Decision #2: Humanize the Woman (part 2)

Step 3: Renew Your Identity
You are not a mechanical device.  Despite what porn preaches, the goal of life is not to have an orgasm, or to see naked women.  The thing about all forms of pornography, but especially the “hard core” stuff, that makes it so evil is the mechanistic way in which it is produced.  To humanize the woman, therefore, you must re-humanize yourself.  To do this, you must restore your image of God.

Porn is a machine.  Think about those behind-the-scenes specials you’ve watched of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.  Pose, click, pose, click click, turn, flash, click.  She needs more makeup. Move your arm. Check the light. Turn to the side. Click click.  Now, photography inevitably sounds like this, even for family portraits.  But here, the only goal is to present her beauty to the world in a way we haven’t seen before.  Except, when you start to perceive this stuff as it really is, we have seen it.  There is nothing we haven’t seen before.  They just want us to feel like we haven’t seen it. Again, they appeal to our emotions, which emanate from our needs.

Those legitimate sexual needs of yours are exploited by the photographer and the producer and the model for their gain, and leave you with an empty longing over the distance of the page in front of you.  Though she’s right there with you, she’s thousands of miles away.

To them, you are a consumer.  You are another hit on their web page.  You add another slash mark to the list.  To them, your entire identity is “horny guy,” and they have just one goal for you.  The more you consume, the more you see yourself this way too.

When you watch the “hard core” stuff, the mechanism is even more insidious.  We talked before about the language that gets used toward the women, and in reference to all the body parts of the women and the men.  The coarse, non-complimentary, dehumanizing language that does whatever it can to help us forget this is a real woman sitting here.

They say the same words over and over in the same situations.  They swear constantly, as if that’s the only possible response to the pleasure they’re pretending to feel (most of the time).  Repetitive.  Mechanized.  No soul.  No variation.  The even more insidious aspect of this is that they are teaching you what you are “supposed” to do in sex.

In Pornified, there are stories of men who have upset their wives and girlfriends because they want them to act like the girls they have seen in porn.  Their wives and girlfriends get uncomfortable, feel awkward, but don’t want to make him feel like they’re rejecting him.  Even if what he’s asking her to do is disgusting and humiliating.  But why is he asking for that?  Deep down, does he need that?  Is this part of his legitimate sexual needs that God gave him?

No.  He has been told this is what sex looks like, so he thinks he wants it that way.  He has no concept of real intimacy, its purpose, or how it looks.  He has been told that women do this and that during sex, and if she doesn’t, why is she being such a prude?  See how that word is thrown around like it’s the final word on whether something is okay?  If you’re a prude, then what you’re doing is wrong, and you should do what I want instead.

Unhook the Machine
To renew your identity, you need to recognize the truth about how porn influences your thinking.  What you think you want has been fed into your brain by the porn machine you hook yourself into every night after the girlfriend you shouldn’t be living with goes to sleep.  Maybe the problem isn’t her; it’s you.  How many relationships end over stuff like this?  (But porn does no harm?  You still believe that?  You’re living in a dream world, Neo).

Our identity in Christ overcomes this kind of thinking.  Human beings have dignity, worth, and the right to be treated with respect.  Would you do what you’re asking the woman to do?  There’s some pretty repulsive stuff that goes on in the porn world.  And it’s astonishing how one-sided it is.  You don’t see the men having to do anything close to what they make the women do.  Some men even on camera recoil at stuff that’s part of the woman’s routine.  Oh yeah, I forgot, but it’s empowering.

Anyone who thinks porn empowers women either hasn’t watched it, or is so blinded by their own selfishness that they can’t see what’s glaringly obvious.  The double-standards are endless.  But they get paid more, don’t they?  Do they?  Or do you just think they do because, well, it seems fair?  What about the fact that the men can have careers that span decades, but the women are good for maybe five years, unless they get real famous and real determined (read: willing to do anything)?  Are they really paid more?

