How Bad is it?
I was recently reading through a thread from a student who I respect in which he was discussing his proposed law of banning pornography if he were a supreme leader. I was really taken back by the 100+ comments that were made on it, most of which were either misinformed or character assassination and I felt that a simple analysis of the facts might be helpful.
To be fair, I wasn’t there for the classroom exchange and it sounds like this was only one law of many that the student had come up with and he was only expressing his surprise to the vitriol with which people responded to this particular ‘law’. I’m not attempting to address the legality from a societal perspective but rather the more fundamental question of whether or not pornography is harmful to individuals, families and society. I believe that that it is profoundly harmful to the people who engage inside and outside of it, their families and society in general.
From an individual perspective I think it is important to consider those who are performing in the industry. Statistically the vast majority of active pornography performers have a sexually transmitted disease (most have herpes) and more than 70% of STD’s contracted by pornography performers are by women. To read to the reports and atrocities done to these ladies gives a very different picture than the one most of us have in our mind. When pornography continues to be pushed into more and more fringe territory and performers are required to meet the needs of an increasingly perverse public it has a profoundly negative impact. Many performers admit that the vast majority of those in the industry are hopelessly addicted to drugs and alcohol to cope and while they entered the industry to find a way into another career field it becomes bondage for them that they can’t escape. We are literally using up those who are in these industries and then throwing them away; think about it, do you think someone could do this for more than a few years? What happens when they ‘retire’ and want to have a family but the Internet has immortalized their exploits? These performers have become sexual abuse victims for the rest of their lives and that abuse is memorialized for even their own kids to see one day.
As to the individuals who view pornography, this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise but the average first exposure to pornography is eleven years old. The fastest growing demographic of pornography users are 13-17 year old girls. To understand the true ramifications of this we have to wait until we address the societal repercussions of the loss of innocence this brings but individually we are doing something at the absolute most critical stages of our personal development. When we expose ourselves to pornography, early and often, we rewire our neural pathways to respond to sexual stimulation in a way that will create an unsustainable path for us in a normal relationship. If my personal desire is being crafted by a website or producer they are essentially leading my sexual development…scary. The longer someone is exposed to pornography the greater their desire to view more and more degrading sex acts and as you get older your taste has been tailored to very young looking people and eventually this becomes a tendency toward pedophilia. Child pornography is the fastest growing sector of pornography worldwide, suggesting that the devaluing of men and women in these portrayals has led to a devaluing of human life in general. Or consider what happens when you have a daughter and she grows up to be a young woman; rather than using your spouse as your standard of beauty, you now have to wrestle with conflicted feelings of shame and guilt over a possible attraction to your own child. This might seem like a path that is far-fetched or unrealistic but I see folks in these spots all the time. The addiction to pornography and the objectification of people will eat you alive. (Jm.1:13-15)
Families have been devastated by pornography. Many wives live in silent disgust as to their husbands’ pornography habits and the sick reality is that the addiction to pornography often pushes them away from physical intimacy with their own spouse because of their shame as well as the selfish satisfaction they have grown to enjoy from a one-way sexual experience. Probably the greatest cause of moral decline in our world is the breakdown of the family over the course of the last 50-60 years. We have seen a halving of ‘nuclear’ families in the last forty years and the ease of pornographies access, the affordability and anonymity to homes has only sped up this decline. I would assert that nearly every marriage that ended in divorce because of an affair probably had an affair of pornography long before the physical relationship with another person. From a biblical standard, those who are entrenched in pornography find themselves embroiled in shame and guilt and therefore they pull back from the type of engagement that God desires for them in the home, further contributing to breakdown and decline.
Shockingly, society might be the strongest argument that can be made for pornography’s harm. Really the discussion at a societal level centers on the loss of innocence in our culture. We don’t have to think very hard to realize that our immediate perspective is very limited. Think about movie ratings; what we see in a raunchy PG-13 movie geared for teenage guys wouldn’t have been allowed in theaters twenty years ago. The covers of magazines in the grocery store expose the youngest of our society to images and ideas that can never be removed from their mind. From billboards to magazines and even the ads they see on television it is without question having an impact on how we live as a society. This loss of innocence makes people feel like they need to grow up faster and allows them to become sexualized earlier. I see clothing for little kids that emulates the provocative styles of adults; this simply normalizes the behavior and creates an expectation of ‘normal’ that is far from normal. The sex slavery industry is growing out of control, child pornography is outpacing nearly anything else, nuclear families are evaporating, cohabitation is becoming a suitable replacement for marriage and even kids are reading books and watching movies that force them to grow up way too soon. Did you know that the reason Blu-ray won the battle for what next generation video formal would be the standard was because the porn industry began using it? We can either attribute all of this to coincidence or admit that as pornography has gotten, anonymous, affordable, accessible and increasingly abhorrent we also see societal decline.
With a discussion like this I think it is very important to consider the broader problem. Pornography enslaves people to sexual sin but the reason sexual sin is so wrong is because it creates a god for us that is not the God of the universe. When we do anything that violates His character it hurts. I tell my students all the time, ‘when God says DO He means He designed you that way. When He says DON’T He means don’t hurt yourself.’ We choose pain when we choose to worship a god that isn’t able to support the weight of that allegiance and worship. Whether it’s pornographic lust, lying, stealing, hating someone, even disrespecting your parents, God’s standard is violated. The Bible calls this sin and the cost is our death (rm.3:23), pretty heavy stuff. The Bible goes on to tell us that the gift of God is eternal life through the work of Jesus on our behalf. If we will decide to surrender our gods and receive what God has done for us, making Him our Lord, we enter into a relationship that will never be broken. The moral of the story is that God doesn’t want you to stop looking at porn so you’ll be a ‘good person,’ He wants you to worship and submit to Jesus and let the Holy Spirit transform you.
PORNOGRAPHY, LIKE ALL SIN, IS KILLING US AND JESUS IS THE CURE TO ALL SIN.
Resources and Stats: