Anyhow. Porn addiction: apparently that's every man's battle. (The hell. But more on that.)
I've known a few people who couldn't reconcile their taste for porn with their belief system, so phrased their struggle in the language of addiction. It made sense in one case, inasmuch as anyone can have a hobby which spins right out of control and takes over their lives. It didn't always wash, though. More often, it just registered as fear. It's not that they had an addiction.
It's that they indulged occasionally.
"I had a glass of beer once a week at the pub. I'm an alcoholic."
Fair enough if your faith or worldview doesn't permit you to include porn consumption as an expression of your sexuality. That's fine. Lots of people aren't comfortable with erotic art or entertainment in any form, even if they enjoy it. But phrasing it as addiction is a really, really good way to overblow your issue, misrepresent yourself, misrepresent pornography and cause more damage than your occasional sin was doing on its own.
But you know that, right? You're not dumb.
Porn addiction was the only bit that really struck out at me as new for a very long time. I wasn't expecting "emotional affairs," which is what chicks are supposed to do. I don't think I have the language to express the ire that concept inspires in me. An emotional affair can be anything from what really is a romantic relationship with someone you haven't got leeway in your central relationship to pursue, up through and including a goddamned crush on Clark Gable. I kid thee the heck not.
And girls have this. Women have this.
Yes, all right, fair enough. As with porn addictions, take it to the extreme and you devalue the model? But take it to the extreme and you apparently also have a fair few lucrative books.
Which brings me to True Love Waits.
Why didn't anyone tell me that the TLW campaign pretty much belongs to a Christian merchandising company named Lifeway? It's a beautiful racket. Studies demonstrate that a chastity pledge tends to last about eighteen months (so much for [REDACTED] and [OMITTED]) before you get yourself some backsliding. So, introduce your product range -- True Love Waits rings, necklaces, books, CDs, and other "inspirational" tat -- into the Christian marketplace, and put some viral marketing into play. Make your logos and your rituals freely reproducible; provide some engaging activities for youth leaders to bring into their high school groups. Make it very easy to inject those rituals into the course of a normal church service, particularly ones which, you know, if you really want to, because you could use a silver ring, of course, but you could use a TLW branded ring to remind the kids of the pledge they'll be taking. The one you wrote.
The one they can take more than once. With a new ring each time, if you like?
One you can pick up at your local Christian bookstore?
This bothers me. (It's not just TLW, either. There's Silver Ring Thing, but that's more of an event-driven operation.) TLW is the Kleenex of youth sexual purity in the United States right now, and it's rigged. Coincidentally enough, you can start a teenager on this path right now, which'll get them into senior year of high school or the first year of college. At that point, you can start in on the Waterbrook Press series of Battle books for your age group and gender -- Every Young Woman's Battle or Every Young Man's. Problem with porn? Or all-consuming crushes on more than one person? There's books and music and CDs and events for all that, too.
And then, you know, eighteen months to three years? Do as well as you can, then fall over, because you're meant to fall over. That's not what you should do, and of course it's your fault (you wouldn't keep up on this path if you didn't keep right with the Lord, right? Dude, you need to keep an eye on that). But you will.
And then the adult stuff -- Every Man or Woman's Battle -- will be there for you. In the Armed Forces? There's Every Soldier's Battle.
Did you know that Lifeway own several Christian bookstores?
Do you know how angry I am right now that there's an industry devoted to drawing money out of people who set themselves up for failure in their romantic and/or sexual relationships, whether through an addiction model or through the notion of any sort of fulfilling extramarital bond (notwithstanding your girlfriends, of course, because you don't want them like that) or just getting overwhelmed by hormones and hewing to the letter of the law to stay sane? That it exists to trap you, with cheap rings as a teenager and manipulative workshops as an adult, when you fall over every eighteen to thirty-six months once you've been suckered into this paradigm?
And that it works in the name of God?
You know I keep an eye on Jack Chick, and I watch TBN, and I read Left Behind. I do this stuff for more than one reason. I take the power this stuff holds out of myself, and I look at it, and I dismember it.
I remember the time a well-meaning friend tried to send me into the arms of Exodus International. He wasn't the first, but he was the most persuasive. He was misguided. He was wrong. I knew better, and thank God I was strong enough to do that much; all it took was one phone call and I could see this road ahead of me. (The book you want here is Stranger At the Gate by Mel White. It's nothing new.)
You send yourself to the workshops, you read the books, you lag one step behind the fiscal trail; in one year or three or five or ten, you stop being able to put things in the little boxes, and you fall apart. And there's the machine.
There's the machine, which tells you it can put you all back together again. For a price.
For a price.
Do you know how angry I am that they've found a way to do this for everyone else, too?
It's because shit like gets pulled that I became the Cynic Sage.
Let's make a little comparison, shall we? John White (deceased), associate professor of Psychiatry at the University of Manitoba vs. Steve Arterburn, holder of six degrees from Baylor University (in the field of "stuff") and two honorary doctorates (one being in the field of "things" and the other being in the field of "other things") and Fred Stoeker, professional sexually-obsessed basket-case with father-issues and experience locating misplaced dildos (aka "The Dynamic Duo of Douchebaggery").
Let's see how many books John White has written on the subject of sexual sin.
- Eros Defiled: The Christian and Sexual Sin (IVP 1977)
- Eros Defiled: The Problem of Sexual Guilt (IVP 1978)
- Eros Redeemed: Breaking the Stranglehold of Sexual Sin (IVP 1993)
Of those books listed (He has written other books, but those don't have to do with this topic) the only one I've read is the first Eros Defiled, and all I can say about it is that John White is not what some would call "sexually liberated" (he believes in waiting until marriage ect.) but throughout his book he constantly warns of the dangers of vilifying the sex-drive and viewing things "as sinful simply because they are sexual". It contains both a bibliography and footnotes and even cites the Kinsey Report (which is incredibly weird because seeing an evangelical cite the Kinsey Report is like seeing a vampire wear a crucifix). Another thing I found admirable in White's work is that he does not use guilt in an attempt to manipulate the reader and discourages those feeling trapped in sexual sin from engaging in self-loathing.
