The Five of Us, Spring 2014

The Five of Us, Spring 2014

The Pornography of Women

(Note: I do have piles of adorable Christmas pictures, complete with a Grandpa-assisted snowman, to post for you, but I’ve gotta get ‘em uploaded or downloaded or sideloaded or whatever onto the computer first. Your patience is appreciated!)

If you've been here awhile, you might recall that I was a campus pastor in my former life and had an opportunity to preach now and then. It was something I really enjoyed and though I no longer have that kind of role, a sermon "hits" me every once in a while. And, as you've probably guessed by now, this is one of those times. This one is so sadly lacking in Scripture that it probably doesn't actually qualify for the appellation "sermon," but for lack of a better word... Anyway, if you're up to it, read on. If not, mosey on along and I'll never know you were or weren't here! :) I promise that I won't pop quiz you!

This summer, Aaron and I read an intriguing series of books about men's sexuality and why pornography and lust are seemingly universal struggles for them (the Every Man's Battle Series by Arterburn and Stoeker; I blogged a bit about it here). It was an eye-opening experience to read and discuss these books with the love of my life. I still think about the concepts they introduced frequently. As we were reading the books, a questioned gnawed at me: "What's the pornography of women?" If the make-up of men means they are almost universally vulnerable to the sins of lust and pornography, certainly the make-up women makes them especially vulnerable to a particular sin or sin-set also. But, nothing leaped out at me. In fact, I had almost forgotten the question. But, due to recent events in my life and around me, I think I have stumbled upon "the pornography of women." (And at this point, I am compelled to say that this sermon is not pointed at any individual or even individuals--in fact, I hesitated to "blog" it because I didn't want anyone to feel targeted. I do want to get my thoughts on this organized and "out there," however, which is why I am going ahead with the blog. Again, you can move along at any time.)

I believe the sin of gossip is women's parallel to the sin of men's porn. Though it does not carry the stigma that porn does, it is very similar in many ways. Now, I'm no expert on porn or male-ness, and most of what I'll say on the topic comes from the "Every Man" books and the discussions Aaron and I had about them, so I apologize in advance for my paltry knowledge of these topics and for anything I might say that casts men in an unfairly negative light.

The issue of pornography is one of false intimacy. Men’s primary language of intimacy is sex. They renew their most intimate relationship through sex. And, in turn, their sex drive reminds them of their need for intimacy. Now, it’s much easier to fake “intimacy” with an image on a page or screen that has no needs, requires nothing from you, and seems to be there simply for your pleasure than it is to achieve real intimacy with a real woman who has real needs of her own (not to mention faults, responsibilities, limitations, wounds, etc.). Trouble is, the “intimacy” offered by porn is not fulfilling because it’s not real. It’s kinda like a hollow chocolate Easter bunny—it looks and smells like the real thing, but, really, the minute you pick it up, you know something’s missing. If you bite into it, you’re sorely disappointed. It doesn’t satisfy. It’s not enough. It’s not the real thing. The hollow bunny costs less initially, but it offers only a shell of what the solid milk chocolate bunny can provide. And, the hollow bunny costs more in other ways, just as porn costs men more in the long run than doing the work to achieve real intimacy with a real woman.

It’s similar for women and gossip. Women’s intimacy needs are a little different than men’s, however. An old friend of mine used to say, “Men need women and women need women.” In other words, a man typically can get his need for intimacy fulfilled through one dynamic relationship with a woman, his wife. But, women need many dynamic relationships, including both their husbands and their girlfriends. And, our intimacy differs from men’s in its expression. Women’s primary language of intimacy is, well, language. Sharing our experiences, feelings, thoughts, and opinions through our words is how we renew intimacy. Gossip, though, is a false intimacy in the same way that porn is. It takes the natural and positive need for friendship and turns it all ugly and empty. Just as it is easier for a man to try to soothe his need with porn, it is easier for women to try to ease the pressure of their need for intimacy with gossip. Rather than a true intimacy that is focused on delighting in and fostering the growth of the other sister, gossip takes our focus outward to someone else. In true friendship, we enjoy each other. When we are enmeshed in gossip, our delight is in the failures and shortcomings of someone else “outside.” When we are truly intimate with a sister, we endeavor to bring out the best in that person. However, when gossip takes the reigns, we find ourselves looking for the worst in others.

