Craig Gross is the founder of XXXChurch.com, an online ministry claiming to help people resist their temptation for pornography. In conjunction with his website’s mission, Gross has produced a video featuring current and past NFL players, among others, discussing their struggles with porn. This video was set to air on Super Bowl Sunday as part of what Gross called “National Porn Sunday.” More than 300 churches will participate in the event, which Gross believes will get churches around the country talking about the touchy subject.
Gross’ primary theory as to why church ministers have trouble discussing pornography is that the pastors themselves struggle with “temptation.” Perhaps their struggle comes from what’s natural and silently, these Godly men have a personal understanding of what little harm it causes others, and therefore don’t carry any of the guilt Gross is hoping to create or restore by talking about pornography and masturbation.
The guilty feeling that comes from desires we are embarrassed to share is only created when it goes against the social norm. Gross tours around the country with his website ministry trying to create a reality where people are so afraid of the consequences from watching pornography, the industry will collapse. “Instead of the church boycotting or picketing or legislating against pornography, if the church would just stop consuming porn, we’d put a big dent in the porn industry,” says Gross. As unlikely as the “dent” in the industry is, it does seem churches across the country would be better suited to spend their time and money addressing healthy relationships and self worth rather than trying to further suppress a private act that frankly serves the individual well.
The issue isn’t necessarily that Gross and his supporters don’t find porn appropriate for their families, it is rather their spread of ideas that lead to self loathing and even deeper, by giving Gross’ ministry permission to define what sexual acts are appropriate, it also allows him to apply unrealistic and misinformed constraints on sexual acts that are also deemed “immoral.” Any sexual preference, fetish, or act that does not cause harm to another being is not only acceptable, but also, generally healthy. There is a power in, not only understanding what one wants, but also in celebrating it as an outlet.
The real concern shouldn’t specifically be about porn, but rather, addiction. Is porn wrong? People may disagree, but the few people that suffer from addiction have some life decisions to make and will probably require a great deal of support. But, that isn’t what Gross is trying to articulate. He simply wants to destroy the porn industry as a whole, and in attempting to do so, he is also using his site as a platform for control of anything sexually related.
Making people feel guilty, not to mention spreading ignorance and self-hatred to homosexual individuals in his “men on men” section, is not only wrong, it is socially irresponsible, particularly in the wake of so many LGBTQ youth suicides. It is close to a form of cyber-bullying.
On his website, an appalling phrase reads, “Porn Sucks, So Does Poverty.” Self-identifying as a first generation Egyptian-American, I can affirm that poverty does suck. In fact, global events show us exactly what can happen when poverty is pushed to the brink. Pornography does not compare to miseries of poverty.
What makes all of this worth mentioning? Access. Spiritual people take God more seriously than most other aspect of their lives, and when a so-called leader of their particular faith is telling them they are wrong for their natural desires, they will listen. Fear has proven to be a powerful weapon in mass media. In order to combat a society shaped by ignorance, we must take the opportunity to also speak up.
A great quote that you might find on a magnet at a bookstore comes to mind. “Shape your world, or someone else will.” We create our social norms. Will you let people like Craig Gross shape how you feel about yourself or the ones you love?
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