Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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The Porn Industry: Victimizing and Terrorizing Our Generation

Ten years ago I attended a men's conference in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  One of the speakers, whose name I forget but whose message I never will, got up to talk about his recent addiction to pornography.  He detailed how he slid down the slope from a teen-aged casual interest to middle-aged life-swallowing compulsion, eventually becoming withdrawn, despondent and even suicidal before he finally was rescued by God.  An audience of about 60 men sat transfixed.

What happened next was what I'll never forget.

He placed a chair in the middle of the room and said, "Who is brave enough to sit here and confess your sexual sin?"  One by one the men around the circle shuffled to the chair and poured out their hearts to God.  As they did, both friends and strangers also came, placed their hands on them, and prayed for them as tears streaked down their faces.  Each man's courage inspired the next man.  Their confessions were sobering, even shocking, but there was no judgment in that room--only grace and brotherly compassion.  The compassion of men who know the stain of this sin.  It began with the courage of one man to shine the light in the darkness.

This sin is not going away.  In fact, this year someone is making $100 billion by victimizing 30,000 of us every second and terrorizing its employees.  They will make more next year.  Who's stopping them?  Virtually nobody.  Perhaps a worse question is, who's paying them?  We are.

Consider the impact:
"Multimedia pornography has become the chief means by which the emergent sex industry encourages the solicitations of the senses to overwhelm the moral and aesthetic feelings of fitness on which all civilized actions and an ordered culture depend. Pornography represents the contemporary means of making Caligulas of us all—with all that that implies in terms of violence, misogyny, and interpersonal grief." Paul McHugh, University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine 
What this fancy academic language means is that porn fundamentally alters the way we think--not just about sex, but about ourselves and other human beings.  In other words:
Porn use creates the impression that aberrant sexual practices are more common than they really are, and that promiscuous behavior is normal. For example, in a 2000 meta-analysis of 46 published studies put out by the National Foundation for Family Research and Education at the University of Calgary, regular exposure to pornography increased risk of sexual deviancy (including lower age of first intercourse and excessive masturbation), increased belief in the “rape myth” (that women cause rape and rapists are normal), and was associated with negative attitudes regarding intimate relationships (e.g., rejecting the need for courtship and viewing persons as sexual objects). Indeed, neurological imaging confirms the latter finding. Susan Fiske, professor of psychology at Princeton University, used MRI scans to analyze the brain activity of men viewing pornography. She found that after viewing porn, men looked at women more as objects than as human beings.
No wonder Jesus was so serious about what we look at: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.'  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."  Little did His disciples imagine what dangers awaited us 2,000 years in the future!

Because as you probably suspect, the problem in the church reflects the problem in the world.  Brace yourself:
  • A 1996 Promise Keepers survey at one of their stadium events revealed that over 50% of the men in attendance were involved with pornography within one week of attending the event. 
  • 51% of pastors say cyber-porn is a possible temptation. 37% say it is a current struggle (Christianity Today, Leadership Survey, 12/2001). 
  • Over half of evangelical pastors admit viewing pornography last year. 
  • Roger Charman of Focus on the Family's Pastoral Ministries reports that approximately 20 percent of the calls received on their Pastoral Care Line are for help with issues such as pornography and compulsive sexual behavior. 
  • In a 2000 Christianity Today survey, 33% of clergy admitted to having visited a sexually explicit Web site. Of those who had visited a porn site, 53% had visited such sites “a few times” in the past year, and 18% visit sexually explicit sites between a couple of times a month and more than once a week. 
  • 29% of born again adults in the U.S. feel it is morally acceptable to view movies with explicit sexual behavior (The Barna Group). 
  • 57% of pastors say that addiction to pornography is the most sexually damaging issue to their congregation (Christians and Sex Leadership Journal Survey, March 2005).
While many sinful activities and temptations remain relatively constant throughout the centuries, porn only gets worse with time, because getting it gets easier every year.  When I was in elementary school, I remember sneaking a peek inside a Playboy at the grocery store.  When the sharp-eyed clerk caught me, I slunk out the door quickly and resolved never to be seen in that store again. Today, porn is just a click away.  The average child sees his or her first pornographic images by age 11.

So what?  Is it really so bad?  Are you one of the nearly one-third of born-again adults who thinks it's no big deal?  Because porn destroys the lives, marriages and families of those who watch it.  And that's nothing compared to the horrific experiences of the people trapped in the industry (the very people you whose oppression you are supporting every time you watch that video or click that hyperlink).

