Exploiting Women Hurts Everyone

Rosie the RiviterBy Heather Walton

I have hesitated to share this because I don’t want to dishonor anyone in doing so, but here’s the problem with that: many people are hurt because people fail to stand up and call evil what it is. Like many of you, I watched the Super Bowl half-time show. I actually sat there horrified at this display of borderline pornography. Oh, it’s just a little harmless entertainment, you say? I beg to differ.

As a victim of childhood sexual abuse and a failed first marriage due to pornography and its effects, I can tell you, without hesitation, that this was not harmless entertainment, a celebration of culture, or any other positively spun act. It was evil, vile, and exploitative. How awful that one of the performers’ young daughters saw this, and actually was part of the show!

How many of us would welcome women dressed like that, doing a sensual dance, in our living rooms? Isn’t that exactly what we did on Sunday?

Our culture has normalized sexual sin. We expect that “boys will be boys,” we think it’s fine for people to have sex outside of marriage and to love whomever they want. As women, we want to be treated with dignity, yet we excuse pole dancing because it’s entertainment or a display of athleticism. We endorse practical nudity because they did a great job dancing. There is something very wrong with this reasoning, which is nothing short of justification of sin.

I’m thankful that my husband turned his head and talked with me while this scene was playing out, but some of the men in the room did not. As someone who previously had felt she had to try to compete with women with flawless bodies, I feel for the many women whose husbands or boyfriends didn’t turn away from the screen. But I feel even worse for those who are okay with that.

Ladies, we have the power to ignite a cultural transformation by insisting that women not be considered mere eye candy, that we be valued for what’s beneath our skin, that we be applauded for contributions other than those related to sex and physical attractiveness. The Lord created us with a special beauty, but He did not create us to flaunt that beauty or to be objects. And we are the ones with the power to shape the way men, other women, and especially children, view us. If we see ourselves as sex objects, they will too. We need to consider the logical consequences of our thoughts and our actions, rather than blindly accepting cultural attitudes.

We are worth more. We need to believe it, we need to express it, and we need to live it.

Boys will be boys????

Man at work

(Photo credit: Roberto Verzo)

 

Many people, including Christians, rationalize using pornography. “Boys will be boys,” they say. However, the Bible says, in Galatians 5:23, that the fruit of the Spirit is self-control.

Pornography has no place in a Christian’s life. It demeans women, cheapens intimacy, causes shame, and devastates families. Looking at porn can lead to addiction, which generally leads to manipulation and deception.

 

 

 

I know it may seem like using porn is a secret thing that only affects the user. While it definitely does have profound consequences for that person, the effects of this secret sin reach his wife, his kids, and even his friends and neighbors. If a person is trapped in pornography addiction, he is likely self-absorbed and angry, which makes it difficult to have healthy, God-honoring relationships with others.

 

 

 

I realize that my husband’s use of porn isn’t my fault and that it doesn’t mean he finds me unattractive. Many women don’t realize that, though. The first time I found out that my husband was looking at images of other women, I felt highly inadequate. In time, I learned that this isn’t the case. Still, it’s unsettling to be out with one’s husband and to wonder if he is seeing the other women around you as sex objects. And the fact that he does see women as sex objects makes me wonder if he sees me that way–if women in general are not real people to him, but only a means to an end.

 

 

 

Guys who are addicted to porn often don’t respect their wives. Again, they may simply see their mates as people who exist to serve them. They tend to be self-absorbed, rather than humble servants who love their wives like Christ loved the church. (Ephesians 5:25)

 

 

 

I’m not saying porn addicts are terrible people. My own husband is a great guy in some ways. Most people would never suspect the problem. Those who know us well have sensed something wasn’t right, but most people probably didn’t.

 

 

 

And this problem is wide-spread, even in the church. Women need to understand what an epidemic this is. Men need to comprehend how hurtful it is to a marriage and family. (I realize that women also may struggle with porn, but I’m coming at it from the perspective of a wife of an addict.) It’s time for believers to get serious about this sin–to be educated and committed to living for God’s glory, rather than for temporal pleasure. I understand that addicts have a good deal of gut-wrenching work to do in order to be free, but it’s so worth it. My own family is separated right now, and divorce is a possibility. This has devastated me, and has negatively impacted our children.

 

 

 

If you struggle with this secret sin, don’t rationalize it–fight it, in God’s power. Don’t just consider yourself, but the others around you and the future generations that will be impacted. Join a recovery group and get individual counseling from a certified sex addiction counselor. Healing is possible!

 

 

 

If you’re married to a porn user or porn addict, you don’t have to put up with it. You can set firm boundaries and choose not to enable this sin. And you can get support. Many women are in your shoes. Women in the Battle has a supportive online community. There are support groups, and individual counseling is also a good idea. Healing is possible for you too!

 

 

 

How should we respond to the consequences of other people’s choices?

photo credit: Wikipedia

photo credit: Wikipedia

Sometimes life is just hard. Much of the difficulty comes from the fact that we can’t control other people. As hard as we may try or as sincere as we may be, we simply aren’t capable of making anyone do anything. Sometimes it may even seem that we can’t make ourselves do what we know we must do. Old patterns are extremely difficult to change.

There are times when we’re at fault for the difficulties in our lives. Other times, though, we’ve done nothing to deserve suffering.

People’s actions often have a ripple effect. Picture yourself tapping your finger on water. What happens? You make a ripple—a series of circles that generates from the spot where you touched the water. The circles continue until they reach the water’s edge or until they’re intercepted by other objects or patterns. The same is true in our lives. The ripples we begin often have far-reaching effects as they intercept other people’s ripples and obstacles. They continue on for so much longer than just that tiny finger tap that started it all.

Just as our ripples affect others, theirs affect us. Oftentimes the ripples bring good things. Sometimes, however, they bring pain. Heartbreak. Even life change.

So what do we do when this happens? When the ripples bring a tide of tears and torment? It depends. Sometimes there’s nothing we can do but cling to our great God, our Abba (Daddy). Other times, we can add personal action to our faith.

In times of distress, I recall the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
 and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world 
as it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right 
if I surrender to His Will;
 That I may be reasonably happy in this life 
and supremely happy with Him 
Forever in the next.
 Amen.

Reinhold Niebuhr

There’s so much wisdom in this beloved prayer. First of all, I’ve wasted countless hours and energy trying to change things over which I have no control. I’m getting better at letting go of these things. But the next couple of lines are the main challenge for me–“the courage to change the things I can.” Now that, coupled with “the wisdom to know the difference,” can be difficult. It can be easy to fall into a victim mentality, thinking I just have to endure my circumstances. Or I can find myself thinking of good solutions, but not carrying them out. Or debating with myself over a solution and neglecting to take action.

As an adult child of an alcoholic, I’m more prone to bear these kinds of burdens. But I know I’m not alone. Many people struggle with how to deal with the consequences of other people’s actions.

So, as I find myself being affected by the ripples of another person’s choices, I have some decisions of my own to make. I need to sort out “the things I cannot change,” and “the things I can.” Then I need to have serenity and courage to deal with the things in each category. That requires that God grant me “the wisdom to know the difference.”

This path isn’t easy. It isn’t pretty. It isn’t comfortable. But it is freeing. And it brings peace.

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