With the breaking of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the corrupt culture of Hollywood was once again brought to the forefront of the American conscience. For years there have been rumors about a culture of sexual aggression and pedophilia kept quiet by the industry’s most powerful. What the case of Weinstein (and Cosby if the allegations prove true) show is a culture where those at the top are the actual perpetrators—a revelation that continues to unravel. These stories are disappointing and disgusting, but should come as no surprise for an industry that thrives on sexual deviancy and the objectification of women (and men for that matter). Sadly, Hollywood is simply the ultimate expression of our pornographic culture; the inevitable end of the Sexual Revolution. We eventually will grasp what we glamorize. For years the entertainment industry has built its profits on the concept that “Sex sells.” Movies that romanticize affairs and sexual experimentation now win the highest awards.
Of course, Hollywood isn’t the only one at fault. The explosion of the pornography industry, and the progress of technology, has made sexually explicit videos available at the touch of a screen (free of charge of course). Accessibility and opportunity, combined with a manic sense of boredom have produced some of the most pornographic years in recent memory. Fashion industries follow suit with the over-sexualization of our young girls. The skirts continue to get higher, tighter, and more form fitting. Some have started calling out the pageantry, but it’s hard to have a leg to stand on when we allow our daughters to wear similar clothing during the week.
These factors (and others) combine to create a society where the ruling standard of value is sex. Young women learn to value themselves, not by their kindness, intelligence, or humility but by their waist line or their makeup brand. Young men gain their self-worth, not through courage, chivalry, or self-reliance, but on how many young women they slept with or the size of their genitals. Again, this is solidified by the media when the main stories focus on the sexual exploits of their favorite actors, and who “came out” this past week.
Sadly, these same young men and women bring these expectations into marriage where they are quickly shattered. No matter how hard she tries, your wife can’t compete (nor should she) with a porn model. Regardless of what you see in the movies, your husband is no Edward Cullen. When two people enter a relationship that works through self-giving love and sacrifice with selfish expectations of fulfillment, they are doomed from the start.
Yet, the damaging effects of the pornographic ethic doesn’t simply affect our marriages, but the social fabric of our churches and communities. When our valuing system is sex there is an essential objectification of others. That is, while your initial reaction may not be, “Can I have sex with this person?” (although that is often how we value people when our brains are warped by porn), it does ask “What can this person do for me?” People are no longer individuals to invest in, but objects to use. They aren’t souls, they are meat. No substantive, meaningful relationships can be built on such a foundation. This is the corrosive influence of the pornographic ethic. If we have any doubts, simply look at the fruit that is now blooming in Hollywood.
I say all of that to say this: you were made for more than sex. While your sexuality is a part of who you are, it doesn’t define you. Your sex life isn’t the ultimate expression of your identity. In fact, you can live a great life without ever having sex. You can live a happy and fulfilling life without ever losing your virginity. The happiest man alive never had sex—his name was Jesus. That isn’t to say sex is bad or dirty; it’s a blessing given by God. Sex can be a beautiful thing when placed within the confines of a monogamous, committed marriage—but it can also be a destructive, objectifying act (even in marriage if abused). Yet, while God gave sex as a blessing for marriage, it was never meant to be the apex of our existence nor the standard by which we gain our self-worth (or value others).
For those who live by a sexual valuing system, this message seems absurd—blasphemous even. Yet, while they would say that sex is pleasurable, they also can’t deny that some of their most heart wrenching moments, moments where they felt degraded and used, involved sex. This is the double-edged sword of sex: it can be a blessing or a curse. The modern world has warped it into the latter.
But the reality is that you were made for more than sex. In fact, the message of Christianity is that you were made for something—someone—far greater and more fulfilling than sex: you were made for Jesus. Notice what Paul writes in Colossians 1:15-16:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
Notice: “all things were created…for him.” You were made for him. Every breath you take, every dream you have, every joy you desire, was meant to find ultimate fulfillment in him. On top of that here is another great truth: he gives himself freely to you. Jesus willingly and freely offers his love and joy for your happiness and his glory. Paul would say that Jesus is the ultimate “Yes” of God; that is, in him we discover the fulfillment of God’s promises to us for happiness and glory (2 Cor. 1:19-20). If you have Jesus then you have everything.
The greatest expression of this self-giving love was the cross. At Calvary, God gave inestimable worth and value to every individual—not because they could be used by him—but because they bore His image. From Christianity’s perspective, every single person has unfathomable, irreducible value because of creation and Calvary. Christianity doesn’t ask “What can this person do for me?” but “What can I do for this person?” Because of this, Christianity gives the surest foundation for producing the greatest society; one built on self-giving love, humility, equality, and justice.
It is because of this that we must do everything we can to guard our children against the pornographic ethic that is so ardently promoted in our society. While exposure to porn is almost inevitable, we must do what we can to make sure the age at which our children are exposed is as late as possible. Don’t allow children to have mobile devices before they are ready for them. If they own a phone/tablet make sure to provide protective software to prevent them from going to explicit sites. Be mindful of the media they are consuming (whether it is music, movies, books, etc.). Be cautious about who they spend the night with. One of the most common places for children to experience first exposure to porn is at the house of a friend.
But, even more than that, we must teach our children (and ourselves) to value people by the ethic of the cross. To see people as inestimably valuable. To see people as worthy of investment—of our time, resources, love, and sacrifice—based simply on the reality that they are image bearers. We are called to serve, not to be served. If we could believe and embody this truth as the church we would see radical reformations in our families.
We can keep feeding on the empty husks of lust, consuming each other and being consumed, living miserable, sub-par existences. We can convince ourselves that “this time” sex will give us what we’ve been looking for: lasting pleasure, happiness, value. Or, we can repent and believe the gospel. We can find substantive joy and happiness in the self-giving, eternal love of God through His Son Jesus—the one we were made for. We’ve been captured by lust, but we can be conquered by love. What a liberating truth.
But, the first step in this process is recognizing this truth: you were made for more than sex.