The Knowledge of God
Once you start to recognize how your own self-image has been distorted, you can begin to fight back.  One of my all-time favorite verses:

II Cor 10:3, 4
For though walking in the flesh, we are not waging war in accordance with the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful in God for the tearing down of fortresses.  (NT Transline)

But what is the battle?  Who are we fighting?  Verse 5 goes on to say what is being torn down: “every height being raised up against the knowledge of God.”  Your identity is rooted in your knowledge of God.  What you believe about Him determines how you see yourself.  To renew your identity, learn more about God.  Draw closer to Him.  Get to know Him personally.

When you are down in the dumps with discouragement and depression, fearful and afraid, hopeless that nothing will change, that’s because you don’t believe God is powerful enough, or loves you enough, or cares enough to help you get up and find freedom.  You don’t believe He is able to set you free.

You would never say so out loud, at least on a Sunday, and you would even deny it if someone pressed.  You can mentally deny it all you want.  If you regularly find yourself in that state of mind, you don’t believe in God’s power.  Faith in who God is, who He says He is and what He says He will do, is the key to winning the battle.

If you really believe “all things are possible to him who believes,” then you shouldn’t be wallowing in despair all day.  Now, don’t let this discourage you; I’m not oversimplifying this.  Rather, seize this as the moment of change.  Every great accomplishment begins with a decision.  Once you admit you don’t believe these things about God (as always, acknowledging your sins is the first step to change), then you can decide that you want to believe them.  God will help you, but right now, you have not because you ask not.

In the X-Files, Mulder’s motto was “I want to believe.”  That’s the beginning.  So if you don’t believe God cares, or is good, or loves you, or has the power to set you free, what can you do to change that?  Start reading the Bible and declaring out loud all the verses you can find that say He is and does all these things.  Over time, you will start to truly believe them.  Remember, you have to want it.  It’s a hunger.  Blessed is the one hungering and thirsting for righteousness.  It is my life.  Your hunger for porn must be transformed into a hunger for righteousness.  You cannot serve two masters.

You may be wondering, why do we need to do all this?

Because when you change your image of God, your self-image will change.  And when your self-image begins to change, guess what else will change?  Your image of other people.  And you won’t see those enslaved women as you did before.  Your restored eyes will see their true reality:  Lost.  Blind.  Wretched.  Deceiving and destroying men and themselves at the same time.  You see them as the spiritually empty and needy ones who, just like you, need a revelation of who God is to escape their enslavement.

Real Beauty?
As you renew your identity by seeking God with a whole heart, your perception of beauty will begin to be challenged.  We need this one big time, because the culture inundates us with its false definitions of beauty.  The world pornifies us through advertising starting at very early ages.

Beauty is hard to define, and I still wrestle with certain aspects of it, and how God views it.  What makes something or someone beautiful?  Are the women in pornography, models and performers, really more beautiful than “regular” women?  Isn’t that why lots of girls want to look like them?  Is beauty totally relative, or do some people and things have more of it?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know this.  Your awareness of the good traits–physical, social, and spiritual–of the people around you will greatly increase when you stop looking at pornography.  Your taste in movies will change (like, Superbad will actually seem super bad…it’s about two pornified guys pursuing their own enslavement, and it’s supposed to be funny).  Your sense of humor will come alive.  Your confidence will grow.  I know, I’m making it sound like a miracle cure.  But in a way, it is.  When the disease is in the mind, the cure will revolutionize it.

Porn focuses almost exclusively on three or four aspects of the woman (and only one part of the man).  But there is much more to both than these.  Let your God-given ability to appreciate and respect true beauty come alive again.  This is one of the greatest losses in our culture–the inability to appreciate the details.  Yet to God, the details are everything.  Otherwise, all the trees would look the same.  There would only be one type of flower, and three types of mammals.  Why so much variety?  Why so much mess?  Let’s simplify it.  Reform and categorize it.  Let’s make it more efficient and controlled.  Let’s mechanize it.  God doesn’t see it that way.  I bet he loves it when biologists find yet another new species that doesn’t fit into their classification schemes, and they have to rethink everything.  I can just picture God up there cackling with the angels.  Stumped them again!

