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December 15, 2009

Oprah, Porn, and Jesus

How the talk show queen let me down

A few weeks ago I watched an episode of Oprah called “Why Millions of Women Are Using Porn and Erotica.” The experts she included said they want to remove the stigma of women using and making pornography. Under the guise of women empowerment, Oprah encouraged women to take a fresh look at this often “shamed” industry, put aside their judgments, and find something that might sexually appeal to them.

I know a lot of you are not surprised. But as someone who actually does respect some—but not all—of what Oprah does, I was appalled. This is the cultural icon who built a school for girls in South Africa in 2007. She has helped other women in a myriad of ways: financially, emotionally, physically. And yet she’s telling us to watch and even make porn because it will empower us. Really, Oprah? That doesn’t seem a bit contradictory?

According to Oprah, 1 in 3 consumers of online porn are now women, which is why she chose to address this topic. “Something’s going on in the bedrooms across America . . .” she says. The sex industry is also slowly being infiltrated by women behind, not just in front of, the camera. Women producers, writers, and directors are more prevalent now than ever.

According to the guests on this episode, this is supposed to be a good thing. Women are taking back an industry that has been traditionally dominated by men. Am I missing something? While I’m all for women shattering glass ceilings and doing things that only men once did, I’m not sure this is what the suffragists had in mind. And I’m positive this isn’t what Jesus had in mind when he empowered women during his earthly ministry.

Oprah interviewed Jenna Jameson, the most “successful” (read: most profitable) porn star ever, who said she didn’t grow up wanting to be in the porn business but she doesn’t regret her choices. Jenna’s background is heartbreaking: She was sexually abused as a child, gang raped in high school, suffered from addiction, poverty, and an eating disorder. She said, “I knew I had a lot of options, but this was something that I excelled at.”

Jenna built her own business empire, took charge of which films she was in and what she did in those films, and is now retired with twin boys. The Oprah Show visited Jenna’s house, allowing viewers to get a glimpse inside her incredible wealth. But is she happy? Is she at peace with the decisions she’s made? Is her heart shattered from the abuse she’s experienced? These questions were conveniently avoided to show Jenna’s financial success, her stuff.

Jenna was told from an early age that her body was the only thing she had to offer the world and she could use it to be “in control,” to be successful. “I always felt like I needed to be in front of an audience, and I wanted to touch people’s lives,” she said. “You know, I may be touching them in a different way.”

It is incredibly disturbing and saddening that many women idolize Jenna Jameson, that they believe she is empowered instead of confused and broken. In a conversation with my friend Hollie, she said, “Just because women get to choose when and how they’re exploited doesn’t mean it’s not exploitation.” They’re using the same destructive vehicle, even if they’re now in the driver’s seat. The hardest part is that there are millions of women around the globe who are forced into exploitation and abuse. And here is Oprah—one of the world’s most influential women—glamorizing the sex industry as if it’s beneficial for women.

What if Jenna had someone to tell her she has so much more to offer than just her body? What if she heard she was precious in the eyes of Jesus, not just wanted in the eyes of men? What if we start listening to him, instead of Oprah, for a definition of healthy female sexuality?

Related Tags: Pornography, Sexuality

Comments

Bonnie, well said.

I also watched that episode of Oprah. I did not get the impression Jenna was completely at peace with her past. There was a hesitation about being willing to tell her children what she did when they're older. She also made a point of saying that in many of her movies, she only had sex with her husband, not with strangers. Which sounded like she was trying to justify it. And speaking of having sex with strangers, Lisa Ling made a point of saying she wasn't a prude, but I thought she was visibly uncomfortable when she reported on the making of porn films and she did NOT stay in the room while filming was going on. I think the undertones said a lot. I wish Oprah had focused more on that discomfort...

Thank you for talking about this, Bonnie. I agree with you and am so refreshed to see this discussion. While I think it has been SO harmful to tell women that their sexuality is shameful, it’s also wrong to swing the pendulum too far in the other direction and say “anything goes.” You define and defend this “middle ground” marvelously. I agree with you that empowering women and using them as sexual objects is an inherent contradiction! I think both Christian and secular women need to hear the message that their sexuality is a wonderful, God-given thing – but that lust, exploitation, and objectification are never part of the solution. I didn’t see this episode of Oprah, though, and I’m curious: was there discussion about whether or not pornography is helpful or was is just assumed that it is an empowering thing for women?

