While social media is awash with commentary about a certain film that’s been recently released, it’s tempting to jump on the bandwagon and ‘have an opinion’. Nah. It’s been written better elsewhere.
For example, there are some people who really do have something worthwhile to say, such as Andrew over at Blessed are the Pure of Heart as he bravely wades in to the issue of pornography, for both men and for women. Concerning specifically how women can be entrapped, he writes:
Women’s pornography goes under the name erotica, but I think it’s broader than that, and can…and please don’t stone me for this…include romance.
(Read his whole post here, it’s really worth it.)
Well, there are no stones coming from this quarter of the internet. Jesus warned us in John 8 ‘let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!‘ Sometimes – often – it’s wisest to take the point rather than react to it.
Is there truth in his premise? Yes. I’ve been entrapped – but not by reading romance novels or erotica – my guard would have been up against that kind of thing. For me, it was much more subtle and I didn’t see it coming. It started out as an innocent email correspondence, but grew into a not-quite-real hovering-on-the-romantic something. The something turned into a hungry monster, and the ‘not-quite’ nearly killed me. I tell the story briefly in last October’s ’31 Days of Digital REAL’ series, Digital makes me feel connected – really?
…the 1-1 context, and the regularity of contact, and the absence of normalising, mutual, and physically present friends was a vacuum that made the situation collapse. My heart couldn’t contain the feelings that kept growing as I interacted like this.
Andrew rightly touches on women’s particular vulnerabilities to romantic fantasy, reminding us, ‘We are married to ordinary people‘. He warns against the urge to escape – whether it’s imagery for men, or romance for women. I would be the last person to understate how excruciating it is to forsake the sweet imaginations and to embrace the tough realities of here-and-now instead. Hearts hurt, spirits are broken, we find ourselves beaten and unable to save ourselves. Most bitter of all is the realisation of how we’ve broken the heart of the One who loves us the most by what we are doing.
Real, ordinary relationships are scary. They are unpredictable. Other people are not so easily controlled. So our loveless selfish selves fight against this reality, or flee from it. Whether it shows up in our lives as pornography, pride, escapism or controlling behaviour, it’s all rooted in the same place: our inherent sinfulness which plays its drama out in a million different ways.
None of us can throw stones on this issue. The kind of purity of heart that God requires is something far beyond anything we’ve ever seen, and the only one who truly lived it is Jesus. There’s no point covering it over; no hypocrisy will make us acceptable. Only the blood of Jesus can put this right, as we come to him and acknowledge our deep brokenness and need for him. He paid the price for freedom with his own life, and he can make a way to our wholeness again, if we’re prepared to admit the problem.