It is increasingly difficult to come across mainstream entertainment that does not titillate your sexuality. For followers of Jesus Christ, our existence on this planet is not a chemical accident. We believe in the origin, the purpose and the destiny of life. Above all, we believe in an author of life for whom the world has been created to glorify. We also believe that the world is broken and the author is in the business of fixing it.
We believe that in order for him to use us as his hands and feet, he needs to fix us first. And on that account we believe in Jesus Christ, God incarnate, as the solution for our sinful cancer. And since we know the matrix of the Maker, we strive to use all our being to glorify him. All our being includes our sexuality. We are not nominal Christians. We don’t accept the sovereignty of God in selected areas. We allow him absolute control of our lives. And if you are a believer like that, looking at modern entertainment screens becomes an uphill task in relation to your sanctification journey. For the unregenerate child of the world, it’s just another movie, just another TV series or just another YouTube channel. For those sealed with God’s spirit for eternal redemption, you are aware that you buy more than popcorn and a ticket when you exchange cash for a couple of hours of lewd entertainment. So here are reasons why followers of Jesus should be wary of nudity on their entertainment screens.
- Nudity on screen weakens your purity resolve
The path to sexual compromise doesn’t start with a headlong dive into pornography. It starts with a small compromise of a seemingly safe R-rated movie. A little nudity here and a little nudity there may seem harmless when it causes a little sexual arousal. We often assume that the arousal will naturally die like a fire out in the cold. We may even blush as the blood floods our face. However, given a few more times in front of that screen and we stop blushing at what once made us shy. A genuine believer cannot come this far without the Holy Spirit convicting them; the Spirit starts with the grains of sand before he addresses the mountains. But to get here we must have ignored the Spirit’s prompting. When I struggled with porn and masturbation, I found it interesting that when I resumed my favourite lewd series with naked bods in bed, my sexual arousal did not start from zero like last time; it picked up from where I left off in the last episode. Because of that, it took shorter periods to get me excited. Consequently, I waited impatiently for the lewd scenes. And when there were none, I was frankly disappointed. When this is happening for the believer, it is a weakening of their resolve towards purity. Many people may not think this to be dangerous because the believer has not yet acted sinfully. However, Peter tells us differently.
1 Peter 2:11 “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” (NIV)
The word of God is telling us that sin does not commence at the action level; it starts at the desire level. While some desires are good, we see that some can be evil. When entertainment pushes me to desire to cross a sexual boundary with my girlfriend, I must not be comfortable that I have not acted it out. I must be wary that one day I will. And when I do it, it will happen so easily, I will wonder, “How did it just happen?” Or I may confess to my accountability partners, “It just happened.” But sex never just happens. In his book, The Software of Sex, Reverend Ken Aringo states “It might seem shocking but sexual temptations are usually well rehearsed and prepared for. We live them in our minds long before the actual events take place. The auditions are taken and suitable candidates found and signed up. The rehearsals begin in earnest and it is only a matter of time before the actual scenes play themselves in real life.” Our fall away from purity is never by default; it’s by design. We are not circumstantial sinners; we are strategic rebels. Peter is saying that unbeknown to us, our resolve for purity is being chipped away by evil desires, one grain at a time. The way to strengthen your purity resolve is not just to abstain from sinful desires but to pursue godly desires. Spend time in the word of God daily and see the brilliant results.
Let us look at that verse again. 1 Peter 2:11 “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” (NIV). Peter tells us that the evil desires have an ulterior motive; they are waging a war against your soul. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 informs the believer that he is constituent of three parts- body, soul and spirit. Your body is your physical self with your five senses. Your spirit is the part that connects to your Creator upon salvation (made alive upon salvation but was once dead). Your soul is your mind, your will and your emotions. It is here at the level of the soul that the evil desires are raging. They want to poison your mind, destabilise your will and cloud your emotions. Yes, entertainment is that powerful. A sexual escapade on TV tells your mind that you too can have the same sexual thrill, given the chance. We have already seen that your will for purity is weakened. And finally, your emotions are clouded with fantasies. It’s only within a short time that you fantasize replacing Maria in the hands of Alejandro with yourself. This force against your soul we are told, ultimately affects your spirit. When your spirit is plagued by the worries, cares and troubles of the soul, it lacks the zeal and strength to be vigil. And that is why the word of God separates soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12), so that the spirit remains alert.