'Oprah encouraged women to take a fresh look at this often “shamed” industry, put aside their judgments, and find something that might sexually appeal to them.

I know a lot of you are not surprised. But as someone who actually does respect some—but not all—of what Oprah does, I was appalled.'

I do not watch her much at all, but she seems to go by her own moral code. She is wealthy and successful in the world system. In light of the fallen nature of humankind (Romans 1-6) and our current Western cultural climate her position of a reconsideration of pornography is not a shock, but to me is a little surprising.

Additionally, as a Christian man I should state that although most men find some women very physically attractive and tempting, porn is immoral and empty and is a potential snare getting men away from concentrating on the spiritual and intellectual aspects of attractive women ahead of physical attributes.

It is a struggle. But thankfully I still want a godly all-around attractive woman or nothing.

'It is incredibly disturbing and saddening that many women idolize Jenna Jameson, that they believe she is empowered instead of confused and broken.'

Perhaps financially empowered but definitely spiritually broken.

Merry Christmas

Russ

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Oprah does some really good things, but also lots of things that do not line up with the Bible. I wonder if she is becoming her own religion? So many Oprah followers. Her celebrity status and good deeds can really influence you to consider her recommendations and praise for many things that are not of God. This is spiritual warfare, put on the armor of God! Always ask yourself, what does the Bible say about this because many deceivers will come in His Name.

we need to focus on the word of God. it's very important for us to believe God rather than follow mere human no matter how influential they are. I 'll encourage all of us to flee from every appearances of evil.

How sad, how sad. God's gift exploited. Why are so many still clining to what Oprah says? It makes me cringe. I find it heartbreaking that women feel the need to turn to this. I know that I am wonderfully and womanly made and I don't need any of this trash that Oprah has pushed from her self-made pulpit. "Christian" women, who hold her in esteem, need to take a look at themselves and their hearts. Remember, thou shalt have no other gods!

This shocks me to see that we have come to exploit the sexual porn that is a horrible explortation of women. And to realize that one of the worst crimes in America is prostitution of children. Oh how my heart breaks to know day time TV openly speaks of this subject like everyday topics. Women we need to pray for these who are caught up in this lifestyle.

I use to really like oprah and her show. But I have found that she is often teaching things and covering things that are really not sure. I havent watched her in a long time. I find it very offensive that anyown would condone pornography. Whe does society say that pornography is ok but prostitution is not. Why do we say it is okay for a woman to strip in a club and get paid but she cant get paid to have sex. are they not the same? All aspects of exploiting sex and women should be illegal. I know that I will never win that arguement and one day prostitution will likely be legal too. but to me they are all the same.

Bonnie,
I'm glad to hear you take a nuanced view of Oprah. She has done a lot to empower women.
But, like you say, this rethinking of porn misses the mark. For a better, though still a non-Christian view, look at this:http://www.healthysex.com/-networker-article.php .

Blessings,
Karen Rabbitt, M.S.W.

A few years ago I watched an episode if Oprah where she was honoring Sydney Poitier ( one of my favorite actors) and as a prayer she thanked the "universe" instead of the creator of the universe. I too watched this recent episode and a nightline episode last setptember that was along the same lines. Porn is ok and if you do not agree then you are a prude or just not with the rest of the world. This seems to be a great push to legitimize this industry because of the amount of money it makes. So did and does salvery ( many of which are sex slaves), and the illegal drug trade. In other words if you are doing somthing sad and depraved but makes a lot of money for a lot of people then it is not longer exploitive but empowering?
In addidtion, watched as Jenna Jameson tried to hide her shame in her past. One day her son's will see a movie or two of their mommy doing some really sad things ( whether or not it was her husband) and she will have some hard questions and anger to answer. I wonder, is she going to teach her boy's the same lesson about you are only as good as what you can be used for? I pray that when that time comes she is a child of God and can seek Him for guidance and love.

