Fifth Chapter – Worldview

07/30/2008

While we tend to think that world shapes the worldview of our children, adults’ worldviews may also constantly be in flux. Some people carve their beliefs in stone, but others write them in pencil. It’s clear that in what were once considered core values – matters of faith or politics or musical styles, for example – many have adopted a “cafeteria” approach. They may vote Republican / Conservative one time, but vote Democratic / Liberal the next. They may have switched car radio presets recently from top 40 hits stations to country and western. They might choose to worship in a modern, contemporary church for a few years, and then suddenly find formal liturgy attractive.

 

Our values are shaped largely by the people we hang around with, and the things we see and read. Internet pornography cannot help but affect our view of the world, and one of the first things that changes is that we start to believe the same lie that we were told back in high school: Everybody’s doing it.

 

To alter the classic Marshall McLuhan statement: The magnitude is the message. Or: The multitude is the message. Find me someone from a country where they don’t have the internet, and let that person watch visual pornography for an hour, and they will walk away convinced that this is what everybody in the western world is doing. Every North American is posing for pictures. Every western European is participating in orgies.

 

The sheer volume of the stuff very slowly works its way into your brain and suggests that perhaps what you’re seeing onscreen is ‘normal.’ In fact though, frequent exposure would eventually indicate that many of the pictures repeat from site to site on the most popular ones. Operators working in harmony, as we noted previously, freely borrow pictures from each other’s sites; many of the addicted who are looking for something different because they feel they’ve seen it all before, have in some cases actually seen some of it before. (So actually, everybody isn’t doing it.) Of course this only drives these ‘webmasters’ to find new subjects, new situations and new technologies which will ‘push the envelope’ to create that type of ‘surprise’ factor already mentioned.

 

What are some of the other values that get assaulted here? How about:

  1. Modesty (even offline, that ship sailed long ago)
  2. Chastity
  3. Fidelity
  4. Privacy (the ‘sanctity’ of what takes place in the bedroom; both verbal and visual)
  5. Respect (and self respect)
  6. Innocence
  7. other taboos

 

The internet is often only one of several factors in play that some believe is moving society in what airplane pilots – if they were given to commentary on society at large – would call a ‘graveyard spiral’ morally. The term is used for an aircraft that is descending rapidly and can’t pull out of the dive. The analogy suggests that, unable to pull ourselves out, we’re heading for an eventual crash. Even if you don’t think morality matters, the pushing of the envelope toward more liberalized sexuality is bringing negative consequences, the spread of disease being only one.

 

But our society is often so willing to buy into the lie. Take item (3) above, fidelity. Not everybody is going to dismiss this overnight and head off to a ‘swingers’ party. But instead, we’ve invented this wonderful oxymoronic term, “serial monogamy.” It reminds me of the classic Seinfeld line about “grape nut” cereals having neither grapes nor nuts among the ingredients. On the one hand its meaning is all too clear, while on the other it’s totally meaningless. If you’re moving quickly from one relationship to the next, it’s not monogamy. It’s not even close.

 

They say that if you want someone to move towards a viewpoint that is foreign or uncomfortable to them, present your case in an extreme form first. Take item (6), innocence. I’m told that there is a group in the United States that strongly advocates a child have their first sexual experience at age eight. Eight.

 

Item (7), other taboos, will come up again when we look at the various formats of internet porn.

 

Christian families are not exempt from any of this. We’ve seen an increasing permissiveness with regard to a variety of activities once considered inappropriate. Whereas once Sunday was once truly a day of rest, today stores are open and Sunday shopping is never questioned. Whereas once card-playing was restricted to games like Rook, today it’s not a stretch to say that some guys from the church Men’s group probably get together for an occasional game of Texas Holdem. Whereas once evangelicals never went to dances, today we find some churches holding a dance at the church. Whereas once evangelicals never would admit to that occasional glass of wine, today we have pastors who blog about their favorite beers and liqueurs.

 

It seems like we who are Christians have become much more casual with everything on the cultural spectrum. (Except Halloween; never mention that your kids go ‘trick or treating.’ Not sure why.) But we’re also more casual in terms of things on the sexuality spectrum: The way women and girls dress for church services; the crude jokes we tolerate; the catalogs we allow into our homes; the plotlines contained in the romance novels we read. It’s easy to say, “Where’s the difference?” Whatever happened to the idea of Christians maintaining a ‘distinct cultural identity?’

 

If you read Clay and Renee Crosse’s book (see resources section) you’ll hear Renee admit that over a period of time, their approach to life had become increasingly secularized. She’s not taking responsibility for her husband’s activities, just pointing out that their home life created a climate where the lines were becoming blurred. If even the worldview of Christian families is under assault from an overall liberalization of behavior (and the rules that govern behavior) before the darker side of the internet enters the picture, what happens on the day when pornography suddenly is added to the mix?

 

In families and homes already secularized – the non-religious, or ‘unchurched’ – the changes in accepting newer conventions of behavior can take place at an accelerated pace, as there are fewer pre-programmed points of resistance. And what counselors refer to as “acting out” really begins with a change of worldview; a re-programming of the brain.

 

The producers of internet pornography already know they have a captive audience. But like any other people in business, they want to grow their market. Covertly – by their very presence – they ‘preach’ their message through visual pornography, and in other places they lobby more overtly to ‘spread their gospel’ to various levels of government to try to change the worldviews of entire nations. It begins, one person at a time, by trying to attract new converts to their beliefs. People just like you. Or someone close to you.

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