Busted Halo
feature: sex & relationships
January 14th, 2009

Porn in the USA

XXXChurch is not a sex site (kinda)

 
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A family member of mine recently said, “Shellie, I’ve accepted that you are working in the sex industry.”

My thought? “It’s about time.”

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When I look at my life, even I must admit that it is really sex filled. I am a teen-mom coordinator for a local Nashville nonprofit. That pretty much consists of trying to encourage 13 to 19-year-old “grown-way-too-soon” young women to use biblical insights, my advice based on experience (I myself am a sex abuse survivor with a history of promiscuity) and a little common sense when it comes to making sexual choices. I speak pretty frequently on a book that I wrote in 2004, Inside of Me: Lessons of Lust, Love and Redemption . (I think the title that is pretty self-explanatory.) Oh… and then there’s the porn thing.

No, I am not an ex-porn star, but I do spend a lot of time on the periphery of that culture. You see, I am a blogger for XXXChurch.com, a website that serves as an online ministry to porn addicts. Yeah, I’m sure a few of you are gasping. I am pretty used to that by now. It’s an odd “ministry,” but trust me, no matter how taboo it is and continues to be — especially and unfortunately within the Church — it is needed.

According to SafeFamilies.org, 2006 porn industry revenue was $13.3 billion in the U.S alone. Ten percent of people admitted to downloading porn, 28 percent of those being women. Seventy percent of men between 18 and 34 visit at least one pornographic site per month. (See sidebar for more statistics.) Oh, but here’s the real shocker (at least it will be for some of you): In 2001, over 37 percent of pastors said that porn was a struggle for them; over half of evangelical pastors admitted to viewing pornography. Twenty-nine percent of born-again adults believe it’s OK to view movies with sexually explicit behavior.

Some of these stats may be staggering, but this is something that should not be ignored — even when it comes to women. A 2003 study published in Christianity Today said at least one in six women admitted to struggling with pornography.

Not just bad lighting and corny music

Now, before you gasp, laugh or judge, let me be clear: porn isn’t just the VHS/DVD flicks with the bad lighting and corny music. The late night Cinemax that seems to be coming on earlier and earlier? That’s porn. The two-minute uploads on You Tube that stop before you see any genitalia? That’s porn. Oh, and ladies, while I’m on this subject, the erotica short stories you may love to read; you know, the kind that provide such a visual in your mind that you might as well be watching it? Yeah, that too is porn. In a nutshell, anything that depicts explicit sexual acts with nudity is considered pornography.

They say that the most effective person to pull someone out of an addiction is someone who has gone through it. I’m not sure if I was a porn addict, but I definitely have had my fill of it — enough to know why it’s a habit you never want to get caught up in.

My first recollection of hardcore porn is from college. A guy I was sleeping with — well, having sex with (do you ever really sleep over in college?) — had a flick on when I came over. Initially it was so cheesy, cheap and graphic that it was a turn-off. But, as I recently shared with a church in Seattle, porn to me is a lot like road kill: disgusting yet intriguing at the same time. I mean, to see a dead animal… guts and all… you don’t really see that every day. Naked folks having sex… all kinds of sex… right before your very eyes… you don’t really see that every day, either.

Or at least you didn’t used to. Back when I was checking out porn, I had to put on my “spy uniform” (dark clothes, big hat and sunglasses), wait until sunset and sneak into a local porn shop to get my fix. Flicks were cool, but I tended to lean more towards erotica… you know, “sex stories in print.” Nowadays, just type in the right — or wrong — combination of words (of course, I’m not going to give them to you) and you can pull up a series of free clips — male/female, male/male/female, female/female, male/male, man/beast, man/child… you name it — from the comfort of your living room couch.

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OK, now do you see why there needs to be an online ministry?

