Psychology Today describes self-sabotaging behavior as behavior that “creates problems in daily life and interferes with long-standing goals.” In other words, we create self-sabotaging scenarios when we choose to engage in activities that work against our own good or purposes.
When it comes to things like porn and sexual integrity matters, we can all easily understand how these types of behaviors and choices are damaging and serve as a form of self-sabotage for those who engage in them.
But what if I told you that the sabotaging started way before those individuals ever clicked that mouse for the first time or walked into that first strip club?
And, what if I told you that we all play a part in setting the stage for those unfortunate scenarios by the cultural sexualization we all take part in?
You see, one of the reasons that we at XXXchurch are such strong advocates for more open conversations about porn, masturbation, and sex in our culture is that we see and recognize a very large elephant in the room many choose to ignore, because it’s uncomfortable and awkward.
Sexualization is (practically speaking) unavoidable, and we all do it.
Sexualization is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “the act of sexualizing someone or something (i.e. seeing someone or something in sexual terms).” In other words, we sexualize someone when we place value on a person’s appearance and sexual appeal above all other characteristics.
The problem with sexualizing behavior of course is that when we allow ourselves to sexualize someone (including ourselves) we treat that person as an object for others’ sexual use rather than recognizing their individual capacity, agency, and identity.
Additionally, cultural sexualization leads to all sorts of social problems and ills such as emotional and self-image problems, self-objectification, an increase in sexually permissive attitudes, the proliferation of pornography, sexual coercion and abuse, and sex trafficking.
That being said, with the rise of the Me Too movement and other similar awareness initiatives, sexualization and objectification have become real hot button issues leading to a general public outcry against such social phenomenons.
And most of us (especially in the church world) like to think and act like we don’t condone the sexualization that happens on a daily basis in our entertainment and media. We complain about sexualized marketing practices and clamor for television programming that doesn’t border on soft core porn.
But we fail to acknowledge that sexualization happens in our own homes and churches on a daily basis.
We also fail to recognize that while we should not see other people as solely sexual beings, the reality is that sexuality is part of their being.
Or to put it another way, we are more than our sexuality, but we are nor devoid of our sexuality.
So sexualization is bound to happen.
Right or wrong, good or bad, we live in a culture that will continue to lean on sexualization as an effective way to market, sell, and get noticed.
And so, when we then shy away from talking about the adverse effects of such things, we commit egregious self-sabotage and set our fellow citizens up for moral failure and sexual compromise.
Here’s the truth… We can’t have it both ways.
We can’t live in a sexualized society and even promote sexualization at times in our speech and actions, and then pretend like it doesn’t exist and shouldn’t impact people negatively.
To do so is extreme hypocrisy at best, and malicious intent at worst.
This month we are going to be continuing this conversation as we unpack and identify all the subtle ways we as culture (and as the church) exploit and mishandle the topic of sexuality in an effort to point out the bigger issue.
That we need to regularly have conversations about porn, sex, and sexual integrity in our homes, in our churches, and in our workplaces if those who have been negatively impacted by these things stand any chance for restoration and redemption.
It may get uncomfortable.
It may at times seem distasteful.
It may even be convicting (hopefully).
But it’s needed because the sabotage we inflict upon ourselves and our brothers and sisters through our silence, ignorance, and apathy can’t be allowed to continue. We must demand better from ourselves and from each other.
Hang with us!