True intimacy has face-to-face as well as side-by-side components. Face-to-face we reveal ourselves to each other. We open ourselves. We see each other; we gaze into each other’s souls and admire what we find there (and if we are the truest kind of intimates, we lovingly apply grace and truth to the parts we cannot admire). As intimates, we also find ourselves standing beside one other, lending support and aid, championing a common cause, and occasionally fighting a common foe (which, in the case of Christians, is necessarily a spiritual enemy—in fact, the Enemy).

The false intimacy of gossip precludes the face-to-face element of true intimacy by focusing attention inappropriately at another person and robs the side-by-side element of its strength by corrupting what was meant for good into something evil (i.e., the sensationalism of another’s faults). While this may be construed by those who are enmeshed in the sin of gossip as being the same thing as true intimates fighting a common foe, it is as empty and unfulfilling as substituting pornography for truly intimate sex. Gossip is a cheap substitute for true and fulfilling friendship in the same way that a hollow chocolate bunny is a lousy stand-in for solid milk chocolate one.

A man is destroyed from within by the sin of porn. His need for intimacy is genuine. When it goes unmet, there are consequences. Like a vitamin deficiency causes the body to eat away at itself, an intimacy deficiency coupled with guilt and shame cause the soul and spirit of a man to wear down. Likewise, the sin of gossip tears down the interior of a woman. A consistent focus on the negative damages the positive things deposited in her soul and spirit. And, a lack of true, solid intimacy compounds the damage.

Many people have said that the strength of a man is his woman. What they are saying is that the one person in a man’s life who holds the most power to encourage or discourage him, to build him up or tear him down, to aid in his success or cause his demise, is his most intimate relationship—his wife. And, where does the sin of pornography and lust hit a man the hardest? Obviously, in his marriage. Satan’s deepest delight is to drive a wedge between a person and Jesus. Next, though, he wants to destroy this primary human relationship. The intimacy between man and wife is powerful enough to be used as an image of the relationship between Christ and the Church. It is hugely significant on a personal level to the man and woman sharing the relationship, but it is also significant to the watching world. Pornography destroys the man and it simultaneously devastates his most important human relationship—in fact, the relationship with the most power to aid in his restoration.

Again, the same concepts are reflected in the destructive nature of gossip. A woman’s support structure crumbles under the weight of gossip. Her true friendships are corroded by negativity while her “hollow bunny” friendships have no solid core.

Pornography takes humanity’s greatest creative power (the creation of a new human being through the partnership of man and woman) and twists it into something that completely nullifies that creative power and replaces it with something destructive. It almost turns my stomach to reflect on the depravity of this. God created sex for the intimacy I’ve already mentioned and for the procreation of humanity. We bear God’s image as we lend our bodies to participate in his creation of another person. This is beatific to contemplate. But the glory and exultation of this thought is paralleled by the horror and repulsiveness that evil can twist man’s desire for sex and intimacy to this kind of evil.

And, again, we see the same thing happening when the sin of gossip takes over. Words are incredibly powerful. In fact, God spoke the world into existence and calls his son the Living Word. God used words to create everything in this world and beyond. Yet, the very same thing that brought beauty and life can also be twisted and used to bring destruction and death. Again, the wickedness of this paradox crushes me. How can that which holds the power of life be so twisted as to also hold the power of death?

Perhaps this sounds overly dramatic for neither porn nor gossip ever literally caused bodily death. But, porn has caused the death of countless marriages. It has caused a death of potential and hopes and dreams. It has killed families and churches. It has caused emotional and spiritual death, and the ripples of consequences of even one man’s indulgence in this sin are widespread. It is no plaything, no “light” sin, no “I’m not hurting anyone” private pleasure. Nor is gossip which has caused the death of friendships. It has caused the death of reputations. It too has caused the death of potential and hopes and dreams. It too has killed churches and divided families. And, gossip has caused emotional and spiritual death. The ripples of the consequences of even one woman’s indulgence in the sin of gossip are so widespread she cannot even predict the death her words will cause.

Gossip doesn’t have the stigma of porn, nor has it yet caught the attention of the church, but I believe it is as widespread as porn is being revealed to be and I believe it is as destructive. Just as it is easy for men to slip into and become addicted to lust and pornography, it is so easy for us women to succumb to gossip by degrees until we are ensnared. Just as men must be vigilant about what they allow their eyes to see, we must be on our guard about what we allow our tongues to speak. We all, men and women, must be so careful about what we allow our minds to dwell upon, "for out of the heart the mouth speaks." (Mat. 12.34)


**************
The context of the above verse is apropos, so I've included it below. Mat. 12:33-37

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 35 “The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. 36 “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37 “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

9 comments:

Kait said...

