The Upside-Down World Is Becoming Our Own

Published in Mustard Seed Sentinel, August 22, 2020.

When the Roman Empire collapsed, the loss of basic knowledge of how to do ordinary things was immense. The Oxford historian Bryan Ward-Perkins [says] that it took western Europeans something like 700 years to relearn how to build a roof as solid as the Romans knew how to build.” Rod Dreher~

When my husband retired from his office job, he leaped into a full-time vocation that he was already doing part-time–roof and chimney repair. And he added a ministry aspect.

When he needs a crew, he goes to a local drug rehab program and recruits workers for the day. A couple of them turned into long-term employees. They arrived with a new outlook and got a new set of skills.

But most of them don’t. After all, not everyone belongs on a roof. Not everyone can traverse a housetop in even a mild degree of comfort. And not everyone is willing to do the hot sweaty work required to finish the task at hand.

Some move on to other work. Others go back to the old way of life.

My husband sees two ways of thinking. One accepts responsibility for the past and doesn’t want to return to the old life. Those workers show promise and are willing to learn. They revel in a sense of accomplishment. They find success in fixing something that had been broken as they watch the broken pieces of their own lives mend also.

The other perspective shifts blame for the past. The shifting means they don’t move forward. They realize no great moments of accomplishment. Without accomplishment, there is nothing to celebrate, to pass on. There is no once-broken-now-fixed thing to see, to point to. And no set of skills attained to pass to others. They can only blame.

That is how we forget.

Decades ago, I was among an inaugural class of girls taking woodshop. I still have the finished cedar box I made complete with a crack across the top because I (apparently) hit the hammer too hard nailing the lid on.

I’m certain it was for reasons other than my cracked lid—or in addition to it—that the teacher swore he would never teach girls again. I assume he retired shortly thereafter. From then on, girls would work with wood and boys would navigate the formerly female-only domain of the kitchen.

Our more modern outlook did well to invite boys to pursue competence in the kitchen and girls to use tools. We taught skills and children accomplished meals and boxes–even those with cracks.

I read recently of schools eliminating home-economics classes–now named Family and Consumer Science.

And I remember the sense I felt a few years ago at seeing a sack lunch for sale in a grocery store. It’s hard to give that feeling a word. But “loss” comes the closest. Are some of us no longer willing to pass along the small accomplishment of packing one’s own lunch?

Think about the exchange so many of us have made. We’ve traded the ability to prepare our own food (let alone grow it ourselves) for going to the store or restaurant, or now to have it delivered.

We have to realize that we are teaching the young how to do things. We are showing them how to accomplish tasks themselves–or how to get others to do things for them. We are always teaching something.

We are missing important components of ourselves in these deficits of basic competencies. With such seemingly small losses come even bigger ones hidden under our radar.

Dreher writes about a conversation he had with someone who works with victims of sex trafficking. He calls the conversation “deeply shocking.”

“He said that in his line of work, he hears from fertility doctors — not one fertility doctor, but several — that they are having to teach married couples how to have normal sex . . . if they want to conceive. These young people have been so saturated in pornography, and have had their imaginations so thoroughly formed by it, that the idea of normal reproductive sex acts are bizarre to them.”

Bizarre. Can it really be that bad?

Yes. It can.

Porn use in America is pervasive. And more harmful than we may realize.

At the Thrive Summit Conference (warning, some images are suggestive), Don Brewster said that, depending on the survey, somewhere between 51 and 86 percent of American men aged 25 and older use porn at least occasionally.

Forty-six percent use it regularly. Males ages 13-24 use porn at a rate of 67 percent.

Younger people (females use it too) using porn affects brains, shapes brains that are still developing. Porn makes physical changes, objectifies others, and effectively makes sex only about self, never a sacred, exclusive, mutual connection.

These effects wire the brain in a way that is very difficult, but not impossible, to undo.

Using porn affects our view of the morality of porn. In The Porn Phenomenon, Barna says, “The more you use porn, the less you think it’s wrong.” For example, 97 percent of monthly porn users believe that porn involving children under 12 is wrong. Only 90 percent of daily users believe child porn is wrong.

Moreover, only 45 percent of monthly users believe porn that depicts someone in a demeaning way is wrong. The number drops to 28 percent of daily users. That’s a large number of people who think children participating in porn is morally neutral and putting someone else in a demeaning situation, not for their own pleasure, is just fine.

While 54 percent of those surveyed said using porn at all is wrong, 58 percent agreed that eating too much is always wrong. Stealing something is always wrong for 95 percent.

Our society is sexually off the rails when married couples don’t understand how to act in order to conceive a child, when young people lack moral discomfort about 11 year olds (or younger) having careers in porn, and when the perception that it’s okay to make others uncomfortable for your own pleasure is just fine.

