Magic Mike, 50 Shades, and actually asking real questions

Perhaps a week or so ago, I came across an intriguing (the Jesuits taught us never to use the word “interesting,” but never suggested any alternatives!) article reflecting on the general issue of “Mommy Porn” in its specific expression through Magic Mike and 50 Shades of Grey
I commend the article to you, as a thoughtful and gracious resource to help women (though I think its helpful for men too) wrestle with in applying the gospel. Since God’s grace teaches us to say no to ungodliness (Titus 2:11-12), then we should not be surprised that the gospel, which gives real freedom, enables us to say no to certain books or movies. I was reading in Thessalonians 4 today and reminded him of God’s call to purity and abstaining from sexual immorality. Paul even reminds this group that “Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”
It is no undocumented struggle that many men in the church struggle with pornography addictions. But to limit the struggle only to men looking at naked women is looking more and more foolish. Guys and gals don’t have to be naked in order to be objects of lust. For instance, one could look at a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue and not technically be looking at pornography. But the goal of looking lustfully on another woman not your wife is what is happening. 
When I was a youth director, I walked in the pastor’s office on two young gals looking at “hot guys” on the computer. They were fully clothed (both the gals and the “hot guys” that is). But what was the point? I can’t speak to what was going on in their heart, but I can speak to the tendencies of the human heart. I can ask the question, and I think I did-its been 12 years or so-how is that different than me looking at “hot babes” on-line? Whether an object of lust is wearing skinny jeans, jean shorts, no shorts, tankini, bikini, or no kini, the real issue is not what he/she is wearing but the heart of the observer.
Below are some of real questions that I think are overlooked in what we should/shouldn’t watch or how, or how much we should watch what we watch.
  • Are you going to that person/image to simply feel pleasure, meaning, purpose, release from a hard day? How much more so when that object feeds your lustful appetite? That is called an idol, and anyway you slice it-fellas or ladies-that is not good, because that is not God.
  •  “Why am I watching this?” Is it to look at “hot guys” and drool over them? Is it to be sexually stimulated by someone other than your spouse? I don’t see Jesus being OK with that. Do we really need a bible verse here?
If you can say that you are reading books, going to websites, staring at guys and girls and NOT doing so for sexual arousal and/or intimacy you should be getting from a relationship with Christ, your spouse, your church community, you may be OK (doesn’t mean it is wise though).
Clothes, no clothes (as in Magic Mike) are not the issue. The issue is you and what God’s will for you is: your sanctification (I Thess 4:3)
Now to apply the gospel, we have to get specific, don’t we? That always opens you up to the charge of being legalistic or pharisaical. But there are times when you need to stand up and say, “These are the issues, and to partake in such a movie/book/activity is nearly impossible to live consistently with the gospel you claim to believe.” I do believe this is such a time and am thankful for this bold young lass’s assessment.
There are also other times when things may not be as clear but the issue is still the same: why are you watching it, and does watching it move you to sin? This is a slightly different scenario where you can’t tell so and so not to watch something (pharisaical), but for you to watch something it would be sin (personal conviction).
For instance, I intentionally didn’t watch a popular show because of a certain lead actress (she just happens to be from WV). My friends could watch the same show and be OK, but I couldn’t. So I didn’t. I don’t say this as a pat on the back, but simply to show the fact that the problem is sometimes in the viewer.

Here’s a more recent example. I recently received the “Body Issue” of ESPN the magazine. I did open it up and saw a naked Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski holding a football over his ______. I almost vomited. But the pictures of women would have put quite different thoughts into my head. Amy suggested I throw it away and how could I not agree? You don’t have to throw away your “Body Issue,” but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pose the question.

The scariest thing to me in the church as a whole right now is our relaxed sexual ethic. I’m not talking about being able to talk about sex, struggle through issues on premarital sex, bad sex, same sex attraction, etc…I’m talking about the fact that we have limboed our sexual standards so low that it seems we are competing with non-Christians. 
I wonder how often Christians actually ask the question: should I watch this (as opposed to “can” I watch this)? I’m more concerned about the question then the answers. If people honestly asked such questions, and allowed the gospel to shed light on the issues, we would be in a lot better shape. Challenging people to really ask the hard and heart questions will keep Christians moving toward holiness and away from both licentiousness and legalism.

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