XXXChurch.com is a network of people who provide support for those who are too ashamed to admit publicly that they are struggling with the issue (isolation is one of the main suck-ins of a porn fetish.) There are blogs for men, women, teens, parents, pastors and spouses; there is software for people who are looking for accountability while “drying out” from the habit; there’s a link to resources and gear, even a t-shirt that says, “Jesus Loves Porn Stars” (as well he does!); and some of us are on the speaking circuit. Craig Gross, a pastor and co-founder sometimes tours with Ron Jeremy (yes, the Ron Jeremy) to debate the issue; and many Sundays he is speaking around the world at events called, “Porn and Pancakes”.

Me? Well, aside from being the “Women’s” blogger, I am the “Porn and Pastries” chick, which means speaking to women about what I call “The Gateway Drugs of Sexual Addiction.” There is a scripture in I Timothy (4:14-16 to be exact) that says that your testimony will save you and those who hear you. I find that to be true. I am writing a semi-follow-up to “Inside of Me” called “Eyes Open; Legs Closed”. It addresses what I believe is God’s plan for sex for women. I have come to some of the conclusions on my own; some through other people’s insights (check out Tim Alan Gardner’s “Sacred Sex” — it’s amazing!!!); even more through prayer and biblical research.

What have I found as a bottom line? Sex is powerful… sex is godly… sex is spiritual… and, sex is nothing to be played with (so to speak) or taken lightly. M. Scott Peck once said that sex is the most spiritual experience most of us will ever have. We chase it with such reckless abandon because we don’t realize that actually we are not chasing sex, but God.

A radical thought, I know, but have you ever taken a moment to think about all of the drama that has transpired in the world all because of irresponsible sex? In my own life, I have had more heartbreaks, more lost relationships, more unplanned pregnancies (we’ll talk about that some other time) than I ever wanted to, and a big part of it was because I wanted to have sex on my terms. It has never worked on my terms. I’ve “loved” and had sex, liked and had sex, lusted and had sex… I ain’t with any of those dudes. In Genesis, it says that Adam and the Woman were naked and not ashamed. Shoot, I think about a lot of the sex I’ve had and there was indeed some fun, but always shame attached to it. 1 Corinthians 7:5 says that a married couple is not supposed to withhold from one another, so that leads me to believe that God is all for us having it, the right way, at the right time, in the right context. He created it; he would know how to use it. And yes, God is not flesh, but a spirit, so I would have to agree that sex is a spiritual thing.

Which brings us full circle in this discussion, right? If asked what I hope I am doing in the “sex industry,” I guess I’d say: An ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure, and I want to help people see sex from less of a physical, more of a spiritual place — not so they can’t enjoy it, but so they can to the fullest.

 
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The Author : Shellie R. Warren
Shellie R. Warren is a full-time writer and speaker on "sexual misuse," a phrase she coined to describe any sexual relationship outside of marriage. She has been published in over four dozen publications, including Honey Magazine, Upscale Magazine, CCM, Women's Health & Fitness, Relevant, Radiant, King and NV Magazine. She is based on Nashville.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • BTanaka

    I also would revise your definition of pornography: porn doesn’t require nudity or explicit sex to be porn. There are all kinds of niche markets in the industry. I would recommend this definition:

    “Any representative media primarily intended to or used to sexually arouse the viewer.”

  • Brandon

    I think you should look at your definition for pornography. An important aspect of the definition of pornography is it’s capability to excited the viewer sexually. If it is simply a nude photo it probably will not be considered pornography.

  • Carmen Hinze

    God bless you! You are right, this ministry is needed, and more than ever in the history of the world thanks to the internet. Is there any way I can support you in your ministry? I work for and run a ministry at a church in Tempe, AZ, and see all too often the need for help and healing in this area. Please let me know how I can do more.

    Carmen Hinze
    Tempe, AZ

  • Jessica

    BH, thank you for this article. Perhaps Warren’s ministry is not where most of us would choose to serve, but then, Jesus example teaches us to reach out to those we want to exclude.

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