I'm a lurker but I'll come out of the shadows (Hi! *waves*) long enough to tell you I think this was brilliant. I found it to be almost horrifyingly true in my life. What better way to get in good with someone than to gossip or down talk another person? It's a sense of false camaraderie. Even when you don't intend to do it, it's easy to get sucked in.
Again, I think this was a wonderful "sermon".

Stefanie said...

I totally agree with you on this and wow is it hard not to get 'sucked' in. Thanks - I enjoyed reading this!

Stefanie

Tanya said...

AMEN!!!!!! Tanya

Ericka said...

Wow, have to come out of lurkdom to respond to this.
Thank you for posting this. I agree with many, many points in your post.
Wonderful info....

Blu and Darbi said...

Great blog Rachel....so much of it really spoke to me! I have one of my youth that I love but I have a hard time getting her to open up to me, and I didn't even REALIZE until I read your blog, that I often use "harmless" gossip to break the ice and get her talking! Shame on me!

Love ya,
Darbi

Anonymous said...

Wow...this was very insightful. Thank you for sharing this.

-Melodie

Tarah said...

Rae,
I love you! This is wonderful. I wish you would write a book about all the things you think about.
(((( hugs))))
I have been thinking of you LOTS. I will e-mail tomorrow, or call you! :)

From Five to Eight said...

Can I just comment on the diarrhea part? (I guess gossip is diarrhea of the mouth as well)

My husband has a similar story when he was a young lad about his dad...a gas station and underwear. Sorry...but I thought this was way to funny! :)
Teresa

Steven Reames said...

OK - here's a guy comment. As a corollary I would add that the long term emotional investment into the fictional lives of people on television or in books is also the pornography of women. Whether it is E.R. Grays Anatomy, Dallas or As the World Turns, all of these long running programs revolve around the social aspect of the characters lives that make it a show "you just can't miss." Even with a show like Lost which has a much more mysterious element, it is the ongoing "social gossip" of the characters that keep people interested in the show - and hey, let's face it, that's what women really enjoy about these shows - even if the setting (an island, an E.R., a small town) that the gossipy behavior is portrayed in is also interesting. Just my thoughts.

My Man and Me

My Man and Me
married 7/7/2001

Punk

Punk
ours through biology, born 7/25/2004, home 8/1/2004

Pea

Pea
ours through adoption from Liberia, West Africa, born 7/15/2005, home 10/25/2007

Pup

Pup
ours through domestic adoption, born 1/15/2011, home 2/10/2011, final 8/3/2011

Talk To Me

I blog for myself and my kids and I would do it even if no one else cared, but I do like to hear from you (and think it's a wee bit creepy of you to voyeurize us without my knowing it). So, please leave a comment from time to time, or email me anytime at xawilsons@hotmail.com. Much obliged, I'm sure.

Get Free Stuff!

Search & Win

Where You're From

Stalkers, Caught Red-Handed!

Round Two Timeline

  • 9/24/08 Home study update home visit for Ghana adoption
  • 10/15/08 Dossier sent to AOHG
  • 10/15/08 I600A application sent to USCIS
  • 10/30/08 First heard about possible domestic private adoption
  • 11/18/08 Last spoke with contact about possible domestic adoption; expected to hear back about meeting with birthmother
  • 12/3/08 Withdrew application from AOHG
  • 1/6/09 Found out another family had been chosen for possible domestic adoption
  • 1/21/09 USCIS fingerprinting appointment
  • 1/8/09 Received USCIS fingerprinting appointment notice
  • 4/11/09 Sent Pre-Application to Covenant Care Adoptions for Domestic Infant Adoption program
  • 6/8/09 Social worker visit to update home study from International to Domestic
  • 7/24/09 Received completed home study update
  • 8/25/09 Went "on the list" for birthfamilies to choose from
  • 4/28/10 Found out a birth mom had chosen us
  • 5/8/10 Met the birth mom
  • 5/11/10 Got the call that birth mom changed her mind
  • 5/19/10 Birth mom's scheduled c-section
  • 11/30/10 Visit from DSS sw about foster parenting
  • 11/30/10 Got the call that another birth mom had chosen us
  • 12/21/10 Met with the birth mom
  • 1/15/11 @1:42 PM BB was born!
  • 1/19/11 ICPC (interstate) paperwork sent to GA for approval
  • 1/31/11 ICPC Clearance Approved
  • 2/10/11 Placement Ceremony and Pup comes home!!!!
  • 8/3/11 It's Official! Pup's Adoption Decree was issued