Earlier this year, I challenged my friend Mark Stanifer, a men’s ministry leader, to create content that would help men address a prevalent issue in our culture that we don’t really want to address. At first, he wasn’t quick to jump on it for many reasons. But the more we talked about the need it seemed he decided he couldn’t not do it.
So he got to work. We planned a talk on the subject, and we scheduled an event for men and their teenage sons. For several reasons we had to cancel the event, mostly due to low response. It was never said to me, but I’m guessing a major reason was men just couldn’t get their hearts and minds to the place where they’d show up to a talk about this subject. What was the subject? Pornography.
Well, now you are probably thinking, “Yep. Nobody’s going to show up to talk about that. What were you thinking?”
A conversation I had yesterday answers that question. A grandmother in our church asked me what resources I knew to share with a newly widowed single mother with a 13-year-old son who has recently started dabbling in pornography. Think about it. A middle-school-aged son has lost his dad. His mother has lost her son’s leader, mentor, counselor, and confidant. There are so many layers to what that situation means for the two of them.
Because Mark didn’t steer away from creating this needed content, I was grateful to be able to say, “Yes, I have a suggestion.” That suggestion was for this mom to listen to a two-part series called Tackling Pornography that Mark and his ministry partner released recently.
Here are a couple of takeaways that I encourage you to take from this post:
- Tackling something hard or uncomfortable is necessary for personal and community health and growth. When we have the opportunity to provide answers/encouragement/resources, we do everyone a favor by surrendering to taking the first step.
- Pornography doesn’t have to remain in the corner. If we care about ourselves and others, we must follow the lead of Mark and others to bring it out in the open. Darkness prevails as long as no one flips the light switch.
January 13 I posted my 2018 reading plan. My coach helped me develop it as an answer for personal growth. Apart from that plan, I would have missed an important read.
In my search for a book on the divisive cultural topic of sexuality, I discovered author Mark Yarhouse, a Wheaton College graduate and a psychology professor at Regent University in Virginia. He’s written several books in this field for the Christian audience, so I figured he would be a good choice. He proved me right.
It is important to consider that original sin has corrupted all of existence, including human sexuality and experiences of our gendered selves.
Scripture reminds us that God does not abandon us in our fallen state.
The topic of gender dysphoria is not the same as homosexuality.
This 7-chapter book is graciously written for readers on all sides of the conversation. To assist us all in the conversation, he gives a great explanation for where we could fit in an integrated framework in the dialogue. He divides everyone into one of three groups: integrity, disability, and diversity. These names are lenses through which people often approach the topic of gender identity. Evangelical Christians are drawn to the integrity framework as it emphasizes the sacredness of maleness and femaleness. He encourages learning from all three in order to inform ministry settings and engage the broader culture. I agree.
You may be asking, “So what is gender dysphoria?” If you haven’t already googled it, do so. But then give Yarhouse the opportunity to give you an exhaustive look at the topic. If you are asking “should I read this book,” allow me to answer with the following questions:
- Are you a church leader who truly wants to engage your community? If so, yes.
- Are you a therapist? If so, yes. Your specialty field doesn’t matter as much as this subject does.
- Do you know someone in your family or in your friend’s family who struggles with sexuality questions? If so, yes.
- Do you struggle with giving grace to others outside your belief system but wish you didn’t? If so, yes.
Christians can benefit from valuing and speaking into the sacredness found in the integrity framework, the compassion we witness in the disability framework, and the identity and community considerations we see in the diversity framework. No one framework in isolation will provide a sufficient response or a comprehensive Christian model of pastoral care or cultural engagement.
For everyone’s sake, consider reading this book.