In an article in New York Magazine author Naomi Wolf mentions a quote by David Amsden: “Porn is the wallpaper of our lives now.” I love pithy phrases and that one certainly nails the truth. I remember a house I once toured as I was looking for a home to buy. Every room including the stairwell was wallpapered. Every single room! The effect was overwhelming. In addition to wanting to keel over from a heart attack like Fred Sanford, I came out of there never wanting to see wallpaper again for the rest of my life. The idea behind porn is the same. Pornography is so prevalent we are saturated with it. The effect is diminished, not increased desire for real sexual intimacy. The article puts it more eloquently: “The ubiquity of sexual images does not free eros but dilutes it.”
Naomi apparently travels to college campuses talking about the effects of porn on relationships. Women and men list different effects of living in a porn saturated society. Women feel it is hard to measure up to pornographic images. In their sexual lives they wonder if they can “ask for what they want.” They worry that “as mere flesh and blood” if they can “get, let alone hold, a man’s attention.” Men report that they have learned sex from the school of pornography and how it does not help them “to be real with a woman.”
Wolf reported in the article that when she brings up the subject of loneliness “a deep, sad silence descends on audiences of young women and young men alike. They know they are lonely together even when conjoined and that this imagery is a big part of that loneliness.” In conversation with a young man at Northwestern she asked him “Why have sex right away?” His answer: “Things are always a little tense and uncomfortable when you just start seeing someone. I prefer to have sex right away just to get it over with. You know it is going to happen. It gets rid of the tension.” “Isn’t the tension kind of fun?” Wolf inquired. “Doesn’t (having sex right away) also get rid of the mystery?” “Mystery?” He looked at her blankly. Without hesitating he said, “I don’t know what you are talking about. Sex has no mystery.”
“Sex has no mystery.” That has to be one of the saddest statements that I have heard. King Solomon, one of the wisest men to ever live said: “There are three things too wonderful for me, four that I do not understand: the way of the eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship in the sea, and the way of a man with a woman.” Proverbs 30:18 This comes from a man whose wisdom was as “vast as the sands on the seashore.” Even with that breadth of wisdom he had to admit that the beauty of the sexual relationship was a profound mystery. So profound he could not search the depths of it.
Sin is always about the shortcut. Always. C.S. Lewis says it most profoundly in the Screwtape Letters: “An ever increasing craving, for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula.” Pornography is the easy shortcut to intimacy. Men can look at it and fantasize about the “perfect relationship with the perfect girl” in their imaginary world. Fantasizing gives them a high, so they need to look at the images again, but the next high isn’t as great. Meanwhile they diminish their ability to have real pleasure with a real woman. They could spend their whole lifetime learning to love one woman sexually. The pleasure would increase and they would never be able to plumb the depths of even one woman. Lust glances, but love gazes. It gazes on the beloved in wonder, in awe. Wolf was right when she said, “a powerful, erotic bond between parents is a key element of a strong family.” How often it is when we take down wallpaper we uncover some beautiful hidden architectural treasure. In the same way, when we take down the wallpaper of pornography we can begin to discover the profound mystery of sex and the beauty of a real woman.
Okay. I confess. I have a secret admirer. It’s true. His name is Jason. For many months Jason repeatedly called my cell phone. He would leave lovely messages for me. He would always mumble, “Hey Susie, this is Jason. I’m just calling to say hi. You know I love ya. Please call me. I miss ya. I want to hear from ya. I love ya.” I found the messages greatly amusing and quite endearing. He loves me! It made my whole day. If only my name was Susie. Poor Jason. He always kept waiting for Susie to call him back, and I am sure she never did since she didn’t get any of his messages. I can hear the argument now. “But I left you three messages!” Jason implores. “No you didn’t!” she yells. “I never got any calls from you.” “I am not lying I called you!” Jason pleads. She picks up his phone. “AHA!” she says. “You have been calling Stacey! Now who the heck is STACEY, huh?” Poor befuddled Jason hangs his head. “Women,” he mutters. “I’ll never understand them.” Jason is a victim of love in a technological age. Here’s the moral of the story guys: Make sure you are dialing the correct cell phone number when you leave your messages of love. Then you will get a kiss instead of a fist in the smacker. However, if you want to call me to just tell me you love me, I won’t mind. Not a bit.
Okay let’s get real honest here. We all hate a blowhard, and truth be told we have all been one ourselves at one time or another. To brag about yourself shows immediately that you are in fact a fool and you have just pronounced it for all the world to hear. Some people are so accomplished at it that you feel like asking them if they have a star on the walk of fame next to John Wayne. In addition to making you a supremely boring person, bragging is immensely irritating to the listener. My realtor once proclaimed, “I make the best brownies in the world.” I guess I should have eaten one because she was unable to sell my house.
I too have bragged on myself at some point, I am sure. Now I know myself too well to be singing any praises about myself. But some people sing all four parts and have formed it into a one man opera. I want to tell them it is nice of them to finish Mozart’s Requiem since he didn’t get to do it himself, for surely this is what it is since they are boring me to death. I would tell them that too if I could get a word in edgewise. Instead I sigh, and wish longingly that I was standing in line at the DMV to get my dreaded license picture taken. It’s amazing the reaches the brain will go to to escape boredom.
Truly fascinating and gracious people are always those who are interested in others. One of the most gracious people I have ever known never wanted to talk about herself and was always helping others. Ask other people questions about themselves. You will be amazed at how fascinating they think you are. By all means leave the ass at home. That donkey needs to stay in the stable.
“Let another person praise you and not your own mouth; someone else and not your own lips.”
Can you remember the first time you experienced cruelty? I can. I was just a little kid. An older boy in my neighborhood came up to me and asked me if “I had ever seen a match burn twice?” I was trusting, naïve, curious and intrigued. I said, “No.” He proceeded to light a new match, blow it out and hold the still burning match to my skin. I never forgot the lesson and I still remember his name. Cruelty has a way of permanently encoding itself in the memory as do those who perpetrate it. I should know, I have experienced a lot of it.
I find that it’s not the meanness of evil people that confuses us. It is the kindness. I never used to understand this proverb: “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but even the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” Proverbs 12:10 How can kindness be cruelty? Kindness is cruelty when it is used to draw us close so that we may be used, manipulated, deceived and further exploited by an evil person. Evil people are experts in cruelty. They know how to take poison and serve it up like the most delicious dessert you have ever tasted. There are both men and women out there who have sucked in a spouse with their “false kindness” and who have been eating them alive from the inside out ever since. Of all predators, the human predator is the worst.
Does a match burn twice? No. For cruel people it burns for a lifetime.