Okay, so I revised it.  The real proverb is “May you live in interesting times.”  As soon as I read that today, I thought about pornography.

Yep, pornography.

 

I thought about raising two sons who will grow up to be horny teenager boys like everyone else but have the ease of pornography at their fingertips, unlike the majority of us over-30 types.

The first time I ever saw pornography I was ten.  I was spending the night over a friends house.  Her older sister asked matter of fact if we wanted to watch people have sex.  The VHS was popped in.  I soon regretted that decision because I could not stop thinking about the images for days and days.  While I was slightly intrigued by it, I was mostly disturbed.  In fact, —–eck—- there is one scene that I can still picture.

The next time, I was a bit older, maybe 7th or 8th grade.  Also, I was spending the night at a friends house.  Also, my friends older sister asked if we wanted to see any of the giant stash her Dad kept hidden in his closet.  (Great work hiding the porn, Dad)!  Again, I was disgusted but this time I wanted to watch it again.  It was like getting pleasantly tipsy for the first time.

At 13 years old, I thought regular porn viewing would be potentially fun but never in a million years imagined having my own porn, I didn’t consider buying my own stash and it never occurred to me that I could borrow from my friends Dad’s extensive collection.  As a result, I never saw it again for entire decade.

But unlike me, my sweet little boys could have their sexuality awoken by that age (or younger) and keep watching in private with the simple ease of an iphone/ipad/ipod touch app by some kid whose Mom gave him an ipod touch and failed to put parental controls on it.  Or, he could be over a friends house and pick up the friends Dad’s iphone and sift YouTube for pornographic videos.  And bam, that’s that.  My little boy could be a porn viewer at 7, 8, 9, 10 years old. (God help us all)!

Please don’t tell me I’m worrying like an over-protective, helicopter parent busying myself with creative ways to worry about my 6 and 2 yr. old (primarily because I’ll hurt you).

Unlike me, they’ll be able to go and find porn very easily if they wanted to.  Dave & I can’t rely on the “don’t do that, son” parenting method.  We have to find a way to teach them why pornography is so very destructive, addictive and so very dangerous.  They have to learn to choose for themselves because there will be no shortage of pornographic images at their fingertips at a very young age.

:::sigh:::

At 19, I remember wanting to watch porn again.  I didn’t want to have sex with anyone for a good long while, I just wanted to watch someone else have sex.  Makes sense right? Again, I wasn’t about to actually walk into a store and buy pornography —-and risk being seen!  Pretty soon, the desire went away.  In fact, the desires for it didn’t come back until it became easily accessible to me: not until we got high-speed internet in our home in 2004.  All of a sudden, I found myself struggling with porn –quite out of the blue– and feeling REALLY disgusted with myself.

{Can we just pause here for a minute so that I can tell you yes it’s difficult to admit that in this public space?  I tossed and turned about this but at the end of the day I’d rather just put it out there and reduce some of the stigma of the inner shame that accompanies things like pornography addiction or depression, especially for women.  (And I know more and more women fessin’ up these days).  I struggled on and off for about a year before it got fully under control, but I can honestly tell you it wasn’t the worse thing I’ve struggled with and I’ve nursed addictions much worse.  Much.  It never got CRAZY, thankfully.  At the end of the day along with my willingness, God delivered me from it.  I don’t walk around each day carrying a lot of shame over it because I’m a) forgiven & b) I’m carrying a lot of shame about my other problems.  Hey, I never said I was perfect.  I’ve had counselors tell me that given my highly sexualized childhood + poverty + the severity of the abuse by a parental figure I “should be” a statistic by now…a porn addict, a drug addict, a sex addict, an alcoholic, etc.  I’m not supposed to be functioning.  My “little” bout with porn is probably the most normal thing about the life I was “supposed” to have.  So, I walk in grace.  I live by grace.  God gave me this name for a reason.

Okay, end of pause.}

…As I was saying, I was a little grossed out by this new problem.  Adding insult to injury, my husband was NOT struggling with it and never has.  For crying out loud, this was supposed to be a man’s problem!  I had those sick moments where I wished it was him and not me.  (Isn’t that so psychotically twisted)?  Let’s all just take a minute and thank Jesus…that I have Jesus. =)

Nowadays, I don’t go anywhere near it.  Not in movies, not in books, not anywhere.  Not only do I have an addictive personality but adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a much higher propensity for unhealthy and addictive adult sexual behaviors.

