Wednesday, November 27, 2013

PORNOGRAPHY IN THE PULPIT

How can American Christians not fall into porn problems, when they’ve sat for years under preaching that paints a pornographic image of the body on the video-screen of their minds?

Michelangelo's David
Among the questions addressed in one of the 700 Club’s “Bring It On-Line” sessions (link) was this art student’s concern:

I am pursuing a Fine Arts degree, and I am having trouble reconciling my Christian faith with this environment. Specifically, I have been asked to draw nude models and peruse through nude artwork. I know that many Christian artists, even ones during the Renaissance, painted nude portraits (including Michelangelo). But I think it’s pornographic and shouldn’t be portrayed as “art.” What’s your perspective? – K. R.

Pat Robertson’s response was excellent:

Life Drawing Class
Pornea has to do with sexual intercourse. That’s what the Greek word means. The human body is not pornographic. It was made by God, and Adam and Eve didn’t have any clothes on, when they were first created. So God Himself doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the human body. And you look at the David that Michelangelo did, and it’s so magnificent . . . a statue of a naked man, but it’s a magnificent piece of art. So, I don't think it’s pornographic. If you think it’s pornographic, then don’t do it. . . . But the truth is, you know, male and female models have been doing art forever, and I don’t see anything wrong with it.

As an L&D nurse, I see real-life pregnant bodies as nude as artist’s models are in “life drawing” classes. But when I made the following artistic representation of pregnancy, a devoted sister-in-Christ called it “pornographic.” My firm reply to her was that nothing in God’s beautiful design of the human form is indecent or pornographic.
Pregnancy by DLH
Why is this pornographic view of the naked human body so popular and widespread among Christians in America? Pat Robertson’s hint that pornography “has to do with sexual intercourse” gives us a clue. But a quote from Madeleine L’Engle’s book, Walking on Water (pp. 187-188), offers even more insight:

I would not hide the human body . . . , as though it was something to be ashamed of—though neither would I flaunt it. Let it be natural and holy. The incarnation was a total affirmation of the dignity of this body, and Paul goes on to emphasize that we are, moreover, the temple of the Holy Spirit, and if we abuse or reject or ignore our bodies we are abusing and rejecting and ignoring this temple. // I was both amused and appalled in a rotunda in the Prado, filled with Greek and Roman statues, to see that all the genitals had been removed, and covered with some kind of leaf. This prudery is in itself a form of pornography. (bold emphasis mine)

Her observation nails it! God did not create porn. We did, by creating a sexual focus when it comes to the nude body. In the beginning, this was not so.

Scripture’s very first description of humans implies gender-distinguishing genitals: “male and female He created them” (Gen 1:27). We still identify newborns as “him” or “her” by looking between the legs. God’s first command was for us to use that equipment properly: “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). By creating us naked, God made our procreative and gender-identifying anatomy fully visible. He included human nudity in evaluating “all” His handiwork as “very good” (Gen 1:31). Believers overlook this at great cost to themselves and to society, and they do so with the same diabolical help that misled our first parents into adopting a pornographic view of their own bodies.
The Original Sin (Sistine Chapel)

I challenge anyone to find a Bible commentary that honestly addresses what God asked Adam when He found him “afraid” of his nudity: “Who told you that you were naked?” (Gen 3:10-11). Great Bible scholars either entirely skip over it or boldly change His words to mean “What made you conscious of nakedness?” Why did they avoid God’s direct implication that Satan played a role in the adoption of body shame by the first human sinners? Does this divine question embarrassingly expose the deceptive source of our own fear of nudity? What could salvage Christian prudery if it was actually a liar “who told”our first parents that naked genitals should be hidden (with fig-leaf “loincloths,” Gen 3:7)? Is our religious devotion to a sexualized view of the nude body so sacred that even Christian teachers feel free to ignore the light God shed on its satanic origin?

