Pornography, Nadia Bolz-Weber

November 7, 2018

Nadia Bolz-Weber on Pornography as Part of Sexual Flourishing

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) celebrity Nadia Bolz-Weber is on a crusade to combat the church’s “misogynistic interpretations of  Scripture” and “the fear of sex stuff that came into Christianity.” That includes easing the Church’s moral objections to pornography, apparently.

Last week, Dan Skogen over at Exposing the ELCA blog highlighted several controversial statements on pornography and sex made by the Lutheran Pastrix during an October 21 interview with Out in Jersey, an LGBTQ digital publication.

Here is an excerpt of the interview:

OIJ: Let’s talk about sex! A big part of our “coming out” as a community has been a label of sexual deviancy given to us by Evangelicals. Tell us about pleasure.

Nadia Bolz-Weber: Pleasure is a complicated thing for human beings because it’s easy to fall off one or the other side of the spectrum. Either we’re over indulging to obesity, or we’re eating elimination diets where four foods are pure enough to consume. We restrict or indulge in ways that are equally harmful.

A chapter I rewrote many times in my new book was about pleasure and pornography. I refused to pick the low-hanging “Moral Outrage Fruit” of Liberals and Conservatives about porn. Now, there are issues of justice and exploitation within the porn industry, no question, but it doesn’t mean consumption of pornography should be shamed. There is ethically sourced porn. There are people who say it’s sexual immorality, but if you take Liberals and Conservatives who show outrage and made a Venn diagram of those who consume pornography, you’d see a huge overlap.

And:

NBW: There are people who consume pornography in a shame-based way, it would be horrible if people know because they are those who are morally outraged as Liberals or Conservatives. That’s a lonely place to exist, let’s take that part out of it. I’m not going to shame people when they already feel ashamed. People have viewed erotic imagery since we could scratch it on the inside of caves. To see erotic images or hear someone in the cave next to you, your body reacts as an empathic response. We respond empathetically when we hear a baby crying! Our bodies are wired to have empathic responses to others, and it includes erotic ones. To say you should have shame for that is problematic. If we took shame out of the fact that people like to view erotic imagery, the compulsive behavior around consuming pornography would decrease.

Sure, it is unhelpful to heap further shame on those who already feel unashamed for their actions. A better option is to point them towards the mercy and justification offered by Jesus Christ. Bolz-Weber and I could agree here if that was the point she made. But it was not. Shortly after her above comments, Bolz-Weber states, “If the teachings of the church are harming people, then we need to rethink those teachings.” 

Herein lies the nexus of Bolz-Weber’s problematic theology.  If people don’t like the church’s traditional sexual ethics, then change them. Add pornography to the list alongside of same-sex marriage, transgenderism, and abortion. Bolz-Weber and her colleagues on the left found the church’s traditional moral teachings on each of these “harmful.” So they changed them.

The sad irony is that Bolz-Weber fails to acknowledge the harm done by pornography. She makes sure to nod towards the porn industry’s dehumanizing exploitation and makes the ridiculous “ethically sourced” comment (how do you ensure ethically-sourced porn?) But why doesn’t she acknowledge pornography’s harmful effects on sexual intimacy between husbands and wives?  What about the unrealistic depictions and expectations that cause spouses feelings of inferiority and rejection? Or what about Jesus’s warning that “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart“? 

“All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. We understand that,” shared Dr. Derryck Green, a Christian thought leader and faculty member at Prager University. “However, I part ways on her approach to resolving this issue. When Jesus met people where they were, he didn’t assure them the sin in their lives was acceptable. He called them to higher spiritual and moral standards of living by charging them to leave sin alone.”

Green continued, “I don’t think Bolz-Weber is alone in attempting to steward people with respect to this issue. Eroticism, gratification, lust, and the idolatry of objectification associated with porn can’t be overcome despite the social makeover by calling it ‘ethical.’”

By the end of Bolz-Weber’s interview, you realize she is promoting her forthcoming book Shameless: the Sexual Reformation. The book’s purpose, according to her, is “calling out harm that’s been done to people as a result of what the church has taught them about sex, body, and gender.”

“You can draw a straight f**king line from what people were told in church and the harm in their lives,” she claims. “I’m also instigating an art project where women mail me their purity rings. They’ll be melted into a sculpture of a vagina.”