But that’s in addition to pornography being evil, abusive to women, torture to children, a medium for sexual trafficking, a source of funds for human slavery, an addiction that leads to rape and sexual violence in general, a killer of healthy marital sex, an instrument which is capable of rewiring our brains and all around the worst idea ever. Not to mention, I believe pornography is a serious affront to God.

Now. How do I explain this to my 6 yr. old  other than “don’t do that son, it will deeply hurt you?”  Dave & I have to find a way.  As a kid whose sexuality was “awakened” by my own Dad for the first ten years of my life, I understand on a guttural level how profoundly destructive it is.  As a teenager who had far too many sexual experiences with far too many other (bucket-headed) teen-aged boys I understand how dastardly it will be for my two sons to juggle multiple sexual partners in their teenaged years.  (Ugh.  Just the thought of it.  I could sit in sack cloth and ashes for days.  Days)!

I have hope.  First off, my boys have a father who isn’t and who has never been addicted to porn and has intentionally stayed far away from getting himself interested in it.  They also have a father whose only sexual partner is his wife.  Yes, times are different but he still chooses everyday not to engage in the world of pornography just as he chose not to have sex until we were married.  So when Ransom is 16 and says, “Dad, you just don’t understand,” we’ll be like, “no no no no we get it, son.  Trust me, we get it!  We were once horndogs too!  Let us tell you a little story…”

When a single friend asked us the other day, “so should I just expect that any guy I date nowadays is going to be addicted to porn?” we said “NO!” That’s not good enough.  I know a lot of good men who are not addicted to porn.  And I’ve seen a lot of good men (and women too) get lost in it.

We REALLY DO live in interesting pornographic times.  The accessibility being the primary problem, second the billion dollar global industry of human sex trafficking.

I hope and pray we can figure out how to guard our own hearts, set up gridlock-strong accountability structures around us & steer far far away from it.  If we can’t do that, we are really grasping at straws if we think were going to keep our kiddo’s from an early diet of pornography or unhealthy and early sex.

In either case, Lord please help us.

Thoughts?

 

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  • Michelle

    haha I’m laughing at your ending. You straight called us out about commenting. AHHAHA. Okay, sigh! WOW, this was a heavy hitter! You know Grace, each day I find myself praying more and more about how to raise my daughters. It’s such a frightening and overwhelming task to think about at times. At other times I am a little calmer as I rest in God and even get excited for the opportunity to raise two godly women. I can’t get the phrase that Sean shared at Ignite out of my head “Building people.” So I’m always thinking about how I can build my daughters to live for Jesus FOREAL! I feel a bit anxious thinking of having to have a conversation with my daughters about the destructiveness of porn in the future but I must and I will. I really appreciate your honesty and it’s just ONE of the many things I LOVE about you. I always know that you can and will keep it real. Your realness is always refreshing and freeing.
    I love these lines, “So, I walk in grace. I live by grace.” This is the truth for us all

    • Grace

      hahahhahaa, that’s funny about the ending…I think I was like “well, I just wrote this heavey hitting post & 300 people are going to read and not say anything and that’s gonna right piss me off. lol. =)

      anyway, thanks michelle, I try to keep it real…let others know I’m normal and tehy are too…struggle is normal.

      I love you too! xoxoxoxo

  • Patrice

    Haa way to guilt us into comments. Love it! I worry about the same things that you do with boys even though I have a girl. Add to that all the body image stuff that women have to worry about. I pray way more about it than anything. I feel powerless at times to protect her at times.

    • Grace

      our mutual friend, Jim M. said it best, “when you have a boy you have one dick to worry about, but when you have a girl, you have to worry about every dick in town.” hahahahahaha and you know he has 3 girls! lol. =)

  • Patrice

    Ohhh don’t remind me. Every dick in town is hilarious but oh so true Lol. Yikes- better get some knee pads cause I’m gone wear my knees out praying for this one.

  • Dave Monroe

    Grace,
    Thanks for baring your soul. But my intellectual honesty requires of me to point out that the below claims are either unsubstantiated by actual empirical evidence or are true in a limited number of cases and unlikely to be true of the “porn” your boys might dig up as teenagers:

    “But that’s in addition to pornography being evil, abusive to women, torture to children, a medium for sexual trafficking, a source of funds for human slavery, an addiction that leads to rape and sexual violence in general, a killer of healthy marital sex, an instrument which is capable of rewiring our brains and all around the worst idea ever. Not to mention, I believe pornography is a serious affront to God.”

    1. Abusive to women? There’s little actual evidence of this as a general practice in the pornography industry. It’s true that some companies may be, but then again any given “employer” may abuse its employees. Why single out porn?
    2. Torture to Children? Only in very few cases, and certainly NOT true in the 99% of porn that one finds on the internet.
    3. A medium for sexual trafficking? Maybei in some instances, but so is international shipping. Does that license shutting down international commerce?
    4. The claim that Porn leads to violence and rape is patently false. Since the advent of the internet, violent rape and assault of women has decreased, suggesting that porn has the exact opposite effect.
    5. A killer of healthy marital sex? What is “healthy marital sex?” Is it missionary position for the purpose of procreation? If so, porn should kill it. Many couples use porn as a way of exploring new fantasies and sexual ideas; so I would argue that it could “ruin” healthy marital sex, but that’s not the fault of the porn–it’s the way it’s used.
    6. Capable of rewiring our brains. Not sure what that means, but if it’s about patterns of behavior, etc., addictiveness, again, that’s no objection to porn specifically. What about women who compulsively shop and overspend? What about people who compulsively play video games, or something of that sort. I wonder whether the problem is the activity or the person in question. Let’s place blame where it belongs–people with no self control.

    You know I love you, but we disagree here. Porn is not “evil”. Porn is a human institution and like any human institution is capable of being used for evil. Consider the Catholic Church during the Crusades or the Inquisition. But it is also capable of being beneficial. So I would argue that when we talk about the “harms” of porn we look at the person(s) using it and admonish them to use porn responsibly, just as we want people to drink responsibly, drive responsibly, vote responsibly, and so forth, rather than demonizing the whole institution.

    Give all the boys a hug from me!

    • Grace

      Dave, thanks for commenting. I know you love me, us, etc. & I love you too! And since weve had a lengthy in-person discussion about the evil &/or goodness of porn I don’t feel like we can’t “discuss” it here. I love that you said “my intellectual honesty won’t let me…”

      Anyway, I do fully & completely believe that porn is abusive to women in that it’s use makes a bold statement about the worth of women in general. It makes womens worth all wrapped up in being sexual beings. I think maybe for you it doesn’t. You are also one of the top 1% of the smartest people in the world who have actually sat down and thought about porn —and wrote a book about it! The rest of us, however, take a lot of things at face value. Porn is not in anyway celebrating women for anything other than sex…often degrading sex. I could say the same thing about men’s involvement too I think.

      As for child pornography. In ANY instance of a kid being raped, sexually assaulted or coerced or forced by poverty to do porn, yeah I think that’s pretty evil. Even if 99% of the porn available on the internet isn’t child porn, that’s still a lot. Isn’t one kid too much to make it evil?

      I watched a 60 minutes or nightline or some such evening news type of show where they were interviewing rapists in prisons whose addictions had started with porn. maybe they were going to be rapists eventually without the porn, yes…but it pushed them on their journey to needing more and more of violent sexual fix. To me, that feels evil.

      Dave, Dave, Dave healthy marital sex is not just the missionary position for procreation only! You should know that. =) And it’s certainly not true for us. It’s all kinds of, um, positional fun…at lots of times. =) But I know SEVERAL people, including myself, that porn watching actually made it harder to have sex with their spouse without rehearsing the images, or in some cases needing to watch it first. Needing to watch porn first or during or think of other people during married sex is not healthy. Essentially, if someone can’t have sex with their spouse without watching or thinking of someone else I’d say it’s a bit on the unhealthy side and —no judgement here— could use some counseling.

      There’s a book about how porn rewires our brains, I’ll have to find it and relink it back here. It’s about the very things I mentioned above…about porn being able to change how we enjoy (or don’t enjoy) sex, how the addiction starts and how it actually changes the make up of our brain in the same ways drugs do. I know that’s hardly conclusive…so I will find that book!

