil in ourselves. We do what God does not, which is to make one sin, like lusting, worse than all others. Or to say that lusting after nudes is more wicked than lusting after the clothed, which the Bible also does not say.

I don't condone viewing pornographic images. I'll come right out and say that I think men shouldn't do it. But I won't say things about it that the Bible doesn't say and then try to attach some superior holiness to my condemnation.

No comments: