Icebergs And Identities: What Lies Beneath? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Nouveau Thoughts & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

What Lies Beneath

We often hear the expression, "That's just the tip of the iceberg". The good news is that our familiarity with that terminology has probably prevented a few maritime collisions. The bad news is that the principal holds true for numerous other life situations...situations that go unnoticed or ignored because we really don't want to understand the depth and breadth of the issues we encounter and exactly what they might tell us about our choices, our beliefs, and our identities.

Let me ease into the topic with a story my dad has told for a number of years. My dad and my uncle were business partners for all of their working lives. At different points along the way, they entered into partnerships with other individuals. This particular story is about one of those partners...I'll call him John.

John was married when the partnership began but there were lingering questions about John's propensity to have outside interests. Eventually, John and his wife divorced and over the next few years he dated a number of different women...enough to catch my dad's attention. My dad, my uncle, and John spent a lot of time together discussing the business...which as we all know allows one an opportunity to see how people behave...to learn about their idiosyncrasies.

As the three of them were out and about, my dad and my uncle were always comfortable noticing and pointing out an attractive woman. As my dad says, "What's wrong with acknowledging what you see and what you think?" In other words, a pretty woman is a pretty woman...and noticing that reality is normal. John, on the other hand, never noticed or acknowledged an attractive woman. It was as if they didn't exist...never saw them, never gonna see them.

So I recall many nights when my dad would joke about the fact that John seemed to always have a new woman sitting next to him in his car...and my dad would ask, "If he never sees or acknowledges an attractive woman, how is that he always has a new girlfriend?" Of course he always answered his own rhetorical question...John had learned to lead two lives...the one he wanted everyone to see and the one he actually preferred...and he lived those two lives while he was married and while he wasn't. Somewhere in John's identity, he needed others to see him as a good family man...even if he couldn't actually live that life.

In the end, my dad's conclusion was that it is unhealthy to deny human nature...people are sexual beings that notice what they find attractive. If you accept that reality and make your choices mindful of that aspect of your human nature, you'll be able to make good choices...because you will better understand yourself. If you deny that reality, you will always be in the throes of a deceitful internal battle and your choices will lack clarity and your actions will betray the outward persona you present. Thus, you end up fooling yourself...perhaps the worst transgression one can commit.

I was reminded of icebergs and John's story while surfing the internet this morning. I came across an article discussing an organization called XXXChurch.com, a religious based group intended to help Christian men come to grips with their obsession with pornography.

Brian McGinness had an insatiable appetite for porn. Day after day, for more than eight years, he spent countless hours surfing the Web for it, usually on a computer that he used after business hours at his old job.

Because of his compulsion to view pornography, McGinness spent more time away from home, so he lied to his wife about having to work overtime in the evenings. He felt guilty about what he was doing, believing that it was morally wrong and knowing that it was keeping him from his spouse and their two young children. But he also felt unable to control himself.

All that started to change one Saturday morning in December after he attended a breakfast of "Porn and Pancakes" organized by XXXChurch.com, an online ministry created to get Christians talking about their X-rated addictions.

The December event attracted more than 500 men to Ada Bible Church, which McGinness attends. They ate pancakes and sausage while discussing how pornography had harmed their lives, including their relationships with God and their families.

Craig Gross, a pastor with XXXChurch.com, refers to the widespread use of porn as "the elephant in the pew" that many churches ignored for years because they didn't know how to deal with it.

First, I commend Gross and his organization for having the ability and the integrity to expose and address the issue. At the same time, I'm not surprised that the problem exists. One need only recall the many high profile ministers that have fallen from grace as a result of sexual indiscretions...the type of indiscretions that were often the subject of their sermons and that I would suggest result from this concept of dual identity.

Here's the equation. Religious beliefs often focus on sin and sex...virtually portraying sex as sin and creating an environment whereby one's proximity to god is premised on one's denial of sexual reality. Good men are family oriented, have sexual desires for only one woman...desires that are believed to exist in order to create Christian families...which are to become testaments to the established doctrine. Sex is packaged into a tidy formula and acting outside that formula is viewed as a betrayal of one's faith...a formula I believe to be both unrealistic and unhealthy.

Freud described the concept of identity as a tube of toothpaste. If one allows one's identity to flow from the tube naturally by removing the cap, then the identity functions as it should. If one puts a cap on the tube and applies pressure, toothpaste will find weak points from which to escape...toothpaste being the dark corners of our unhealthy and unexplored identity that become pathology (bad behavior). I think the model explains the issue of porn addiction or obsession in these Christian men. Doctrine becomes the cap that places an inordinate amount of pressure on the capped identity...and in due time it escapes in unhealthy ways.

Let me be clear. I am not suggesting that pornography is sinful or evil (Isn't it actually just visual images of our sexuality?). The state of mind one brings to the viewing of pornography is the issue. We watch people act out other elements of human nature in movies and on television all the time and we're still able to use good judgment about our behaviors. Watching pornography needn't be any different so long as one hasn't given it far more power than it actually possesses.

I think it’s akin to the way alcohol consumption is addressed in the United States as opposed to Europe. In our Italian family, having a glass of wine wasn't just reserved for those over the age of 21...we were allowed to drink wine as children (in moderation) and it never became an obsession brought about by an archaic notion of denial.

We don't give children the keys to the car the minute they turn 16...we spend time teaching them how to drive and giving them an opportunity to gain some experience. Does it make sense to forbid a child to taste alcohol before they turn 21 and then turn them loose to drink all they can consume? Is sex any different? Does it make sense to tell children not to partake of this great thing...until we tell you its time...and then Katie bar the door?

I'm not suggesting parents ought to encourage their children to have sex...but I am suggesting that the model of denial is nothing more than the predecessor of an unhealthy perspective that is likely to haunt the individual well into adulthood if not indefinitely. Connecting sex with loving relationships ought to be a parent's focus because it will provide the proper motivation and avoid instilling a cookie jar binge mentality. We should rethink the current construct and I would suggest that an unhealthy obsession with pornography supports that argument.

"We're not going to shut down the porn industry," Gross said. "So, why even try? It's a $13 billion-dollar-a-year industry in the United States.

"The right-wingers say, 'Let's boycott this, let's all stop doing this.' Well, if the Christians would just stop consuming it, that would put a dent in it. To me, they (in the porn industry) have a right to do what they do."

McGinness, who has been married for more than 10 years and has children ages 8 and 3, said he is not ashamed of talking publicly about his former problem because he hopes to help others by doing so.

"I want other people out there to know there is a way to get away from this."

Look, sexuality is not extinguishable...but having healthy thoughts about sexuality is achievable. I agree with McGinness that banning porn isn't the answer. Unfortunately, the goal of XXXChurch is to extinguish the interest in pornography amongst Christians by reasserting the importance of religious doctrine and family values. I don't begrudge his efforts though I doubt it provides a lasting solution. It may, in the short term, diminish the obsession...but until the underlying realities of sexuality are addressed in a proactive and positive manner without the attachment of sin and judgment, there will no doubt be more Ted Haggard’s and more money spent on pornography.

An iceberg is not only what is visible, but it is also what exists beneath the surface. Life is no different. We can elect to only address that which is visible and on the surface or we can accept and embrace that which exists just beyond our view. When we choose to ignore the whole of our human identity, we run the risk of being torn apart by that which lurks below. We need not steer clear of who we are...the whole of our essence must be acknowledged and accepted.

If we turn and run, then the weight of what lies beneath will become an albatross around our necks and pull what little remains of our authenticity and awareness into the dark abyss of self-deceit. If we embrace our totality, it will be the ballast that allows us to endure the rough waters that lie ahead...but most importantly, it will be the anchor that firmly fastens us to the whole of our wondrous human identity.

Image courtesy of www.shiftingbaselines.org

Daniel DiRito | June 15, 2007 | 9:52 AM
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Comments

1 On April 7, 2014 at 9:56 PM, порнуха wrote —

An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague
who has been doing a little research on this. And he in fact ordered me breakfast because I found it for him...
lol. So let me reword this.... Thanks for the meal!!
But yeah, thanks for spending the time to talk about
this matter here on your internet site.

2 On April 7, 2014 at 9:58 PM, порнуха wrote —

An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague
who has been doing a little research on this. And he in fact ordered me breakfast because I found it for him...
lol. So let me reword this.... Thanks for the meal!!
But yeah, thanks for spending the time to talk about
this matter here on your internet site.

Thought Theater at Blogged

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