Some days ago, on the joint occasion of the Somme anniversary and England going out of the World Cup, I posted a poem exploring our national identity. That poem was then quoted on another site, of a hard-core pornographic nature. I wonder whether this is a first for missional church bloggers, or whether it happens to some of the more widely read practitioners all the time?
I do not condone pornography. As an industry, it objectifies and commodifies people; turning them from a subject who can be known relationally into an object to be consumed and thrown aside for my own gratification. That is ‘okay,’ we justify, because we will never meet the people in the photos. But the habitual decision to look at such images (and porn is addictive) leads men (in particular) to look at women (if the men are heterosexual) they do know, do see on a daily basis, in the same objectified and commodified way, as meat for feeding our sexual appetite. If we are ‘respectable’ men, we will seek to contain such feeding within the imagination; if we are not ‘respectable’ men, we will seek to give physical manifestation to our fantasies. (In contrast, the objectification and commodification of Rooney or Zidane as footballers – for porn is not the only example of this process – does not lead us to look at the men we know as someone to play football with, to feed another physical appetite…)
Pornography needs to be exposed for what it is; but what of pornographers? Those who work in the porn industry, along with other ‘tax collectors and sinners,’ are not welcome in our churches (unless, of course, they are ex-workers, in which case we will parade them as trophies). Like the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11), they would be dragged to the front to be condemned by ‘respectable’ men. But they are human beings, like the rest of us, who are loved by God, like the rest of us. Being web-linked with such people does not make me ‘dirty,’ any more than being linked with ‘dirty’ people made Jesus ‘dirty.’ Nor does it make me feel ‘dirty,’ though it did give me cause to reflect on dirt issues, what makes us ‘clean’ and ‘unclean.’ So, do people need to ‘get clean’ before we will acknowledge them? Or do we need to walk away from such ideas, as Jesus, kneeling before us, writes in the dirt?
dirt , emerging church