Good afternoon all,
The sun is shining here north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. There are birds singing outside my window, and there is light coming through the curtains at 7am now that our clocks have moved forward. This week seems much fresher than last. If only 7am did not still feel like 6am…
As I got up this morning visions of bike riding danced through my head. I had prepped my bike over the weekend, and was ready to take it for the first ride of 2012. I searched for my sort-of-cold-weather gear to no avail, but was not about to let a minor detail such as proper attire either delay or derail the plan. I was going for a ride, and that was that. I put on what gear I could find and set off. The ride to the trailhead reminded me that I have been spending too much time sitting over the winter. Burning legs after a few hundred metres on flat pavement was not encouraging. Plus my legs were pretty cold, as were my head and hands. I hit the trail, and forgot about the burning legs. The first bit of water I ploughed through (much deeper than it looked…) instilled the importance of appropriate attire. Cold, cold, cold. The rest of the ride was more of an attempt to make it home with some sense of feeling in my extremities, like my body was screaming “Hey, Andy – its March 13th! Its still cold out no matter how nice it looks! You have to be prepared!”
And that’s the thing about weather – it is honest. It does not promise something that it is not. Yes, it can change quickly, can be incredibly violent, and is definitely unpredictable. However, when it is cold you cannot expect it to change to suit your tastes should you head out in only your shirt-sleeves. I appreciate weather’s integrity.
Speaking of honesty, I came across this article on www.xxxchurch.com’s website. It was originally published in Playboy. It is an interview with musician John Mayer, in which he speaks very candidly about pornography, masturbation, and the thought life associated with each. I wanted to give a preamble about honesty prior to getting into the contents of the article – judge not lest ye be judged. I appreciate the honesty from Mr. Mayer, and hope he is not slammed for it. It is this type of honesty that needs to be common place in our churches if this topic is to be properly unpacked – the problem is that honesty with this topic in the church seems to bring quick judgment. Obviously this type of discussion would need to occur in the appropriate venue with the proper participants. Unless we are honest with ourselves and each other, things will not change. Expecting this issue to take care of itself would be akin to heading out into the cold in our shirt-sleeves…
Here is a snippet from the article – be forewarned, this is honest:
MAYER: “Internet pornography has absolutely changed my generation’s expectations. How could you be constantly synthesizing an orgasm based on dozens of shots? You’re looking for the one photo out of 100 you swear is going to be the one you finish to, and you still don’t finish. Twenty seconds ago you thought that photo was the hottest thing you ever saw, but you throw it back and continue your shot hunt and continue to make yourself late for work. How does that (porn) not affect the psychology of having a relationship with somebody? It’s got to.”
As much as it would be nice to think that John Mayer is some type of freak on the fringes of this, it would not be accurate. I hear the same thing over and over and over in my work with men struggling with pornography addiction. I particularly like the part when he speaks about how pornography addiction will absolutely affect any relationship you are having. He goes further:
MAYER: “…during sex, I’m just going to run a filmstrip. I’m still masturbating. That’s what you do when you’re 30, 31, 32. This is my problem now: Rather than meet somebody new, I would rather go home and replay the amazing experiences I’ve already had.”
Here he is speaking to pornography’s ability to separate you from even wanting relationship. Why would you work at something if you can satisfy yourself? This is only one of the inherent dangers of pornography addiction, and one of the awfully negative affects it can have on relationships – when things get difficult, those addicted to pornography have the ability to disengage and satisfy themselves. Working on the relationship is much more challenging then that, especially in the short term. He goes even further when asked if he prefers masturbation to sex with a partner:
MAYER: “Yeah. What that explains is that I’m more comfortable in my imagination than I am in actual human discovery. The best days of my life are when I’ve dreamed about a sexual encounter with someone I’ve already been with. When that happens, I cannot lay off myself.”
I probably do not need to write much more about that. He is completely focused on himself, not at all on anyone else. This removes capacity for healthy relationship.
As I have said in this space before, if we do not think there is a problem with the younger generation in our churches (and society in general) relating to pornography, that it is just some phase that young men (and increasingly young women) go through, that it is normal and natural, it is very apparent those speaking in these tones have no idea what they are talking about. Do even a little bit of half-hearted digging and it will become apparent very quickly. Harsh? Yep. True? For sure.
So, how is your community dressed for the cold weather? Heading out in the hopes the freezing rain/sleet will suddenly turn into a bright sunny day? Not going to happen, especially when it comes to pornography and masturbation. Get the right gear to deal with the climate, of which wishful thinking is not part.
At risk of sounding harsh, I write the following. If you are in a leadership position and are doing between nothing and very little to deal with this, you are being negligent. Don’t march the kids/young adults/men/women you are leading out into the cold unprepared. Is there more to us then our sexuality? Absolutely. The unfortunate part is that our media landscape would have us think otherwise. You must adjust to this reality. Open your eyes – it is all around us…
Juniper Tree Counselling and Psychotherapy Services (www.junipertree.ca) offers individual and group pornography recovery treatment options. Individual (children, youth, adults), couple, and family therapy services are also available through Juniper Tree.
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