It’s not like you are getting a girl pregnant or spreading STDs. So what could be so wrong?
The problem with using pornography is that it emasculates men, degrades women, destroys marriages, and offends the Lord. You may be thinking: “That’s going a little overboard, don’t you think? I mean, what’s wrong with checking out a few Internet sites?” Take a look at the effects of pornography, and you will see why real men do not use it.
What does pornography do to a man? For starters, because it cripples his ability to love, it robs him of the capacity to be a man. The essence of manhood consists in readiness to deny oneself for the good of a beloved. This is why Saint Paul reminds husbands in his Letter to the Ephesians that their love must be like that of Christ, who allowed himself to be crucified for the sake of his beloved, the Church (Eph. 5:21–33).
Pornography defeats this calling. Instead of denying himself for the good of the woman, a man, through the use of porn, denies the woman her dignity in order to satisfy his lust. In essence, pornography is a rejection of our calling to love as God loves. It is no wonder that those who use it are never satisfied. Only love satisfies. One marriage therapist noted, “People who use pornography feel dead inside, and they are trying to avoid being aware of that pain. There is a sense of liberation, which is temporary: that’s why pornography is so repetitive—you have to go back again and again.”
Her insights are well understood by those who have felt entrapped by the allure of lust. One recovering porn addict admitted that viewing pornography “brings intense disappointment, precisely because it is not what I’m really searching for. It’s rather like a hungry person standing outside the window of a restaurant, thinking that they’re going to get fed.”
In a way, the fact that pornography allows men to indulge their lust without having to worry about pregnancy or STDs is part of the problem. It encourages him to live in a world in which sexuality offers only pleasure without meaning or consequences, in which “no one gets pregnant, no one catches a disease, no one shows signs of guilt, fear, remorse, embarrassment, or distrust. No one suffers from the sexual activities of others and the men, at least, are always carefree, unrestrained. . . . The priority of lovingly protecting one’s partner is of little concern in pornography because no harm seems possible.”
Living in a world of fantasy allows a guy to escape from reality and evade the demands of authentic love. Therefore, it does not liberate him. It enslaves him. Put simply, pornography is the renunciation of love. As the writer Christopher West said, “[Pornography] seeks to foster precisely those distortions of our sexual desires that we must struggle against in order to discover true love.”
For the person who indulges in porn, the purpose of sex becomes the satisfaction of the erotic “needs,” not the communication of life and love. Pornography trains a man to value a woman only for what she gives him rather than for the person she is. Because he is so focused on what he is getting, he doesn’t learn to give.
Some guys will slough this all off, saying, “Boys will be boys,” or “I’m just appreciating the beauty of womanhood,” or, “I like the articles in the magazine.” Sometimes they will realize how unconvincing these arguments are, and they will become resentful, saying, “You want to repress sexuality and rob women of their freedom. It’s unhealthy for you to have such little appreciation for women!” This defensive attitude is apparent in the way strip clubs advertise themselves as “gentlemen’s clubs” for “adult entertainment.” Why would a man feel the need to justify his behavior as “gentlemanly” or “adult”? A man does not need to announce that he is a gentleman, nor do adults need to remind others that they are mature. Actions speak for themselves.
Yet even when a man’s lack of self-control makes him immature and his behavior cannot be reconciled with the title “gentleman,” he still feels a need to identify with authentic manhood. No matter how far we fall, Christ has still stamped into our being the call to love as he loves. If we untwist the lies and humbly come before the Lord in our woundedness, he will raise us up and make us true men. To do this, we must have the courage and humility to look at his plan for man and woman. When Jesus warned that anyone who looks lustfully at a woman commits sin with her in his heart (Matt. 5:28), he spelled it out in no uncertain terms that it is not enough to avoid pregnancy or STDs. It is not even enough to avoid impure sexual contact; we must also resist impure sexual thoughts and looks.
What does pornography do to women? Since it trains men to think of women as objects to be used instead of persons to be loved, guys speak of them as objects and treat them as objects. One longtime producer in the porn industry admitted “My whole reason for being in this industry is to satisfy the desire of the men in the world who basically don’t care much for women and want to see the men in my industry getting even with the women they couldn’t have when they were growing up. I strongly believe this, and the Industry hates me for saying it.” He added that the porn industry is simply “a playpen for the damned.”
When men learn their concept of intimacy from videos and magazines, they may accept the idea that a woman’s no is actually a yes and that she enjoys being used. This can lead to a rapist mentality. Consider, for example, a study done in the Oklahoma City area. When 150 sexually oriented businesses were closed, the rate of rape decreased 27 percent in five years, while the rate in the rest of the country increased 19 percent. In Phoenix, Arizona, neighborhoods with porn outlets had 500 percent more sex offenses than neighborhoods without them.
Ted Bundy raped and killed dozens of women. Sentenced to die in the electric chair, he requested that his last interview be with Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family. In that meeting Bundy talked openly about pornography and told Dr. Dobson that his struggles all began there. He explained that all his fellow inmates had an obsession with pornography before going to prison. Porn magazines and videos lay at the root of innumerable rapes and murders. Countless victims of child molestation also report that their abusers exposed them to pornography as an attempt to desensitize and seduce them. No one can tell the husbands, siblings, children, and parents of those violated and deceased women that pornography is harmless. Besides, wouldn’t it infuriate you if a guy simply looked at a woman you loved in the same way he looked at pornography?
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