Paul taught in Ephesians 6:12 that the real war isn’t against TV producers and film-makers; the real war is against demonic forces. If we lose this war, we become spiritually sterile. Yet the LORD wants believers who are useful in his Kingdom for every good work (2 Timothy 2:21). If the scriptures assert that we can work our salvation towards spiritual usefulness, it must be quite possible to be a useless vessel as well. See what Paul adds; Ephesians 3:10 “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” (NLT). The wonder of this verse is that, upon conversion, God wants to use me to demonstrate his manifold wisdom for all to see; and all here not being fellow human beings; all here being in the realm of angels and demons. We also learn from that verse that if we keep getting our butts kicked in this war, we cannot display the splendour of God to these beings in the spiritual realm. The very demons that ought to have their jaws drop at what God is doing through you are the very ones giving you a beating in the spiritual war. It was the great Revivalist Leonard Ravenhill that said, “How can you pull down strongholds of Satan if you don’t even have the strength to turn off your TV?”
The third reason why believers should be wary of nudity on screen is on account of a distortion of the beauty of the marriage bed. In most mainstream entertainment, you hardly encounter a married couple stripping naked and getting down to sexual business. It’s often fornication that’s glorified on screen. Marriages are often portrayed as dull, bogus and lifeless. I’m certain that this is not always the case. Some exceptions may show a man and his wife in sexual ecstasy. Some may even have a married couple as the starring figures with pomp and style. However, even in the latter’s case, exposure to their erotic moments under the bed-sheets dishonours the institution of marriage. Hebrews 13:4 says “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (NIV). One of the honours of marriage clearly portrayed in that verse is sex outside of marriage and all kinds of perversion (the adulterer and all the sexually immoral). But there is another salient honour of marriage; it is the privacy of sexual activity. Even unbelievers know this. They have a term for a person who peeps into a window as a couple is having sex; they call him a voyeur pervert. To watch married people on screen expose sexual nudity to your eyes will have the same effect as unmarried people doing the same thing on screen. The effects on you will be the same and in the eyes of pop-culture, the marriage bed is mocked. The beauty of sex is preserved in privacy. It’s why when sexual activity is shared outside a marriage, one or both members feel betrayed. It is the same reason why lots of people cower in shame when their nudes are leaked online. The breach of privacy brings shame to the individuals because the virtue of sex is preserved in privacy. Believers may rightly join unbelievers to condemn a voyeur. But it is troubling when believers fail to stand out to condemn those who act like the voyeur on cinema screens. One is a window and the other a television. What makes us think that just because the screen changes that makes it okay?
People of faith in the Hollywood industry who struggle with soft sexual scenes like kissing often suffer. Actor Jim Caviezel admitted that he struggled kissing Damara Dominczyk when he acted as the protagonist in the famous classical film, The Count of Monte Cristo. The directing of the film had a speed-bump when it got to the moment where he had to kiss a woman who wasn’t his wife. Damara tried to placate him by saying, “It’s not like I’m going to grab your crotch.” Caviezel later admitted in several interviews that his faith has closed many career doors, especially after he acted as Jesus in the film The Passion of the Christ. But Caviezel is not alone in his reservation. When listening to many interviews by Hollywood actors and actresses, you would be surprised to realise that a significant number of them do not act out the explicit sex scenes. Instead, many of these productions use adult films done by porn stars. The faces of the actors are then digitally applied on the sex scenes to appear as if it is them in action. I am aware that in some productions the actors and actresses themselves execute the sexual activity. But for the most part, they need the porn industry in order to entertain you at the box office. Undoubtedly, Hollywood promotes the porn industry. The irony is that the very actors and actresses that rallied behind the #MeToo campaign inadvertently promote the porn industry. The porn industry objectifies women primarily, more than men. The average porn star retires at age 27 and is often left without an economic means to sustain herself. Few porn stars have their careers rise past their thirties. A significant number of women in the porn industry were once part of human trafficking deals. Another significant number are kept in painful submission through drug addiction. This industry that has almost the entire world condemn, is ironically supported by you and I when we indulge in nudity in screen.
Sex is beautiful. It is the reason in the beginning Adam and his wife were naked and without shame (Genesis 2:25). But we realise something so beautiful can be marred by our selfish hearts. I personally made a decision when I was in the university to abstain from perverse entertainment. The results were a deliverance from an addiction of porn and masturbation. I realised I cannot be delivered from what I feed on. The other result was an increased desire to pray and spend time in the word of God; I became spiritually alert. Another result was that I gained a high and respectful view of the women around me. And finally, a pure thought life. I know such a message is not popular. But that is because purity is only for those that truly want it. The narrow road has few on it. My heart is warmed by the movements to produce clean entertainment. My friend Richard Njau, founder of 4UP digital runs a movement called Cleaning The Airwaves (#CTA). He challenges believers to not only repudiate wrong content but to also produce good content. As a follower of Jesus Christ, what is your contribution to bringing God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven? We must develop and maintain an eternal perspective, otherwise we will easily fall into the trap of dismissing something as “not that serious” when God takes it seriously enough to bleed and die on a cross for it. You may not be called to preach about it or start a movement like Richard; perhaps the least you can do is change the channel when you are seated on your couch.