Humanity likes predictability.  God likes surprises.  Porn is the most predictable form of entertainment (if you call it that) ever known.  Every single sequence is the same.  They start the same; they end the same.  What little variety there is gets fast-forwarded over so we can get to the only parts we want to see.  They make menus on some DVDs that allow you to watch the same sexual positions over and over (proving they only do the same five positions in every scene).  This is all I want to see.  It’s myopic.  It’s like being out on a hike, and while totally ignorant of the astonishing complexity around you, you’re fixated on the same boring rock all day long, with your Ipod/cell phone/latest electronic distraction keeping you in the zone.

We have lost the joy of observation.  Beauty is about observation, detail, variety, and complexity.  Beauty isn’t the same every time.  Yet the delusional adult industry defenders think there is more variety in all the women you can enjoy in porn than to be stuck with the same woman your whole life in your slavery of a marriage.  (I hate this analogy they use…it’s the exact opposite of the truth).  Yet when you can truly see, once the log is removed from your eye, you realize there’s more variety and more unpredictability in one woman than in viewing hundreds on a screen.

So I don’t understand why God makes some women so much more externally desirable than others.  Or why it seems so much harder for a woman like that to trust in God rather than the power her beauty makes available to her.  Or how we poor men are supposed to cope when a gorgeous female walks by, even dressed respectably, without gaping in awe.  I don’t know all that.  But I do know that porn destroys our ability to appreciate the diversity of God’s creation.  And regular women will become more beautiful to you when you stop indulging in all the enslaved ones.

Step 4: Remember The Lessons of History
The last major part of the process of re-humanizing women is to learn from history and current events.  To keep this sin from returning to your mind or heart, consider some of the more horrific effects of dehumanization as they have been carried out in other places.  Make a decision to fight against these effects today.  Join or support an organization that fights sex-trafficking and human slavery.  There are dozens of them, some local, some international.

Learn about some of the things men have done to women through the centuries.  Read about the rape of Nanking, for example, where Japanese soldiers systematically gang-raped and then murdered thousands of Chinese girls.  There are also a couple recent documentaries about this event.  Learn about the “comfort women” they kidnaped to service their army as it fought the war.  These sex slaves were ruined for life, and to this day the government has not fully acknowledged the atrocity, in spite of some of the women who still live.

Or in Congo, where there are countless stories of brutalizing treatment of women at the hands of roving bands of murderers.  But, surely, that doesn’t happen in America, the greatest country in the world, right?  Hmm. You know the term “hooker,” right?  Hooker was a general in the Civil War, for the Northern army.  See the connection yet?  The reason we call prostitutes hookers is because of him.  He provided women to his army to service them.  Think those women willingly did that for who knows how many men, out of a sense of patriotism?  Would you?

And besides, we don’t need to treat women brutally against their will in this country, because we can pay them for it.  There is a type of porn film, also discussed in Pornified, that features dozens and dozens of men all having sex with the same woman.  They surround her, switch around, take turns at the various places, finish up, and then stand and stare at her.  Along with you when you watch it.

You think this should be legally protected free speech? You actually believe the girl–any girl– wants to go through that, even for a few thousand dollars (if it’s even that much…I doubt it)?  You think the person who watches this and pleasures himself is somehow better than those Japanese soldiers who gang-raped kidnapped women?  Not in the slightest.  It’s the exact same behavior, and the exact same sin.  Only different in degree.

It’s interesting that in burglary or murder, if there’s a getaway car, the driver of the car is held guilty for the same crimes as the people doing the “actual” crimes.  Why?  They weren’t there, so why should they be held accountable?  Because they were part of the act, and it couldn’t have been completed without them.  They decided the crime was acceptable conduct, and they did their part.  Guilty.  Everyone agrees on this (i.e. the man who helped Maurice Clemmons into hiding after he shot four police officers having coffee in a Tacoma diner).

Is a person who views a sadistic act like a simulated gang-rape any different than the men performing it, then?  Isn’t he approving of and participating in it?  Does it not feed his own lust for the subjugation of women as much as the men who are there?  Would they film it if no one watched this stuff?

This is why when I say we need to be specific when we repent, I mean it.  With the kind of stuff that’s out there these days, many of us have participated in some brutal and horrific acts, and have enjoyed it from a distance.  We are guilty.

