The Merchants of Vice

Lately, in the height of some key world events, the real news was put on hold for a “ground-breaking” one, which seemed to be equally (if not more) important to the mainstream media. It was about some nude pictures released by a reality TV star described by the Huffington Post as “the queen of nude selfie” – Kim Kardashian. Of course, this is not the first time this lady would pull off such a stunt. Kim rose to worldwide fame in 2010 with her leaked home-made sex videos, which earned her family a whopping $65 million. Since then, she has gained more attention from her fans worldwide by re-enacting her rotten start with slight variations. She is not alone.

Years ago, porn actors were characters who preferred to keep their real identities hidden and strictly under guard, but as pornography is now being accepted on different fronts – music, fashion, adverts, TV shows – these actors are now becoming icons to millions of youths around the world, occupying a niche that media personalities or rock music stars used to have.

We may spend days, perhaps weeks, stoning these fallen men and women with endless editorials, but it will hardly push the envelope, because they are trading in a collective hypocrisy and depravity that exist in the society at large. Each time they put their bodies and souls out there with indecent pictures or videos, what can’t be denied is the traffic of voyeurism that follows them. Even those who will pass judgement on them first pause to feast their eyes on their erotic acts. Indeed, the issue is deeper than mere attention-seeking; a decadent lifestyle is being sold to the consumers.

The standard argument of porn advocates is that viewing pictures of nude women or men is not really pornography, especially since the performers enjoy what they do. Some researchers actually state that there is no link between looking at porn and real acts of sexually offensive behaviour in people. Such a view neither squares with facts nor Biblical truth.

a) Porn is basically a material (photograph, video or writing) that is intended to sexually arouse the user. It involves lust of the eyes and the flesh. Matthew 5:28 says that when a man looks lustfully at a woman, by God’s standard, he is guilty of adultery (or fornication). Therefore, viewing porn images, which often stimulate immoral desires, are offensive to God.

b) The term “pornography” is from a Greek word porneia which means “illicit sexual intercourse in general” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). Its a word encompassing all forms of sexual immorality – fornication, adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, oral sex, anal sex – which are the acts being recorded and simulated in most porn materials. Others include acts of bestiality, child sexual abuse, gang rape, bondage, brutalizing of women and sadistic torture which are sins condemned by God (and even human laws). These acts mould people’s morals and thinking, since we all change into the images we behold.

Porneia, says Thayer, is also “used metaphorically of the worship of idols” in Scripture. A study of ancient religions shows that the oldest idols people worshipped were representations of the male and female genitals, which is probably natural since they produced and pleasure. In the same way, modern porn is also a type of sex organ worship and its allied with the sin of masturbation. The influence of porn leads to a morbid obsession with the sex organs and preoccupation with sex – a trend commonly observed among youths today.

Strong’s Concordance defines porneia (#4202) as “harlotry (including adultery and incest), whoredom derived from perna – “to sell off” a selling off (surrendering) of sexual purity; promiscuity of any type.” Porn is a form of harlotry involving fantasy or mental imagery. Its literally prostitution with the eyes and mind. This is why a porn user seeks out more attractive models and “exciting” erotic acts from time to time the same way a person seeks out the next prostitute to offer a newer thrill. Porn can thus result in lack of intimacy and unrealistic sexual expectations in marriage because when a man’s head is filled with pictures of models, his desire for his wife wanes. The same can also affect a woman.

Porn is the selling off of the decency and purity of men and women to appease the baser instincts of the viewers. Since its a market, it has some profit. Most individuals who put up nude photos or sex videos gain fame and many hits on their Web sites.
A survey states that 30,000 people are viewing porn every second; nearly 2 hardcore porn videos are released in the US every hour, and an average of more than 2 million porn movies are rented in the US. In short, the global porn industry generates an estimated $100 billion (US) annually.

Music videos laden with graphic sexual imagery and porn TV channels also target for profit. Germany, the porn capital of Europe, has 60 porn channels while Britain has 36. The Daily Mail reports that millions of British children view Freeview channels in their bedrooms, leaving most of them in danger of accidentally accessing porn.

Some reality TV shows like Big Brother Africa (and its European counterpart) also indirectly promote whoredom by enhancing and funneling the nudity and sex acts within the four walls of the perverse house to millions of subscribers. It was recently reported that Big Brother draws in a salary of £60,000 through this spy business. Me thinks this “Big Brother” is some lecherous old man who goes about peeping at naked ladies through bathroom key holes with spittle running down his chin. The money these folks are raking from sacrificing the morality and innocence of people are more or less “earnings of a harlot” (Deut. 23:18).