EMB, on the other hand, teaches things like your body is "engaging in battle against you" and that masturbation will keep you from "being able to look God in the eye" and being able to "truly love Jesus". (Apparently, masturbation is an activity too sick and sinful in God's eyes to even be mentioned in the Bible, like voting Democrat but not as bad).
And let's look at the "Every Man" books:
- Every Man's Battle (WBP 2000)
- Every Single Man's Battle,(WBP 2000)
- Every Man's Marriage* (WBP 2001)
- Every Young Man's Battle (WBP 2002)
- Preparing Your Son for Every Man's Battle (WBP 2003)
- Every Man's Battle Guide (WBP 2003)
- Every Woman's Battle (WBP 2003)
- Every Man, God's Man (2003)
- Every Young Man's Battle Guide (WBP 2003)
- Every Young Woman's Battle (WBP 2004)
- Preparing Your Daughter for Every Woman's Battle (WBP 2005)
- Every Single Woman's Battle (WBP 2005)
- Tactics: Securing the Victory in Every Young Man's Battle** (WBP 2006)
Okay, now guess which author's books are proudly displayed in at the front of Christian bookstores, and which one's are gathering dust in the discount bins at used book-stores.
And not just that. For each of the "Every Man" books there are workbooks you can buy, as well as DVDs and CDs, and I'm not just talking about audiobook CDs here:
Win This War - CD
Order today and receive: FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD
This CD takes the Biblical truths from Fred Stoeker's book TACTICS and sets them to music.
Created especially for young men, the early tracks are about the cost of sin in our relationship with God, the middle tracks are about repentance and fighting for victory over that sin, and the last tracks are about our relationships with the Lord and with the opposite sex – and what sexual purity means in those relationships.These songs take you on a journey from Point A to Point B; may you never be the same again.
Man, what the hell is it with Christian self-help books being accompanied by inspirational music CDs?! Have evangelicals finally reached this level of stupidity?! Let's face it, folks. If you can sell someone an inspirational music CD as something that goes along with a xtian-self-help book, you can probably sell them dog-turds at $5 apiece out of a xtian-bookstore and call 'em "Jesus-Brownies". People that sell crack to children can't work in Christian-bookstores because their consciences won't let them.
Not only do these guys have the ethics of Bible-salesmen, they actually are Bible-salesmen:
Finally, a Bible that every ordinary guy--from truck drivers to lawyers--can call his own. This is a guy's type of Bible--straight talk about the challenges of life. Notes cover everything from work issues to relationships with women to common temptations guys face. Every Man's Bible is written by the best-selling author of the Every Man's series, Steve Arterburn.
Finally, a Bible for men. You know, one that an ordinary guy can actually call his own. Good thing this came out when it did, as whenever I would be driving my pickup-truck filled with power-tools to the local football-stadium, I would often struggle to open up my NIV only to have my PENIS get in the way. It's about time someone found a solution to this widespread problem.
And the notes deal with "common temptations guys face". What a relief! Because recently I've been feeling tempted to exploit my more simple-minded brothers in Christ by mis-labeling any sexual feelings they may have outside of wedlock as "sexual immorality" and making a fortune by publishing self-help books that claim to be able to help "free them from bondage" even though they are mostly empty filler, all the while continuously manipulating them through inducing guilt and fear. And every time they slip up (and they will), I tell them that there is still hope, as they can find the help they so desperately need by purchasing even more of my books and even attending some of my ridiculously expensive workshops (but they can get a discount by joining my paying to join my "ministry's" product club).
Better check the Bible... Hrmmn? "What you are about to do, do quickly". Who am I to argue with Jesus?
Now, I'm not calling Fred or Steve "fleecers of the flock". No, I'm sure their motivations are good and pure. They just want to help out the average Christian guy maintain his relationship with Jesus. And from looking at ministries like theirs, maintaining a relationship with Jesus is alot like maintaining a relationship with a High-class Las-Vegas hooker (the main difference being that the relationship with the prostitute is less expensive financially and will leave you feeling less shame).
It's like a weird Bizzaro-universe porn-industry in that both "purity" ministries and porn businesses rely on the sexual desires of the consumer to make money, but the difference is that most porn (aside from Left Behind) doesn't get a useful economic boost from behind the pulpit.
This isn't a "ministry". It's something else, something else entirely...
*Originally published as Every Woman's Desire, Fred and Steve changed the title when it became apparent that a book aimed at women written by a couple of Promise-Keepers telling them what exactly a woman wants in a marriage-relationship wouldn't exactly end up as big a hit as their books directed at men.
**I read this Editorial review blurb of Tactics on Amazon.com:
“Tactics hits the issues head-on, and helps young men understand how innocent actions turn into addiction. With porn available on iPods, and lust-driven social sites online like Myspace and Facebook, Fred gives real tools that can help any guy win this important battle.”
–Brandon Cotter, CEO and founder, Pure Online (www.pureonline.com)
First of all Facebook and MySpace are not "lust"-driven. If anything, they are "delusions of grandeur and artistic-skill"-driven.
And secondly, my sister uses MySpace and Facebook. So chances are, somewhere out there, Brandon Cotter, CEO and founder of Pure Online, is masturbating to a picture of my sister wearing a sweater, winter-coat, scarf, jeans, and winter boots giving the peace sign while standing next to a snowman she built when she was home from college last Christmas.