The Problem with Pornography

Today I would like to explain why Christians should avoid pornography.

First, pornography does not bring fulfillment. Pornography is a substitute for a real healthy relationship. When one views pornography, he or she is never satisfied, because there is no relationship with the object upon which one focuses attention. Whether it be in the form of a magazine, a picture, or a video, it does not communicate with the viewer, thus the viewer is never satisfied.

Second, pornography de-humanizes. The body is sacred just as the soul is sacred. When someone is consumed with a cheap form of art that objectifies people, making them less valuable than any whole person should be, it causes the viewer to cease from seeing actual people with whom the viewer interacts as whole people. It causes the viewer to objectify even the people involved in his or her life.

Third, it becomes an idol. When one seeks something to fill a need that the object cannot fill, then the result is that the person begins to seek it more and more. Eventually, the thing perceived to meet a need becomes the most sought after thing in a person’s life. When this happens, the person elevates that thing to a position in the heart that should be reserved for God alone. The thing becomes an idol. Idols lead us away from our creator, away from our purpose in life, and away from healthy relationships with other people.

Christians should desire to honor God with their bodies and in their minds. When a Christian chooses to honor God he or she must view people as sacred. Christians must see individuals as whole people, not just flesh and not just as a means to an end. Christians should also strive to keep God first in their hearts, something that cannot be done when we elevate idols that draw us away from our Creator. Finally, Christians should seek healthy relationships with people who can meet the needs that pornography cannot. Those needs include being able to be vulnerable, being able to trust, being able to share, and being able to give of yourself to others and receiving the attention, time, and affections of the other person in return.

To learn more about the problems of pornography and to understand why it is an epidemic in this country, I encourage you to read the following two documents by Dr. Jim Denison who leads the Forum on Truth and Culture.

http://www.denisonforum.org/component/jdownloads/download/9-gods-top-10-rules-for-love-and-marriage

and

http://www.denisonforum.org/component/jdownloads/download/10-sports-illustrated-swimsuit-edition-and-the-plague-of-pornography

If you believe you may be struggling with sexual addiction, complete the following self test to see if you might need to get help from a professional counselor:

https://www.recoveryzone.com/tests/sex-addiction/SAST/index.php

The above test is for all people, the below test is specifically designed for women:

http://www.freedomeveryday.org/am-i-a-sex-addict/sexual-addiction-test-women.php

Poverty

Islamabad

In the Bible, Jesus states “For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.”

Here Jesus makes a statement in reference to helping the poor after someone uses an expensive perfume to anoint his feet. In context he is defending the person who has shown him great honor, but his claim that there will always be poor in need of help speaks to a universal situation that has existed since the earliest days of humanity.

In our world today, over 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day (that is less than $1,000 a year). Approximately 80% of the worlds population lives on less than $4,000 a year (or less than $10 a day).

22,000 children die each day as a result of poverty. Nearly 1 million people die each year as a result of malaria; 90% of those deaths occur in Africa.

2.6 billion people live without proper water sanitation. Over 1 billion people do not live with adequate supply of water. 1.8 million children die each year as a result of diarrhea due to the lack of proper water sanitation.

These statistics may speak greatly about the lack of proper nutrition and development in third world countries, but our own is not free from problem.

In the last decade, the poverty rate has risen 40% in the Dallas area alone. The median income of single parent homes also fell $28,000 a year in 2000 to $19,500 a year in 2012.

What exactly is poverty?

Poverty is defined as living below the standard comfortable norm in a society, usually as a result of the lack of money. Typically those living in poverty have no sufficient means of support. The impoverished often suffer from a number of health concerns such as diseases like malaria, they battle hunger daily (currently over 1 billion people go to bed hungry each night), they tend to be under-educated and in some places have no opportunity to go to school or learn to read (lack of education also leads to higher rates of juvenile delinquency), and often have little to no consistent shelter (over 100 million children in the world are considered street children).

Another problem related to poverty is the increased risk for abuse such as being sold into slavery and becoming a victim of human trafficking. Much of the human trafficking problem is associated with sex trade and prostitution.

Some of the major causes of poverty are linked to political corruption (especially in third world countries), lack of education, choosing to grow tobacco rather than other kinds of foods, and even food dumping when not done for relief in emergency situations.

Nearly 50 Million in the U.S. are now in Poverty

What is the Christian responsibility for helping to alleviate poverty?

In the Old Testament, the Law states in Leviticus 19:9-10, “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.”

In other words, it requires those with all they need to purposely leave some grain for the poor to reap without charge.

Later, Leviticus 25:35 commands, “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you.”

In other words, the people were to aid the less fortunate with food, shelter, and clothing.

