Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why is stopping pornography wrong? It sounds so GOOD?

GOTCHA!

If you are reading this post, then that means that just like a vast number of all Americans the word "pornography" got your attention.  Our country is porn saturated from every angle.  Internet ads, television, print, we are a sex obsessed nation.  There are articles that you can read here and here on the dangers that pornography has on our society at large and also the physiological changes that it takes on the brain.  This is a major problem that is destroying families inside and outside of the Church. In fact, Christianity Today  reported in 2008 that 70% of all American men ages 18-34 view pornography at least once per month.  This does not even take into consideration the degrading nature of pornography and the effects on the women themselves

Taking all this into consideration, wouldn't it be wise and in the best interest of our country to crack down on pornography and the viewers?  I mean, if it is that much of a cancer in our society, then it needs to be removed,  taken down at any cost, right?  This is what Rick Santorum is saying:

‘Vigorous’ Santorum crackdown may catch Internet porn viewers with pants down.

So is this right, or is this wrong?  From my perspective this is wrong, but why?  Why wouldn't we want a control on such a blight in our country?  The main reason is quoted in the article:  If elected, [Santorum] promises to “vigorously” enforce laws that “prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier.”   The real question should be, is the government the best option we have to cure the tide of pornography in our nation.  The answer is a resounding NO!  


The First Amendment to our United States Constitution states:  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."    For this conversation, I am focusing on the freedom of speech portion of the amendment.  What the evangelical/Christian right has failed to recognize is that our republican form of democracy government is a heartless, soulless entity which takes on the nature of those whom we elect, however those whom we elect must act on behalf of the entire public to protect their rights and freedoms.  As much as I dislike to agree with the likes of Larry Flynt, the infamous publisher of Hustler magazine, I must on this issue.  The problem we have is not that there is pornography published by the truckload, nor is it the fact that there are hundreds of new sites every day being opened up on the internet.  The problem is with us as a country and our internal moral compass....but that is another subject I shall address later.


I think we really need to take a look at what has happened in the Conservative movement in general over the past 45 years or so, beginning in the mid 60's. Our country has gone through a vast metamorphosis.   No longer do we see people remaining chaste until marriage, or after marriage for that matter.  The sixties issued in the era of free love and sex along with contraception and legalized abortion.  After that we have seen the divorce rate skyrocket to the point that over 50% of marriages in the United States are a failure.  Now the far right could see what was going on and I would agree with their assessment of the danger to our society, the problem I have is how they have sought the fix.  


Looking for a quick route to move away from the social ills of our time, the far right conservatives decided to get involved in the political arena and you then saw the likes of Focus on the Family, Family Research Council and other organizations maneuver their way into the GOP to change the party into one that would stand for truth, family values (ugh...) and the "American way".   The problem is, it didn't work...and it wont work.  Now the GOP is viewed as a party for religious extremists who are trying to get elected in order to use the governmental and legislative system to further their moral code of ethics on the country.   '


There are two basic problem with this strategy:  The first flaw is that it is impossible and I would say immoral to try to use governmental or legislative meant to further your agenda.  The reasoning behind this is quite simple.  If it is legitimate for the far right to use legislative means to further their moral agenda, then it is perfectly legal and within bounds for the far left to use the same means to further their agenda.  What you then wind up with is a continual power grab to see who can garner the bigger hand on the rope to FORCE their agenda on the remainder of Americans.  Sound familiar?  That is EXACTLY what is going on in Washington now.  The second flaw is that neither party is able to recognize that what both ends are trying to do with the legislative system is out of bounds.  The desire of every American is freedom.  Freedom to participate and live their lives how they want (yet I would argue that they must also be willing to accept the consequences for those actions).  Freedom means the ability to recognize that the actions you take effect other people than yourself, yet you have the right to carry through with them to their final end.


I know that from the point of view of many Christians, this may sound "liberal", but in this sense, God is liberal with us.  Our walk with Christ is set with boundaries and hedges along the way and we are never forced to walk that road.  God doesn't bop us over the head when we disobey his plan for us, instead he woos us back from our hearts, from the law that he has written on our hearts.  This, I would say is the answer to not only the pornography issue that our country is suffering from, but the other addictions that we all are wrapped with.  