As a former missionary in Amsterdam, I have often heard people talk about how "progressive" the Dutch are when it comes to prostitution and the sex industry. Get real. Somehow, people find it easy to view the legalization and "civilization" of prostitution as progressive. The truth is that literally millions of women and children are bought, sold, and traded in the sex industry every day, even in America. It is beyond shameful--it is despicable. Human trafficking is a very real and very dangerous problem that every woman should take seriously. To promote the objectification of women and the sale of sexual titillation outside of the safe confines of a commitment to family is as vile as promoting or defending slavery because that's exactly what it is. To argue that pornography doesn't hurt anyone has always seemed so willfully ignorant to me. How can you increase the hunger for eroticism and titillation and then not expect people to look for ways to satisfy that hunger? It's a ridiculous line of thinking. I've heard prostitutes say that they like their job, they see it as "just a job." I don't believe it. There is no girl on the planet who dreams of growing up to be exploited. The sex industry is just that--an industry. Women and children are their commodities. As Christians, we are told that true religion is to look out for widows and orphans. How can we have any feelings other than a righteous outrage towards an industry that buys and sells people to satisfy nothing more than someone's greedy lust. To learn more about human trafficking, visit http://socialjustice.wrecked.org/.

Heathens, pagans, unbelievers--whatever you call them--this is what they do. If Oprah started telling people they ought to tithe and be in church on Sundays and during the week, I would be surprised! Oprah is an eye- and ear-gate that Christians should be guarded from. There are Christian programs that provide wholesome, healthy worldviews that we as Christians can be refreshed by. I realize that we are in the world, but we don't have to be in Oprah. As an African American woman, I strongly think that people should stop watching Oprah. She is more dangerous than healthy.

Hi
As someone who has struggled with porn for many years, i'm just a little speechless at the pure naivete, but also somehow not suprised, of the views of Oprah. This is now a multibillion dollar industry, and only those who have been affected by this insidous evil, know of the utter devestation that it leaves in its wake. My view summed up in a few words is this, and this by the way is why it is so addictive, LUST is DEATH dressed up as LIFE. Shame, shame, shame...

We, as believers and followers of Jesus Christ, really need to guard our own hearts and minds against false teachers, of which Oprah is one, lest we ourselves fall away from the Gospel. God blessed Oprah with material/monetary earthly treasures but what good will it do her if she loses her own soul. We need to pray for her and everyone actually ~ that God will lift the veil so they can know the Truth.

Bottom line;"For the wages of sin is death" Romans 6:23a. Porn was shown as OK, not the addiction and sin it will become from the evil it draws people into. It replaces true emotional love that is needed in a real relationship that blesses the body and spirit. The eyes become the instrument to fuel a persons desire to be continually drawn back to it. Any show including Oprah's, documentaries, HBO, Showtime or any channel that provide a glimpse causes the birth of sin in male or female viewers. I have seen how marriages have been destroyed by its power that leads to moral deception. Porn leads to seeking out the scenes in a real live person or place. So many men have been trapped as in the Dateline shows of men seeking underage girls. Where did this lust begin? I praise God that He revealed this trap to me as I saw a friend lose everything he had because of his addiction to porn. I pray that God will open the eyes to others to this deception of Satan that leads men and women to sin.

Bonnie, thank you so much for taking a stand and not rolling over like so many of us have in the past. Just because "Oprah" may endorse or approve of a certain lifestyle or behavior doesn't make it right. Women in porn are viewed by men as sex objects and nothing more. The porn industry is contrary to everything that the Bible teaches. The porn industry is built on lust, fantasy and self gratification. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart". How is doing something that causes others to sin empowering? Many women who have been involved in the porn industry have suffered irreversible damage mentally, physically and emotionally. Hey Oprah, that doesn't sound empowering to me. Bonnie in closing I like what your friend Hollie said, "Just because women get to choose when and how they’re exploited doesn’t mean it’s not exploitation.” For those who may be dealing with an addiction to pornography or if you're the spouse of someone who's addicted please visit www.unshackledministries.org

i am not surprised at anything oprah does since she strayed from her faith in Jesus into New Age, she is now under the influance of satan and is capable of any sin. we need to pray for her eternal soul, that she comes back to Jesus. I WILL NOT LOOK AT HER ANYMOIRE UNTIL SHE DOES. BECAUSE IT MADES ME SO SAD. I PRAY SHE WILL RETURN TO HIM VERY SOON