Judging from modern body-image dysfunctions, our society’s porn-addiction epidemic, the objectification of the body in human trafficking, and the contemporary trends of gender-confusion in politics, Satan had an extremely far-reaching strategy in his original deceit. Hiding gender-distinctive body parts objectifies them, creating a sexual focus on what’s hidden. Satan knew this would create a doorway for pornea. His informational influence after getting humans “opened” to decide “good and evil” on their own—apart from divine guidance (Gen 3:5)—has been the fountainhead of human sexual waywardness ever since.

The root-word definition of pornography relates to a picture (imaged or written) of fornication. God’s own portrayal of the human body is very clear: “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psa 139:14). So, who is the gatekeeper on depicting it as a stimulus of unholy passions? The success of those who shoot and sell nude sex scenes depends on a much more fundamental portrayal of the bodys obscenity: the view held and promoted by popular Christianity. Society’s investment in Western Christendoms perpetuation of Satan’s original lie is the sustaining power behind our culture’s exploitation of nudity. Commercial pornographers exist for business only because conceptual pornographers persist in painting this perverted picture.

From art students claiming this porno-prudery as part of their “faith” to preachers exhorting men to “bounce their eyes” at women, the bulk of American believers need to abandon this ungodly, Creator-dishonoring deception. Only by eliminating what porn profits from—the church’s pornographic fantasies about the nude body—can we effectively fight the naked obscenities of the porn industry. Either we stand with the Original Designer of beauty and glory in the unclad human body or we join as accomplices of the original pornographer who deceived us in the first place.

(for further reading, see my blog article Prudery and Porn Addiction, my website article Incarnational Truth about Humanity’s Sexual Nature (Doing Body-friendly Theology Free from Gnostic Prudery) or read my novelette Meeting at the River to explore the biblical research behind my reason for treating this issue of body acceptance so seriously.)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

“WILL YOU SURVIVE?”

The human survival instinct doesn’t tell us why we ought to survive; it’s just there, helping us do it. If we got here by the almighty chance of Mind-less evolution, the survival instinct functions only to insure that we live long enough to pass on our genes and protect our young till they can do the same thing. Afterwards, if evolution could care, it would care less about our personal survival. Despite that, the instinct keeps working anyway, with or without an evolutionary permission.

But if God is the Author of the human survival instinct, it changes the whole picture. Once we recognize a Divine Mind behind it, we can rationally envision that the instinct serves higher purposes than mere reproduction. It quietly assures the value and significance of human life itself, both to mated couples anticipating parenthood and to veteran spinsters and bachelors with no progeny at all. In its psychological dimensions — which material theories of evolution have always been ill-prepared to address — the instinct entertains a hope for the survival of personal identity itself.

Those without faith in an afterlife may interpret this psychological hope as finding its fulfillment merely in the memories of friends and family members who outlive them. But such a hope is short-lived. When those who knew us also finally die, their memories will die with them. Unless we become popular artists, well-known authors, or encyclopedia material, subsequent generations won’t even remember our names. If mine, engraved on stone in some cemetery, is noticed by future passers-by, one in a thousand might think, “I wonder who David Hatton was.” Even if they were curious enough to do research and find out, their knowledge about me would not be “ME,” anymore than the things I’ve created or written are "me." A deep, personal examination of this instinct reveals that the hoped-for survivor is the self.

There’s one other dimension of this psychological hope that deserves consideration: our ambitions. Our desires to create and accomplish and explore, taken together, are bigger than this life can contain. It seems that all of us leave this world with unfulfilled longings: things we wished to have, or dreamed of doing, or hoped to see. We die in the midst of wanting to know more about everything, trying to investigate new realms of knowledge and information. We depart with long lists of unkept New Year’s resolutions for embracing new virtues or adopting new habits. This life just doesn’t seem long enough or large enough for us to fit in all the changes, all the adventures, all the new horizons we would like to experience.

The survival instinct points us beyond, urging us to hope for the ultimate manifestation of all these ambitious longings. It tacitly promises their accomplishment, not by our last will and testament to the loved ones we leave behind, but by the “YOU” and the “ME” who personally dreamed the dreams. It whispers in our hearts the hope of an afterlife, where we will be forever involved in learning and doing and growing.

