what’s the problem with porn?

There are a few, perhaps, who would answer this question with a casual (or insistent) “None. Get over it”, but most, I suspect, would agree: porn (obviously only for societies that have it) is a problem.

Some better questions would be ‘what kind of problem is it?’, ‘where does it come from?’ and ‘how do people deal with it?’

Jason Byassee has written an interesting article over at ‘First Things’ website. He refers to a book by Pamela Paul, ‘Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families’, whose Times article titled ‘The Porn Factor’ begins with this synopsis of a ‘Friends’ episode:

In a Friends episode titled “The One with Free Porn,” Chandler and Joey discover to their delight a free pornography TV channel, which they leave on and watch endlessly for fear it will go away. Later, a startled Chandler reports to Joey, “I was just at the bank, and there was this really hot teller, and she didn’t ask me to go do it in the vault.” Joey describes a similar cold shoulder from the pizza-delivery woman. “You know what?” Chandler concludes. “We have to turn off the porn.”

There are all kinds of quotes, book chapters, websites and conversations I could refer to in reflecting on these questions. I’m not going to bother amassing a collection of links to display. The information is out there if you want to find it.

In reflecting on the above questions, one conviction I have is that any porn-related problems are also by nature problems related to sexuality itself.

How do we think about sexuality?

How should we think about it?

What sources are informing us?

The message from (you’ve heard the list before) advertising, billboards, TV-shows, magazines, gossip-newspapers and general western culture? Sexuality is that area of life in which glorious experiences are had by those who are really living. If you’re not sexually fulfilled, you need to be, and there are dozens of informative articles each month giving us hundreds of those infamous ‘sex-tips’ to help us on our way.

Just when the human race seemed doomed to boredom by the apparently unfortunate reality that 99.999% of our lives aren’t that sexually ‘exciting’, pornography has found new “accessible, affordable, and anonymous” (adapted from Byassee’s “three-‘A’s”) ways to provide ‘stimulation’ to those otherwise poor un-sexual folk in danger of dying of unsexy-ness.

In this world of hyper-real sexuality, Sex is Lord, get on board…

It’s a very real problem, affecting millions and bringing in billions. Ignoring it won’t make it go away…

6 thoughts on “what’s the problem with porn?”

  1. Of my last couple-dozen posts, almost all of them get a least one or two comments…

    …did this one go un-noticed???

    Topic too scary???

    :)

    -d-

  2. Dale, no, it didn’t go unnoticed by me. It’s just that, from my point of view, whenever a Christian gets hold of the topic of porn I don’t think they account for all the factors that cause porn to exist in the first place.

    I think that if we want to discuss porn we need to acknowledge things like the fact that every living organism is hard wired to reproduce and that, in our modern society, we are artificially held back from ‘breeding’ right when the urges are the strongest. There are lots of other issues that are ignored too.

    We find that, as a society, it works really well for our brains to mature a bit more before we have a family because we’re not as well equipped to support a family in our society when we are 12 years old. This has meant that we have had to invent certain taboos (or memes) that encourage us to hold off a while longer. But our bodies are screaming for sex when we are young.

    And now we’ve got contraception which means that at least two of the potential consequences (pregnancy and transmission of disease) of gratifying sexual urges when we’re young are dealt with. There are other issues that need to be discussed though, like our emotions, but if we can’t get passed the simplistic black and white view of our taboos we can’t deal with these, other, very real issues.

    Generally, when this topic is approached by Christians it’s from the simplistic angle of “we’re not animals” and “abstinence is best”. I just don’t think that this is a worldview that fully takes into account all the facts.

    In fact, I’d go so far as to say that many of our ‘problems’ with sex actually stem from the dissonance between what really happens in our bodies and what we’re told is ‘wrong’. And that the lack of proper perspective and moralising often seen in religions has been of no help whatsoever.

  3. widsith,
    Thanks for that – feel free to share your own thoughts!

    Damian,
    Thanks for a thoughtful response (shameful of me to ‘beg’ for comments, huh!?). :)
    I really do hear you about the often-unhelpful and simplistic approach of many Christians. While I do think that in some ways, human sexuality really is quite a simple thing, I’m very much aware that in other ways it can be quite complex.
    And, of course, good on you for realising that pornography is really a sub-topic of sexuality in general.
    As one of my earlier posts suggests, sexuality is not an “it’s all good” arena, but can cause various kinds of harm (biological, emotional, social, etc.).
    You say we’ve found it “works really well” to mature, etc. before having sex… I agree, but I suspect that I (maybe you too?) wouldn’t agree with the notions of some concerning what “really well” looks like… (There’s the morals/values/ethics link… )
    I’m convinced that it is obvious upon even a minute of serious contemplation, that it is a manifestly good thing to not be controlled by our sexual desires (not to mention other kinds of desires), but rather to exert self-control (there’s the ‘free-will’ link… ) over our desires.
    By the way, this topic hits home a little harder today; as I’ve received news that a friends sexual behaviour has destroyed his marriage… :( In this case, porn was a stepping-stone to other things…
    Simply affirming our desires –whatever they are– will not do. (nor will rejecting them, of course)
    -d-

  4. I have two accounts, one of them being widsith (the commenter above). Since the last time I saw your post I’ve moved all of my own posts about this topic into a separate blog at http://scornporn.wordpress.com – I’d appreciate hearing feedback from any interested readers out there.

    I do think this topic is too scary for many Christians still playing it safe. Due to stuff I’ve discovered in my ex-boyfriend’s life, and the years I spent researching and dealing with the consequences of his habit, my family is among those who’ve simply had to become more comfortable discussing it. I respect the X3 church pastors for working to raise awareness of this issue within Christian and secular communities. Thanks to them, and others who speak out about it, little by little I believe we’re making inroads on facing this problem head-on in the Church.

  5. Thanks Dana,
    I’m busy with work and study this week (and the next few!?), but I’ve had a quick look at your sites, and will try to give some feedback… Looks good at a glance! Cheers,

    -d-

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