Someone mentioned, following last week’s post, that Christians have a taboo on talking about sex.
I am in a slightly awkward position here. My final “taboo” was the longest and most controversial point, and at the last minute on Friday 15th, I decided to leave it for another time. The next day I read an interview in the paper that made me wonder if I should completely rethink my position. I’m still not sure.
So these were my original thoughts:
Thou shalt not use pornography. I have attended sermons where very high figures have been quoted of (male) Christian leaders who have “problems” with pornography. I did not look around to see if all the men were staring guiltily at the floor. Pornography is (isn’t it?) magazines, theatre, photos, film, literature etc, that are designed primarily to sexually excite. It is a massive industry, mainly aimed at men.
Obviously there are moral and legal issues. 1. It is bad when young women (or young men) are pressurised into thinking they have to amend their bodies to match some pornographic “ideal”, and this happens. 2. It is bad when anyone is coerced into taking part in the production of porn, either for “Esquire”, or for their own boyfriend, and this happens. 3. It is bad to do anything likely to damage your marriage, including adultery in the heart, or make it less easy to live chaste if you’re single. 4. It is bad to treat any actual human beings with disrespect. 5. It is wrong to look lustfully at someone else’s partner. And 6. it is undesirable that pornography is so easily obtainable by young people, probably warping their view of what is “normal”.
But at the risk of being shot down in flames, I do not see that looking at, even fantasising over, nude pictures of people you are never going to meet, or reading graphic descriptions in romantic literature necessarily involves any of these problems. (Visual porn also seems to be stigmatised at the expense of literary porn.) Appreciation of beauty and sexual arousal are both in essence good things
(But perhaps since I’m a woman, I just don’t understand what’s going on.)
Having drafted this, as I say, I then read a discussion in the Guardian between Laura Bates, author of new book “Girl Up”, about modern life for girls in schools and online, and a female student who had read it. The discussion can be read on http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/15/a-girls-guide-to-growing-up-how-does-laura-bates-advice-play-out-in-the-real-world. It will make your toes curl. The effect on children and teenagers of easy online access to frequently violent and misogynistic material (basically my point 6 above) is plainly horrendous, and maybe undermines completely everything else I said.
I am still reluctant to vilify a lonely man who gets pleasure out of looking at a picture and imagining himself in bed with the complete stranger he sees; or a lonely woman who reads one of the extremely explicit novels you can buy in WH Smith, and spends half an hour picturing herself as the heroine.
What do other people think?
Love from the PPI Blogger – until next Friday