Pornography is any image, picture, statue, advertisement, writing, etc. whose purpose is to create sexual titillation. In modern Western culture, sex has become such a public topic that the lines between what is legitimate and what is illicit are harder and harder to draw. In fact, sexual images have become so prominent that what used to be considered soft porn, is now considered tame enough to be on prime time television. And while it used to be that people could only get access to it in magazines behind the counter – and then only at certain stores – it is now so pervasive that virtually anyone can access any kind of porn through the most basic internet connection. Many now even question why Christians think pornography is such a big deal.
It is possible for a person to become desensitized to just about anything. Many people who live around abject poverty get to where they hardly even notice it. People who play violent video games often become so desensitized that even real violence is seen as no big deal. This technique is even used by the military to desensitize young recruits. And to get into the topic we are dealing with today, pornography has become so prominent in our society that we hardly even notice it anymore – much less think of it as something bad and destructive. A great example of this is the many “soft porn” TV commercials advertising everything from lingerie to hamburgers. It is so prevalent that most people aren’t even embarrassed anymore when they are shown.
Recently, in the news, several high profile stories have emerged which have pornography as their common denominator. An assistant US attorney was caught trying to set up an opportunity to have sex with a five year old. The governor of South Dakota has come out in support of the major expansion of a hardcore pornographer in his state because of the money it will bring in. And almost every day you can find stories of people who are being arrested for soliciting minors online. Typically, the focus of these kinds of stories is on the acts that are committed. But what you will find, if you dig a little deeper, is that the root of the acts is a perverted sense of sexuality which is fueled by pornography.
There are many reasons why pornography is a bad thing. Some of those reasons include the fact that it is instrumental in breaking up marriages, it desensitizes people concerning the true significance of sexuality, it objectifies people – turning them into objects of self-gratification instead of persons of worth – and it creates literal addictions which, in turn, lead to acts of perversion like those noted above.
From a Christian perspective it is bad because it rips people out of their personal fellowship with God. God created sexuality as a good thing with a profound purpose. But even good things can be used in bad ways and pornography is one of those perversions. It takes something that God created to be used and enjoyed within the bonds of marriage and makes it purely an object of self gratification. In any area, when our life is focused on gratifying ourselves rather than accomplishing the purpose of God, we have put ourselves in a position which is outside of our relationship with God.
The first reason is that the Naturalist worldview has become so prominent in our society. Naturalism accepts no moral absolutes. It totally denies that a God exists, and therefore there is no such thing as a set of moral values which is given by a higher authority. That being the case, the only possibility which exists is for man to create his own values. There is no reason, then, for any kind of sexual expression to be considered wrong or bad – including pornography. This is the worldview of a large percentage of people in the industries which control much of the public discourse – entertainment, news media, and higher education.
The second reason this has become an issue is because the values of the Naturalist have seeped into belief system, and corrupted the worldview, of a large number of people who claim to be Christians. George Barna, a well known Christian pollster, has confirmed this over and over with his surveys which show that the lifestyle of the average Christian statistically differs very little from those who are not Christians. So, what we end up with is a large group of people who give lip service to Christian values but who live as if they were Naturalists. This allows the Christian values to remain in the public square just enough to create tension, but not enough to eliminate pornography. In other words, Christians are looking at porn as much as non-Christians.
Our problem, as Christians, is that the values of the Naturalist have become such a part of the thinking of modern society that we have totally lost any sense of why pornography is bad. To top it off, the addictive nature of viewing pornography has already entrapped a large number of Christians – even Christian pastors and other leaders.
So, just what is the truth about pornography and what are the implications? What is it that makes pornography so bad? There are four basic things we need to consider.
First, sex is not some value-neutral issue. It was created by God for a specific purpose and only to be expressed within the bonds of marriage. The production and use of pornography takes something that was created by God and employs it for a purpose outside of his own – for a self (human) centered purpose. If the God of the Bible is truly the person he has revealed himself to be, we must understand that we do not have the prerogative to take God’s things and use them in other ways.
The second reason pornography is bad emerges out of the first. Sexual gratification outside of marriage alienates a person from God. By definition, living in a manner which goes against the ways of God is sin, and, since our holy God cannot allow sin in his presence, this puts a person outside of his presence. God’s purpose for mankind is for us to conform our lives to his purpose and ways. Those who participate in the production and use of pornography in any way are putting themselves in a position of opposition to and alienation from God. He is not unfair in doing this. He gives us the understanding of what is right and the means to live in it. The choice of whether or not we follow his direction, is our own.
The third reason pornography is bad is that the industry itself uses people in ways which destroy them. As an industry, pornography objectifies individuals. Those who are working in the industry are not looking for ways to serve God, they are looking to make money and satisfy themselves. They do not see human beings as people made in the image of God whom he values, but as objects which can bring a handsome price. This self-centered point of view which denigrates humanity runs completely contrary to the way God designed things to be.
The fourth and final reason pornography is bad relates to those who view it. People who view pornography are also objectifying others for personal gratification, and doing it in a way that drags themselves down, as well. Human beings are individuals which God created with an inherent dignity and value. First of all, those who view pornography are setting themselves up for an addiction to something which requires looking at other people as objects of self-gratification. Secondly, they are devaluing the people they are looking at. This is all contrary to God’s purpose and ways.
In spite of the fact that pornography, in its various forms, has become quite prominent in our society, it is not a positive development. Its existence runs contrary to the purposes of God and it is destructive to humanity. Its existence represents a worldview that runs counter to the ways of God. As Christians, we need to be living and expressing our own faith (worldview beliefs) in a way which not only serves to eliminate this destructive influence, but which, literally, changes the hearts of individuals.
© 2007 Freddy Davis