Proverbs 29:7 states, “A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.”

The idea behind this proverb is that a righteous person is not to take advantage of the poor, but to stand on their behalf and provide to them the support needed to have the basic necessities all humans require to survive.

Thus Christians should, take from their excess to aid those who are less fortunate. They should aid in providing food, shelter, and clothing, and they should refrain from taking advantage of the poor.

I would also suggest that Christians do what they can to help educate and equip those in poverty to stand on their own. I have also written before about the need to provide access to clean water.

On a final note,  while over 3 Billion people live in physical poverty, over 4 Billion people live in spiritual poverty. There are approximately the same number of Christians in the world that there are of people who live without proper water sanitation. As you think about helping those who are less fortunate, think also about what you can do to help those who are spiritually destitute. Think about how you can help meet both spiritual and physical needs. Think about how your aid to the poor can also open the way for the kingdom of God.

Sources:

http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats

https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-global-poverty

http://keranews.org/post/dallas-poverty-has-skyrocketed-over-past-decade

http://www.globalissues.org/issue/2/causes-of-poverty

Stealing

NY Times (Interesting Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/11/health/11klass.html)

What does the Bible say about stealing?

Exodus 20:15 says, “You shall not steal.”

This is pretty straight forward, but there are other passages that aid us in our understanding of stealing.

Romans 13:7 reads, “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”

 In other words, we do not steal because it is dishonorable to do so.

There are many forms of stealing. One form of stealing is plagiarism (taking someone else’s work and passing it off as your own), another form of stealing is robbery (such as taking candy from a gas station, or lifting a magazine from a stand). 

We should not take things that do not belong to us.

In our current society, this raises questions about downloading movies and videos, making poor use of our time at work, and about giving ourselves to the Lord.

In what ways do you refrain from giving others what is owed them or taking something that does not belong to you?

Two websites that are geared towards helping children and adults with this issue are listed below:

Life Begins

When does life begin?

Some say at birth, some say at 22 weeks, some at conception, and according to the comic above some say as a teenager.

When we think about life we often do so from the perspective of our current situation, but in reality, life is made up of a series of experiences that are both good and bad. I have often argued that the purpose of life is to live. I have taught that everything we do matters. God, the creator of the universe, is interested in the details of our existence. I have claimed that everything we do causes us to make statements about our own purpose in life or ask questions about our purpose in life.

In life, we get to discover and create our own reason for existing. Some of the reason we are here is because God has a plan for us…part of that plan is allowing us to make choices and create our own path.

As we grow up we become faced with many difficult decisions. One of the decisions we face in life is our own understanding of when life begins.

As we come to a consensus with ourselves about how to answer that question, it impacts the way we think about situations we find ourselves in as well as situations we observe others going through.

What does the Bible say about when life begins?

Psalm 139:13-16 reads, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Because the Bible states that it is God who forms new life in the womb, Christians believe that life begins at conception (the moment when life begins to form). As such, Christians believe they are to preserve the life of the unborn.

They believe this way, because they see life as sacred. Life is sacred, because it is created by God. In the beginning, God formed a man in the garden out of mud and breathed life into him. It was when God breathed into him that he became a living being. God then took a piece of the man’s side and from the body of the man, God created woman. He called the first woman Eve, because she was the mother of all the living who would come after her and her husband. God designed men and women to join together in order to form new life in the womb, but it is God that causes all new life to live.

What about abortion, infanticide, and genetic engineering?

Because Christians believe they have a duty to preserve life as it is intrinsically valuable (being sacred and created by God), they oppose abortion. The first document noting that Christians oppose abortion was written less than 60 years after Christ walked the earth.

Christians typically see abortion as ending a life. They also oppose infanticide (the killing of a child after it is born because of an abnormality). Additionally, many Christians oppose genetic engineering where certain traits are hoped to be left out of a child.

My Personal View:

In short, I would just like to share my view today on preserving life. First, all life is valuable. All life is sacred. Even the most despised people in our culture were created by God. Second, preserving life should preclude us from doing anything that would either end a life or keep from preserving one (even if it is still in the womb). Third, every situation is different. Sometimes in order to save one life, another must be sacrificed. As such, we should show compassion and act with wisdom in situations with triage. Fourth, for those who have chosen not to preserve a life…know that God still loves you and he wants you to have a relationship with him, regardless of what you have done in the past.

Today is a new day, and this is a new year. What will you do this year to preserve life? What will you do to treat others with intrinsic value?

We just finished celebrating Christmas, the time when Christ came to earth taking on humanity, beginning his life as the God-man, so that we could all have our lives preserved from spiritual death through his sacrifice on the Cross. What would he have you do this year to help others see the value in life?