Is Porn a Friend of Same Sex Marriage?

Mark Regnerus has gotten his share of persecution from the media regarding his research focus and the conclusions he is scientifically drawing, and this study from December will only exacerbate matters.

In this December article, Regnerus asks this simple research question: Does heightened porn use matter for fashioning attitudes about marriage? He asks because he knows, based on research, what porn really does.

It redirects sex—by graphic depiction of it—away from any sense of it as a baby-making activity. Porn also undermines the concept that in the act of sexual intercourse, we share our “body and whole self … permanently and exclusively.” On the contrary, it reinforces the idea that people can share their bodies but not their inmost selves, and that they can do so temporarily and (definitely) not exclusively without harm.

So if watching porn does this to men, how might this affect their view of homosexuality? What is the relationship, if any, between male porn use and their view of marriage?

Read the rest below to get the answer.

Data from the New Family Structures Study reveal that when young adult Americans (ages 23-39) are asked about their level of agreement with the statement “It should be legal for gays and lesbians to marry in America,” the gender difference emerges, just as expected: 42 percent of men agreed or strongly agreed, compared with 47 percent of women of the same age. More men than women disagreed or strongly disagreed (37 versus 30 percent), while comparable levels (21-23 percent) said they were “unsure.”

But of the men who view pornographic material “every day or almost every day,” 54 percent “strongly agreed” that gay and lesbian marriage should be legal, compared with around 13 percent of those whose porn-use patterns were either monthly or less often than that. Statistical tests confirmed that porn use is a (very) significant predictor of men’s support for same-sex marriage, even after controlling for other obvious factors that might influence one’s perspective, such as political affiliation, religiosity, marital status, age, education, and sexual orientation.

The same pattern emerges for the statement, “Gay and lesbian couples do just as good a job raising children as heterosexual couples.” Only 26 percent of the lightest porn users concurred, compared to 63 percent of the heaviest consumers. It’s a linear association for men: the more porn they consume, the more they affirm this statement. More rigorous statistical tests confirmed that this association too is a very robust one.

Theoretically, the same pattern should hold when considering support for marriage in general. And it does, though not quite as distinctively. The less time spent viewing porn, the less critical men are of the institution of marriage. Forty-nine (49) percent of the lightest porn users “strongly disagreed” with a statement suggesting that “marriage is an outdated institution” (and an additional 26 percent simply “disagreed” with it), compared with 14 percent of the heaviest porn users.

Of course, correlation doesn’t mean causation, and I’m not suggesting causation here. But I’m also pretty confident the “causal arrow” wouldn’t run in the other direction. (Why would supporting same-sex marriage encourage you to look at porn?) Still, we should consider alternative explanations. What might predict both porn use and support for new family forms? Religion? Politics? While religiosity indeed matters for perceiving marriage as outdated, it does little to alter the stable link between porn use and same-sex marriage support. The same is true of political affiliation. It matters. It just doesn’t weaken the association between porn use and supporting nontraditional family forms.

In the end, contrary to what we might wish to think, young adult men’s support for redefining marriage may not be entirely the product of ideals about expansive freedoms, rights, liberties, and a noble commitment to fairness. It may be, at least in part, a byproduct of regular exposure to diverse and graphic sex acts.

Holiness and Homosexuality

Homosexuality is all the rage … at least in the news these days.  My thoughts are grounded in Isaiah 6:1-7:

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: 

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” 

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” 

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The purpose of this post (and therefore the foundation for any comments you might make):

  • is NOT to give a biblical theology of sexuality
  • is NOT to make a political statement about sexuality

Rather, my intent is to speak to people on both sides of the issue thru the lens of God’s holiness.  In short, I believe what all of us need is solid dose of the holiness of God, and I’m using Isaiah 6:1-7 to administer it.

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First, the text establishes the fact that God is holy.  He is the “thrice holy,” transcendent, righteous and sovereign Lord of the Universe.  Verses 1-3 make this abundantly clear, and we agree with the seraphim:  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 

Second, the text establishes that all people are NOT holy.  We are all finite, filthy, mortal, unrighteous people.  Regardless of our sexual orientation, political views, etc., we are ALL definitively UNCLEAN.  We are, in this sense, THE SAME.  This is very clear in Isaiah 6:5 — Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Third, recognizing we are unclean takes place when we look honestly at ourselves in light of our HOLY GOD, not anyone else.  In view of God’s holiness, Isaiah isn’t primarily concerned with anyone else’s standing before God (“I am lost, I am unclean”), but he is at least aware that those he dwells in the midst of are equally unclean (“I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips”).  As God’s chosen prophet of judgment, Isaiah never points the finger and declares himself less sinful, but he doesn’t compromise the truth of the nation’s sin either.  It’s also fascinating that, in view of God’s holiness, Isaiah does not compare himself to the standard of fellow Israelites.  People aware of God’s holiness and, therefore, their sin, are not given to consider themselves as better than others who are also sinful.  As D. A. Carson states, “The holiness of God discloses our rebellion and dirty nature to us in a way that mutual comparisons among the members of the rebel race never can.”