Now, I don’t like staying here too long, because I don’t think it’s good to dwell on this stuff.  Remember, set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  But it’s important to have stuff like this in the back of your mind.  In case you start to think that you might be doing alright and that now, you’re not so bad.  Know and believe what the human heart is capable of doing to another person.  Accept that you are capable of doing these things to women as well.  Then return to God, ask for His grace to continue to empower you to walk in the other direction.

The more humanized women become in your heart and mind, the more you will despise the reality of their mistreatment, as it continues unabated in our decaying culture.

When you work through the first three steps over many months, and when you make the fourth step part of your new awareness, you will defeat this sin, because your heart will be changed, and you will no longer see women as things to be used for your own pleasure.

Decision #2: Humanize the Woman (part 1)

If you have a porn addiction, you have spent months, years, perhaps decades exploiting and robbing women of their sexuality to satisfy your self-absorbed insecurity.  The women you worship are no longer women, in your eyes, but pleasure dolls.  They are not people with souls, but images that make sounds that please your ears and have shapes and body parts that please your eyes.  And more and more women and girls become slaves each year to satisfy the perversions of men just like you.

Just as Decision #1 counters hopeless discouragement more than the other sins of the mind, we must also counter the layers upon layers of dehumanizing thoughts and attitudes toward women that have built up in our minds and hearts.  Women must become women again, in our eyes.  They must become human again.

Romans 12:1, 2
Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the compassions of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice–living, holy, pleasing to God–as your spiritual worship.  And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may be approving what is the good and pleasing and perfect will of God. (NT Transline)

Your mind must be transformed and renewed before you can know and obey the will of God.  Because of the sin of dehumanization, your mind has a distorted image of what a woman is, why she was created, and her role with regard to you as a man.  God did not make her to pleasure you whenever you want and do all the things you desire.  His purpose in creating the woman was not for her to dress the way you want, to show you what you want to see, or to say what you want to hear.  As long as you plague yourself with these kinds of desires and beliefs, you will not be able to discern God’s will in your life.

So many Christians fret about knowing God’s will.  I hope by now you see that the first and best way is to know the Bible.  But knowing and fulfilling God’s will, according to this verse, is pretty hard when your mind is full of lust and discouragement, when your body is a slave to the pleasure of slaves on screen, and when your life expresses no worship of God by virtue of having given nothing of yourself to Him.

How do we humanize the woman, then, especially when our culture bombards us with images and values that continue to dehumanize them?  This might be the single most important part of the entire path to freedom, because it takes your mind off yourself, and helps you look at women in a new way–the way God might look at them.

Step 1: List and Pray
First and most important in humanizing the woman in your heart, you must pray.  This revolutionized my battle against sin.  When you are immersed in pornographic images, that’s what your mind believes the women are for.  Before praying, write down the names of the porn stars, models, and actresses you desire the most.  Make a list.  It might be pages and pages long, for all we know.  Or maybe you’re the more obsessive type, and only have a few favorites.  Or maybe you prefer certain actions (fetishes) rather than women by name.  Doesn’t matter.  Make a list.  Read it over.  Take some time to make sure you have all the names you can think of.  Read it over again.  Think about each face, each name.  These are the women I have dehumanized.  And then start praying.

But what do I pray for?

You pray for them.  Pray for Jenna Jameson, for Tera Patrick, for Pamela Anderson, for Angelina Jolie.  Pray for their salvation.  Pray that God would reveal himself to them, to send someone in their life who will love them for who they are, who will forgive them and not judge them, who will speak the truth in love so they come to their senses and turn to Him.  Pray to meet them and embrace them someday…in heaven, as fellow heirs of Christ.  They have as much right as you to be forgiven and live in God’s presence for eternity.  And that’s none.  You have no right to that, and neither do they.  But God wants ALL people to come to repentance, it says in II Peter 3:9.  Even the porn star.

This is why the ministry of Craig Gross through is so heroic to me.  He has taken this idea and run with it as his life’s mission.  These women are as human and as lost and as in need of freedom as any of us, but no one’s going out there to tell them.  One of their mottos is “Jesus loves porn stars.”  I love it.  I bet God loves it too.  I joined their prayer team through their website, and we pray for strippers, prostitutes, porn stars and addicts every month.  And some of them are being saved.  It is possible, in fact, that women you still obsess over are currently part of the kingdom of God.  That should bother you.