Amen, Sister Kay, you are right about Oprah. A little bit of truth is worse than none at all - people can easily be led down the wrong path while thinking they're on the right one. Oprah has always claimed to believe in Jesus, yet has consistantly promoted such things as New Age teachings. (She was a huge promoter of Marianne Williamson & Depak Chopra years ago.) She praised Jesus publicly when she won the lawsuit that the beef industry had against her, but she does not walk the walk. Even her television station, OXYGEN, airs programs like "Bad Girls Club" that have no redeeming social value whatsoever, but get high ratings. It doesn't surprise me at all that her sense of female empowerment is skewed.

First of all any of you without sin may cast the first stone as jesus had said to the people chasing the adulterest women,, He then told the women not to sin anymore,, so right there is the answer,, it is in the bible,,, Also it is not up to us throw stones at Ophra,, if she is wrong God will decide what to do for her,, We all know that desires of and for the flesh is wrong,, by condeming some one else doesn't lessin Our Sin or temptations....if you can just leave the apple on the tree and never mind what the serpants say,,,

First, as an african american, I want to state that I am a Christian first. My loyalty is to CHRIST JESUS and the WORD of GOD, undiluted. Secondly, I liked Oprah for about 3 years and then found her redundant. When I returned to CHRIST after a backslidden season, I would warn others about her. Any Christian who says that she has disappointed them is indeed guilty of idolatry. Serves you right. Now repent and sin no more. Thirdly, thank the LORD by HIS SPIRIT that HIS Peoples eyes are being opened to this modern day witch.

I am a 60-year old white male. I do not watch Oprah, but I do have one question for her: Would it be "empowering" for African-Americans to be able to sell themselves into slavery rather than be sold by others? Is there a difference with women selling themselves into pornography rather than being sold into it as so many are? Regardless of who the one doing the selling is, selling one's body and conscience for the illicit satisfaction of others is still slavery. This is not an advance for women, it is just another evidence of the relativization of our culture and the reducing of society to its lowest common denominator.

It is very disappointting that Oprah would promote a topic like this and that many women are "thinking anew" about pornography. Some years ago, I had a conversation with a married woman that I worked with and she was defending and making light of the fact that her husband was using porn. She just didn't think that it was a big deal. About a year later, he left her for another woman that he met in a bar. No doubt his affair, like porn, started in his mind. Pornography is "eye candy" for men and women that leads to physical, emotional and spiritual decay.

I find it heartbreaking that so many people use the Bible verse "...Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone..." as an excuse to make a stand against unBiblical principles. As the Church, we need to put the focus on what Jesus told the woman in adultery after He said "Neither do I condemn you"...He then commanded her to "Go and sin no more"...i.e. NEVER AGAIN....When will we stop using the Bible as an excuse for sin and gutless "non-condeming", politically correct, wanna be "love for sinners" who we can never "cast the first stone" against, rather than applying what Jesus REALLY meant to drive home to the woman in audultery and us as the church, that his lack of "condeming" was ONLY based on his assumption and command that she NEVER sin again...I have always wondered if that woman DID what Jesus COMMANDED her to do, and never sinned again until the day she met Him. I am sure that eternity will show if indeed she did what he commanded her to do, or if at the end of her life she unfortunately was "condemned" due to her lack of obedience after being given a second chance at life "literally" by her "non-condemning" Creator ...Let's start focusing on the second half of Jesus' verse starting with ourselves, so we can do the same with those we don't want to "condemn"...Anytime we interpret the Bible as an excuse to sin or to not point out sin, then we are interpreting it incorrectly.

Some people are so gullible to believe whatever Oprah says to be true and acceptable. They are Oprah fans, “But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.” (Jude 17, 18). Bonnie, I am proud of you and other Christians who refuse to accept the subtle ‘teachings’ of the world. Lets pray for Oprah and her followers that they may be born again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwGLNbiw1gk&feature=related
The above is a link to Youtube where Oprah "denounces" Christ.