Sexual sin is harmful to our souls. The bottom line here is that Bolz-Weber is overlooking the sexual sin in people’s lives and that is damaging and ultimately separating them from God. As a professing Christian witness, her job is to help people recognize and lay down their sins at the cross of Christ. Anything else is irresponsible, unloving, and harmful.

 


13 Responses to Nadia Bolz-Weber on Pornography as Part of Sexual Flourishing

  1. Myron Miller says:

    Wait, wait; are you saying that two people who love each other, wish to commit to each other exclusively, and consate that commitment with the tenderness of sexual intimacy would be sinning? Odd to put it that way, isn’t, since the author of the letter to the Hebrews has a different perspective on this, right?

    • Loren Golden says:

      “Are you saying that two people who love each other, wish to commit to each other exclusively, and (consummate) that commitment with the tenderness of sexual intimacy would be sinning?”
       
      If the “two people” are of the same gender, or if they engage in the act of consummation irrespective of the commitment of marriage, then, according to the Biblical definition, yes.

      “Odd to put it that way, isn’t, since the author of the letter to the Hebrews has a different perspective on this, right?”
       
      No, he did not.  He said, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” (Heb. 13.4)  Any “commitment”, other than lifelong heterosexual marriage, that is “consummated” by sexual intercourse, or any engagement in sexual intercourse outside the bonds of lifelong heterosexual marriage, is by definition adulterous and/or sexually immoral, and therefore defiles the marriage bed.

  2. Nick Stuart says:

    Ever notice that crazy liberal clergy look about what you would imagine they would look like? It’s like we’re living inside a Chick tract.

  3. Steve says:

    I have warned repeatedly that sexual obsession is a sign of idolatry from Romans 1. This lady is promoting idolatry by worshiping any false God other than the real.

  4. Loren Golden says:

    “But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.  I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.  Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead.  And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.” (Rev. 2.20-23)
     
    “What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
    Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’?
    It has been already
    in the ages before us.
    There is no remembrance of former things,
    nor will there be any remembrance
    of later things yet to be
    among those who come after. …
    “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.” (Eccl. 1.9-11, 12.8)

  5. Walter Pryor says:

    The reason we are having such dissension and conflict right now in the church is this; God is polarizing the World into two camps. Those who know and love God. Those who are seeking and growing in God and all other people on Earth.
    These so-called clergies do not know or fear God. This is the result of preaching love, feelings, and tolerance for decades and never preaching obedience!

    • matt says:

      well spoken

    • Donald says:

      I don’t think “God” is “polarizing” us into two camps. We humans have been doing that fairly well for about the last 3,000,000 years.

    • Donald says:

      I wonder why all these other Legacy Denominations, the ELCA among them, continue to race each other to see who can get below 1,000,000 members first. The Disciples of Christ have already won that race. I can’t imagine the other six of the Seven Sisters will be content with second place.
      Maybe this is the ELCA’s effort to get a lock on 2nd Place?

  6. Rebecca says:

    And no one in the ECLA has a problem with her. Whatever happened to excommunication? Where’s the shame? Where’s this woman’s conscience?

    • Loren Golden says:

      None of the so-called “Mainline” Protestant denominations practice excommunication anymore, nor have they had any heresy trials for years.
       
      One of the last heresy trials was in 1981, against Mansfield Kaseman, who had been approved by National Capital Union Presbytery to serve a small church in Maryland, despite his denial of the Deity, Sinlessness, Substitutionary Atonement, and Bodily Resurrection of Christ.  Charges were brought up against him, and his case went all the way to the Permanent Judicial Commission of the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in the USA, which essentially acquitted him, stating that each presbytery in the denomination is free to ordain whomsoever it wishes, even if the ordinand is a rank heretic like Kaseman.
       
      No, the ELCA won’t excommunicate, censure, or discipline Bolz-Weber for her heresy.  Neither they, nor any of the other formerly “Mainline” Protestant denominations that have given themselves over to sexual immorality and idolatry have the backbone to do so.

  7. Jay Haug says:

    The oldest and most enduring “religion” in the world is the attempt to combine lust and spirituality. It takes a thousand forms and but always ends up in the same place.

  8. David Gingrich says:

    I love to listen to Nadia. She is so smart and so interesting. Unfortunately, I fear she is also very ignorant of evil and inclined to write her own “scripture”.

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