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Sexting and a Preacher

By The Irreverent Reverend

Article is based on a conversation and is used with permission.

 From the title, you will probably assume this is either about a preacher that got caught with some "compromising photos" or a minister who wants to preach against sex and sin. 

It's neither.

But what this minister says here is controversial because it flies in the face of accepted views. 

First some background data.

  • The majority of teens have cell phones capable of sending and receiving photos and videos.

  • More than one-third of teens (depending on the study) admit they have sent sexually explicit photos or videos.

  • In some cases this has devastated the lives of teens, even leading to some suicides.

  • Sexting can result in a child pornography conviction, which can put a person on a Registered Sex Offenders Watch List which will plague them for the rest of their  lives. 

Our sex laws primarily originated before smart  phones capable of sending photos and videos.

Although these laws are a topic for debate in themselves, they are not what this pastor was talking about. 

He hinted that he had counseled one or more students that faced a personal crisis as a result of sexting.

He said our 14th century views about sex are the real culprit.

When I asked him to explain, he hesitated and said, "Here's where I've gotten into trouble over my views.

"...Although we might not like to face the fact (and most parents don't seem to realize it) sophisticated young people today have more or less gotten immune to porno. 

"How can they not; it's all over the Internet." 

The Reverend was not talking about the often cruel and defamatory words associated with bullying, which is bad enough, but so-called  X-rated photos and videos.

He said, "For the most part, it's the attitudes of older people [which have been absorbed by young people] that make this kind of thing a big -- even life altering -- deal.

"But like so many things that were soundly condemned at first and later begrudgingly accepted, I think in the next decade or two 'naughty pictures' won't be all that 'naughty.' These images will be more or less accepted, just as they are now in some countries. 

"No scandal, no ruined lives, just a part of our  human existence and our electronic reality.

"The primary reason that these pictures are scandalous with young people right now is that they are 'forbidden' and racy, and, of course, the people involved are often known to them. 

"But it's our attitudes and our attitudes alone that give them the power to hurt.

"To many of them [young people] this is a way to get back at those who they believe have crossed them -- or they have a lot of anger and they vent it by being cruel to someone.

"Our prudery, together with today's technology have given haters them a very effective tool.

"But let's remember some things.

"It wasn't too long ago that two-piece bathing suits and miniskirts were widely condemned and considered scandalous.

"You may have seen photos of "morality police" of yesteryear measuring the length of women's dresses to make sure they were legal.

"Now, even on prime-time TV we have bikinis that are not only just inches away from complete nudity but generally accepted, even on prime-time TV.

"At this rate of change, what will we see in ten or fifteen years?

"People say that things can't possibly go any further.  How often was that said throughout history? Today, nudity, even on the part of well-known film stars is not uncommon.

" It's not sexting, per se, that's the problem but our prudery.  And that's not just me talking, it was part of the conclusion of a major Presidential Commission on pornography."

 


The reverend concluded by saying, "Sex and religion have long had a contentious relationship, the product of which was not morality as much as personal guilt.

"Things that are old-hat lose their power to affect us.  We have given these things the power to hurt us by making them taboo and forbidden."

 I'm sure these views, especially from a minister, will not be popular. And if history is a guide, probably in ten or twenty years we will look back and marvel about today's attitudes.

But this is now and not ten or twenty years from now and, like it or not, right now we have to live with today's reality and its often severe consequences.


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