I remember the first time I saw a picture of a naked woman. I was eight years old standing in front of a neighbor’s house on a summer morning when my friend showed it to me.
He had a high pitched giggle as he carefully unfolded the paper and revealed the image. I was shocked and then I thought, “So that’s how they look!”
I turned my head about to see if anyone was watching. My friend quickly folded it up again and hid it away in his shirt pocket. I made him take it out and I took another longer look.
I took in the curves and the private areas of a body that she revealed with a smile. Utterly amazing.
Back then, access to stuff like this was pretty limited. I remember perusing the women’s section of the Sears catalogue on many occasions. Of course in the years since, I’ve seen lots of those kinds of pictures. They’re not difficult to find on the internet, dvds, even network TV. Heck, it’s hard not to see women in various states of undress.
So let’s talk about pastors and pornography. There’s supposed to be a lot of this—an epidemic, I’m told. I’m assuming we’re talking about the male pastors, and I’m also assuming we’re not talking about some of the kinkier stuff that’s out there.
First, I have say that I KNOW it’s not just pastors who look at pictures of naked women. Every man I know has an interest in the appearance of the female body. ClergyMEN are no different, and if that shocks you, get over it.
Perhaps for pastors there is some difference, particularly since it’s in the area of sexuality. Our lives are on display, and evaluated constantly, so we guard our secrets to the point where we can’t examine them carefully for ourselves, which sets us up for pathological tendancies.
Every time we notice any pretty woman, a ferocious fundamentalist shame lashes into our souls and infects us with fear of condemnation—like Jimmy Carter, we’ve committed lust in our hearts. But since the sex drive is incredibly strong, and most people cannot deny it, we hide our urges even while we try to find means for satisfaction.
That makes us crazy with the compulsion. It doesn’t surprise me that so many clergymen collect and hide pornography, then feel ashamed. However, the shame makes the compulsion worse, not better.
I think this issue is small compared to the massive confusion our American culture has about sex in general. After years of ministering to couples, I’ve come to realize how naïve Americans truly are about sexuality. We joke about it constantly. We say shocking things that make each other giggle like little children looking at naughty pictures. But we’re still ashamed, embarrassed and frustrated with each other in the bedroom.
A preacher’s secret stash of pictures just doesn’t outrage me. However, it tells me that he’s probably lonely and frustrated, and I wish healing for him.
As for me, I’ve enjoyed looking at women since I was eight years old, and I still enjoy seeing them. They’re pretty in their summer shorts or their nice Sunday clothes. I like seeing them in the movies. And if you show me a picture of a naked woman, I’ll look.
You can be outraged if you want. But if you want my advice, you probably need to get laid.