Listen to one prominent former porn industry star tell the awful truth:



Is there hope?  Yes, there is hope and recovery, but only when there is honesty.  If your church, Bible study, or family isn't talking about porn, you're not dealing with reality.  It's a terribly difficult and embarrassing topic, but sin thrives in dark corners.  Turning the tide starts with shining a light.

It starts with the courage of one person to stand up and tell the truth.


6 comments:

  1. My take is that there's a sense in which the post doesn't go deep enough:

    It's not unusual for teenagers and young men to walk around "with their minds in the gutter", even without porn. It's often in their conversation with their peers, in their fantasies, and in the "soft porn" people may think is "normal". What they don't realize (and might mock, were they told) is that those thought patterns are habit-forming, and they're not going to just "go away" when the day comes that they decide to "walk away from all that" and grow up, responsible job, wife, kids, and so on.

    The "and so on", for some, can include conversion, or, if they were back-slidden believers while they "played" with all this, repentance: That repentance may not include a realistic accounting for the damage that they've done to themselves with all that filth. We can't expect cleansing from "the power of sin" (the guilt, yes, but not the power), if we don't "come clean" with God about it, and about how much we were and are complicit in it. But, for something really "ingrained" - and this sort of thing can be that! - it's really hard to do that. It's hard to realize how much of it is there, without really working at it.

    With all that said, of course easily-accessible porn is a catastrophic "accelerant" to the whole process.

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  2. " If your church, Bible study, or family isn't talking about porn, you're not dealing with reality. It's a terribly difficult and embarrassing topic, but sin thrives in dark corners. Turning the tide starts with shining a light." So true! I thank God for our church! Great article and great comment!

    Can posts like these, on the subject of sin and its horrendous effects, ever really go deep enough though? How deep can we go when only God sees and knows man's heart? Psalm 139:23-24 tells me that we can't even know our own hearts or its sins. But that's how deep we must look (Matthew 15:19). So yes, there's work to be done, realistic assessing and accounting of sin and its damage. There's no room to soften its reality or effects! But perhaps what is missing is our focus on Christ and what He has already done! And I don't say that flippantly as someone who has not escaped the powers of sin.

    Yes, I think there is real hope, because there is a power greater... a power that has turned me from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, and that power continues to sanctify me through my faith in Him, namely Jesus Christ. The power lies in what Christ has already done! It is not mine or yours or hers but His! That little tidbit should never be missing! Christ stripped sin of its power when He was obedient to the point of death, even the death on a cross.

    I am not negating our responsibility to shine the light, or to work hard in searching out our own hearts, or to repent, or to encouraging others to do the same. We can't sit back and ignore sin and its effects, ever! But, with all due respect, I think that Christ did also take care of the power of sin. That's where our focus needs be, on Christ and His finished work. And I hope Christ is where the former porn star's focus is while she works so diligently and caring to educate, encourage, and rescue others. I hope that's where it is! That is where Paul's focus was as he preached Christ, while exuberant sin raged all about him. In Romans (I think 5 and 6) he points sinners to where the power to overcome sin is, in Christ's death and burial and resurrection, and in our dying and rising and living in Him. I think it's something we need to be reminded of again and again, because it's utterly overwhelming when we lose that focus and our faith in HIM.

    And that's my two cents' worth. Grace and love!

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  3. Yes, He did take care of the power of sin, but not in the same way that He took away its guilt - by taking that on Himself and imputing His righteousness to us. That's a once-for-all occurrence. But He takes care of its power as a process that's made possible - indeed, in the end, irresistible - through the power of His Spirit in the new birth. We need to look to that Power - a Divine Power - as guaranteeing our victory, but we also need to understand that the process does involve our wills, and our effort. So, yes, "it's no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me", but the outworking of His life is through "the new me", who is tasked with the job of putting to death what remains of the old one.

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  4. Jailer,

    I would love it if you could post this on my blog too (if you wouldn't mind?!). A few friends of mine have been talking about this topic quite a lot recently and I think it would be beneficial for them.
    Thanks for helping me out - I've added your blog to my blogroll as well. If you need any help with anything, then let me know.
    Really loving your posts!

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    Replies
    1. Done. I'm getting better at this, though it took me a while to figure out the video embedding on Wordpress.

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  5. The sex industry is awful and pornography is definitely not a victim-less habit. Thanks for your research

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