Fourth, the text establishes that only a gracious and merciful act of God can cleanse unholy people.  In Isaiah’s case, a burning coal in the hand of a seraphim placed on his lips cleanses him and atones for his sin (vv. 6-7).  In the case of all believers, it is by grace through faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we are made new creations who are declared righteous before God and empowered with the Spirit to wage war on sin.

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In light of these four truths, I offer the following points of application for all of us, specifically towards how we think and talk about homosexuality.

First, all must seek to know and understand the holiness of God.  Start with your Bible, yet R. C. Sproul’s “Holiness of God” is an excellent text to start with outside of the Bible.

Second, pray for humility in light of your increased understanding of God’s holiness.  This will lead heterosexuals to see their sin, homosexuals to see their sin, cultural warriors to see theirs, etc.  We cannot see God and not see our sin.  We cannot see our sin if we are making mutual comparisons between ourselves.  Making those mutual comparisons breeds pride, when what we need is humility.  Pray for it as you seek to develop it by seeking the holiness of God.

Third, in this humility, speak the truth in love.  Isaiah was deeply conscious of his personal sinfulness, yet also aware that others were sinful as well.  In this humble state, he was able to speak authoritative truth to a sinful people in an identifiable way.  He, too, would bear the judgment of God he was preaching about.  In light of this, I offer two suggestions for those on both sides of this issue.

  • To my fellow conservative evangelical Christians, this means that the most loving people in this discussion should be the conservative evangelical Christians.  Also, the most stalwart defenders of biblical truth in this discussion should be the conservative evangelical Christians.  The reason is simple:  “The fundamental explanation of our conversion was not that we were wiser or morally superior to others in choosing God, but that God chose to have mercy on us and intervened in our lives, revealing our need for His provision of the gospel. Our salvation is owed completely to the sovereign grace of God” (C. J. Mahaney).  The nature of our salvation dictates the nature of our lives … that we lovingly communicate truth.  Therefore, while Christians are to be grateful that, in many states, the definition of marriage has been constitutionally defined, the manner in which we have gone about publicly debating it has been hurtful in many cases.  Granted, we cannot ultimately control the perceptions others have of us, but who among us would say that the world clearly understands we love homosexuals?  Both love and truth are required in light of the Gospel, and we must learn how to do this better not only in person, but on the web as well.
  • To homosexuals or others sympathetic to their cause, I ask you to speak openly and honestly about the real goals of the movement to legally recognize homosexual marriages.  I’ve been around long enough to know that if you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to want a glass of milk.  It’s not as if the homosexual movement would end should homosexual marriages be officially recognized.  Kevin DeYoung is right: ” It will keep mounting until all accept and finally celebrate that homosexuality is one of Diversity’s great gifts. The goal is not for different expressions of marriage, but for the elimination of definitions altogether.”  And even if this isn’t the “goal” per se, it certainly is the final result, whether it is the intention of this movement or not.  This is just one example of how homosexuals or those sympathetic to their cause could be more forthcoming about the motives and/or inevitable outcomes of their desires.

Finally, let all Christians concern themselves first with the war with sin before the war for the culture.

  • The Christian life by the Spirit is a personal struggle first and foremost … it is a war against the sin of the flesh.  If it’s not a struggle against sin, it’s not a Christian life we are living.  “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
  • Practicing homosexuals who would call themselves Christians must come to terms with the fact that homosexuality is a deviant, sinful behavior.  No legitimate, biblical hermeneutic allows one to say with integrity that practicing homosexuality is not sinful.  Kevin DeYoung is right:  “We do not help each other in the fight for holiness when we allow for righteousness to look increasingly strange and sin to look increasingly normal.”  Therefore, while a Christian may certainly fight against homosexuality by the power of the Spirit, he or she may not redefine it so that it’s not seen as sin.  Practicing homosexuals who call themselves Christian should listen more to the Spirit and less to President Obama who shamefully called upon Jesus and the Christian faith to inflame this culture war and lend support to sexually deviant behavior and redefine biblical terms and institutions.
  • Christians who recognize the truth of homosexuality and have a zeal for protecting the sanctity of marriage in our culture must first and foremost have a zeal for putting their personal sin to death in their flesh.  If the zeal for the sanctity of marriage in our nation were as strong as the zeal for personal holiness before God, brought about by life in the Spirit, I dare say that any culture wars would take care of themselves.  Such a commitment to slay sin would lead to more church signs that said, “We love homosexuals” and to churches with members who, of course, vote to support marriage amendments in their state.  It is possible … NECESSARY … that we love our enemies and defend the truth.
  • It’s disingenuous for either side to lament that the other side is fighting a culture war when neither side is fighting the personal sin war.  Rachel Evans can lament this war all she wants, but until BOTH SIDES are fighting the war against sin, it’s disingenuous to lament that one side or the other is fighting it.

