Social Pornography

As I indicated in my last post, this is a risky title, and I am scared of what adsense will do with it! I heard this phrase at a workshop by Deb Hirsch on sexuality. Deb Hirsch is involved with Forge, and has pastored a church with significant emphasis on the sexually broken. You can read her profile here. Deb quoted CS Lewis who stated that our sexuality mirrors our spirituality. Now there's a challenge.

The workshop explored three different elements of sexuality – gender, social and genital (I think I need to take adsense out of my CSS sheet…aagh!)… Anyway, Deb went on to illustrate how men are more likely to express their sexuality in the third area, and women are more into social aspects of sexuality – connectedness, relationships, intimacy… etc. I personally believe that all aspects of sexuality mentioned by Deb are important in both male and female sexuality, but perhaps the emphases vary. Men traditionally get a lot of bad press because of their vulnerability to inappropriate expressions of "genital sexuality", and because women may not struggle in the same way, we can be left considering ourselves more virtuous. Deb proposed that men are drawn to "private parts", but women are drawn to "private lives". Women fantasise about the lives of the rich and famous, their relationships, fidelity, their body sizes and attributes, their fashion, scandal, gossip." Who Magazine, Women's Weekly, Cleo, Cosmo, all devoured with an insatiable voyeristic appetite for intimate knowledge about the lives of others. Deb coins this obsession as "social pornography", and suggested that like it's more familiar counterpart, it is sinful.

Here is where I breathe a big sigh of relief. At least one area of sin that I don't have to struggle with. I cannot tell you the name of Tom Cruise' new love (does he have one?). I don't know what Brad is up to (and I don't care). I didn't even know that Lleyton Hewitt's wife was pregnant until I went to a fancy dress party and my brother-in-law and his wife had to explain their outfits to me. I hate the magazines. I like reading tech magazines (a bit of a nerdy secret actually), Delicious (because I like good food), and Wild (because I love hiking). No glam girls or boys to be found.

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8 thoughts on “Social Pornography

  1. You have my workplace buzzing with this one! We DO know Brad Pitt’s girlfriend, Angelina, and we love to peruse trashy mags, as relief from the daily slog. I love the clothes of the rich and famous, especially some of the atrocious ones, and I never miss the Academy Awards, for fashion and films.

    I don’t actually want to BE any one of them. I think the sin comes in when we covet what they have. It is obscene to me that someone can own a $27 million home, but I would love to clear my mortgage!

    I can’t wait to read the next trashy mag and check my reactions. thanks for the tip.

  2. and one of my favorite quotes of all time is from GK CHesterton: “A man knocking on the door of a brothel is a man knocking on the door of God.” Indeed , I think our sexuality is deeply wrapped around our spiritual selves…or is it vice versa? ..

  3. Thanks for your comment Atticus. That quote is food for thought! At the workshop Deb talked about spirituality as our longing for connectedness with God, and our sexuality as longing for connectedness with others. I believe that sex is a spiritual act as well as physical – maybe it is one of the points where our physicality and spirituality meet intimately in a way that is a mirror to the intimacy of our relationship with God. Songs of Solomon is an interesting book to read in this regard.

  4. I agree ..i work as a PA in college health, and I see this longing in the patients who come in with multiple partners…searching and coming up with an STD on top of spiritual/emotional pain..Also, it is this very connection between our sexual and spiritual beings that sex perpetrators take advantage of–it is why clergy abuse is so devastating….even moreso when the community minimizes the act of abuse to only a physical act….

  5. Thanks again for your comments Atticus.
    I don’t think that many people outside Christian circles really think about the spiritual component of sexuality. At least, no-one I know speaks of it in this way. Even amongst Christians, I don’t think it is really talked about so much. It seems to be all about rules governing what is or is not ok with less emphasis on the incredible spirituality of the act. If the emphasis was on the latter, perhaps the former would be less of a battle. Or at least the battle would be meaningful.

  6. I really liked reading this post. “Social Pornography” is a good way of looking at much of what is found in Popular Culture. My only fear is that Christians will somehow equate everything found in Pop Culture with being of no consequence to our main purpose of evangelization. We have to use discernment in this situation. For example, Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Mininstries often infuses his sermons with Pop Culture tidbits that pique the interest of the non-believer in the crowd. Often times a person may come to know the Lord through such an approach to preaching the gospel, so it all depends on the approach. But I definitely agree that there is social pornography.

  7. Thanks for your comment! I agree that we should not be disconnected from our culture. If we shut ourselves off from popular culture it makes it difficult to build relationships with people in our communities, schools, workplaces etc. I also think that there is much to learn about our culture from familiarity with it’s icons etc. Maybe the difference is the degree to which we are hooked. If it defines us and dictates our standards etc pop culture may then be said to be more problematic. Having said all this, I still don’t think I could buy those magazines just to keep up! The office talk fills me in anyway…

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