AFTERLIFE

The growth of our dreams
and our ambitious schemes
To accomplish still more as we age
Are proof, while alive,
that our souls must survive:
Life on earth only turns the first page....

David L. Hatton, 5-24-2013
(from Poems Between Birth and Resurrection)

(See also the essay on my website called, “Life after Death”)

Friday, March 29, 2013

COLORBLIND IN A PURPLE WORLD

The ancients saw a purple world. They looked at the human condition as violet-colored, existing as a combination of the sky-blue heavens and the clay-red earth. The interpenetration of these two realms—the spiritual and the physical—provided a platform for contemplating human life, which appears to include elements of both the natural and the divine. We have bluish angelic minds that think lofty thoughts of virtue, beauty, meaning, and morality. But we live in reddish animal bodies that grow up, become active, slow down, and return to the rust-colored ground.

For human nature, the red world of cosmic dust sounds a note of finality. Being tangible and plainly visible, it can be explored, analyzed, and quantified. If human life can be reduced to this red realm only, then our destiny at death is disintegration and annihilation. This is the logical result of an atheistic, materialistic view of the universe. But because the farthest extent of the blue realm is invisible and out-of-reach, it offers hope for human survival in an afterlife. This possibility exists only within a theistic, spiritual universe.

In modern times, we still live in a very purple world—still an obvious mixture of the blue and the red—but some are colorblind to it. They only see red. They may do so from personal anger at the God or gods of the blue realm portrayed by religion. Most would deny this. They simply say that science and human reason together reveal that only the red realm is real. Space, time and matter are all there is. Thoroughly investigating them can explain all human experience, including what appears to come out of the blue.

Well, that’s quite a leap of faith, to put it mildly. The blue world, which they can't bring into their laboratories, refuses analysis and quantification. Yet, this untamed, humanly uncontrollable realm keeps breaking into our red world with unforeseeable regularity. In global unison, personal testimonies today and down through history bear witness to these blue-world intrusions. Whether they be ghosts, near-death experiences, inexplicable stories of divine guidance, or miraculous answers to prayer, the evidence of the blue realm won't go away. Yet closed-minded red-realmers keep preaching that such repetitive episodes in human experience have no bearing on reality. Being in denial has few better illustrations.

But colorblindness is only one problem red-realmers face. There’s another major blind spot. They learned their atheistic, materialistic view of life from those who developed it by entrusting their thinking to the almighty Science of their day. Much of that science is now obsolete, superseded, unreliable. Each year brings new scientific discoveries that demand a constant revision of theories, rendering one semester's trusted textbooks outdated the next. The red realm has turned out not to be as measurable and codifiable as past atheists supposed. In fact, the mystery of the red realm keeps unfolding beyond their devotional confidence in a belief-system based on materialism alone. In the midst of such intellectual flux, stubborn faith—of which they glibly accuse their optimistic blue antagonists— has had few better examples.

Blue-realmers can be temporarily fooled by red-realm magicians who use their discoveries to perform blue-looking parlor tricks. The performers may ridicule the simpleminded gullibility of their audience when they reveal the mechanics of their “magic.” But when true magic breaks in from the blue realm, red-realmers themselves are put on the spot with a choice to make. Will they acknowledge their own gullibility toward the teachings of atheistic predecessors? Or will they stay in denial, colorblind to a purple world.

Of course, if they are right, then this world is not purple. When you die, there’s no blue world afterward. We are just temporarily conscious sophistications of dust blown in the wind. Nothing we say or do has eternal significance. Nothing ultimately matters, because when this decaying universe finally comes to an end, all remembrances of those who lived, all records of human history, will dissolve into oblivion.