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If the holiness of God is first and foremost in our minds and hearts, the entire discussion regarding homosexuality in our culture is flipped on its head.  It becomes infinitely more honest and loving, and could actually give glory to God rather than seemingly take away from it.

Maybe the conversations would, indeed, look more like this and this.

Gracie and Truthy

Along the lines of yesterday’s repost of Trevin Wax’s article on what constitutes a “sacred compromise” or a “scandalous capitulation,” consider Al Mohler’s post yesterday.

The post is long, and is primarily meant to demonstrate how mega-churches may be shaping out to be the new liberal churches of the next generation.  That is, very large churches that have grown by being theologically soft might be the most susceptible to theological compromise, and eventual demise.

To exemplify this potential, Dr. Mohler references a recent message by Andy Stanley entitled, “When Gracie Met Truthy.”  Here’s the summary from Dr. Mohler’s blog.  Keep in mind the context I’ve set for you.

A shot now reverberating around the evangelical world was fired by Atlanta megachurch pastor Andy Stanley in recent days. Preaching at North Point Community Church, in a sermon series known as “Christian,” Stanley preached a message titled “When Gracie Met Truthy” on April 15, 2012. With reference to John 1:14, Stanley described the challenge of affirming grace and truth in full measure. He spoke of grace and truth as a tension, warning that “if you resolve it, you give up something important.”

The message was insightful and winsome, and Andy Stanley is a master communicator. Early in the message he spoke of homosexuals in attendance, mentioning that some had shared with him that they had come to North Point because they were tired of messages in gay-affirming churches that did nothing but affirm homosexuality.

Then, in the most intense part of his message, Stanley told the congregation an account meant to illustrate his message. He told of a couple with a young daughter who divorced when the wife discovered that the husband was in a sexual relationship with another man. The woman then insisted that her former husband and his gay partner move to another congregation. They did move, but to another North Point location, where they volunteered together as part of a “host team.” The woman later told Andy Stanley that her former husband and his partner were now involved as volunteers in the other congregational location.

The story took a strange turn when Stanley then explained that he had learned that the former husband’s gay partner was still married. Stanley then explained that the partner was actually committing adultery, and that the adultery was incompatible with his service on a host team. Stanley told the two men that they could not serve on the host team so long as the one man was still married. He later told of the former wife’s decision not to live in bitterness, and of her initiative to bring the whole new family structure to a Christmas service. This included the woman, her daughter, her former husband, his gay partner, and his daughter. Stanley celebrated this new “modern family” as an expression of forgiveness.

He concluded by telling of Christ’s death for sinners and told the congregation that Jesus does not condemn them, even if they cannot or do not leave their life of sin.

Declaring the death of Christ as atonement for sin is orthodox Christianity and this declaration is essential to the Gospel of Christ. The problem was that Stanley never mentioned faith or repentance — which are equally essential to the Gospel. There is indeed no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, but this defines those who have acted in repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). As for those who are not in Christ, they stand condemned already (John 3:18).

The most puzzling and shocking part of the message was the illustration and the account of the homosexual couple, however. The inescapable impression left by the account was that the sin of concern was adultery, but not homosexuality. Stanley clearly and repeatedly stressed the sin of adultery, but then left the reality of the homosexual relationship between the two men unaddressed as sin. To the contrary, he seemed to normalize their relationship. They would be allowed to serve on the host team if both were divorced. The moral status of their relationship seemed to be questioned only in terms of adultery, with no moral judgment on their homosexuality.

Was this intended as a salvo of sorts? The story was so well told and the message so well constructed that there can be little doubt of its meaning. Does this signal the normalization of homosexuality at North Point Community Church? This hardly seems possible, but it appeared to be the implication of the message. Given the volatility of this issue, ambiguity will be replaced by clarity one way or the other, and likely sooner than later.

We can only hope that Andy Stanley and the church will clarify and affirm the biblical declaration of the sinfulness of homosexual behavior, even as he preaches the forgiveness of sin in any form through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His affirmation of grace and truth in full measure is exactly right, but grace and truth are not actually in tension. The only tension is our finite ability to act in full faithfulness. The knowledge of our sin is, in truth, a gift of grace. And grace is only grace because of the truth of what God has done for us in Christ.