Forgive Them
The second thing to pray is for God to help you forgive them for their sins against you.  It’s not just your sin.  They have indeed sinned against us too; let’s not neglect this.  They have seduced you like the adulteress in Proverbs 6 and 7, and they have stolen your sexual purity for profit and power.  So forgive them, because God forgave you.  Is your mountain of sin any smaller than theirs?  So what?!  Before God, we all owe an unpayable debt.  Our debts to each other pale in comparison.

Restore Them
Pray that they would turn to God and the return to their friends and coworkers with a message of hope in the love and power of God.  A message of restoration and reconciliation.  That God forgives no matter how great the sin.  That anyone’s life can be saved, if only they would lay aside their selfish pride and admit what they’ve done and who they are inside (but don’t forget, our selfishness is no less great, so don’t pray this self-righteously).

All of this can happen.  And what happens to you when you start praying for your former slaves?  You start to realize, inside, that these really are people.  These people will go to hell, just like anyone else, if they don’t learn about and receive God’s love.  They think Christians hate them, because they’ve received judgmental phone calls and letters telling them they will go to hell.  I’ve heard this multiple times, and it infuriates me.  Let’s settle it right now.  Read Matthew 18:21-35.  Here, Jesus tells a parable about forgiveness.

A man who owes a king an unpayable debt receives mercy and has his debt forgiven. The same man is owed a much smaller, but still sizable debt from another man.  After being forgiven his own infinite debt, the man does not forgive the much smaller debt, but throws him into prison.  Jesus gives the response of the king when he hears about this:

Matthew 18:32, 33
You wicked slave.  I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way I had mercy on you?

And the king has him re-imprisoned and tortured.

Do you think God agrees with you if you send a letter to a porn star telling her she’s going to hell?  This parable from Jesus says He most definitely does not agree.  In sending this letter, you are condemning, not forgiving.  These women have sin before God, and before us if we’ve been seduced by them.  We must forgive them for both.

If you’ve sent letters like this, your own spiritual life may be at stake.  This is one of those parables that ought to produce in us a fear of God, which we talked about earlier.  Jesus says more than once that God will not forgive you if you don’t forgive others.  And Paul in I Corinthians 5:12 makes a clear distinction between those in the church and those outside of it.  We are not to judge those outside the church.

Humanize Them
Pray for the women you have lusted for, and they will become human again in your eyes.  When you have done this for a while, if you slip again and watch videos that feature these women, you will get a feeling inside you haven’t felt before.  You will realize how disturbing, how tragic, how truly despondent is the life this poor lady is living.  You will feel very uncomfortable about using her in this way.  Put the sin away and pray for her again.  Right there.  Not two weeks later, but right there.  And while you’re at it, ask God to forgive you again too.  Right there.

I went through this whole process some years ago.  I had a long list.  Several years later, I slipped again, but found that none of the women on my list were attractive to me anymore.  I just didn’t want to look at them.  Unfortunately, there were a bunch of new women by this time, so we have to go through it all again.  But regarding the women I had re-humanized, it felt like they were not to be touched or seen again.  God really did set me free.  Even today, I am aware of a blockage, a wall, preventing my desire for that list of women from returning.  God does liberate us.

Step 2: Repent
The second thing you do to humanize the woman is to repent for using her humiliation for your own sexual appeasement.  You need forgiveness for what you’ve done, and you have to be specific.  I don’t think God responds to generic prayers like “please forgive my sins, amen” in the same way as heartfelt expressions of confession and remorse.  True repentance comes from godly sorrow, as we saw earlier.  Godly sorrow is specific.

What have you done, and what damage resulted?  I have stolen the beauty and sexuality of other women and taken what did not belong to me, and pleased myself with it.  I have used them until I tired of them, and then I used someone else.  I have enjoyed watching them get humiliated by men (who also sadly are doing the same things to themselves…).  I have fed into her belief that her sexuality is all she has to offer the world, and the only thing that gives her any value or worth.  I have reinforced her physical and spiritual slavery.

