Thursday, August 12, 2010

"A man's decision about pornography is a decision about his soul"

Thanks to Justin Taylor for posting a link to an important address by Al Mohler to the male students of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can download the audio HERE or read the manuscript HERE.

Mohler first considers the man of sexual integrity:

The first picture is of a man who has set himself toward a commitment to sexual purity, and is living in sexual integrity with his wife. In order to fulfill his wife’s rightful expectations and to maximize their mutual pleasure in the marriage bed, he is careful to live, to talk, to lead, and to love in such a way that his wife finds her fulfillment in giving herself to him in love. The sex act then becomes a fulfillment of their entire relationship, not an isolated physical act that is merely incidental to their love for each other. Neither uses sex as means of manipulation, neither is inordinately focused merely on self-centered personal pleasure, and both give themselves to each other in unapologetic and unhindered sexual passion. In this picture, there is no shame. Before God, this man can be confident that he is fulfilling his responsibilities both as a male and as a man. He is directing his sexuality, his sex drive, and his physical embodiment toward the one-flesh relationship that is the perfect paradigm of God’s intention in creation.
Next, Mohler considers a very different kind of man:

This man lives alone, or at least in a context other than holy marriage. Directed inwardly rather than outwardly, his sex drive has become an engine for lust and self-gratification. Pornography is the essence of his sexual interest and arousal. Rather than taking satisfaction in his wife, he looks at dirty pictures in order to be rewarded with sexual arousal that comes without responsibility, expectation, or demand. Arrayed before him are a seemingly endless variety of naked women, sexual images of explicit carnality, and a cornucopia of perversions intended to seduce the imagination and corrupt the soul.

This man need not be concerned with his physical appearance, his personal hygiene, or his moral character in the eyes of a wife. Without this structure an accountability, he is free to take his sexual pleasure without regard for his unshaved face, his slothfulness, his halitosis, his body odor, and his physical appearance. He faces no requirement of personal respect, and no eyes gaze upon him in order to evaluate the seriousness and worthiness of his sexual desire. Instead, his eyes roam across the images of unblinking faces, leering at women who make no demands upon him, who never speak back, and who can never say no. There is no exchange of respect, no exchange of love, and nothing more than the using of women as sex objects for his individual and inverted sexual pleasure.

By logical consequence, he achieves sexual gratification at the expense of women who have been used and abused as commodified sex objects. He may imagine a sex act as he fulfills his physical pleasure, but he almost certainly does not imagine what it would mean to be responsible for this woman as husband and accountable to her as mate. He can sit in his soiled underwear, belching the remnants of last night’s pizza, and engage in a pattern of one-handed sexual satisfaction while he “surfs the net” and forfeits his soul.
In conclusion:

These two pictures of male sexuality are deliberately intended to drive home the point that every man must decide who he will be, whom he will serve, and how he will love. In the end, a man’s decision about pornography is a decision about his soul, a decision about his marriage, a decision about his wife, and a decision about God.

Pornography is a slander against the goodness of God’s creation and a corruption of this good gift God has given his creatures out of his own self-giving love. To abuse this gift is to weaken, not only the institution of marriage, but the fabric of civilization itself. To choose lust over love is to debase humanity and to worship the false god Priapus in the most brazen form of modern idolatry.


JS Allen said...

I agree with prohibitions on pornography, but Mohler's argument doesn't make much sense to me. At least, his weird attempt to juxtapose a "clean and well-groomed" marriage bed with "slovenly" porn consumption. As if married men never groom and cleanse themselves to commit adultery and then let themselves go and act like slobs in the marriage bed. I'm pretty sure it's exactly the opposite, and many women will be shocked to learn that their husbands are voluntarily making sex contingent on the man being well-groomed and attractive.

I also wonder about his assertion that the purpose of sexual fidelity is "to maximize their mutual pleasure in the marriage bed". Is that biblical? That's a sincere question -- I just don't recall ever reading anything like that in the Bible, and it struck me as something Ted Haggard would say.

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JS Allen said...

BTW, I think I reacted too strongly to the quotes taken out of context. I just read the whole piece by Mohler, and it's excellent. Thanks for sharing it!

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