Christian Porn

I've been thinking lately about how our culture, particularly western culture distorts everything by turning it into a commodity for individuals.


Pornography is a classic example of this. The thing that is so enticing about pornography is that it gives you a feeling about sex without all the complications of actually being in relationship. It gives you a fake intimacy without the inconvenience and risks of having to know another.


There are a myriad ways in which christians try to do something similar through the media.


Last weekend Jesus Culture performed at a number of events in Sydney. I like Jesus Culture and I admire the passion that they bring to their worship. But I have a problem with a band that promotes a series of "Worship Events" on consecutive days and evenings. It makes me wonder about whether the passion for Jesus that I see on stage is like the faked sexual passion of porn movies.


And if people are going to be a part of an anonymous crowd watching others perform acts of worship to God, isn't that something like the vicarious lustful thrill of watching somebody else engage in a sexual act?


Maybe people go with a sincere desire to worship God through the interaction with a particular group of musicians. But if they do it in the anonymity of a crowd of people whom they don't know at all, isn't this in some ways a denial of God's intention for us to love one another, bear one another's burdens and to share together as an intimate community of faith? Isn't this a denial then of the Body of Christ?


I'm not being critical of Jesus Culture but of the fake "Jesus Culture" which allows performance to replace intimacy, music to replace worship, entertainment to replace celebration. I have a CD by another Christian band in which they apologise for those who came expecting a concert but in fact have come to a worship event. The fac tis that if you go to watch a band it's only ever going to be a concert for you.


It's not about a particular group, but a whole culture that perhaps goes back hundreds of years whereby we are content to sit in a building to watch somebody else express their intimacy with God without allowing ourselves to be drawn into that place ourselves.


We can see the same thing with Christian television. I rarely watch christian TV. I know that there are some very gifted ("anointed" even) teachers and preachers such as Joyce Meyer, John Piper, Steve Gray and others. I also know there are a bunch of people with more gab than anointing, more style than substance.


But again there is a comparison with porn there because what you see on TV is never real and invites unfair comparison. My wife does not have the body of Pamela Anderson (mind you neither does Pamela Anderson). If I look at some porn movie or magazine then I am going to be tempted to compare my wife with what I see there and may conclude on the shallowest of possible methodologies that she is not quite enough.


If you watch God-TV you might be tempted to compare my stumbling efforts on Sunday morning with the eloquence of John Piper or the intellectual rigour of Ravi Zaccharias and conclude that I'm not up there with them. There are people who consider Joyce Meyer or Steve Gray to be their "pastor." Well fair enough, but don't expect Joyce to come round to hold your hand when your wife leaves you or the kids are off the rails.


Again the temptation is to believe that by watching a performer do his or her stuff on TV that somehow we have entered into some kind of relationship. It's the enticement of porn which offers performance and excitement without the entanglements of personal relationship.


The christian life can only be lived in community- communion with God and with one another. That gets messy sometimes. We disagree with each other. We sometimes put each other down. Pride and self-righteousness can keep us apart.


Just as our sexuality is meant to be practised in a committed, permanent relationship so our spirituality is also meant to be practised in the context of permanent relationships with the Christian community.


Let's avoid the traps of sexual porn and spiritual porn. Let's not seek the thrills but seek to be thrilled in the giving of ourselves in love.