Who She Is
As you may or may not have heard, Duke University has several students doing almost anything to get that diploma debt free. There is this guy, who chose to live in a van to avoid the high costs of school housing while in Durham. And then there is a freshman young lady, going by the film name of “Belle Knox", who has decided to shoot pornography as a means of providing financial support for her schooling. Knox states that this is her “artistic outlet” and “a home for her”, and appears to find nothing wrong with shooting pornography to pay for school. Yes, we are in a culture where sex is being leveraged to the tune of four years of schooling at a high-quality institution.
Now, a lot of folks are coming out in various critical attacks on this young lady, from the religious right to the feminist – everyone’s upset. However, I think this needs to be a sobering wake-up call to us in America.
Why She Is Right
In an interview with CNN’s outgoing late night man, Piers Morgan, Knox states several things of which I am inclined to agree. She does point to the fact that in America, we do not deal very well with our sexuality. We hide our views of sex and our discussion of the subject, leaving many bumbling around in the dark (both figuratively and literally) attempting to figure out how to have sex. We are uncomfortable with our sexuality, especially in the church. I do a great deal of marriage and premarital counseling and my unscientific data gathering generally points to the fact that those who grew up “churched” rarely had anyone educate them about sex in their household. Some never heard the word "sex" said by their parents. What a shame. Literally. That is one huge factor contributing to the shame felt around our sexuality as Christians.
But she is also correct in that there is something freeing and empowering to owning one’s sexuality; that we are often shackled by our shame and ignorance, afraid to even let someone know that we actually have sex, married people often being the worst at admitting it. She speaks of being “naked and unashamed”, which sounds strikingly similar to something we read in Scripture- that Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed. My goodness, this girl is on to something Biblical, but she would not know it because we as Christians have painted such a different cultural picture of sex and subsequently, someone is using our language to define their justification for the pornography we find abhorrent! Anyone else thinking we have entered the Twilight Zone?
What She's Got Wrong
Now, while I am a big fan of some of what miss "Belle Knox" has to say, I do think she is incorrect in stating that those who bring up the negative sides of those in the pornography industry are only doing so for a political agenda. I find her a bit naïve to the reality that many people’s human rights are violated in order to allow her sexual freedom to exist, and her participation in such an industry, regardless of her entrance on her own volition, still allows for the arena of sex trafficking to exist.
Second, whilst she may be on a mission to empower women, or all repressed Americans as she says, her participation is only feeding that repression. It is only pulling more men and women away from healthy sexual intimacy with each other and into the hidden repression that is pornography. If she wants to empower healthy sex, it should not be at the expense of those who are unwillingly forced into the sex industry, nor as a detriment to healthy sex in a committed relationship.
How We Can Help
The easy answer is stop looking at porn. But, if that were as easy to do as it was for me to type, I would not be typing this in the first place. Porn is often labeled as the “Christian cocaine” because it effects the brain just like cocaine and is often more acceptable in Christian circles, as rarely does one show up to small group and confess their struggle with cocaine, but often people confess a struggle with porn, but that is for a different post.
The real issue is that Christians have got to start talking about sex to all ages, stages, and sexualities, as well as having more of it in committed, covenant marriages. But our secretive, shame-based approach to sex and sexuality actually creates the large cultural vacuum in which porn is created and thrives. By not using the words God gave us to talk about and view sex, we have allowed others, such as pornographers, to use our language to justify their practices, while we are still having mediocre sex in the dark! What a real shame. And again, it is a shame because we feel the shame, probably even right now as you are reading this. Something about it feels “wrong”, but it is not.
So, we can help if we are willing to help ourselves and start getting real and honest about our sex lives. Married folks, does someone in your life know about your sex life with your spouse? And do you know that the Puritans actually kicked men out of the church for not having sex with their wives? I am not talking about “duty sex”, but I am talking about an intimate, passionate, sharing of whole self type of experience. Non-married folks, regardless of your sexuality, relationship status, or future intent- is someone aware of your struggles in your sexuality and are you building a healthy view of sex?
No matter who we are or what our status is, our responsibility to God’s creation is to reclaim sex and sexuality from the pangs of our post-modern “as long as I am not hurting anyone who should care (but I am always hurting someone anyway)” culture. We need to get to talking more about sex and having more of it, not reacting from our own shame on the subject with more restrictions, laws, and legalism. We need to get active and get real with portraying a view of sex that aligns with the Gospel and with what God intended when he set this thing in motion. What will you do today to build and express your sexuality?
For more information on some suggested readings on sex, check out a previous post I made on sex. If you are in need of help with this subject, either ceasing pornography use, building a healthy married sex life or non-married sexuality, I would love to help. If I cannot personally be of help, I am glad to offer a confidential referral to someone that I trust and know can be of help. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.