Before you continue this journal, please know I come from a place of love, grace and understanding. This is no easy subject to tackle, but I have 10,000+ readers because I don’t shy away from the taboo.
Last week, I was teaching at Sunday School for a group of kindergarteners when this sweet, shy boy raised his hand. I nodded to him and he asked me, “Teacher Riley, what’s the meaning of life?” All of a sudden, the room full of chocolate-fueled four-year-old children started shouting out their answers, ranging from happiness, eating more chocolate, and becoming God’s #1 bestie. Yet, without my guidance, the twenty-something children all agreed on one answer— LOVE.
You may be reading this journal and have different moral and religious expressions from me. But I hope we can both agree, as did the little ones, that love is the most important, if not the core, purpose of our lives. If so, then I propose we should intentionally pursue activities that promote love.
But, first, let us figure out together what is love? Love is a noun and a verb. Love is holding hands at hospital beds. Love can be found in kitchens full of food and deep conversations. Love is a friend that leaves you feeling better. Love is spotted in between the lines of a handwritten letter. Love smells like roses and freshly made bread. Love is willing to say, “I’m sorry.” Love is persistent about reconciliation.
Love is true and honest. Love convinces you of your giftings, strength and greatness. Love brings value to your life. Love is to give and receive. You can also spot love in sacrifices; a friend who listens patiently even though they have some exciting “tea” to spill, a boyfriend who flies across the country to spend a few hours with you, your mother who makes you lunch without compliant for months on end with no “thank you” in return.
Yet many of us are engaging in counterfeit love regularly. Over 70% of us to be exact.
You are now wondering to yourself, what is Riley referring to?
P O R N O G R A P H Y
Porn is counterfeit love. But before you decide to check out at least allow me to explain myself.
Porn may seem like the newer version of love. Love 2.0 with some upgrades; easier, faster and cheaper. With a few clicks, you enter into a world where you find satisfaction. After a long stressful day at work or a fight with your partner, it’s the kind of outlet you need. Porn never yells at you or tells you what you are doing wrong. Porn is anxious to please and always available with new fascinating content.
But Pornography is an industry based on selling lies that you are meant to look like her or perform like him. Porn takes a person full of purpose and makes them an object of pleasure. In fact, while watching porn your brain doesn’t perceive the sexualized people as fully human. Just as a body, a sum of parts. As Pope John Paul once said, “the problem with pornography is that it does not reveal too much of a person, but too little.”
Porn prostitutes the real meaning of true love. Loving, healthy relationships are built on respect, equality, honesty. But in porn, this is quite the contrary, there, love and sex are based on domination, control, disrespect, and violence. Has your porn consumption reminded you of your significance as a unique being? Have you closed your laptop and thought to yourself “wow I am amazing?” Tbh, I definitely haven’t.
Porn teaches you that you can take, without giving anything back. Plus, it makes us slaves (this choice in wording may seem harsh- but did you know each click helps to enslave another person into human trafficking?). We are slaves to this black hole that takes our time and self-respect in exchange for a dosage of shame and feelings of isolation. It is a gateway drug that leads to sexually acting out, addiction and affairs. Porn is like fast food; always leaving you wanting more with little or no nutritional value.
Porn feels like a maze- harmless and fun at first until you find yourself surrounded by darkness. You may feel like you can’t find the exit, but there are secret doors; tell a friend, educate yourself, download anti-porn software. I believe confession is the first stop on the ride to healing. Trust me, you deserve liberation from this stronghold. But you’ve got to be strong enough to step through the door into a room of healing.
Hope is only lost when you give it the authority to resign. And you, dear reader, are worthy of love. How you spend your time tells yourself and the world what you want. I hope you chose to live a life that fully participates in REAL LOVE.
Ps, I recently completed a 50-page research paper on pornography for my Masters in Global Leadership Program. My research is now being used by hundreds of youth leaders and workers across America.
Pss, I wrote this journal in a coffee shop sitting next to a man editing a pornographic image, oh the irony!