Fighting For Marriage

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/28898383 w=600&h=325]

In this inspiring four-minute video by Elevation Church, pureHOPE Charlotte Advisory Board members Chris and Sandra Pollard share their journey from bondage, betrayal, and distrust to hope, healing, and intimacy.  Their story highlights the abundance of grace and mercy that God readily pours out upon couples who, like the Pollards, choose prayer, repentance, forgiveness, and resolve to fight for their marriage instead of just fighting in their marriage.

“It took getting me into all those closets, and into all those things that I had hidden, and just exposing them to the light of the Lord.”  Chris Pollard

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Pervasive Perversity

Twelve years into the twenty-first century, it’s official: porn is ubiquitous.  Check out the infographic below if you’re not yet convinced (click the image to enlarge).

If you are familiar with the ministry of pureHOPE, you know that we are about equipping people to pursue purity through the pray/understand/resolve/engage lifestyle.  Part of the understanding we need to have is of the cultural terrain around us.  Whether we are pastoring, parenting, or just trying to follow Jesus, we need to understand our environment, and it is imperative that we understand the pervasiveness of porn and sexualized content and attitudes around us–sin that so easily entangles.  It’s a fundamental part of living a Spirit-empowered life that is not outwitted by or ignorant of our enemy’s designs (2 Corinthians 2:11).

Understanding of “the facts on the ground” provides the proper motivation to acquire the necessary tools and strategies, and the proper context for implementing those tools and strategies in our lives, families, and churches.  Check out the following posts for practical, biblically based resources to equip yourself and those around you to pursue purity in a pornified age:

Why “THE Sex Talk” is the Wrong Approach

In this 5-minute segment from a recent purePARENTING seminar, pureHOPE’s Dan Martin explains why a one-time sex talk doesn’t work, and why equipping your kids for purity requires diligence, authenticity, and effective use of teachable moments.

“It’s not the one-time talk.  It’s an ongoing, life-long, process of speaking truth in love.”  Dan Martin

[audio https://purehopeblog.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/pureparenting_mov_dan_martin.mp3]

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Just Your Average John

by Haley Ashworth

The majority of information on sex trafficking and the sex industry focuses on the women who are being exploited.  It is easy to find a typical profile for a woman caught in the sex industry, but what about the men that drive the industry—the consumers of women, the johns?  It is rare to see someone approaching the issue from that angle, and so I set out to see what research had been done.  How old are these men? Are they married?  Poor?  Wealthy?  Do they know the pain they are causing?  Do they care?

After searching through articles, research publications, blog posts, and fact sheets, I believe I have found the answers.  It is puzzling and saddening, but, for the most part, the men who have purchased women and children for their sexual use look almost indistinguishable from the rest of society, including the church. They are not dirty men in trench coats.  They are not desperate drug addicts. They are not societal outcasts who have little chance of a real relationship. The viewers of pornography, the buyers of prostitutes, the clients in strip clubs are, for the most part, just your average joe—or “john”, as it were.

Melissa Farley, a psychologist and founder of Prostitution Research & Education also noticed the lack of information on the johns and performed a research project to gather more data. Through interviews with two groups of men (buyers of sex and non-buyers), she gained and shared much insight into the differences between the two groups.  Farley reports that “sex buyers in the study used significantly more pornography than non-buyers,” demonstrating once again the link between sex trafficking and pornography (learn more about that here and here). The buyers of sex also admitted to being more violent with women, and according to the study were “nearly eight times as likely as non-buyers to say they would rape a woman if they could get away with it.” This severe attitude of violence points to a cyclical pattern. Similar to the way a drug addict eventually needs harder narcotics to achieve a high, viewers of pornography gradually need more violent and “hardcore” images in order to be satisfied, eventually leading to a tolerance of violence towards women, even to the point where they desire to act it out.  Prostituted women are the perfect outlet for this because the men are in complete control. Continue reading

Stripping Away the “Magic”

by Haley Ashworth

Inspired by the recent article A Black and White Choice NOT to Read 50 Shades of Grey, I decided to share my opinion on the new movie Magic Mike in hopes that it gets people to think twice about the kinds of entertainment we are allowing, and not allowing, into our lives.  The R-rated film, which seems to be a sort of dramatic/romantic comedy, follows the life of male stripper Mike, played by Channing Tatum.  According to Warner Bros., “The film follows Mike as he takes a young dancer called The Kid under his wing and schools him in the fine arts of partying, picking up women, and making easy money.”

With this synopsis in mind, I wonder why anyone, Christian or not, would want to see Magic Mike.  Admittedly, I suppose it’s possible for it to have a redemptive ending or a moral lesson tucked into the plot, but according to the multiple reviews I read, it’s not likely.  Even if it did, I’m not seeing it, and here’s why:

  • It romanticizes and normalizes the sex industry.  For a ten dollar movie ticket, ordinary people get to see multiple strip scenes full of mostly naked men, all without the stigma or nuisance of going to a real live strip club.  If this is widely accepted by society, then how much longer will it be before “XXX” films are deemed as everyday entertainment and being shown in the neighborhood movie theatre?  That may seem like a drastic jump, but there’s really only a thin G-string separating the two.
  • It objectifies people. It’s common knowledge that the importance of superficial beauty is elevated in today’s culture and especially in Hollywood.  But we have to recognize that there’s an issue when people are willing to buy overpriced movie tickets for no reason other than shirtless men.  And that’s pretty much all the audience should expect, according to movie reviews from The Chicago Tribune, CNN, and Movie Web.
  • It hinders my personal pursuit of purity.  In Galatians we are advised, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”  We should be pursuing whatever is pure, lovely, good, and righteous and avoiding the temptations of the flesh—in this case, literally.  I know that Magic Mike is not going to further my pursuit of purity or relationship with God, so why should I invest time in it?

I encourage everyone, every day, to think about the kind of entertainment we are supporting with our time and our money.  You may not come to the same conclusions as me about this particular movie, but the old adage rings true—trash in, trash out.  We should always be striving to guard our hearts, minds, and eyes.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31

Haley Ashworth is a sophomore at Vanderbilt University and is currently serving as a 2012 pureJUSTICE intern.

The Poetry of Sexual Healing

Check out this video by Jefferson Bethke of Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus fame (see the buzz he created here).  In this video, which has over 3.9 million views on YouTube as of today, he captures a generation’s view of sex and rebuts it with the purpose and promise of sanctification and love.

“So think twice before you eat what society feeds us
Come follow the King His name is Jesus.”