Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Intrinsic Value - Genesis 1:26-27

Today, we fight pornography by understanding the image of God in every human person. This is the seventh segment of our Origins Bible study in Genesis.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness…” So God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.. Gen 1:26a, 27

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה אָדָ֛ם בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ ... וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים ׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃

On the sixth day of creation, after creating the animals, God came to the pinnacle of His creative work: humankind. But humans were not made the same as the other living creatures: we were created in God’s image, in His likeness.

David Guzik notes three central aspects to the idea that we are made in the image of God:
  • Humans possess spirituality: man is made for spiritual communion with God.
  • Humans possess personality: knowledge, feelings, and a will.
  • Humans possess morality: we are able to make moral judgments and have a conscience.
Pornography use distorts and degrades these elemental characteristics of our humanity. How?

I. Spirituality
People have a God-breathed spirit (Gen 2:7) that will eternally live forever. Pornography teaches us to value only the physical aspect of other people, completely ignoring both their and our eternal spirit. All that matters is how they look, and what they can do or have done to them.

The right internal alignment God intended for us is that our body should be submitted to our mind, and our mind submitted to our spirit. However, porn teaches us to prioritize our physical drives above our mind and our spirit. Our mind can logically see that pornography is unhealthy, that it is a complete farcical illusion, and that we are being manipulated by pornographers. Our spirit cries out against our own debasement and the debasement of those on the screen. But we learn to push down and silence these inner voices, and let our base physical drives take over.

In addition, sexual activity is meant to be an act of spiritual worship to God, within the context of marriage. God gave us the gift of sexuality, and when a husband and wife enjoy each other, they are fulfilling God’s command, and God is pleased. In pornography, however, we expect others to “worship” and serve us, in complete opposition to the boundaries God has placed on our sexual lives.

II. Personality
In this context, the concept of personality has two relevant aspects. We will use definitions from Merriam Webster.

First, it is “the quality or state of being a person.” A “person” has intrinsic value, and deserves our care, consideration, and protection. Secular philosophers have a very difficult time defining who is a person deserving of our consideration, because they ignore the one true source of our personhood: the image of God in us. Above all else, the Imago Dei (image of God) lifts humans above other species and gives us intrinsic value.

All types of pornography train us to view people as objects, as less than worthy of our care, consideration, and protection. Violent porn goes much further, teaching us to enjoy the complete degradation of a person’s intrinsic value. This vile enjoyment of the abuse of another person becomes part of our mindset, and leaking into our society and slowly breaking it down.

The second aspect of personality is “the totality of an individual's behavioral and emotional characteristics,” in other words the unique bundle of spirit, mind, body, emotions, preferences, memories, opinions, skills, relationships, etc., that make me who I am.

Needless to say, pornography’s inherent objectification nullifies our appreciation for a person’s unique personality. All the porn user cares about is the submission of the person on the screen to their selfish desires.

III. Morality
God’s image in us gives us an inherent sense of morality, an internal conception of right behavior. The easiest way to see this is when people feel wronged by something done to them: they may not be so concerned when that same offense is done to another person, but when it is done to them they are offended and angry.

Pornography degrades our morality in several ways. Here are three:
First, our internal moral compass knows that sexuality should be enjoyed in the context of intimate personal relationship. Pornography degrades that moral value, and teaches that we should be able to sexually enjoy others who have no personal connection to us.
Second, our internal moral compass knows that it is wrong for a person to display themselves publicly for the sexual gratification of others. We would certainly be upset if our own wives and children were treated in this way. Porn degrades that moral value, teaching us to silence our inner voice and even to glorify that behavior.
Third, our internal moral compass knows that it is wrong to abuse and take advantage of another person, especially sexually. Pornography is an integral part of the human trafficking and enslavement of approximately 4.5 million people in forced sex slavery. Pornography use degrades that moral value, teaching us that it is acceptable to be complicit in the sexual abuse of another person.
As our internal moral capacities our distorted and degraded by pornography it leads us into more immoral behaviors. We treat those around us with less care and consideration than they deserve, both sexually and in other ways. Porn is essentially a “rehearsal for prostitution,” and is a primary driver in today’s world for the prostitution industry. Numerous serial killers have confessed to using porn.

IV. Conclusion
In summary, pornography usage will undeniably have an effect on the way we view others, on the way we treat others, and also on the way we view and treat ourselves. It destroys our ability to understand and appreciate the image of God in us and in other people, until eventually we find it acceptable to become complicit in behaviors that degrade others in vile ways that are not found in any other species on planet earth. God made us higher than the animals – porn drags us beneath them.

Do I understand and appreciate the incredible God-given intrinsic value of each human individual on this planet? Will I allow pornography to degrade my own spirituality, personality, and morality? Will I allow myself to be complicit in the degradation of others?

As humans, we were created in the image of God. Pornography degrades our understanding and appreciation of our God-given intrinsic value.

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