      I feel you, Dave on the whole “use porn responsibly” much the same you would in saying drink, vote, etc. responsibly EXCEPT this is the one area where I believe there is no “responsible” part of porn. Even if the funding of porn didn’t support human slavery, there would be the sex issue which is core to my belief set as a follower of Jesus that sex was made and intended to be between one man and one women in the context of marriage….and on top of all that, I believe it is very degrading to a women’s worth. For all of human history it seems women have been abused and raped, and overall taken advantage of sexually…it just seems like another creative way humanity has come up with a way to say it’s okay to do this b/c some women are willing to voluntarily participate. (I feel sad for them too…I could have easily found myself there on the path I was on and it was ONLY b/c I was HOPELESS and b/c I really did believe that I wasn’t good for anything but sex). It’s not being empowered…it’s believing you have no other choice. Seriously, what girl grows up and WANTS to be a porn star?!

      Anyway, Your a great thinker, and again, one of the smartest people I know and I appreciate how you have thought through your own personal theology of porn…more than just being a rabid consumer without any consideration. Also, tell Rhonda I said hello as well. xo

  • Dave Monroe

    Grace,

    You’re too sweet. If only I really were in the top 1% of the smartest people in the world. That would be awesome.

    Ok, I should make something clear. It’s certainly not that I have a “pollyanna” view of the porn industry–you’re right that most women would not choose it as their first career choice (though I’ll bet many men would if they fit the “requirements”). It’s certainly true that the problems you mention DO happen (sex trade, abuses, violence against women, leads to bad marital sex), so those issues CAN occur. My only point is that there’s no grounds for saying that it’s LIKELY to happen.
    I have deep suspicions about any claims regarding the “harmful attitudes” propagated by any media, porn included. I do think “bad value absorption” happens, but I wonder whether that’s reason to reject an entire industry. Think of it this way: when Columbine happened it turned out that the kids who did the killing listened to Marilyn Manson before going on their shooting spree. So there were some who argued that the “bad messages” in the music “caused” them to become killers. EVEN IF that’s true in the case of those two maniacs, it’s certain NOT true in the case of those other millions who listen to Marilyn Manson. So should we punish the masses because a couple of people get “the wrong idea?” That seems excessively paternalistic and undemocratic. And it certainly doesn’t give any probabilistic basis for saying there’s a “causal” relationship there.

    Here’s something new to think about. One of the biggest movements in contemporary porn is “virtual porn”; for lack of better words, cartoon porn. It seems to me that it gets around almost all of your concerns about harm to persons (with the exception of the brain wiring thing). Is that on morally different footing as far as you’re concerned?

    Also, one should never think that I’m a “porn advocate” in that I think people SHOULD watch porn–my arguments only aim to work against the arguments that they morally shouldn’t. I’m glad you had your experiences and wrestled with it yourself and I respect your deep convictions–and Dave’s–and I think that will help with your questions about the boys. Given the way you’re raising them I would guess they’d have the same attitude of disgust.

    I miss you guys. It’s much more fun to argue about this in person!

  • Dave Biskie

    Grace and Dave,
    I love you two! (And Michelle, Patrice, and the mysterious “Jim” previously referenced)

    What most strikes me about the points and counterpoints made by the two of you- in addition to your thoughtful and clearly communicated ideas- is your respectful and charitable dialogue concerning a topic about which you have major differences of opinion. It seems we live during a time where political oponents and their parties can’t respectfully debate their policy differences without villifying the other side, and where people of opposing worldviews aren’t willing to converse without devaluing the person on the other side of the argument. And while society tunes into these disagreements for their shock value, we’ve stopped listening in order to learn- and sometimes, this is because the rhetoric of soundbytes and character assassination gives us nothing to learn from.

    Dave and Grace, your civil conversation-about potentially emotionally charged topics- is one that our society could learn. Thank you for inspiring me about how we could all do better in our public discourse during this election season and as we interact with those of differing religious, social, and political views.

    May the world be more like you! May we hear more from you two. And, perhaps, may we find more ways to together model this for the ears and minds of others.

  • Dave Monroe

    Hear, Hear, Dave!

    I think the beauty is that all of us work in a position to model reasonable discourse to others–one of many reasons I love my job.

    Biskies rule.

    • Grace

      hahaha, we do rule. =)

  • Dave Monroe

    Furthermore, I treasure the HOURS of conversations we had when I was in Kalamazoo that were just like this. It will always be one of my favorite life periods.

