by Jeff Shaw, Director of Out of Darkness
December 5, 2011 was further confirmation for me of what I think few would deny. I learned that a precious 7-year old girl was brutally beaten and sexually violated in Canton, GA before ultimately being murdered. When it comes to crimes of violence and sexual exploitation, men are generally the perpetrators. Are you tired of hearing that? Me too.
The purpose of this blog section is to challenge men to be men. But that’s ambiguous. The kind of man we will challenge you to be is a man of strong character, integrity, and purity. We want to see men embracing their roles as providers, protectors, and defenders…not abusers, exploiters, or passive observers. And so we begin this journey together!
Most of us were probably first exposed to porn as young teenagers. Perhaps our parents were out for dinner and a free trial of HBO came on. Maybe we were staring at the fuzzy channels hoping to catch a rare glimpse of a naked body. Maybe we were at camp and someone pulled out a Playboy in the cabin late at night. Regardless, it was impossible to scale the walls of puberty (which unfortunately came later for me than for most!) without being confronted by something that set off the fires of desire inside of us. And after the first exposure, most of us had an insatiable curiosity that had to be quenched, and so we began searching the internet for images…a Victoria’s Secret model, a bikini-clad celebrity, a naked girl…anything!
But this only demonstrates the reality of embarking on the journey of sexual gratification. It is unquenchable. One image isn’t enough. One video isn’t enough. One experience isn’t enough. And as you continue down the road, the seemingly “mild” things you’ve enjoyed so far become “not quite enough.” And with each new step, you become desensitized to the last one, and everything seems a bit more normal.
To make matters worse, our dark passenger brings along a companion – shame. Brutal, paralyzing shame. Deep self-loathing. And this shame forces us deeper into the corners of darkness and solitude, for we cannot afford to be discovered. After all, who would understand? I’m abnormal. A freak. A sicko. Maybe as a young man you reached out to your father, or a youth pastor, or someone else you longed to receive wisdom and guidance from, only to hear that what you’re doing isn’t normal and it needs to stop…period. But such a reaction only drove you deeper into despair and isolation.
And so we grow older, into a manhood that we don’t understand. Sexuality isn’t prized, and intimacy has little value. Our sexual experiences with women have been through a computer or television screen, just long enough for us to gratify our desires. Love and relationship is selfish and exploitive…a means to the sexual gratification that is no longer simply a want, but a perceived need. But even as “unemotional” guys we feel it, a piece of ourselves leaving with each new sexual partner, each new (but in reality not so new) video we watch, each new dancer we pay to see. And as tough and uncaring as we like to project ourselves to be as men, we long so desperately for true intimacy. Something real.
Sexual gratification (be it through pornography, sexual immorality, or lust) continues unchecked, each time offering a fleeting, empty gasp of false intimacy. And the damage is incalculable. As Andy Stanley puts it, pornography leaves in its wake two painful realities. A real body isn’t enough, and one body isn’t enough.
Some continue down the dark pathway. Even some of you perhaps. No longer is “normal” pornography enticing. No longer are sexual dating relationships enjoyable. Random encounters become exciting. Trips to the strip club. An hour with a prostitute. But with time, those activities lose their allure too. And for some, new forms of sexual perversion creep in. Violence. Group sex. Rape and molestation of children. Anonymous sex. This isn’t the case for everyone, but look at the world around you. Do you think child molesters, rapists, and other sexual deviants got there overnight? Not usually. In fact, we’ve yet to encounter one that didn’t first start with pornography.
But guess what? If my purpose was to scare you into sexual purity, it wouldn’t work. Another surprise – you won’t be shamed into purity either! I have only discovered one true source of freedom from the relentless, consuming desire for sexual gratification in its many forms…and that’s an encounter with True Intimacy, the person of Jesus.
Join me next week and we’ll talk about “True Intimacy.” Then we’ll close this particular series with “Men – The Solution.”