But among the hopeful blue-thinking alternatives to this depressing prospect is one that uniquely answers our human longings. It’s the Bible’s “good news” that the Maker of heaven and earth became human to restore our fallen world and salvage our lost and wandering race. Taking up the blood-red flesh of the first Adam [“red” in Hebrew], God in Christ became the second Adam, bringing heaven to earth. The purple purpose that joins heavenly blue to earthly red awaits royal fulfillment in the coming Reign of Christ, the returning human King. This is a truly human-friendly faith. There’s nothing human-friendly at all in atheistic colorblindness.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

GOD HAS SOME QUESTIONS FOR YOU

When God asks us questions—as He frequently does in Scripture—they are of the utmost importance. Of course, being omniscient, He already knows the answers. He’s not gathering information. He asks them rhetorically to tell us what we need to learn or need to remember. Look for God’s questions, as you read the Bible, but be sure you meditate on the very first three (Genesis 3:9-11), because they form a foundation for most others in Scripture. This brief article points to a few of things I’ve gleaned from studying them.

Where are you?

God already knew Adam had gone astray, but Adam needed to know it. God asked him (and us) “Where are you?” because He wants lost humans to know He’s searching for them. As a shepherd looks for sheep that go astray, God wants to find and bring us home. The old saying is accurate: “If we feel far from God, guess who moved?” We did—we fled. But God is on our trail. His first question tells us that if we run, He runs after us. We may try avoiding Him, but ultimately He shows up. The poet Francis Thompson describes this God as “The Hound of Heaven”:
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, . . . .
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturb├Ęd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’
God’s first question also helps us to see where unfounded fears take us: into hiding—hiding from each other behind fig leaves, hiding from God behind bushes, hiding from our human calling and its responsibilities behind excuses. A proper response to His question is to agree that we’re lost and let Him lead us to safety. But Adam didn’t respond properly.

A new condition guided the thinking of the first fallen humans. They had eaten from a tree that gave them a “knowledge of good and evil” independent from a direct relationship with God. It brought them, and all their descendants, into a condition of spiritual death. Adam’s reply to God revealed that he had adopted a new form of morality that was essentially legalistic in nature: “I was afraid at your approach because of my nudity, so, of course, I hid.” To God, such behavior was a novelty, not a matter of course, and it led to His next rhetorical question.

Who told you that you were naked?

Most Bible teachers avoid the clear implications in this second question by skipping over it without comment. For them, lingering here is embarrassingly dangerous. It might unmask the real root of their teachings about the shamefulness of the naked human body. In fact, I enjoy exposing this cowardly theological neglect with a bit of my own humor:
Serious consideration of God’s 1st question to fallen humanity, “Where are you?” might lead a person to repent and become a Christian. Serious consideration of His 2nd question, “Who said you were naked?” might lead a person to repent and become a nudist.
In a totally naked world—like the original creation—nakedness had no moral meaning. Shame about it had to come from outside, introduced by someone who detested the openness nakedness fosters. Who, from outside the naked material cosmos, would want to camouflage reality, hide truth beneath lies? God leaves no room for denying the obvious. His question, “Who told you that you were naked?” clearly identifies the foreign source of humanity’s body shame.

The point of God’s second question is this: “Where did you get these new ideas about your body? Who have you been listening to? Have you been listening to a deceiver, that lying fallen angel who hates the naked glory of My embodied image? Is he now your teacher? Have you traded My instructions for the word of a liar?

It’s crucial for us to acknowledge the sin of entertaining falsehoods. Unless we realize our error, we will continue listening to the deceiver of souls, who wants to destroy us. To be set free from false thinking, we must look to our Maker alone for moral guidance. The opened eyes Satan promised our first parents laid them wide open to deceitful suggestions. We must vomit up and spit out the forbidden fruit of moral independence and learn to live by feeding upon every word that comes from the mouth of our Creator (Matthew 4:4).

“Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?

Of course, the purpose of Satan’s deception was to get us not only to believe lies, but to disobey our Maker. Again, God is completely aware of our sins. Our answer to this question is for our benefit, not His. We cannot experience God’s healing forgiveness unless we fully acknowledge our disobedience.

