Jenna Mountain didn’t hesitate with the crowd as she opened her workshop, saying, “Pornography has shifted our culture of sexuality and it’s a problem. It’s taken away God’s good gift of sexuality.”
During Texas Baptists 2018 Family Gathering, Mountain, licensed professional counselor, Christian sexual therapist, PhD candidate and counseling director of First Baptist Richardson, presented a workshop entitled “The Pornography Crisis.”
She began by explaining exactly what pornography is and what it does. “Pornogaphy can be any medium, whether that’s audio, visual, fantasy, etc,” she said. “For most believers, it crosses boundaries of beliefs and marriage, it models unhealthy boundaries and moves us away from being known sexually and emotionally. Pornography corrodes these things, boundaries and connection, in marriage.”
She continued discussing the importance of developing a theology of sex and knowing what scripture says on the matter to be able to effectively join in on the conversation. It’s important to understand God’s purpose for sex in order to discern the boundaries. Some of the points included:
She also discussed that there are more purposes to sex than strictly procreation, which is sometimes taught in the church. By looking at Song of Solomon; Genesis 4:1,25; and Hebrews 13:4, it can be concluded that sex is intended for intimacy, pleasure and sets apart the marriage relationships from others.
“Pornography objectifies sex and the people involved,” she said. “We have lost sight of God’s beautiful design. Our sexuality has always been about God, His glory and our good. It’s not only about us.”
“Bad sexual education causes us to confuse intensity with intimacy, gender roles and differences, and boundary lines,” she added. At best, pornography is bad sex education and tends to be more harmful than helpful.
Mountain continued the workshop by discussing addiction to pornography.
“I tend to consider the top of sexual addiction as existing on a spectrum between abusing our sexuality and truly being addicted sexually,” she said. “The point at which abuse turns into an addiction is unique to every person.”
And since that line is different for everyone, and often unknown, Mountain encouraged the audience to treat all unhealthy sexual behaviors in a serious manner.
It’s also no secret that today’s age of technology has contributed to the accessibility of pornography among all ages. However, it must be noted that pornography was increasing far before the internet was even a factor, expressed Mountain. The internet, in and of itself, is not the problem.
The internet has made pornography more “accessible, affordable and anonymous than ever,” she said. And though pornography is widely abused on the internet, it is also important to remember, as Mountain noted, that in general “technology is a good thing. We have to learn discipline and boundaries like every area in our life.”
With the average age of exposure to pornography being early grade school, it is especially imperative for parents to have conversations with their children.
It’s important that parents are the first and primary educator for their children, noted Mountain. With the unfortunate reality that children are typically exposed to sexual content via pornography at early ages, she encourages parents to engage their children in conversations early. She explains that there are ways to have healthy conversations.
With children and youth, parents are in a race against culture, according to Mountain. She said, “Boomers raised the first generation of technology natives. We need to graciously learn how to improve and engage raising kids with technology differently.
She continued, “What I see is kids are being told porn is a sin, but it’s not really changing much. We have not equipped or taught them about healthy sexuality. They need to understand God’s vision and gift for sex, discipline, boundaries and limits. We need to talk about sexuality and sex early and often, and we can do that without shame.” Mountain advised those in attendance to have frank and loving conversations with their children which will help establish their role as the first and primary source for information in the child’s life.
Pornography holds a greater impact than can be summed up, blurring boundaries and gender roles, exchanging intensity for intimacy, and putting forth unrealistic expectations.
As Mountain said, the battle against pornography is “about shifting an entire culture.” Our God is big enough.
For more information or resources on the treatment of pornography or other addictions, contact Katie Swafford, director of Texas Baptists Counseling Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit texasbaptists.org/counseling.