It has been acknowledged by Christians over many years that pornography is a bad thing. This concept should not be the least bit surprising to any Christian (though surprisingly, in our current cultural environment, there are many who don’t see anything really wrong with it). But now we have another confirmation of its heinousness based on research done by Citizens for Community Values and the Family Research Council (see the research yourself at http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF09K57.pdf). Specifically this study concluded that addiction to pornographic materials undermines marriage and social stability.
Some of the more important findings of this research include:
- Men who view pornography regularly have a higher tolerance for abnormal sexuality, including rape, sexual aggression and sexual promiscuity.
- Married men who are involved in pornography are less emotionally attached to their wives. Wives notice and are upset by the difference.
- Sexually oriented businesses harm the community and lead to increases in crime and decreases in property values.
- Pornography degrades an affectionate family life, which is the best environment for raising happy, healthy children.
- Child sex offenders are more likely to view porn regularly or to be involved in its distribution.
Looking at the bad effects of pornography is one element that we could evaluate. But here we want to go in a different direction. Our question is, “Why is it that pornography is so accepted in modern society?” Not surprisingly, it can all be traced back to our nation’s worldview foundation. When a person’s worldview is based on beliefs that pornography is not bad or harmful, the practice is bound to be practiced on an individual level. When a worldview like this becomes the common foundation for an entire society, the practice will become widespread. And that is exactly where we find ourselves today. And just how pervasive it is? Interestingly, another study was recently released which wanted to compare college students who have viewed porn with those who have not. In that particular population, the researchers had to change the study because they could not find any students who had not viewed it.
The View of Pornography Based on Worldview Assumptions
It is certainly true that there are individuals who adhere to every worldview who hold various opinions on the topic of pornography. That being said, each worldview does have a foundational set of beliefs which influence the way its adherents view it. The reason there can be various opinions is that human beings are absolutely capable of living with inconsistent beliefs. While we can’t examine every person’s individual rationale for holding the beliefs they do, we can look at the various worldviews and determine the assumptions they hold which lead their adherents to a consistent way of viewing pornography.
For a Naturalist, there is nothing innately wrong with pornography. In order for something to be considered wrong, there has to be some free moral agent making the declaration. Certainly it could not be God since Naturalism doesn’t acknowledge the existence of any supernatural reality. As such, the rightness or wrongness of pornography rests on a societal or individual judgement. It might be considered bad if it can be determined that there is some negative effect on the smooth operation of society or the survival of its people. Other than that, there is nothing to commend it as wrong.
Animists don’t necessarily have a negative view of pornography, though in certain circumstances it could be considered a problem. It might be a problem if it were determined that it had a detrimental effect on the family or clan.
That being said, many Animistic faith systems are based on a set of beliefs which focus on fertility. Human sexuality is included in this. As such, ritual prostitution or sex acts might be a part of its ritual. How pornography might fit into this specifically would be dependent upon the particular belief system.
Far Eastern Thought
Far Eastern Thought typically promotes a conservative attitude concerning sexual matters. It generally advocates beliefs which promote celibacy when single and faithfulness in marriage. This attitude is founded on a basic passivity that promotes restraint. It is understood that there is a basic order of the universe (though impersonal) which includes traditional ideas about sexuality, and humans should try to live within this ordering. Moving outside of those parameters goes against flow of the universe and puts a person in a position of not progressing toward his or her proper ultimate destiny.
Presumably, sexually explicit material (porn) which appeals to the physical appetites would be an expression of life which puts an emphasis on the illusory physical world and takes attention away from the spiritual quest to advance toward oneness with the One. As such, pornography would typically be seen as something not desirable. All of that being said, there is no objective basis for making this evaluation. It is purely based on the desires of the people in the society to maintain order. The rationale comes almost completely from human experience, as there is no transcendent person to share this information.
In general, Theistic worldviews have a tendency to judge the use of pornography to be wrong. Most have some kind of holy book that is considered authoritative in matters of sexual morality. In general terms, proper sexuality as revealed by God is understood to have its proper place in marriage. Individuals participating in the porn industry who encourage other ways to promote sexuality are generally viewed as bad, as well.
That being said, there are variations among diverse theistic groups. There are some which justify, or even accept, non-traditional sexuality (including pornography) under certain circumstances. It is necessary to consult each theistic belief system to determine its specific viewpoint.
Pornography and the Christian Worldview
Of course, the Christian faith is a form of Theism. That being said, the revelation we accept and the God we believe in is very specific. As Christians, we understand the Bible to be God’s ultimate expression of himself to mankind to disclose who he is, what he wants and how we can know him. As such, we also gain our understanding of the significance of the issue of pornography from that source. There are several things that the Bible teaches which help us grasp God’s viewpoint regarding this topic.
First, sex is not some value-neutral issue. It was created by God for a specific purpose and he has revealed that it is to be expressed only 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-centered human purpose. If the God of the Bible is truly the person he has revealed himself to be, we must understand that humans 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 runs contrary to the ways of God is sin. And, since our holy God cannot allow sin in his presence, participation with pornography 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 as to 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 is destructive. 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 human existence 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. A quick scan of the results of the survey mentioned at the beginning of this article nails down this point. Human beings are individuals whom God created with an inherent dignity and value. Those who view pornography are setting themselves up for an addiction to something which requires looking at other people as objects of self-gratification. In doing that, they are devaluing the people they are looking at. This is all contrary to God’s purpose and ways.
So, Is Pornography Really a Big Deal for the Christian?
Many people try to make the claim that pornography is a “victimless” activity. That is anything but the truth. The promotion of sin is never victimless, and this particular one leaves victims scattered all over the landscape. To begin with, everyone who willingly participates in any part of the process begins with the sin of disobedience to God. Every one of these folks are victims of Satan’s wiles – the result of which is separation from God.
In addition to that, many of the people who are the subjects of the pictures are coerced. They become victims of the greedy individuals seeking money and notoriety.
Finally, there are the spouses, children, other family members and friends who become victims by virtue of the fact that families and relationships are being damaged by those they love who are being changed because of their participation in the viewing of pornography.
Yes, pornography really is a big deal for the Christian. Every aspect of the production and use of pornography represents a denigration of God’s purpose for human sexuality. It is incumbent on every Christian to fight against this scourge. This is not so that we can have a cause to fight against. Rather, it is because our purpose is to help promote the kingdom of God in the lives of those who are separated from him.
© 2009 Freddy Davis