This question also reminds us how much God cares about our welfare. His commandments, His directives, His rules-to-live-by, weren’t intended to stifle our happiness, but to secure it. God wants keep us from doing what harms us. We pave our own road to destruction by failing to realize the grave consequences of doing our own thing. Safety for the human soul lies only in living according to God’s will and ways.

This last question calls us to confess our sins, which is a direct path to divine mercy (Proverbs 28:13). What would have happened, if Adam and Eve had responded in confession and repentance? Perhaps human history would have been quite different. God was kind to them in the midst of their newly fallen world, but He never got to show them the “mercy” bestowed on those who confess and renounce their sins, because they didn’t do it. Instead, as they had tried to hide their bodies with fig leaves, they tried to cover their sin with excuses.

How Will We Answer God’s Questions?

God still asks fallen humans, “Where are you? Who have you been listening to? Did you fail to do what I told you?” Try to answer them while reviewing the circumstances and situations you experience, the mass of information you receive, the various failures and shortcomings you bring into your earthly journey. These three questions reveal the heart of the God Who asks them. He is our loving Creator Who seeks to find us, guide us and heal us.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

BETWEEN THE WOMB AND THE TOMB….

What are we supposed to learn during our lifetime, during our journey between “the womb and the tomb”? What has been built into creation that can teach it to us? I’d like to share this poem—from my fourth book of poetry, Poems Between Birth and Resurrection—which tries to answer those questions, and more:

CREATION QUEST

There’s beauty in a panoramic view of land and sea.
There’s dancing in the heart that hears a birdsong’s melody.
There’s sweetness in a flower, majesty within a storm,
Amazing grace and glory in our naked human form.
There’s mesmerizing loveliness in every clear night sky,
Enchantment in a sunset, as it captures every eye,
And mysteries in ocean depths beyond the sunlight’s rays:
God’s miracles abounding all around us, all our days.

But while we stare bedazzled at creation’s lovely charms,
Our God who stands behind them waits for us with open arms.
Enthrallment and enjoyment were intended by His hand.
In everything He crafted are delights divinely planned,
Not just to please our senses, but to set our souls aflame
With thirst for greater pleasure than this world can give or name,
A joy that all creation was proclaiming from the start
That’s found alone in union with our Maker’s loving heart.

— David L. Hatton, 6/21/2006

Creation is waiting to be set free by the Divine Human, the God-Man Jesus Christ. Even in its longing and “groaning” in awaiting that liberation, it teaches us where the human race can “alone” find happiness: “in union with our Maker’s loving heart.”

(see also on this blog "Poems Between Birth and Resurrection")

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A HOLY HELL, NO LESS. . .

Although some evangelicals treat Rob Bell as a heretic, I tried keeping an open mind as I read his book Love Wins. Most of Bell’s critics habitually quote C. S. Lewis, whose literary mentor was George MacDonald. Do they realize MacDonald was a Christian universalist who believed with all his heart that God’s love would eventually win every soul?

Lewis disagreed with MacDonald about the eternality of hell, because he believed that the perpetuity of human freedom made hell an everlasting probability. But even Lewis—while portraying his mentor’s change of mind about hell in The Great Divorce—suggested the possibility of an escape. (Shame on you, if you’ve not yet read that masterpiece! . . and I won’t let my description of his “escape” episode tempt you to avoid this insightful novelette by Lewis.)

No matter what their theological degree or expertise, only the heartless can trample over the pathos and moral outrage exuding from Rob Bell’s question: “Does God punish people for thousands of years with infinite, eternal torment for things they did in their few finite years of life?” The question is as old as the early church, and there have been others who stood within the orthodoxy of the ancient Creeds yet struggled until answering it in much the same way Bell does.

A quick search online will provide all the arguments you need against Bell’s optimism, if that’s what you’re looking for. However, while disagreeing with him, I share his logical pain over the thought of a place where the lost forever receive cruel and unusual punishment. But if that’s the straw man Bell sets up to knock down as a foundation for his theories, then he must be talking about a destiny that exists only in the theological imagination of Calvinists. I say this not because of the disagreeable nature of hell’s intense suffering, but because of the unloving nature of a Calvinistic deity who doesn’t care about keeping a certain large number of lost souls from going there.

