Besides sex, there is an underlying theme behind pornography, lust, masturbation, and fantasy. Every one of those acts is isolated and self-serving. Disagree? When’s the last time you lusted on behalf of someone else? Odds are the last time you typed in your ‘favorite’ website you were not thinking, “I am going to watch this for my best friend. It will help her.”
Self-centered sex. There’s an oxymoron for you. It’s not so much the oxymoron that’s the issue, it’s the self-centeredness. Pornography is not a bonding experience. Masturbation is not a bonding experience. Lusting and Fantasy are bonding experiences in an untrue reality.
Lust not only destroys our worth, but blinds us to the value of others.
I had dinner with a friend the other night. We have known each other for a few months and she just recently stumbled across Beggar’s Daughter. We sat down in a local Argentine restaurant, downing empanadas and talking about porn. That’s a bonding experience like no other. Something she said completely captured me. I had never really thought of it before.
“I’ve seen porn a few times,” she said, “but when I think about watching it, I realize what I am really doing. What I am doing is choosing to set aside the truth that these people are created in the image of God and loved by God. I’m just using them for me. That’s wrong. That’s sin.”
Setting aside the truth that these people are created in the image of God and loved by God.
That phrase just played over and over again in my mind as we finished our dinner. Maybe I had understood pornography to be that, but I had never really thought of it. Pornography robs me of my humanity, but it also robs me of the ability to treat others as people- loved and cherished by God. They are just sex objects- screen names, bodies, body parts, crushes. They are real people- with hopes, dreams, feelings, desires, and ambitions… but they are not real to me.
It’s no wonder, then, that transitioning out of a lust addiction can be a bit of a culture shock. If you aren’t supposed to use people, then what exactly are you supposed to do with them!? If guys aren’t sex objects or objects of my fantasy, then how am I supposed to act around them?
There are people in the real world- real people- and we can feel ridiculously unprepared for dealing with real people. We might even have a hard time knowing boundaries for different types of relationships, or there might be boundaries there that shouldn’t be.
A little over a year ago, I was going through a time of transition. A couple I love dearly had spent much of the years before helping me grow and heal. They had me over to their home multiple times a week sometimes, and I would be there for hours- talking, crying, growing, healing. It was a beautiful time.
Then, one day, the wife sent me a text. “We would love to go hiking with you some time!” That text, for some reason, crushed me, and I mean crushed. I love hiking, don’t get me wrong. I love everything outdoors. I’m just ultra-compartmentalized. I have close friends and climbing friends and ne’er the twain shall meet. I did not have close friends that I did fun stuff with. My close friends were all chai dates and deep conversation. If I wanted to have fun, I picked shallow more bubbly friends.
I guess, in a way, I was still using people.
That text: “We want to go hiking with you” challenged my little boundaries. These were deep friends that wanted to have fun with me. Is this even possible?! I know it seems insignificant. It’s OK; I’m chuckling right now as I write it, but I can’t change that it is true.
In the months since, I have been on this journey of connecting with people- actual people. It has led to great conversations, some which have been deep, others that have been fun. It has led to ministry and encouragement, to a deeper awareness of the needs of others, and a greater understanding of the love of God.
Love is a risk, and there are times where you might think, “Oh my goodness, it would be so much easier to just __________.” Yes, loving people can hurt, because people are people. They make mistakes; they break promises; they lie; they show up late; they don’t show up at all. But, they are people, and we are called not to be free from our sin and hide in a cave. We are called to love others, just like we love ourselves.
You might say, “But that’s just it, I don’t love myself.” Actually, you do and your struggles are proof of that, but that’s a different post a different time. Let’s say you don’t love yourself. The best cure for not loving yourself is to get a grip on how much God loves you. The best way to do that, is to take a risk and love others. As you learn to forgive their shortcomings, to hear their hearts, to understand their needs, you will begin to understand the love God has for you.
He came for people- not perfect people, not self-righteous people. He came for the broken, the weary, the wounded, the imperfect. He came for people who make mistakes, for people who would spit in His face and reject Him, for people who would deny Him, for people who would betray Him. He came for real people, and if He would give his life for real people, He will more than give you the strength and grace to love real people.