Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Christians and strip clubs

My article from this week's Algona Upper Des Moines about a Christian response to strip clubs and other "adult" entertainment venues:

Q:  Is it acceptable for Christians to patronize or operate “adult” entertainment establishments featuring things like nude dancing, peep shows, or other similar content?

In this life, we live in a world, in a nation, and in communities, that are populated entirely by sinners.  Some of these are forgiven, while others are not, but all are sinners the same.  Therefore, we should not be surprised when we see that Biblical morality fails to be reflected around us, and that every manner of disobedience is practiced openly, even as legal commerce.

The establishments described in the question would certainly be included under this description, but even though they might be legal, and even though the best attempts of Christians might fail to shield their communities from the harmful consequences of such establishments, it would not excuse Christians who disobey divine commands by operating or participating in them. 

Beginning in the earliest books of the Old Testament, where God lays out His commandments, a clear connection is drawn between nakedness and sexual sin.  “Adultery” in the sixth commandment is explained as not merely unfaithfulness in marriage, but as all sexual intimacy, even if imagined and not executed, that that occurs between anyone other than a husband and wife. 

We see this occurring with King David as he sees Bathsheba bathing on a rooftop.  His visual infidelity with another man’s wife eventually leads to physical expression of that infidelity and an unplanned pregnancy for Bathsheba.  In order to cover up the adultery, King David places Bathsheba’s husband Uriah in a military situation where he is certain to be killed and thus adds murder to the list of offenses, after which their child dies as a consequence of the chain of events. 

The Apostle Paul warns similarly in Ephesians that there should not even be “a hint” of sexual immorality among Christians, and to Timothy that young men and women ought to treat one another like siblings outside of marriage.  Even the most erotic book of the Bible, Song of Solomon, warns its readers not to awaken such desires prematurely (which is, prior to marriage). 

Jesus makes the clearest statement when He tells His followers, “You have heard it said that you shall not commit adultery, but I say to you, if a man even looks upon a woman with lustful intent, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  He gives us absolute certainty that there is not a certain plain which one may not cross or a certain base that one may not round.  Instead, the moment that the desire is entertained or the intent is formed, the sin has already been committed. 

All of these commands fit well with what we can observe in biology and human behavior, as we observe a near-automatic, even biochemically induced, jump from nudity to inappropriate sexual desire, if not actual consummation of such desire. With the exception of a few extraordinary individuals, the jump from seeing erotic dance, which has as its intentional outcome to arouse erotic desire, to entertaining lustful intent is unavoidable.

Therefore, patronizing, owning, or otherwise supporting such establishments would be unquestionably forbidden for Christians.  Whether a patron intentionally goes for the purpose of entertaining lust, or knowingly puts themselves in a position to be tempted by it in an effort to be more accepted by a group of peers, it is absolute misconduct for a Christian to engage in such activities.  At the very least, their economic support of the establishment participates in the owners’ sin of shamefully monetizing the bodies of the women they employ and commercially providing outlets for the already-rampant lust of their patrons.

As Christians, our identity is not be found in our morality, not are we to consider ourselves superior to those whose immorality is of a different, less socially-acceptable, variety than our own.  At the same time, there remains no excuse for Christians to openly engage in obvious immorality or to support those who provide opportunities for the same.

1 comment:

  1. Very, very well said. A true statement to those who see these places as no big deal.