The Lord Jesus says a good tree produces good fruit (Matt. 7:17). If porn is so harmless as we are told, then why do we keep seeing its damage in the lives of the performers and users? A study has shown that porn users, due to the frequent secret indulgence, tend to be secretive and deceitful, establishing a link between porn use and depression, anxiety, social isolation, shame, damaged relationships and suicidal tendencies.

A team of German neuroscientists from Chante University of Medicine, Berlin, scanned the brains of 64 healthy men noting the amount of porn they consume each week. The study showed that the men who watched more porn have a smaller volume in their striatum (the reward region of the brain) and those who watched it the most had less activity in the striatum. This implies that a repeated exposure to porn dulls the brain’s response to intimacy. (Psychology Today, June 5, 2014)

This shouldn’t be a surprise. “Porn studios aren’t sitcoms” says Norm Kent, a porn director. “They aren’t places where actors develop ongoing, deep relationships.” This highlights the damage that having sex with complete strangers for money does to the soul. A friend to Michael Cohen, a porn actor who committed suicide recalls, “He laughed and joked about it when he could, but he was ashamed, frustrated, and angry, and it did a lot of damage to him emotionally. He was sensitive, and he couldn’t deal with it.”

Ex-porn actress, Jenni, clearly remembers her first experience, “The porn star I was supposed to work with that day was there but she couldn’t do anything because of her health. Her insides were so damaged from porn.” Contrary to what many viewers think, these actors don’t enjoy what is being done to them. “When I did porn, I wanted it to be over as quickly as possible and it was all about the money for me,” adds Jenni. “You don’t have any respect for yourself or the person you’re with. It’s all about money, and getting what you can from the other person.”

Alex agrees, “Everyone wanted a piece of you. So you basically get rewired to think that is what you’re worth.” Though he booked as many shoots as possible to stay sane, he said, “it doesn’t go away, and that festering is what leaves people high and dry.” The average life expectancy of a porn performer is 37.43 years whereas the average life expectancy of an American is 78.1 years. That means untimely death is rampant in the porn industry. Below are some examples and their manner of deaths:

1. Pierce Daniels (36), died of AIDS.
2. Jon King (32), died from AIDS complication.
3. Karen Mereness (27), suicide by hanging.
4. Randy Potes (34), suicide by gunshot.
5. Christopher McLaughlin (22), suicide by drug overdose.
6. Rommel Hunt (31) suicide by gunshot.
7. Eve Valois (37), prescription drugs.
8. Elisa Bridges (28), heroin and meth overdose.
9. Jeanette Rogers (42) drug overdose while having AIDS.
10. Natel King (23), murdered after shooting an adult scene.
11. Tim Barnnet (37) committed suicide by hanging while in jail on rape charges.
12. Rex Hickok (40) committed suicide by jumping off a building.
13. Patrizia Grazzini (39), cancer.
14. Yumika (35), choked to death on her vomit while asleep.
15. Arpad Miklos (45), suicide by drug overdose.
16. Zac Stevens (25), suicide.
17. Mehran Chesnut (25), seizures caused by “poppers.”
18. Dimitri Kane (20), accidental drug overdose.
19. Holie Stevens (30), breast cancer.
20. John Weston (39), HIV.
21. James Erik (30), heart attack.
22. Marland Anderson (39), cardiac arrest during an attempted suicide.
23. Katie Kiong (20), suicide by unknown causes.
24. Joe Romero (40), HIV complications.

While certain suggestions have been made to explain this tragic menace, some Biblical truths stand out: “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction…” (Gal. 6:7-8)

When a person offers his/her body parts to sin “as instruments of wickedness,” he/she becomes a slave to sin which leads to death. (Rom. 6:13). It is these things that brings God’s wrath on the disobedient. “Therefore do not be partners with them.” (Eph. 5:6-7) Romans 1:29-31 list out the lifestyles of people with “a depraved mind”:

“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder strife, deceit and malice. They are … God-haters, insolent arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil … they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” vs 32 says God has decreed that both those who actually practice these and those who support those who do deserve death.

The note of the Full Life Study Bible (published by Zondervan) in Romans 1:32 says:
“Being entertained by watching other people sin and engage in ungodly actions, even while you yourself abstain, brings you under the same divine condemnation as those engaging in such evil practices… Those (and especially those who profess faith in Christ) who use immoral actions of others for entertainment and enjoyment are (also) directly contributing to public opinion favorable to immorality and therefore to the corruption and eternal damnation of an indefinite number of other people.”

In essence, when we share or view porn pictures or videos, visit their Web sites or subscribe to their channels, we are in the same category as those producing them and upholding their influence. Every time we invest our time, money and emotions into immoral entertainment, we are partnering with the dehumanization, depravity and exploitation of these merchants of vice and courting the same sentence hanging over them. Deriving pleasure from porn typifies feeding off human pain and degradation for selfish purposes. Like David, our stance should be: “I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me.” (Ps. 101:3)

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The Sufficiency of Christ

On June, 20, 2016, Pope Francis tweeted: “We are all on a journey to the common house of heaven where we will be able to admire with joyful wonder the mystery of the universe.”

The Christian journey is based on what I will call the “coordinates of truth.” In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Then in John 17:17, He prayed to the Father, saying, “Your word is truth.” First John 5:6 also says: “It is the Spirit who bears witness [to Jesus Christ] because the Spirit is truth.” In essence, Jesus is the truth, God’s Word – the Bible – is the truth and the Spirit is truth. Any doctrine, no matter how dogmatic, that is not true to Jesus, the Bible and the witness of the Holy Spirit, is a deception.

In a certain Catholic article titled “The Protty Jesus,” the writer stated that the Catholic and Protestant Jesus “are not really related, beyond the most basic things.” Consequently, we “do not worship the same Jesus as Catholics do.” He’s right. One of the key areas where we differ greatly is on the sufficiency of Christ – Solo Christos. And the best way to demonstrate this is by comparing what the Bible teaches with what Roman Catholicism teaches. The visceral response of the Catholic is to say “we teach and read the Bible too!” Yes, that’s true, but there is a big difference between reading the Bible to learn what God has said in it and reading some contrived ideas into it.

Its self-deception for one to think he is saved or looking forward to heaven if one believes untruths about Jesus who is the only Way to Heaven. The stakes are too high and eternity is too real to allow sentiments or rigidity cloud this issue. Here are some examples:

Salvation by Christ or a Church?

“The Second Vatican Council decree on ecumenism explains: For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone which is the universal help towards salvation that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained.” (Catechism #816, p 215)

Looking at God’s Word on the subject of salvation, you will not find a single verse requiring one to go through a church to be saved. What did Jesus Himself say?
“For what my Father wants is that all who see the Son and believe in him should have eternal life.” (Jn. 6:40)

He says “those who hear my words and believe in him who sent me have eternal life … [they] have already passed from death to life.” (5:24) He says again “he who believes has eternal life.” (6:47) Salvation from eternal condemnation is received by believing in Christ “but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (Jn. 3:18) If the Catholic church was necessary for salvation, then Jesus was lying.

Apostle Paul wrote: “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Nothing is said about a church here (Rom. 10:9-10). Paul defines the Gospel as how Christ died for our sins and His resurrection and says “you are saved by the gospel if you hold firmly to it.” (1 Cor. 15:2). He says the Gospel “is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Rom. 1:16) If salvation is obtained by joining the Catholic church, then Paul was lying and the Holy Spirit inspiring him was also lying.

Apostle John wrote: “Some, however, did receive him and believed in him, so he gave them the rights to become God’s children.” (Jn. 1:12) That’s the only condition to be saved and become a child of God. Therefore, if the Catholic church is the only visible and universal sacrament of salvation, then apostle John was lying, so was the Holy Spirit.

But Jesus is truth, the Bible is truth and the Holy Spirit is truth. The key to salvation is believing in Jesus, not joining a church – whether Catholic or Protestant. When the Philippian jailer asked Paul “what must I do to be saved?” did Paul say “you must come to the Catholic Church?” No. He said “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 16:31) The moment one believes the Gospel, which is about the death and resurrection of Christ offering us forgiveness and eternal life, he is saved.

No church can offer salvation because the church is simply a community of the saved. The church is not the Saviour. No one in the New Testament looked up to a church for salvation and why would they, when its clear that Jesus alone is the Saviour. If the Catholic church is right about this, then the Bible was wrong and Jesus was mistaken.

The Sufficiency of Christ’s Mediation

“For, taken up to heaven, she [Mary] did not lay aside this saving role, but by her manifold acts of intercession continues to win for us gifts of eternal salvation.” (The Documents of Vatican II, p. 91)

Not a single verse of the Bible assigns a saving or interceding role to Mary. Jesus said about His sheep: “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish.” (Jn. 10:28) He “is able, now and always, to save those who come to God through him because he lives forever to plead with God for them.” (Heb. 7:25) He has the power to “keep [us] from stumbling and to present [us] before his glorious presence without fault.” (Jude 1:24) Why would the Bible emphatically declare that “there is no salvation through anyone else” and no “other name under heaven given to the human race” if Mary also dispenses salvation as Rome says? (Acts 4:12) Both the Bible and Catholicism do not agree.

Jesus’ intercession is based on His Mediatorship. If Mary is also interceeding for mankind, it means Jesus’ mediation is grossly insufficient. But God came down as Man to graciously establish His covenant with us. Jesus, as the “mediator of the new covenant” (Heb. 9:15) intervenes between God and man. He represents God before mankind and represents mankind before God. As the God-Man, He has “given us a ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:18) This ultimately disqualifies Mary or anyone else.

Jesus came to earth to save sinners. He kept inviting them “Come to Me” – not to Mary or a church for salvation (Mt. 11:28). At no point do we find a sinner being afraid to go to Jesus asking Mary to approach Him on his/her behalf. We find examples of Nicodemus, Zaccheus, the woman at Bethany, the penitent thief on the cross and many others who came to Christ. They all approached Him directly without going through Mary. He showed them love and care more than Mary ever did, so, to suggest that He has lost that superior and divine love and mercy for sinners, that we are now to go to Him through Mary is utterly blasphemous. It denies a central truth: “there is one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 2:5)

The Sufficiency of Christ’s Sacrifice

“Each time the Mass is offered, the Sacrifice of Christ is repeated. A new sacrifice is not offered, but by divine power, one and the same sacrifice is repeated… In the Mass, Christ continues to offer Himself to the Father as He did on the Cross.” (The New Saint Joseph Catechism, #2, 171)

But the Bible clearly teaches that Christ’s sacrifice must not (and cannot) be repeated. He “does not need to offer sacrifices every day” (Heb. 7:27) because He “was offered in sacrifice once to take away the sins of many.” (Heb. 9:28) The offering of His body was “made once and for all” (10:10) and “By the virtue of that one single offering he has achieved the eternal perfection of all who are sanctified.” (10:14) Why would God continually tell us Jesus’ one sacrifice is sufficient if it needs to be repeated?

After presenting these facts to a Catholic years ago, he paused briefly, then said “the original Greek couldn’t have said these. The English Bibles have been distorted!” When I asked him to prove this, he couldn’t. That excuse was lame. Jesus said “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). The Greek word there is tetelestai which literally means completely complete. Jesus has offered a perfect and complete sacrifice to God by His infinite power. To deny this is a blasphemous reduction of Jesus into a perpetual sacrificial victim in the hands of men.

The Sufficiency of His Blood

“From the most ancient times in the Church good works were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners … [by] the prayers and good works of holy people … the penitent was washed, cleansed and redeemed…” (Vatican II, Vol. 1, 65)

On the contrary, redemption (or salvation) was accomplished by Christ in His sacrifice upon the cross and is received by faith: “Christ entered once and for all into the Most Holy Place … [with] his own blood and obtained eternal salvation for us.” (Heb. 9:12). None of man’s efforts can add to it. “For by the blood of Christ we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven.” (Eph. 1:7) There is no way our own good works can cleanse our sins or redeem us. The penalty of sin is infinite and only God could pay it. To reject this one-way redemption provided by the blood of Christ is to remain in sin and eternal condemnation.

Romans 5:9 says “By his blood we are now put right with God…” The present tense used means that once a person repents and believes the Gospel, he is justified and receives eternal life that moment. He doesn’t have to merit it with good works, sacraments or rites. “The gift of God is eternal life through Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). We don’t work for a gift, we only receive it by faith in Christ. Salvation is received here and now and Jesus saves completely (Jn. 3:16, 1Cor. 1:21, 2Tim. 1:9, Tit. 3:5).

It matters little how much lip service Catholicism pays to solo Christo, its doctrines explicitly deny it, and a truth-seeking Catholic has a choice to make: to take sides against Jesus, the Bible and the Holy Spirit to follow a religion or to agree with God’s truth and reject the lies of men. One thing is clear: every false religion tries to take the glory away from Christ and diminish His work and place it on a human figure, false god or religious organization.