My parents had a free subscription to Sports Illustrated awarded to them and they decided to transfer it to me, knowing I’m a big sports fan. This made me nervous because the biggest temptations from my past in my battle with pornography has been their swimsuit edition. In fact, their swimsuit website was my first step into the evil, dark, addictive world of pornography when I was in middle school.
So when my mom informed me these magazines would once again be coming to my house (I long ago stopped subscribing due to the amount of swimsuit / sexually graphic ads in every magazine, let alone the swimsuit edition itself), I decided to try the old trick of having Jen preview the magazine and tear out the sexually graphic pictures (typically swimsuit ads), before giving it to me to read (a.k.a. to put on the back of my toilet).
My mom told me the subscription would run out before the swimsuit edition came. This was not the case as the dark cloud of mid-February crept closer (when the swimsuit edition always comes, the week of Valentine’s Day, how appropriate) and the magazines are still being delivered to my mailbox. A few weeks ago, I was delighted to see a notice near the table of contents that you could call customer service and have the swimsuit edition cancelled. Problem solved.
It was cancelled.
They even mailed me a letter confirming that it was cancelled.
So I was in for quite a surprise when I opened my mailbox last week to see the familiar 1/2 inch thick shiny book of seduction staring up at me from my mailbox. The magazine in my mailbox reminded me of all the times I’ve eaten from the trough of porn in the past, and after ridding it from my life completely, it is now as readily available as ever before, beckoning me back into bed with it.
Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:27-28 that if a man looks lustfully at a woman, it is the same as committing adultery. This means it is the same as having sex with her. That’s the sickening thing about porn, and lust in general. There are insecure, captive, and/or ignorant women (and male models as well) making themselves available for this type of mental sex with stupid, addicted, sinful men like me. Or at least, the man I used to be. But this is a dark reality I lived for far too long and so I want to make a point about it in this blog post. Not to judge these women, who many either don’t know what they’re doing, or don’t feel like they have a choice in doing it, or simply aren’t Christians and thus don’t care about God’s standards for intimacy (not going to judge a non-Christian based on Christ’s standards). It’s also not the judge the men, so many who are addicted to these fake, empty, instant gratification experiences, yet that leave us empty and polluted in the end. But my hope is to raise some awareness that the swimsuit edition is not an innocent fashion magazine and it’s not something that should be accepted so normally by our culture. It destroys marriages. It almost destroyed mine. We should be angry about this. Not angry at the women, but angry at the industry and the system. And we should stand up for God’s design for sexual intimacy, both in our own lives, and as a warning for others.
Back to the mailbox…
A pit is now in my stomach. I’m home alone. With a lust banquet sitting in my mailbox. It’s as if someone played a cruel joke and subscribed me to Playboy without me knowing it. It’s like sending a bag of crack to a recovered drug addict. I feel a lot like Joseph felt when Potiphar’s adulterous wife tried dragging him to bed with her in Genesis 39.
The advantage I have is I am bundled up, dog leash in hand (with attached dog), ready to go on a nice walk since the sun finally decided to show it still exists in February in Lansing. Joseph ran, could I do the same? In earlier years, I know for a fact I would have crumbled. The swimsuit edition has always been a temptation to me this time of year. It stares at me from magazine racks every year seductively whispering, “You want me, don’t you?”, “Remember when you had me?”
Like Joseph, I ran. Well, I walked, but you get the picture. I was angry. Angry at Sports Illustrated for sending me this lethal dose of smut after my mind has been reformatted and clean for so long. Angry at myself that there’s a strong part of me that still longs for these images. Angry at Satan because I know he orchestrated the magazine to arrive in my mailbox after it was officially confirmed it wouldn’t. Angry at God because it was another reminder that I’ve been pure, but the transactional exchange I still expected from him in terms of blessing for my obedience felt lacking (You know, like the reward Joseph got for being pure…oh wait, he was thrown in prison for years for that…um…).
So I walked down Michigan Ave. with my dog, angry at this system and this cycle, and not wanting to go near my house because this book of evil was waiting for me in my mailbox and I wasn’t sure I could defeat it again. I called Jen and told her what had transpired. Thankfully she was close to being home from work and soon could take the magazine and discard it at a public garbage can can somewhere. For the next day or two, there was still that evil voice inside of me telling me I should have at least taken a peek. That I should have taken advantage of the opportunity and had lost my chance.
So this morning I called Sports Illustrated’s customer service and told them what happened. They told me it was my fault I got the magazine because I didn’t call early enough to cancel it. Even though I called right after reading their notice…even though the person I talked to confirmed it would be cancelled…even though I got a letter from them confirming the cancellation…it was my fault.
Oh and he told me my account would be credited and I should give the swimsuit edition to a friend!
I informed the gentleman that I have a young child, and that I also don’t want to see this pornography, and how irresponsible it was of their company to allow what happened to happen. (Honestly yes, I was hoping for a free Eagles or Reds fleece, or SOMETHING that showed they screwed up and wanted to keep me around) I got nothing. So I told him to cancel my subscription and that I didn’t want anything to do with their company.
So I’m writing this blog so my legions of readers can help me put Sports Illustrated out of business! After all, SI’s highest selling magazine edition is by far their swimsuit edition, which accounts for 11% of their annual revenue as a company and is the single best-selling issue in Time Inc.’s magazine franchise.
Blog readers, we can do this!
Ok, maybe not.
So why write this blog post? Because I’m sick of every sports radio DJ talking about the SI swimsuit edition like you’re not a man if you don’t look at it. I’m sick of it being such an accepted part of our culture. I’m sick of marriages everywhere suffering because men are wishing their wives looked like these imaginary women and wives everywhere feeling insecure because they don’t.
And so I needed to say something, so I did.
And I won’t miss it. And looking back, it’s stupid that I even had it coming to my house in the first place. That my wife has to rip out porn pictures ever other issue (mostly advertisements for their swimsuit content), so I can read about sports while I poop. Doesn’t quite seem worth it. And I don’t think it’s worth it for you either.
*For those of you unfamiliar with the recent swimsuit editions, these women are essentially nude. This is why I call it “porn”. Photos that stand out in my memory are the numerous ones where she is not wearing a top, but her hair hangs down and covers her nipples, the one where she is laying down completely naked with sand over her nipples and an iPod over her pubic hair, the numerous ones where the nipples easily show through the wet top, the painted on swimsuit (paint over a naked body, that is all), as well as the many “regular” swimsuits that show every centimeter of skin possible and only cover up the nipples and crotch itself. These are not “regular” bikinis that you might wear to the beach and this is not a fashion magazine. They have one intent and one intent only, and it’s to get men to lust over them, masturbate over them, and fantasize over them while having sex with their wives, wishing their wives looked like these naked models. This breeds addiction and is why the magazine is such a cash cow for SI. Men don’t shell out this type of cash for fashion magazines. None of those things are your intention when you go to he beach and wear a regular bikini. I’m not saying wearing a bikini is wrong, I’m saying intentionally trying to get men to lust over you and masturbate over you is wrong. You can decide if that is your intention when you wear a bikini, but I doubt it is, and thus I classify it completely differently than what is found in the glossy pages of SI’s swimsuit edition.
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Host of the "Behind the Curtain" Ministry Podcast
Executive Director of Seeds Christian Community Development
Blogging at AtACrossroads.net
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