Saturday, July 26, 2008

What Do Christmas And Porn Have In Common?

As I sat and stared at the spectacle in front of me, I started to feel disgusted.  What I was seeing and what I was feeling did not match up.  This was supposed to be exciting and thrilling, yet it was empty and hollow. I wanted to leave and scour my soul clean, but I forced myself to stay.  Over and over and over again this scene of human gratification continued.  Seemingly, for hours it dragged on. “How could such a beautiful event be mutated into this travesty of love, joy and unity,” I wondered. Then someone handed me another present to open.

For years I have been growing disenfranchised with Christmas and particularly Christmas Day.  The wonder that once came with the holiday does not come anymore.  As I have grown, the anticipation of Christmas has been replaced by a rising dread and disillusionment.  

I am fully aware of the religious meaning and significance behind Christmas and I believe them to be true.  But, somehow the experience of the Christmas season is lost on me. For a holiday that is to be a time of peace, love and joy, it seems that it is anything but. 

Working for one of the world’s largest discount retailers, I have heard horror stories that make Christmas look more like Halloween: Holiday shoppers brawling over parking spaces, people being pistol-whipped for game consoles, store employees being berated for not having the gifts shoppers demanded.

I can honestly say that I am about finished with “Christmas” and it has nothing to do with that jolly fat man!  I am sick of the consumerism surrounding this extraordinary day.  I am fed up with the “Merry Christmas,” versus “Happy Holidays,” debate. It seems Christmas is just another misunderstood religious celebration that even that church has forsaken.

The idea that Christmas is a make or break occasion dependent on getting or giving  “that perfect gift,” is craziness.  I am at the point of telling people not to get me anything for Christmas.  On the other hand, I am at the point of not getting anything for anybody either, but I fear the response of not following through on tradition.  I would rather spend my time and money helping the poor of our town.  Spending what I would on gifts by buying food, socks and hoodies for the homeless.  Maybe that would provide the fulfillment I have been longing for.

Christmas has almost lost its meaning for me.  Yes, this is my fault, I own it entirely and something has to change. I can’t continue faking the holiday spirit for much longer.

In searching my soul for the genesis of this reaction toward the hollowness of my recent Christmases, I easily recall a similar emotional lair.  This barrenness I experience with Christmas finds a kindred spirit in my experiences with pornography.

You see deep down I do like Christmas.  Deep down I also like porn.  Well, I should say that I like what society thinks Christmas and porn should be.  Both are supposed to offer a frenzied level of excitement and pleasure. Both are about what I want.  Both are about unreal expectations and a search for satisfaction. Sadly though, neither lives up to the hype. 

Porn is supposed to be harmless.  No one really gets hurt. It’s just good clean dirty fun.  Only those who are weird or prudish avoid such entertainment.  It is spouted as a perfectly normal aspect of human sexuality.  But these thoughts, along with the greater populace’s view of Christmas are mistaken.

My desire for a Christmas experience that transcends the holiday leaves me looking into my bedroom for a cure to my ailing soul.  If porn leaves me empty, then maybe within the bonds of my marriage and the security and unity it brings will be an answer to that “something” that has to change during Christmas.

Within the confines of godly marriage, sex can and should offer a “frenzied level of excitement and pleasure.”  It can and should offer satisfaction.  But it likewise should offer what porn does not, namely relationship and a giving of myself, not my stuff.

At it deepest roots Christmas is about God re-establishing his relationship with humanity through Jesus the Christ.  It is about God reaching out to the people of the world throughout time and inviting us into a loving union with him.

If we could only comprehend the love that such an act took to accomplish, I believe Christmas would never turn sour.  Unfortunately, God’s gift of his son has turned into an excuse for us to give presents and not our very soul to others.

It might sound trite and clich√© to say that Christmas should be about giving and not getting, but I believe it is true.  Christmas is not about giving gifts, but about giving ourselves!  It is not about a season of the year, but about an attitude of sacrifice and humiliation. It is not about love of self, but love of others. When we only give from our wallets and not from the core of our being, our giving is meaningless and bare like pornography. 

I hope this Christmas I can find a way to unwrap myself and give myself away to someone who simply needs human interaction…a friend…love.  This type of gift transcends the typical Christmas present. God’s love is more needed and meaningful than some shirt, CD or power tool. A relationship of love through Jesus is more genuine than a one-night-stand with an airbrushed beauty and is more satisfying than the annual moments of merrymaking. 

The Godhead modeled Christmas for everyone by giving himself to us and we should do the same. Maybe this year I can be God’s gift of love to someone.

Can understanding the hollow cultural pastime of porn redeem the emptiness of today’s consumer view of Christmas? By comparing Christmas and porn, hope emerges for those willing to move past the societies flawed view of both, while seeking to restore community and relationship the way God intended.

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