Porn isn’t something you expect to come up in church

Recently Brian and I have started attending church together. I specify *together* because Brian had been going without me. A Catholic and an agnostic Buddhist, we make an interesting pair. I’m not sold on the whole ‘Jesus is my savior’ bit yet, but I can’t help but notice a few common trends among those in my life who I want to be more like. My aunt and her husband have an amazing, long-lasting marriage where they are really in it together (I wrote an earlier post about how beautiful their love is, in fact). I want that. They are also deeply involved in their church. The friends of ours I find myself drawn to the most and who have such positivity and radiating awesomeness tend to be church-goers. I want to be more like them. The kids I tend to like the most actually enjoy going regularly to church. I want my kids to turn out like that.

So I figure, even if I am on the fence, it can’t hurt to try. Now, that being said, I’m difficult. I don’t like doing things the way ‘most people’ do them. I don’t like to accept things because ‘that’s the way it is,’ and I have a bit of a short attention span. Catholic mass just wasn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a beautiful ritual for those raised and ingrained in it, but it bores me to tears. No – to go to church regularly I needed a little more excitement and stimulation. We are still in the courting phase, but I’m pretty sure I’ve found my church. You want to know why? Because last Sunday we talked about porn.

This is a conversation I would never have expected to find at Sunday service. Maybe in small group, or in individual study, but laying it all out there on a Sunday morning with 50-75 of your best acquaintances was never something I would have expected. I loved it. I loved that the pastor wasn’t afraid to put out a tough topic – to force a conversation about something we all avoid confronting. Especially as someone looking to join myself body and soul with another human being, these are the scary questions that need to be asked. The other awesome thing is, that I actually learned a lot. For example, did you know that viewing pornography has the same impact on the reward center of your brain as shooting heroin? It causes a release of feel-good hormones that cause you to become addicted. And, also like heroin, the more you watch, the more you need to satisfy the craving. The scary part is that not only do you become addicted, but your brain actually bonds to the images, the pixels, on the screen. It’s the whole Pavlov’s dogs scenario, but instead of a bell and some steak… well I’ll keep this PG-13, but you get the idea. What this does is actually prevent you from having a deep, intimate and satisfying relationship with your partner as they can never provide the same gratification as the images on the screen.

Over lunch today with my step dad, (who I refer to as daddy #2 because I lucked out and have the privilege to have a bonus dad in my life), we were talking a bit about my recent church experience and he brought up the valid and thought-provoking point that almost everything you see on TV and in the movies these days is porn. Heck, you walk down the street and you are inundated with images of scantily clad women, provocative scenarios, and even ordinary women walking down the street dressed in ways so as to tempt the eye that dares to wander. Some may say a woman can dress as she pleases and a man just shouldn’t pay attention, but let’s be real here – men will stare. Geez, I will stare at a woman displaying all that God gave her. You just can’t help it. I won’t post the incriminating evidence, but as a wayward teen I too suffered from the backward thinking that any attention was good attention, and I cringe to think of the tight, short, and suggestive articles of clothing I purchased. My parents never really called me on it, but when I utter a “Oh my God what was I wearing,” when flipping through old photos, my mom can’t help but remind me that particular photo isn’t the half of the bad fashion crimes I committed.

Finding the love of a good man who accepts me completely, I find nowadays I blush if my hem line is too high or even a smidge of cleavage peaks through. Maybe I’ve gone too far in the other direction, but I’d happily describe myself as a prude these days. Yes, I may turn less heads and provoke fewer jaw drops – but I don’t need that any more to feel good about myself and my body. I no longer need external validation that I’m beautiful. Brian reminds me every day just by loving me. My hope is that more young women will learn this lesson, and that we can stem the tide of a culture which has taught women that modesty is anti-feminist.

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4 thoughts on “Porn isn’t something you expect to come up in church

  1. Sarah says:

    Girl, I am so happy for you/proud of you/sad I missed porn Sunday! That’s always one of the most thought-provoking weeks of the series for me. That and whenever they talk about dating – hoping I haven’t missed that one. It’s totally changed the way I look at relationships and dating and planning my life.

    And you know, the best thing about Watershed for me is that everybody is welcome and part of the community. On the fence or not. Scott talked about one member a few years ago who had been there from the start who would say every single week, “The music’s too loud and I don’t know about all this Jesus stuff.” But he showed up, taught in Greenhouse, and was a visible part of the community. Not sure if he ever resolved how he felt about “all this Jesus stuff” but Matt and Scott were always proud to have him represent our community.

    • lilqwnb says:

      I’m so thankful I finally decided to try that “Watershed” place Sarah kept talking about! Even though I’m tentatively beginning my journey into exploring what it means to be a part of a church community (it was never a focal point in my upbringing), I can’t imagine a better forum for my style of exploration. Which, is basically asking a ton of questions!

  2. Allie says:

    I love that you have learned to be a prude. It is such a hard lesson in today’s society, but so valuable.

    I too have recently started back to church, and working on my relationship with God. Its worth it. Sooo worth it.

    • lilqwnb says:

      I agree, Allie! I see little changes in my life already. Even if I’m still a bit skeptical, I can’t deny that I see positive differences in my relationship with myself and others. Perhaps most impactful of all is being surrounded by supportive, positive people on a regular basis! I need that in my life.

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