***Porn*** (pt 1)

[This post contains explicit descriptions and is not suitable for all audiences]

How should we think about porn?

Porn has been normalized and seems to be accepted for the most part in mainstream culture. It may not always be openly promoted but it seems to be assumed. It seems wise, in part because of porns prevalence, to at least consider the impact it is having and the place it should (or shouldn’t) have in our lives. 

In America, there is no broadly shared consensus regarding sex.[i] For example, there are various answers to these important questions: What is the purpose of sex and when and with whom should we have it? Connected to people’s view of sex is people’s view of pornography.

Statistics,[ii] as well mere observation of culture (e.g. Snapchat, Instagram), show us that there is moral ambiguity towards porn. In fact, teens and young adults view overeating as more immoral than viewing porn.[iii] So, as “access to pornography has increased, the stigma toward it has seemingly decreased.”[iv] I would suggest, however, that we shouldn’t assume this is a good thing.

I don’t think that we should blindly accept that porn consumption doesn’t matter. We would be wise to have and be able to defend our position on porn. As Socrates reportedly said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

How do we evaluate the acceptability of porn? There are two main ways we can evaluate porn and I believe they are both important to look at. We can look at porn from a 1) natural perspective and from a 2) supernatural perspective.

The Natural Perspective 

Here are two questions I believe it is wise to answer: Does porn promote human flourishing? Does porn help individuals and society thrive? Those are obviously big questions (that we can not exhaustively cover here) but they are important to consider.

Porn and Self-image 

Porn can turn healthy self-image into an unhealthy “sex-image” where people measure themselves by the images they view or by the images their partner views. Porn can very negatively affect self-image. For example, “A 2012 study of college-aged women with male partners who used porn concluded that the young women suffered diminished self-esteem, relationship quality and sexual satisfaction correlated with their partners’ porn use.”[v]

So, it seems porn can cause relational problems and cause people to struggle with self-worth.

Porn and Performance

It seems porn can very negatively affect a males sexual performance. Men, after being over-stimulated through porn, can struggle to actually get aroused, for example, through sex with their spouse. Actually, Sandy Bently, former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner said he “had trouble finding satisfaction through intercourse; instead, he liked the girls to pleasure each other while he masturbated and watched gay porn.”[vi] Stephen Arterburn also describes the “neutering effect of porn” and how men can receive help in a Huffington Post article.

This type of a problem is not left in the bedroom. It affects the whole marriage. Sadly, it often destroys the marriage.

Porn and Relationships

Porn use is associated with sex being viewed as primarily a physical act, in which personal pleasure takes precedence over relational aspects.[vii]

“Pornography takes human sexuality out of its natural context—intimacy between two human beings—and makes it a product to be bought and sold. By debasing the human body and valuing it in the same way we would something from the local convenience store, pornography promotes a human being’s sexuality as a product for consumption.”[viii]

This leads to porn users engaging in casual sex, having multiple sexual partners, and testing positive for STDs like chlamydia.[ix] So, porn use can lead to people engaging in dangerous sexual activities.

Sex outside of relationship is not only shallow, it is also often dangerous.

_____________________________

[i] https://www.barna.com/research/what-americans-believe-about-sex/

[ii]https://www.barna.com/research/porn-in-the-digital-age-new-research-reveals-10-trends/

[iii] See Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Gail Dines, “Is porn immoral? That doesn’t matter: It’s a public heath crisis,” in The Washington Post. See also: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11199-012-0164-0.

[vi] Mercer Schuchardt, “Hugh Hefner’s Hollow Victory” as quoted from Ben Wallace’s essay “The Prodigy and the Playmate” in a 2001 issue of Philadelphia.

[vii]http://communication.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228613.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228613-e-2. “Sexual activity within pornography is largely represented as a purely physical, casual, and oftentimes aggressive act without any consequences to its participants” (Ibid.).

[viii] William M. Struthers, Wired for Intimacy, 19.

[ix] Ibid.

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 9 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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