Sitting in class this morning, we were discussion how to handle someone in our church being accused of child pornography. Of course, this has happened recently at a North Texas church, and this was the basis for our case study. This particular case was handled very well. The accused did indeed have child porn on his computer. He is currently in jail serving a 7 year sentence. What concerned me was the reaction of the class.
It was nearly universally agreed upon that this man should be scorned. This “zero tolerance” approach advocated making this man a pariah. Many people at this church ended up leaving the church because the church did not excommunicate the man or his family. A congregational meeting was called and this man’s sin was bare before the entire church. Even though the man had not molested any children, and even though he was in jail, there were Christians that left the church because the church wasn’t harsher to the man. It appeared as if anything less than a noose wouldn’t have been enough. The real moment came for me when he was referred to as “pond scum” by someone in our class.
Why is it acceptable to label someone as pond scum, no matter who they are? Let’s pretend for a moment that it is ok to call someone pond scum. Who would be on that list? Child molesters? Rapists? Pornographers? What about people who kill children? Those who violate the human rights of others?
Uh-oh. See what just happened there? We have those people in our church. Dudes look at porn all the time. Should we call a congregational meeting so everyone knows? Many of us have people in our congregations who have been involved in killing children. It’s called war. Just this last month, we dropped a bomb on an Afghani village that killed a bus full of women and children. Should we call a congregational meeting for the people who dropped the bomb? For those that authorized it? Those who voted for the war? Those that made the bomb? Those that make their living making airplanes of war? Hmmm.
What is pornography about? Not sex, according to psychologists. It is about control. It is about dehumanizing the other. Pretending the person being looked upon does not have a soul or person-hood, but exists only for the pleasure of the person looking. Is this not what our militaristic consumerism in America does? Do we not take advantage of the resources of others for our own pleasure and enforce this with our military? Why don’t candy bars cost $5 a piece? Because of child labor in another country. Why do computers not cost 10 times what they actually cost? Because the material for computer chips comes from villages in the DRC where entire cultures are destroyed to mine cheap ore.
The next time we look down on those whose sin seems greater than ours, we should first realize that if our greatest handful of sins were paraded for everyone, we would not come out of that very intact. Second, we should realize that sometimes a person’s sin is not born from within, but though external sources. The child pornographer may have been a victim at one time himself, thus skewing his view of right and wrong.
And I would suggest that we have all been abused. The Technological Therapeutic Militaristic Consumerism (America’s version of Satan, or the powers and principalities at work in the West) have made us their object. As a result, our view of right and wrong is skewed. We no longer view people in other countries as people. We view the lives of the unseen masses as objects that contribute to our pleasure. We become uncomfortable with even talking about it, fearing that the realization of what we are really doing will force us to give up some pleasure.
We are all child pornographers. Fearful that someone will come along and tell us that the people we are taking advantage of are actually underage, when we have been pretending that they are consenting adults. But we are all wrong.