Calvinist intellectuals may ridicule the "simple-minded" enthusiasm of Arminians, but it’s the sovereign will of the all-loving God, celebrated first in Catholicism and later in Arminianism, that freely grants prevenient grace for awakening sin-bound souls. This grace allows every sinner the awesome freedom to responsibly choose or adamantly refuse the light of Christ. Divine grace to obey must logically accompany each and every divine command to repent, otherwise the whole concept of human responsibility is as much an illusion as the maya of Hinduism. At the same time, it’s the endless mercy of that all-loving God—forever desiring none to perish—that maintains a place called hell for all the impenitent. Yes, a real hell, and for very holy reasons.

How could it be otherwise? God sovereignly sets the will of sinners free to respond to Him. When they resist, God refuses to abandon lost souls to their miserable, relentless flight from truth. Ongoing divine Love and Light are never silent or complacent in the midst of ongoing human rebellion. C. S. Lewis believed “that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside.” (The Problem of Pain). And so, right along with Lewis, I believe that “God in His mercy made \ The fixed pain of Hell.” (from Lewis’ poem “Divine Justice”). Hell’s ceaseless pain is divine Love’s incessant knocking on doors kept shut by the perpetual defiance of self-will against the healing of divine Light.

No, I can't agree with Rob, who tries to defend God’s reputation by making hell into a short prison sentence, nor even with Master MacDonald, whose fearfully fiery purgatory would set Brother Bell's teeth on edge. Their big mistake, so similar to that in Calvinism, is to make God's loving grace irresistible, while underestimating His sovereign enabling of human wills to freely choose their ultimate destiny.

Neither the bliss of heaven nor the blast of hell need a further defense to free-willed minds than this: Light’s passionate marriage to Love forever celebrates in heaven every human’s pursuit of truth, and Love’s absolute allegiance to Light persistently refutes in hell all stubborn commitments to lies (Romans 2:6-11). Both conditions—that of paradise and that of perdition—mercifully demonstrate God’s eternal promotion of authenticity. Both destinies validate the everlasting duty of humans to choose goodness. Therefore, both forever glorify the grace of a holy and loving Creator.

[for further thoughts along these lines, see my poems, “Inviting Visitations,” “Hellfire and Damnation” and “The Knock.” Also, see my previous blog article, “The Problem of Hell.”]

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

LET’S FINISH THE SONG

In my devotional time a few weeks ago, I felt the urge to put some thoughts into a short rhyme:

"Adore the Designer of all things real.
Enjoy these beauties, but hurry along. . . .
Resist temptations to linger or kneel.
Our journey is brief; let's finish the Song
."

Feeling the body’s approaching need for retirement stimulates thoughts about mortality. Health issues and aging both tend to fix our gaze on the sand that keeps trickling through the hourglass of life. To contemplate departing from this world isn’t necessarily unhealthy. Ancient Christian monks made it a spiritual discipline to meditate on the day of their death, to help them focus on living each day well. Our concern should not be about how much sand is left to fall, but on the way we live while it’s falling.

Saying this reminds me of writing similar thoughts some years ago in a short essay called “It’s a Short Trip.” Although what I shared then is related, my little poem points toward another facet of concern: the finish.

I love the Lord, and I love the beauties of His creation.  As long as that former love includes loving my neighbor, it is entirely safe. But that latter love of the beauty God has created can be distractive.

I’ve spent hours collecting photo references off the Internet for art compositions that I want to paint someday. Some of that time could have been better invested in painting a few of them. It would have produced more tangible forms of appreciation to our Creator than my own personal delight in collecting them. If painting is part of the “song” God is calling me to sing, then lingering long among creation’s attractions is procrastination.

