A Covenant with my Eyes: Part 1, Vision in a Pornographic Age

In my daily Bible reading I was in the book of Job and was interrupted by a line from Job 31.1. In defending his righteousness before God Job says this:

“I made a covenant with my eyes
not to look lustfully at a young woman."

"I made a covenant with my eyes." What a profound statement in an age of pornography. 

When I was growing up, I didn't really have to make a covenant with my eyes. Pornography was primarily a print medium, magazines like Playboy and Penthouse. A young teenager couldn't buy those magazines. So there was a barrier of social embarrassment and shame in trying to purchase these magazines. And for a teenager like me, someone trying to be a good Christian, that barrier was enough to keep me clear from a consistent exposure to pornography. To be clear, however, I was exposed. Friends at school had access to the magazines because of fathers, older brothers, or because they lacked the embarrassment I felt in attempting to buy a magazine. So pictures were shared among friends. And I kept some of those pictures when offered to me. I recall the very embarrassing day when my father found some of these pictures hidden in my room.

Still, in an age of print my exposure to pornography was sporadic, limited and furtive. And then came the iPhone...

There's not a single Christian parent that I know who isn't absolutely terrified to give their young sons an iPhone. And the statistics say you should be just as worried about your daughters. Some estimates have the porn business making 15 billion dollars a year. But that number doesn't remotely capture the free access to pornography through sites like PornHub. Some estimates say that 20% of mobile (phone) searches on the Internet are porn-related. Imagine that, one out of every five Google searches is for pornography. And the rates of men who watch porn at least once a week is around 90%. 

All that to say, we're living in a very different world from the one I grew up in. The message "make a covenant with your eyes" couldn't be more timely and important.

What interested me in the line from Job was the frame of vision. As regular readers know, and as I talk about in Hunting Magic Eels, the issue of perception is something I've been thinking about a great deal when it comes to faith. So I was struck by the perceptional issues in what it might mean to "make a covenant with your eyes." How is our perception being affected living in an age of pornography? And how might we resist these effects?

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