Let’s exalt authentic love.
Today, we’re all about the stigma. Destigmatize this, destigmatize that. Usually not without reason, of course. But when do we draw the line between destigmatizing a good, and destigmatizing something that hurts us – seeking to destigmatize vices? Where do we draw the line between the things that are necessary, and things that are just convenient or for our pleasure? The things that maybe – just maybe – make our lives a little easier or fun, but slowly eat away at our hearts?
Today, and quite often recently, I have encountered the idea of destigmatizing porn.
And apparently, my reaction to hearing this ludicrous idea was “exactly why porn needed to be destigmatized.”
And yet, I had no Idea why any sane person would ever think this is necessary. You know, other than somebody who wants to watch their porn without being bothered. Instead, I had before me a beautiful woman who was saying this. And As I looked at this woman, I did not see a malicious heart. And when I think of destigmatizing porn, and those that think it should be destigmatized, I do think of good intentions. I think of the desire that we have to give of ourselves, and I think of the desire we have to love.
I think of a world that is deceived by the lie that Christianity – or those who dislike pornography – hate sex.
Believe me, world, I do not want to steal your fun or joy – I want you to have it abundantly, wholly, fully, authentically. And I believe that Christianity’s view of sex does just that.
As a Catholic, I was taught that sex was reserved for marriage. Not that it was bad, that it was beautiful. That it was good, that it could be HOLY. That it was so good, that it should be cherished only between two.
But in school, I was taught to do what I want. To have fun. As long as nobody gets hurt. And nobody gets hurt – physically. But do we get hurt? I’d say we do. We are used and abused, i’ve seen it quite enough. We seek love, attention, or whatever it may be, in being someone else’s gratification.
And as often as sex is gratifying, that is not to deny that it is meant to be an act of love. But how often do we love sex and not the person? How is it to be safeguarded without true, unbreakable, commitment? Marriage allows such an embrace to be a physical reflection and a reaffirming promise of the total, faithful, and fruitful gift of self that is exchanged in the sacrament. Two become one. Or two can even become one with God.
Just as sex is not hated, sex is seen as so absolutely beautiful, that it could even be a form of communion with God. It is the deepest level of intimacy that a couple could experience.
But then, if sex is so good – why don’t we like porn? Why do I wish so much for porn to run right back up its stigmatized alley?
That is because there is a difference between sex within marital union, and porn. There is a difference between a total, faithful, fruitful, gift of self – and straight up utility.
Pornography is just that. Pornography is the broadcasting of deep, distorted, intimacy for the viewing pleasure of others. Pornography does not only encourage our use and abuse, but it shares it with anyone that can get their hands on a screen or a magazine. Pornography thrusts aside the beauty and dignity of the person and puts on a show.
And so I ask this:
If your child ever said that they wanted to be a porn star, what would your reaction be?
Would you fight for that destigmatization, so your child could do they kind of “work” they want?
I’m going to assume that you would not.
But is the reason we do not like this idea because we hate sex, or that we are blinded and brainwashed by this societal stigma? Or is is because we know in our hearts, and at the very core of our being, that porn does not honor or uphold the dignity of a person? Because you know that your child would submit themselves to be used for someone else’s pleasure, or that your child is going to be using someone else for their own?
And this crime of use is not just committed the person having sex with a pornstar on screen, but everyone who subsequently watches them.
The sexual revolution may tell us that our ability to do this is freeing, but pornography does not free us, it only broadcasts our brokenness. It is visible proof of our desensitization as we are able to have sex in front of a camera lens. As if it weren’t enough, it simultaneously makes this disregard of our hearts widely available to watch.
So although I see good intentions when seeking to destigmatize pornography, I also see a world that grossly twists good intentions with vices.
I begun to understand this twisting recently, when I was told that pornography and sex are so encouraged because there still lies truth within them. There is a grain of pure love within each sexual act, whether you believe it is the oxytocin, or the heart. There are parts of us that seek the goodness, the intimacy, and the love that sex was made for when we reach for these things – we seek the bond that is strengthening within its proper context.
And when we don’t seem to find it – maybe we search for it elsewhere, maybe we continue to break ourselves seeking something that cannot be found where we are looking. Maybe we even search for it through destigmatizing our entrance into the twisted corners of the porn industry and opening the floodgates.
But what would our world be if we stopped fighting for every twisted ideal that we believe will give us freedom and instead, started searching for and encouraging real, authentic love? What if we understood that deep intimacy does not have to involve physicality? What if, instead of destigmatizing porn, we fought so fiercely to exalt love?
What if we fought and taught each other, every day, to be our brother’s keeper? What if, every gaze upon our brothers and sisters was followed by the exhilarating realization of how much they are loved? What if we loved so greatly, that we broke the chains of utility? What if we truly became free?
“Love; it will not betray you, dismay, or enslave you. It will set you free.”
– Mumford & Sons
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