The word of God said that my people perish for the lack of knowledge. Also that our bodies are bought with a price it is not to be exposed to anyone except for our mates. In the garden of Eden it was when Adam and Eve sinned when they knew to cover themselves. God said who told you that you were naked at one time it was a good thing to show our bodies but sin changed that. Now days most believe that anything goes the bible said to beware of calling good evil and evil good. One thing about it also the word says we will have to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Everyone will give a account for the deeds they do. The god of this world has blinded the minds that they cannot see. If it is not in the word of God to confirm it actions are pure then it is wrong. I pray much for Ophrah and anyone who follows her because of her fame and not the correct morales. White

I wonder how much of what motivated Oprah is her own unresolved issues around sexuality. She too was abused and as one who has also had to deal with this reality, I know you can be healed but it still intrudes. I may be off the mark, but perhaps it is why Oprah didn't take a stance against it. As your friend said Bonnie, regardlss of who is in the driver's seat...it's still exploitation.

To embrace pornography is not up to Oprah. It is up to the individual. Just because Oprah says its okay does not mean that I have to indulge it. People need to become their own moral compass. For further clarification Oprah is not endorsing this in the name of Jesus.

This decision is entirely up to the individual and their moral convictions. Also we need to stop looking for mortal men/women to be our role models. The perfect role model is Christ. The Bible outlines His attributes in explicit detail, we just need to follow the example that has already been tried and tested.

Thank you, Ms. McMaken, for posting this blog. I did not see, nor was I aware of this Oprah segment; but as many here have expressed in their comments, being a Chrsitian Minister, nothing Oprah does these days to promote herself, her new-age oriented beliefs, or empowerment for women surprises me. Oprah has become a sociological phenomena, a religious icon, and a cultural idol for many who search for meaning in this world.

I lead a ministry out of my church to help Christians come out from the chains they have chosen to bind themselves in from habitual sexual sin. Any reader can find our ministry by going to http://www.battleplanministries.org ; and we also deal with the devastating effects the world-wide XXX industry has had on women, marriages, families, and our culture.

For Oprah to contend or promote the "porn" industry as being anything but exploitation of women and having anything positive for women is absolute BALONEY. And if she has caused any woman to seek out this poison because of curiosity from seeing the episode about which you wrote, Ms. McMaken, it would be a travesty. And shame on her; but I will continue to pray for Oprah, as I do often, ... that she will somehow come to have clay fall from her eyes, revealing the true Light, Who is Jesus Christ.

When Saul of Tarsus became the Apostle Paul, the world was turned upside down by the miracle of his conversion. Coule we imagine what a converted Oprah could do for Christ she now mocks and rejects in this world? ... Rev. Bill Berry, Director, Battle Plan Ministries

As Christians we can flood the stations that broadcast Oprah with letters and phone calls about our level of disatisfaction with the content. Imagine the number of children and teen agers who watched the show and are now engrafted into pornography. Not to mention the countlesss numbers of children who may be abused to satisfy the lust that will be unleashed from the people who view the pornography. Lust is never satisfied and will stop at nothing to soothe the itch. I am asking for all who know how to do warfare prayer to pray that our young children will be protected from the demons that were released as a result of the endorsement of pornograhy by Oprah and her cohorts. Jesus still hears our prayers and he will execute judgment on the ones who harm his children.

If you would like to see further proof of the errors Oprah is promting. Go to YouTube video: The Gospel According To Oprah's Fridnds........(and also YouTube video: Church Of Oprah #3) ........ we need more articles and reporters discussing Oprah's shows and false teachings. And exposing what appears to be the "skin of the truth" wrapped around a Great Big Lie!

I saw part of show and I turned it off because it was disgusting to me the bottom line is MONEY and what the media put that will shock people, I am 40 years old and only been with my husband I don’t understand why “sex” or making love has become so difficult, that people are doing all these things to their body. The ugly spirit of perversion is loose and attacking many folks, yes Jenna may have a lot of money but I can tell that true happiness is not there

I am really saddened by this article. Really thought the world of Oprah but am so glad that since Jesus is my role model my morals and values are not defined by Oprah...unfortunately a lot of people's values are defined by Oprah..really sad. She should think harder about the things she covers on her show considering the impact it has all over the world on so many people.

hi, porn is a powerful addiction please can you pray for the many Christians who really want to turn away from this sin but struggle. Thank you so much.

