I have been reading a lot lately about the issue of porn addiction, both inside and outside the Christian church, and I recently started to wonder why there seems to be an implicit responsibility cast on the church and its leaders to have an answer to the issue of porn addiction. For some reason, we expect religious people to be healthy or to be able to show us how to be healthy. Or maybe it's just some inherent sense of guilt that lives in our culture regarding sexuality - perhaps the priests will asuage the anger of the gods.
This had me thinking about the people who were responsible for the formation of my sexuality as a young man. Who's job was it anyway!?!? In my life, there were a few authority figures and I'm sure most of you can relate to one if not all of these:
If you look at the above people, each one seems to have an inherent job in the development of a young man's/woman's sexuality:
pastors/youth pastors: safety
Not there aren't other responsibilities for these other people. Pastors are there to teach us about the character of God and what that says about who we are. Coaches are there to teach me how to perform. Teachers educate my mind. All of these people help form my understanding of who I am. But my sexuality? Who's job is that? Isn't that obvious?
Why do we expect the church to have the answer? Is it because their track record in dealing with sexuality is so stellar? I mean, we have made strides since the days of whipping oneself because of sexual desire. But, c'mon, we all know that the religious answer to issues of sexuality has been suppression, oppression, and mountains and mountains of shame. And yet, everywhere I go, people are saying that the church needs to be talking about this issue!!! Why? Why does the church need to be talking about this? Haven't they done enough damage? 50% of the pastors that are talking about it are addicted to porn - so why do we want them to talk about it more? Are we actually wanting a confession?
This seems to me to be a very important question.
It reminds me of 9/11. In September of 2001, I was attending a small Christian college in Northern California and that semester, I was in a speech class. I remember when those planes hit, there was a strange need I felt inside to hear a leader talk. I wanted to hear the President say everything was going to be "okay". I think that was a really common experience. I remember asking a question about that in our speech class a few days after that tragedy and my professor said talked about how authority works in our consciousness. Something about President Bush saying we would prevail made me feel like I would prevail. The leader says I am okay. So, I feel okay. I need him to say it because the truth is that at an unconscious level is that I am not, nor do I feel, okay.
We expect the church and its leaders to speak for God. For most of us, we are so out of touch with our own spirit and so rooted in shame and pain, that we need some pastor, some priest, some church body to tell us that God is okay with us, so we can feel okay. We want to hear that we are forgiven because we feel like we aren't.
And these religious leaders are struggling with the same issues in the same unconscious, wounded spaces inside themselves that we are. This makes me wonder if we were healed as people to the level where we could truly know grace - that resounding "you are loved, forgiven, and known!" spoken throughout eternity - perhaps we could then allow the church to be a center of community and spiritual renewal and we would all be more equipped to be the voice of sexual truth for our children.
For me - it isn't the church's job to form my sexuality or that of my children - it's mine. And in order to fulfill that responsibility well, I have to be willing to walk into the pain that I am medicating within this sexual culture. I do this so that my children can bear less of my pain than I bore of my parents. The Bible says that the spirit will show me all truth (1st John). So that is the last frontier. That is where I go with these issues. And if we don't know how to do that? Now we can start talking about the responsibility of the church.