  • Dave Biskie

    Now, regarding the CONTENT of your arguments, and not merely the expertise of your charitable delivery, you have both made excellent points that challenge me and serve to inform my view regarding both the challenges of pornography as well as the challenges posed by common human shortcomings which are the deeper root cause of societal problems and which fuel some of the negative impacts that we sometimes see associated with pornography. Both your arguments leave me desiring to continue to guard myself from the negative consequences that consuming pornography could have on me, in light of the compulsions that I know exist within me and in light of the limitations to my own capacity for self control and selflessness. I face enough challenges in life that could sap my energy for these and the integrity they help instill within me, without adding additional challenges like porn, which doesn’t seem to have a payout that exceeds the potential costs to my life. For me, I have found that these two virtues are preserved and even strengthened by steering clear from stuff like this.

  • Dave Biskie

    Ah, Dave, I too miss these conversations. When Grace told me about this blog post, and as I read your well-reasoned reponse, I kept remembering our quest to Walmart to purchase a TV, I believe, where we discussed your upcoming bachelor party, and our game of catch behind your apartment where we philosophized about this topic. I miss those times… We must see each other again soon, my friend!

    • Grace

      well shut the noise, for the first time ever MY HUSBAND is commenting on my blog…AND complimenting me…what do you know??? thanks, boo. =)

  • Regan

    Like any form of addiction, it is also hard to break the habit of pornography.

    However, the case here is that if what you see on those videos affecting your sexual behavior? I know a friend who has a large stash of adult videos on his portable hard disk (which I sometimes borrow to copy files from). So can we expect him to be engaging in indiscriminate sex with women with D-Cup knockers? Nope.

    His girlfriend is not the type that you would even see in the pages of Playboy, or at least strutting her body in one of the model shows.
    Regan recently posted..free theme park tickets

    • Grace

      Thanks for commenting, Regan. I do agree it’s a hard habit to break, which is why I suggest not ever getting it started.

  • http://www.hopeforthevoiceless.org Phil

    Grace,

    You are connecting the dots in the same fashion that we have.

    Two years ago, God took us on a long journey to see the connection between human trafficking and pornography. It’s been the most crazy of journeys to say the least.

    We actually started our own non-profit to help others make the connection between pornography and human trafficking, called Hope for the Voiceless.

    But in our two years of research, you are right on. Porn does re-wire the brain. This is precisely why this cause-and-effect relationship needs to be explored. And it’s even more urgent in light of the fact that we live in a culture that at every level objectifies women as physical commodities.

    But the brain science is fascinating. Because most of the men who purchase sex with children are not the pedophiles our parents warned us about. They don’t have the creepy mustache and drive the ice cream truck. They are productive members of society. They are doctors, lawyers, members of our armed forces, husbands, fathers, pastors, and graduate students. They are men of all ages, all ethnicities, and all socio-economic levels. If people still think that “productive members of society” are not buying commercial sex, just pop in an old episode of Dateline NBC’s “To Catch A Predator.” It’s a sick showcase of just how productive these johns are.

    But back to your post- we have to connect the dots. We like to use smoking as an accurate analogy. Yes- not everyone who lights up dies of lung cancer. We know. But there is a cause and effect to this, just like with nicotine. Yes- not everyone who looks at porn becomes a buyer of domestic minor sex-trafficking victims. But the same risk is there. Why? Because the brain science demands more risk.

    XXXchurch founder Craig Gross has a great saying: “What you are looking at online will eventually take you off-line.”

    And buyer after buyer is confirming this sordid tale when they recount their story.

    So keep connecting the dots!

    For the marginalized and the voiceless,

    Phil Harbison

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  • Steve

    Grace, was the book title you were referring to Wired for Intimacy?

  • TaNisha Prater

    I am just now seeing this post but you should really check out Christine Caine. She is an evangelist at Hillsong Church based in Austrailia but she also runs an organization called the A21 campaign to help spread the word about Human trafficking overseas and in the U.S. She is doing a great work for women and sharing the love of Christ at the same time.

    • https://gracesandra.com Grace

      Teke, You know I saw her speak at a conference a couple years ago & I was totally mesmerized by her preaching and so thankful for her work against H. trafficking. i even looked into working with her org! I keep up with her website now and then & follow her adventures on instagram. =)