100 Answers in 100 Days

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Sharing answers to the various questions of faith I have faced, and which others have been challenged with also.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What's Wrong with Pornography?

Today’s post deals with an issue which I think is far more serious than people believe it to be. I think that for so many people, if I told you that pornography ruins lives, they would probably scoff and call me a prude. But I think that, actually, it’s not so hard to see that this is true, and when we scoff it’s really because we all consider ourselves immune from the dangers. When we’re considering the danger of pornography, we’re really considering the dangers of feeding our own fantasies, and this is something that we all think we have under our control, believing we can always maintain a separation between fantasy and reality. But the Bible says that whatever is in our hearts and minds is ultimately who we will be in deed and reality. And I want to say that indulging in the fantasies of pornography makes us adulterers at heart, and very often will ultimately make us adulterers in reality. What makes me so sure of this fact? It’s because, if I had not become a Christian and given up pornography as a result, I know for certain that I would have cheated on my wife by now. In fact, it’s by the grace of God that I did not do so before I became a Christian; because I remember my former self, how I would have taken any opportunity that presented itself. But I don’t think that’s “just me”. According to one statistic, over 50% of married couples have been unfaithful, and knowing how prevalent pornography is in our society I believe there is a certain correlation there. I think we all know this to be true, and it isn't hard to find articles which agree (such as this.) It is also true to the testimonies of many, many others, including for example Nate Larkin, a former porn addict.

Now, I have a friend who has moved here from Russia. He told me something interesting. Since his mother is in Russia, he and his wife often sit down at the dinner table with a laptop set up in one of the seats, and his mother will be there via a live Skype video stream. Though she is Russia, they are literally able to enjoy meal times together. This is how real and intimate live streaming is, so that if we imagine, instead of a family sharing a meal together, one couple having sex on one end and another having sex at the other, I would quite literally call that group sex. We shouldn’t diminish the power of video. Perhaps it’s slightly removed from actually being in the same room as another couple, but not so far as to make it significantly different. Just about all of the same elements of attraction and arousal are there. If we consider group sex to be wrong, at what point does engaging with others sexually become "ok"? Well, I don’t think it’s ever ok. It’s not so different from a pre-recorded video, nor even from images created in our minds by erotic novels... the same wrong element is there in all of these; namely the desire for someone who is not your spouse. Pornography fills our heart with sexual desire, and when we desire for something we want to see that desire fulfilled. It's as simple as that.

But it's not just that pornography may lead to physical adultery. The mere act of interacting with pornography is already a kind of adultery. There are chat rooms where people can share their desire for one another, and it is expected now days that the person on the other end probably doesn’t look like the picture they upload to you. Nevertheless, when a man or a woman engage in that fantasy, it will affect their whole reality. Consider a film like Catfish, or talhotblond, which is freely available online. These are examples of just how intrusive a fantasy can be on one’s whole reality. These documentary films tell the true stories of men and women who, through online sexual relationships, ruined their lives. It might be argued that they are exceptional and extreme, but actually, with the exception of the murder which takes place in talhotblond, I think they are quite typical. We all know, for example, that even online role playing is wrong. Visiting the home page of one such role playing site (in the name of research, of course), I found what I expected to find... “Anonymity is important to the members of this site.” Why is it that men and women use a fake name and go to great lengths to prevent their spouse from finding out? If you saw a scene in a film where a father walked in on his son and the son slammed his laptop shut, wouldn’t we all correctly infer what he had been doing? It reminds me of the Proverb "The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion." If it were innocent there would be nothing to hide. The wife in talhotblond would do that; slamming her laptop shut if her husband walked past. Why? It’s because she knows that this is tantamount to cheating and is by no means innocent. Her husband in the film explained how he will always wonder whether he was only ever an outlet for the fantasies she’d lived online. The feeling of knowing that your wife is thinking of someone else while you’re being intimate is not very different from finding out that she’s cheated.

Now I know that many people who, if they’re into pornography, will scoff at this post. But I think that’s precisely because they’re into pornography! I don’t think I ever saw how damaging it was to my life until, through Christ, I gave it up altogether. Back then I knew that I would cheat on my wife if I had the chance, but back then I didn’t care. What does that say about my true feelings for my wife? Though in some sense I have always loved her, I can honestly say that I love her more now with a true love than I did back then, and praise God for that! God transforms our hearts and our lives. All of my fantasies, instead of being frustrated by the fact that I can’t actually live out what I viewed online, are instead the reality I live with my wife! Through Christ, she fulfills all my desires because the desires themselves are now for her only. Those who scoff are desensitized to their own adulterous desires, and to the seriousness of adultery itself. Folks, do not be fooled; pornography ruins lives, but Christ saves lives.

Let your fountain be blessed, 
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
(Proverbs 5:18-20)

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