In the report, respondents in the South East and North Central are very much interested in their churches talking about sex. These regions are the most willing of all the geo-political zones in Nigeria to do so. I am glad. Historically, Christians in Nigeria have grappled with skewed ideologies about sex, in silence. Now, they seem more willing to open up.
I have also been thinking about why porn and masturbation rates seem so high in the church despite a strong doctrinal stance against them. I think the following reasons may apply:
- Sexual desires are strong. They trump doctrine when those doctrines are not explained satisfactorily or willingly embedded in souls. When doctrines are enforced by fear and not revelation, they breed guilt & perversion and not obedience. The stats coming out of the state of Utah in the US demonstrate this. A deeply religious Mormon state, it has now declared porn a public health emergency.
- Porn and masturbation are a form of “safe sex” for Christians. They don’t get pregnant or impregnate people. They also don’t get Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
- In the minds of Christians, porn and masturbation are deemed less evil than actual sex. Some Christians believe they are technically virgins if they indulge in porn and masturbation but not copulation. Doctrinally, this is strange, as sin is both mens rea and actus reus (thought and deed). One who fantasizes about sex is no holier than one who does it, according to Jesus (Matthew 5:28).
- Porn and masturbation are a response to loneliness, despair and isolation. Christians are rarely free to have active social lives without guilt. They sometimes lack social skills and relating with the opposite sex is highly regulated. Thus, there is tremendous pressure that cannot be released during normal conversations and hangouts with genuine friends, in everyday social settings.
I sincerely pray that the body of Christ in Nigeria will begin to address the issues stated above. I hope we elevate discussions about sex to high status as it is of prime importance to this generation.