Was Oprah ever born-again? I think she claims to believe in universal faith or something. If she was never born again, then it should not surprise Christians that she encouraged women exploitation.Her mind is still unregenerated. So, christians should avoid her and be rather worried for her soul.

I am not surprised that Oprah would say such a thing. She has already denounced Christ. So, for her to encourage people to sin is no big surprise.
I used to be a big Oprah fan. Matter of fact, she is why I went back to church. I thought she was a Christian. She said all of the right things and did so much good. I thought how could she not be a Christian. However, after returning to church, I discovered that I was so wrong. God has not blessed her, the world has blessed her. I would much rather be blessed by God.
With that said, I think it is important to remember that we, as Christians, are no better than she is. We were born sinners, but now, are saved by grace. She was born a sinner, and Jesus offers her the save grace. He died for her too. I pray that Oprah and those who are not yet saved see how much Jesus loves them.

Wow; Oprah has to be going through her change. I have her 25 yr anniversary tapes, and she was nothing like she is now. She is getting older, but not wiser. She's made some big morality errors, and she will regret this in the end. I think she's having a hard time living w/ her "show" choices, and that is why she is leaving the air. She cannot commit to marriage either. I always thought she had "trust" issues, but wow, this takes the cake. She needs to take a good long look at herself. I bet there would be some regrets for sure.

Oprah is a sick woman, and needs Jesus! Nuf said.

i really don't get it.Is this same woman, who was abused at a tender age encouraging others into such a thing.is she even remotely aware of the dangers porn has on the home? i must say i am really disgusted to hear this 4rm a woman of her status.

Okay, when has Oprah become a spiritual leader. This is a talk show host. An entertainer at best. why are any of you surprised. Why? Because unfornately, she is willing to talk about subjects that are "taboo" in the church or anywhere else. Thats why YOU WATCH. I do not watch her religiously as I use to due to the fact that I have grown spritually therefore, much of what she says do not compute. Why are you taking everything to heart concerning Oprah. She is not your spiritual leader. Or is it that your leader isn't hitting the mark. Stop hiding behind secular programming and start developing open forums within your church community to discuess these issues. I can't believe you actully watched the whole show. C'mon.

sorry for the misspelled words

I'm not surprised at all at Oprah's outright endorsement of the Porn industry. I don't think that the interview with Jenna Jameson is simply a matter of civility. There is a lot of thumb-raising in the way the interview was conducted and a lot of evasion on some issues that both Oprah and Jenna know needed to be addressed. Now my curious mind spins some questions like: would Jenny recommend her children to follow her steps? Would she proudly tell her kids, 'Be like your mom, someday when you grow up?' Equally disturbing to me is the question (since Oprah approves porn), would Oprah encourage the children she's sponsoring in Africa to pursue career in the porn industry in the name of success? The end doesn't always justify the means!

Dear Bonnie, I didn't see the episode, but I agree with you that Oprah should be setting a better example and not promoting the sexual exploitation of women. Whether you look at this from a Christian perspective or simply a humanitarian world view, it is still morally wrong to exploit fellow human beings.

Was Oprah ever born-again? I think she claims to believe in universal faith or something. If she was never born again, then it should not surprise Christians that she encouraged women exploitation.Her mind is still unregenerated. So, christians should avoid her and be rather worried for her soul.
Arab Group

“Just because women get to choose when and how they’re exploited doesn’t mean it’s not exploitation.”

That's a great quote. I'm a little bit more liberal than most posters here, but that quote was really great

I am not surprised that Oprah would say such a thing. She has already denounced Christ. So, for her to encourage people to sin is no big surprise.

i really don't get it.Is this same woman, who was abused at a tender age encouraging others into such a thing.is she even remotely aware of the dangers porn has on the home? i must say i am really disgusted to hear this 4rm a woman of her status.

I didn't see the episode, but I agree with you that Oprah should be setting a better example and not promoting the sexual exploitation of women. Whether you look at this from a Christian perspective or simply a humanitarian world view, it is still morally wrong to exploit fellow human beings.

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