This week the bishop has asked us priests to address the problem of pornography, which has become an enormous problem, largely because of cell phones, where we have the whole world in our hands and it affects people of all ages.
In the creation story of Genesis, one thing that is striking, is all the distinctions that are made. God is not part of the universe. He is outside the universe and creates it. The different stages of creation are distinct from each other, gradually going from lower forms of life to higher. The plants are not the same as the animals. Animals are not the same as people. We are distinctly different. It says that Adam looked among the animals to find a help mate, but he could not find one. This is reminding us that we are completely different from animals. Sometimes you will hear people say that we are basically animals, but that is not true according to God’s word. We are created in God’s image which gives us a special dignity. Jesus didn’t die on the cross to save animals. He died to save the human race, which is made in his image. God the Son took on human flesh. He became man and lived among us.
It also says that God made man and woman in his image. There is a distinction between humans and God and between man and woman, and there is meant to be. In regard to the man, God says, “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make a fitting helper for him,” literally, “a helper who is his equal.” We are meant to complement each other, man and woman are equal, but there is a real distinction. This is one of the reasons why the ‘Equality Act’ which has just been passed, is a real problem. It goes against the word of God by saying that there are no longer distinctions between man and woman. Man can be woman and woman can be man. That is the opposite of the word of God. Everyone should be respected for who they are and no one should be exploited, but God tells us that he created us distinctly different.
One of the reasons why pornography is so wrong, is that it takes away the dignity of the person, by reducing us to something we are not. It reduces us to sexual objects, only there for the pleasure of another. We no longer have any value as individuals. We just become objects of pleasure to be used at will.
Let me give you a few statistics, which are quite shocking.
· 90% of 8-16 year old’s have viewed porn. Not only that, but most of what is being looked at is very violent.
· 3 of top 10 sites viewed on the internet in the US, are adult sites. That’s higher than Ebay. Most of what is being watched is very violent.
· 56% of women under 25 use it. 81% of men under 25.
· 31% of 10-12 year-olds start intentionally. 57% 13-15 year-olds. 50% of young people use it weekly.
But it’s not just young people that are using it. It is people of all ages. The problem, especially for young people, is that it creates a distortion of reality and what our sexuality is about. If this happens at a very young age, you can imagine the damage it is doing and how it will affect their relationships later on.
If you have children, it is not a question of whether they will look at adult sites, but when and they probably have already. On our computers, internet history hides everything, which means you may be oblivious to what they are seeing. Most of these sites are also looked at in the bedroom, so when young people go into their rooms in the evening, that is when most of it will be looked at, on phones, tablets and computers. One way to help prevent this is to not allow phones and computers in the bedroom.
Physically, our children have never been safer, which is great. But spiritually they have never been in greater danger. If you come across your children looking at these sites, the worst thing you can do is to shame them. ‘How could you? You should be ashamed…’ Then they will withdraw completely, but it will continue.
Another problem is that people feel that God is now ashamed of them, so they don’t know where to turn. I can’t tell my parents and I can’t turn to God, so guess where I go? Back to the computer.
The best thing you can do is to discuss it with them and help them to see what is wrong with it. We need to educate our children as to what our bodies are for and why God created us. We need to teach them that sex is a beautiful thing, but that it is for marriage and not just for whenever you want. That is what God teaches us.
You know how horrible it feels if you realize you have been used by someone. This is what these adult sites are doing: they are using others for our pleasure, with no regard for who they are as people. If we met those people in person, I’m sure we would see them completely differently.
The good news—and there is always good news—is that there are now many programs available which provide filter software which will block these sites completely, on phones as well as computers. They are not expensive and quite a few are free. It is worth spending a few extra dollars a month to protect your children. Remember that it is not just about protecting your children from a problem, it is protecting them from sin, which can separate us from God. I know you want your children to have the best future. What about their eternal future?
For adults in particular, one program which has helped a lot of people is called Covenant Eyes. The reason why it is so successful is because not only does it block adult sites, it also makes you accountable to another person, by sending them a report each week. All of us need to be accountable and all of us will ultimately be accountable to God. The help is there, but we need to use it. We will tell ourselves I don’t need to spend money on filter software, I can do it myself. But the truth is that it is designed to be highly addictive and most people find it extremely difficult to break a habit of looking at adult sites.
At the doors of the church you will find booklets available for everyone, which address the issue and also point you in the direction of where to go next. Please take one and read it. It is too important an issue to ignore.
God created us in his image, as something beautiful and our dignity is under attack in many ways. But the Lord will also help us through this if we are smart enough to use the tools that are there.
And God created man in his image, in the image f God He created him; male and female He created them. (Gen 1:27)
Here are a few websites which provide filter software against pornography:
Covenant Eyes www.covenanteyes.com
Net Nanny www.netnanny.com
Sevn Soft Web Patrol www.soft32.com (free)
Any web block www.any-weblock.en.uptodown.com (free)
Cold turkey www.getcoldturkey.com (free)