That’s a lot of sin, and you’ve done it all if you’ve ingested this stuff for any length of time.  Think about your own personal experience with all this, and ask God to reveal other sins you’ve committed against these women.  Repentance cleanses your heart and turns you away from your former ways into a new direction.  God, help me to hate the sin, and have compassion for these women.

I Peter 1:14, 15
As children of obedience, do not being conformed to the former desires in connection with your ignorance, but in accordance with the holy One having called you–be holy yourselves also in all your conduct. (NT Transline)

You see how soaking in Bible verses like this will change your heart?  Look at the language. The transformation from enslavement in ignorance and worldly desires to the freedom and life of holiness.  And remember, holiness is a position and a process.  You have been made holy in God’s sight, and He also is making you holy as you walk with Him.  This is in Hebrews:

Heb 10:14
For by one offering He has perfected for all time the ones being made holy.
(NT Transline)

For all time.  See that?  We are being made holy–a process–but at the same time, we have already been perfected.  It’s how God sees you, and what God is forming you into, both at the same time.  He is forming you into who He has already made you to be.  Amazing.  (See why we have a lot to be grateful for?)

Keep a Short Account
If we keep letting our sins pile up before God, however, this process can slow to a crawl.  Keep a short account with God.  Confess daily.  Confess right after you delete everything off your hard drive.  Be aware of the five Sins of the Mind, and repent every time you get a whiff of them creeping back into your heart.  Feel discouraged?  Repent and turn.  Gazing at a swimsuit issue in the grocery store?  Repent and turn.  Fantasizing about doing stuff to women that dehumanizes them?  Repent and turn.  Rationalizing something you did as not that bad?  Repent and turn.  Criticizing your wife?  Be grateful instead, and repent.  Do not let them take root, or they will destroy you all over again.

I’m trying to break us out of this mentality of complacency.  Not confessing daily is one of the primary reasons for the “cycle” we all know and hate.  When we let the “smaller” sins build up in our minds (which as you hopefully learned in the Sins of the Mind section, are really the biggest sins), we are guaranteed to find ourselves wallowing in the pit again.

Complacency is also found in silly slogans like the “once saved always saved” dogma.  Even if true, this kind of thing is relied upon far, far too much in the church.  Life isn’t only about salvation!  What is the great commission?  Go into the world and make disciples.  How many disciples are you going to make if you think salvation is a one-time event, and now that you’re covered, let’s relax in the blessed assurance?

Why does the writer of Hebrews practically insult his readers for being spiritual wimps and babies?

Heb 5:12
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. (NAS)

The writer is tired of spiritual wimps.  Grow up.  Learn some things.  Learn about God, and become a mature man full of true assurance in Christ, knowing who you are, that we are priests alongside Christ, and share in His glory as His brothers.  A baby doesn’t know who he is.  A baby can’t walk.  A baby can’t serve because it depends upon others for everything.

God didn’t save you so you could sit on your butt and say, “I’m a Christian,” while you shake your spiritual rattle.  You need to learn more words than that.  God didn’t save you and then put you in a closet and breathe a sigh of relief, “Whew, I saved another one.”  No, He saved you so that you would grow in the knowledge of God and then go influence the lives of others.

I love the book by Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life.  Its central concept is so excellent, encapsulated in his opening sentence:  “It’s not about you.”  God didn’t save you for you alone.  He saved you because He wants to save others.  Like porn stars.  But they aren’t porn stars anymore.  They are lost, abused, abandoned, devalued, dehumanized women who need someone to look past their outer beauty and destructive use of it, and help them.  Love them.  Tell them about their Savior who will accept them as much as anyone else.  In fact, Jesus accepts them more than that judgmental letter writer or phone caller who made them feel bad inside all over again.

Jesus condemned the religious man who prayed loudly for all to hear, who spoke condescendingly toward the sinful man nearby.  But that sinful man had come to his senses and was overcome with sorrow for his sinful life, and cried out to God to “have mercy on me, the sinner!”  Jesus declared that man to be justified, but the religious man had already received all he was going to get.