For many, porn use isn’t just a series of unrelated acts strung together. It’s an addiction. Addicts feel shame. Wives (usually the partner) feel betrayed. There seems to be no way out of a cycle of triggering, failure, and shame resulting in the partner feeling betrayed and the user feeling rejected—usually prompting a new trigger, perhaps with periodic episodes of successful avoidance punctuating the in-between.

There will be those who blame others and perhaps dabble in solutions the way some of my husband’s short-term employees do. But there will be those who seek a way out of addiction.

Some will search for a way and never find it. A young man went to a local social service office seeking help in my town. “Looking at porn is normal” was the reply he got to his request.

I hope he kept looking. But it takes a great deal of work to overcome an addiction, and few people can do it by themselves.

The Church is where people should be able to find the help they need to escape the snares of addiction and loss of understanding. Because of the shame involved, addicts don’t want to admit their problem to a pastor or church leader while many church leaders seem averse to addressing the issue (perhaps because of their own issues with porn).

So it’s up to those who understand the problems and the solutions to step up and create safe, non-judgmental places where people feel they can bring this burden and find assistance.

There is help out there. The Conquer Series and other materials by kingdomworks.com are great resources for individuals or groups. Blazing Grace offers resources as well as online forums for a number of sexual issues.

There is no substitute for walking through tough times with someone who’s walking through or has already walked through such challenges themselves.

Imagine a world where the idea of having your leaky roof fixed is the stuff of fantasy. Where the idea of fixing your own sandwich is passé.

Now imagine a world where God’s intentions for sex, exclusive marital connection and procreation, are completely lost. Where the idea of the normal way to make babies happen is bizarre.

That world is becoming our own.

What will we do in response?

Photo Credit: Ethan Sykes, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

22 Replies to “The Upside-Down World Is Becoming Our Own”

  1. Changes happen daily. How we deal with those changes affects us and those people around us. I pray we will grow in our desire to know God more and more each moment.

  2. Such an important post. Yes, the shortcuts we take today – both practically and morally – establish new baselines for the generations that come after us.

  3. What a horrifying picture you painted with statistics Ms. Nancy. In my simple, rural life, I never imagined the world as perverse and self-destructive as the numbers you shared indicate. I’ve long thought the lost art of common sense problem-solving skills and lack of God-directed morality was leading to the decline of our world, but I honestly didn’t think it had gotten this far already. Thank you for opening my eyes ma’am.

  4. Thank you for addressing this heavy issue with love and grace. It’s so important people have a safe place to get help. I also really liked this line, “ We are always teaching something.” Let’s make sure we’re teaching things we truly want others to learn!

  5. You make a really good point about sex in today’s culture becoming less about connection and intimacy with our partner and more about SELF. Great blog.

  6. Great and needed message, Nancy. Porn is an addiction and sadly becomes about self and “me,” while degrading the intimacy and holiness of sex the Lord created us for.

    1. Sadly, kids get sucked in while their brains are forming and the addiction is tough to break. Then they spend years or decades missing out on God’s intended blessings. Thanks, Karen, as always. God bless!

  7. The downward slide of the moral climate in our society today is frightening. I would expect the Lord to return fairly soon to right the wrongs. His word is true and He never changes.

    1. The wrongs that happen here parallel other wrongs and persecution elsewhere. If He tarries, we must remain faithful. Thanks, June, and God bless!

  8. Wow and how shocking. I have thought it will not be long before it will be legal to have sex with children. The more we lose our moral compass the worse it will get. Thanks for enlightening us.

  9. I have to say, I remember the year when I was excited to be taking wood and metal shop, our school put me in what they called “Quad CC.” It was new and it included cooking and sewing, in addition to wood and metal shops. But I enjoyed learning all 4 disciplines. In fact, the sewing machine at home is mine, not my wife’s.

    Yes, we need to learn and work at living life, especially understanding how to respect each other as male and female, as God designed, and engaging as husband and wife in the intimate ways God intended. Our futures serving Him rightly do depend on it.

  10. This is a horrifying reality for our world today! Serving-self at all costs to others and even self is at an all-time high.

    Your article reminded me of 1 Timothy 3:1-4, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…”

    Sadly we are here! And it won’t get better, but we can reach out to as many people that we can to help them come to know Jesus. I so appreciate what your husband is doing to help others! 🙂

  11. When you first shared the information in this post, I remember how shocked I was by some of the elements here. It was astonishing to me that couples wouldn’t know how to conceive a child and that people wouldn’t know how to make a sandwich. Time has passed, and I’m now more aware of the effect that the porn industry is having on our nation concerning the abuse of children and the “normalizing” of pedophilia. This is greatly concerning. Our culture is gradually becoming Sodom.

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