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Rebecca Hagelin / Jul. 1, 2010

Mistaking Porn for Art: It’s Time to Teach Real Beauty

This week I had the privilege of speaking to a group of some 100 high school students who had gathered in Washington, D.C., for a conference. I challenged them to take the lead in restoring the moral compass of our culture, to focus on the importance of sound marriage and families before they begin their own, and to stand up to the pornography industry that is creating addicts out of many of them.

It was so encouraging to hear their thunderous applause and realize how much they understood and appreciated the challenge. But then one young man walked to the microphone and stunned all of us when he said that today’s pornography is something to be enjoyed and celebrated.

This young man (oddly enough, named “Isaac”) was so confused by the steady diet of porn his generation has been consuming, that he thinks of it as “art” and equates it to “beauty.” His statements revealed that he is deeply lost and hurting and that, although he has bought the lies of the porn industry, he isn’t entirely satisfied by his mental purchase. I refused to respond with a quick retort as my own heart broke for him.

Instead, I suggested that we chat for a few hours, and that part of the discussion would include stories from those whose marriages have been destroyed by porn use, from those who suffer addiction, and from those who have been cruelly victimized in other ways by the powerful pornography industry.

Sadly, Isaac represents millions like him who have been raised in a coarse pop culture–one defined and shaped by the devaluation of human beings.

Isaac’s tragically warped view of art and beauty brought to mind a recent email exchange with my dear friend, mentor, and artist, Dee Jepsen, about her desire to share her passion for art with young people. I reflected on her words:

“In today’s culture, children are too often surrounded by degrading, violent and twisted images. Pop culture frequently produces distortions in art, blinding an entire generation about the differences between beauty and ugliness. The principle of treating others with respect and high value is now regularly ridiculed. The civil rights movement brought us so far — but we are losing much ground as we now regularly create and disseminate images that reduce human beings to objects to be used. This has produced a coarsening of our culture. What used to be considered wrong is now right, and what used to be right is considered wrong. What is a kid to believe? How are children to learn to live wholesome, fulfilling and productive lives in the midst of such cultural chaos?”

I don’t know if it’s too late for young Isaac to see beauty again — or even perhaps for the first time. But it’s not too late for your own kids.

As Dee has always done, she didn’t just raise questions, she also shared wise solutions. Dee offers great advice for how you can begin to create an appreciation in the hearts of your own children for things that are lovely and just; “We adults need to surround ourselves and our children with things of beauty that celebrate life. This is especially important in the formative years. Learning to celebrate the beauty of God’s creation as a youngster will affect how children view and treat others. There are many things we can do to inspire children to love truth and beauty, and one of them is through teaching them about fine art, and how they can learn to create art, too.”

For parents searching for practical ways to combat the crassness of culture, consider purchasinging Dee’s new instructional watercolor book, “Color Harmonies: Paint Watercolors Filled With Light.” She co-authored it with renowned watercolor artist, Rose Edin, whose paintings are full of color and light. It’s available in many bookstores and at Amazon.com.

I can’t think of a better summer activity than teaching your children to explore the world of uplifting art and how to become artists themselves. The best use of the book is to go through it together. The techniques are challenging enough for adults, yet the sweeping concepts are beneficial for people of all ages.

After all, in today’s dark and crass culture, who doesn’t need a reminder to search for truth and beauty?

© 2010 Rebecca Hagelin

Visit Rebecca Hagelin at http://www.howtosaveyourfamily.com

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