“Racy Religion”

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What does it say about our culture when a religious title or a sacred activity become twisted to mean something racy? Esquire magazine exposed a disturbing social media trend here in the Philippines.

“Pastor” is now a name used by several Facebook pages and closed groups that distribute pornography and engage in sexually explicit group chats. … The largest of these groups has 2.9 million members, while many others are in the tens of thousands. … In these “Bible Study” pages and groups, members post different forms of “ambag,” or contributions to the collective sexual appetite of the community. It could be anything from a slightly risque celebrity photo to mainstream hardcore porn. [1]

In their thought-provoking “A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World,” John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle warned that what we have is no longer “a porn problem” but, much worse, “a porn epidemic.” [2] There are those who assume that porn is a harmless hobby. But, Stonestreet and Kunkle disagree.

It distorts attitudes about sexuality and leads to increased sexual permissiveness and risky sexual behaviors. It also decreases marital satisfaction and breaks down trust between spouses. In the end, it leaves people with perpetual feelings of shame and guilt. … Porn fuels sex trafficking and leads to increased violence and sexual aggression, as well as the exploitation of women and children. Porn also produces broken marriages and families. [3] 
When I posted the Esquire article that denounced this uncouth trend on Facebook, someone quipped that at least the members of these groups are “consenting adults” and “no actual crimes are being committed.” (In fairness, my friend does not really support it.)  

Screenshot from my Facebook page

I answered that there are women who were actually complaining that their pictures have been used without their permission. Not all of their pictures were even suggestive. According to Esquire magazine, “there are a lot of photos and videos—not even necessarily porn—of normal girls, offered up for other pastors to do with as they please.” [4]  The victims have been getting indecent proposals (read: sexual harassment) because of it. “It’s a despicable practice that not only objectifies innocent women, but preys on them and trades their photos as a sort of pornographic social currency.” [5]  It even feeds a rape culture. were they really consenting adults? Is it true that no crimes were being committed? I beg to disagree.

According to our Lord Jesus, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28, ESV) But porn is not just an issue of committing adultery in the heart. It violates God’s original blueprint for marriage. According to Stonestreet and Kunkle,
Human sexuality is an important aspect of human connection and thus is intrinsically relational. Sexuality was intended to be experienced not in isolation but in a one-flesh union between husband and wife… Scripture never endorses sexuality in isolation. Never. But porn severs sexuality from its relational context. [6] 
Esquire magazine encourages people to be vigilant in reporting those pages on Facebook for violating its community standards and distributing sexually explicit content. We should do that yet we could do more than reporting it for Facebook’s review. 

As Christian apologist Josh McDowell put it, “The question… is not ‘Will my kids see porn?’ but ‘How will they handle it when they do?’” [7] Other than monitoring our children’s Internet activities, we are to teach them what the Bible teaches about sex and how God meant it to be enjoyed within the bounds of marriage. We parents must model biblical manhood (loving leadership) and biblical womanhood (willing submission) to our children. 

In short, we are to make our families Christ-centered followers.

[1] Miguel Escobar (29 June 2017), “The Dark Side of Filipino Facebook,” Esquire, retrieved from http://www.esquiremag.ph/.

[2] John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle, A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2017), 156.

[3] Ibid, 157.

[4] Escobar. Italics his.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Stonestreet and Kunkle, 159.

[7] Ibid, 155.


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