No one knows what tomorrow may bring. The good that we wish to do, whether by creating things to share with others or by showing love in word and deed, must be performed while we have the opportunity and the strength. Procrastination not only affects our own happiness. Others wait for our kind communications or helpful actions. If the Lord is prompting us to be a blessing to those around us, let’s not put it off till an unknown tomorrow. Today, let’s send that gift, write that email, give that phone call, make that visit. As the cartoon above says, "Do it now!"

Thursday, January 10, 2013

PRUDERY AND PORN ADDICTION

Prudery portrays nudity as a stimulus for sexual lust. That’s exactly how pornography sees it. This pair—born from the same sex-obsessed conception of our fleshly embodiment—are twins. Both obscure a holy vision of the physical human form with “vain imaginations.” As two sides of the same coin, together they buy an ungodly distortion of our “fearfully and wonderfully made” anatomy.

Prudery hides the body, calling God’s “temple” a lustful indecency. Profiting from that definition, pornography flaunts the Creator’s handiwork to stimulate the lust prudery predicts. Both ways of treating the body are unnatural, unrealistic and abusive. Purported to be opposites, they are conceptually identical. Both of them dishonor God by turning the incarnation of His image into a lustful temptation.

Christians have notoriously maintained the worst of these two viewpoints, which I stigmatize as porno-prudery, because it lays the essential groundwork for our “pornified” culture. Whenever a wholesome, godly view of the naked body is rejected and a shameful, obscene view embraced, the zeal of prudery inevitably plunges society into the hellish depravity of pornography.

Why do modern mission agencies train interns not to mix Western dress with their Gospel to naked people groups? History’s painful lesson is that such “modesty” devastated undressed cultures with the same lascivious chaos raging in the dressed-up West. Why no official apology for this infamous error committed by Victorian predecessors? Is it because the same erroneous attitude of body shame still survives and thrives in their supporting churches?

Sadly, its allegiance to porno-prudery condemns the modern church to struggle with porn addiction to the same degree as the surrounding culture. Its legalistic methods to curb this epidemic fail miserably, because none of them address the real problem: a pornographic view of the body. As long as Christians treat the sight of certain body parts as the source of lust, they miss the real target. The human heart is where Jesus focuses His attention and healing power. When His followers seek help against porn addiction by applying external measures derived from a porno-prudish view of the body, it’s like using gasoline to put out a fire.

The way to combat the dehumanizing porn problem is to eliminate its symbiotic twin. Without porno-prudery, the power and momentum of porn is lost. Nakedness alone cannot hold the addict. Pornography's hook is the fantasy, the perversion, the lie. Jesus said the truth would set us free (John 8:32). The “Naked Truth” of the ancient fable can quickly undo the chains of bondage forged by porn and prudery. Unadorned Truth shows us the body the way its Creator sees it. Truth soberly instructs us to replace body shame with body acceptance.

It took porno-prudery years to indoctrinate us. Naked Truth wins her converts in a few moments. Among them are painters and sculptors of the human form, who copy the Ultimate Artist's original design from nude models. Millions of them work in healthcare, where the sight of naked bodies is a daily routine. Some live and serve as cross-cultural workers among tribal people who have treated nudity as a social norm for thousands of years. Whatever porn and prudery long and laboriously taught these groups of fellow citizens, Naked Truth quickly and easily untaught them.

Such normal, nonsexual responses to nudity clearly undermine the credibility of those who support porno-prudery. As a desperate maneuver, its defenders may trivialize these examples as “merely contextual.” But, as for as the naked body itself, context is nothing; as for how it's presented, context is everything. Of this crucial difference between the body's moral and immoral presentations, porno-prudery seems stubbornly ignorant. For that fault alone, it deserves removal from all minds claiming to uphold morality. It certainly has no place at all in the hearts of those who believe the human body is the one structure in all of physical creation that our Maker calls a Self-portrait (Genesis 1:27).

(For a more thorough understanding of prudery's direct relationship to porn addiction, visit “My Chains Are Gone.”)