There is no quick fix.  There is no way to legislate our way to morality.  That would be the easy way out.  What we a Christian are really called to do...as the Church is to serve others.  Take these people out in the community and don't legalize them...don't preach to them....LOVE THEM!  HELP THEM! FEED THEM! CLOTHE THEM!  It is in this love that people will find what they aren't finding in the false medication of the world.  While this isn't a quick fix that we are looking for, it is a fix that will stick because it is then and only then that people allow themselves to be transformed from the inside out.  


I don't know about you, but when I want change, I want people to change because they want to change and they have been driven by themselves to change.  Laws don't work anyway.  You can make pot, alcohol, porn all illegal, it doesn't matter because when people want to find the stuff, they will find it.  You haven't done anything to change their hearts....you have just made it harder for them.



Having said all this, I also make a statement that one of the fastest growing segments of pornography is child pornography.  There is a huge difference between an adult who chooses to perform and make this their livelyhood, but there is something much different with a child who has been captured and is being taken advantage of by an adult and an abuser.  This cannot be accepted under any circumstances.  These are precious souls who have had their childhood and innocence stolen from them and many will suffer irreparable harm.  I know that in this issue, these perpetrators must be caught, they must be held accountable  for their crimes...and I am wise enough to say that I don't have all the answers, but I know that they are out there.  There are ways to catch these perverts without giving up our liberties and turning into a police state where our liberties are dolled out to us like an entitlement program.




At least that is the way I see it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

What is is....and what it AIN'T

I have found that there is really no better way to start a blog post than with a nice glass of Merlot. It has been almost a year since I posted last and as we are moving very quickly toward Lent, I am reminded very much how much I appreciate the Liturgical Calendar. It wasn't really that long ago that I had no idea what a Liturgical calendar was, much less Ordinary Time, Lent, Advent, Maundy Thursday and yet I have grown extremely fond of what the Church has given us with the Calendar. The Liturgical calendar gives us a chance, if we will pay attention, to walk through the entire life of our Lord in a years time...and now we are entering the season of Lent.
Where I grew up in Mississippi, there weren't too many Catholics, so I really didn't hear that much about Lent, Mardi Gras or "giving stuff up"--it was all sorta jibberish to me and what I did hear about Mardi Gras was NOT good. My understanding is that it was a time for those heathen Catholics to get all their sinning in they could before they had to stop. That was the extent of my knowledge and it continued until 2oo5 when I began to study the Church.
If you are not aware....or maybe you are...Lent is supposed to be a time of self reflection for us. It is the period of (approximately) 4o days prior to Good Friday and it corresponds to the 4o years that the Children of Israel were out in the desert and also the 4o days that Christ was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. The Church in all Her wisdom has prescribed this time during the year for us to examine our lives to see what areas we have that are hindering us from our walk with Christ, or maybe to work through the sins in our lives that we hold on to that separate us from God, or maybe we have things in our life that continually pull our attention away from our time that we should be spending with the Lord in prayer or Scripture.
In the past there was a celebration on the day before Lent began as a last celebration before we went into this period of examination and penance for our sins--Fat Tuesday. Now of course this has been exploited (as much we are aware in parts of New Orleans), but to throw out Mardi Gras all together because of this is akin to throwing out Christmas due to the over commercialiation of the birth of Christ. Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday and that will be followed by Ash Wendnesday .(The joke is that this year the Church needed to save a day so they have combined them into one day: Fat Ash Thursday......but I digress.....) Wednesday we will go to Mass and the priest will make the sign of the cross on my forehead with ashes and remind me:"You are but ashes and to ashes you will return.." This reminder is of my humanity and how I am but man and continually fail my Lord miserably. I will (at least once) take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and use this time to find those ways to nudge myself closer to the Lord.
Lent is not so much about giving up chocolate or alcohol...although you could if it is a vice of yours, but it is more so about giving up things that manipulate your time such as __(you fill in the FaceBook blank, or the television blank). But if you decide to give these things up, replace them! Replace them with prayer, meditation, spiritual reading or dare I say QUIETNESS. Our Lord moves on us in the still quietness and that is so rare for us to have these days.
So what are you going to give up for Lent...What are you going to ADD to your life for Lent? Make it a good time for you and the Lord together and I can promise you, when Easter rolls around, you will be much more appreciative and closer to Him for the time you have spent.....and who knows, your good habits might stick!