Porn Is A Poison
The Swiss police have this week broken up an online child pornography ring operating in at least four countries.
It seems now that hardly a week goes by when we're not confronted with stories about pornography, and its links with paedophilia and other forms of sex abuse.
Some prominent social commentators say that the growth of the porn industry reflects the breakdown in western culture - and a threat to human health. Yet many people who expose themselves to porn see it as nothing more than a pleasurable pastime. Who's right?
Once upon a time, pornography was something pedalled under the counter by people you didn't want to know. Today, porn is big business.
Porn movies, for example, cost a fraction of the budget of a major Hollywood release and the US industry releases around 10,000 new titles each year. The Internet revolution of the 90s opened up huge new opportunities for the distribution of porn.
Experts say that the most visited sites on the Web today are those containing so-called "adult content" -- an industry code word for porn. Using the net, pornographic product can be delivered into people's homes without anyone knowing about it.
Husbands and wives can carry on "cyber-relationships" without their partner being aware of it and children can access harmful material without the knowledge of their parents.
One porn company is trying to invent a 3-D, interactive DVD which would be viewed with special glasses and would give, they say, the best "virtual sex" experience ever. They're also working on a computerised sex suit that would enable people to stimulate partners via the Internet.
I have a good friend who is a chemist. In his home laboratory he has a bottle of cyanide. It is one of the world's most deadly chemicals - it can kill a human being in seconds. Yet, when you uncork the bottle and smell it, cyanide has the aroma of almonds. It is one of our sweetest smelling chemicals known to man.
I could easily change the label on that bottle, replacing the words "Deadly Poison" with "Sweet Almond Juice". But the contents would remain just as deadly. Changing the label would not change the danger of what is inside.
What is true in the natural realm of life is, I think, also true in the emotional, psychological and moral arena.
Some people try to redefine pornography using terms like "erotica". They say that erotica is simply a depiction of sexual things, while hard core porn is a mixture of "harmless" erotica with "harmful" violence.
But changing the label on the jar does not remove the possible danger of what's inside. The human body and mind were simply not designed to take in certain things. Some things are deadly to us, whether we admit or not.
In fact, pornography is more than a harmless pass-time. It is a form of spiritual, moral and social poison. The word "pornography" comes from a Greek word which literally means, "the writing of prostitutes".
We should reject pornography for the same reason that most people reject prostitution - porn, like prostitution, reduces people to something lower than they really are. People, who are awesomely complex beings, become "pleasure food"; they exist for nothing more than the gratification of others.
Porn also demeans the people who use it. Several studies have shown that frequent porn users suffer a breakdown in the way they see relationships.
If you're used to treating people as objects whose sole purpose is to make you feel good, it's hard to switch that off and build a healthy relationship based on mutual respect.
Porn can take over a person's life. To really understand this, we need to recognize how addictive disorders take hold.
Let's take an example from the world of gambling. People who are called "compulsive gamblers" gamble far beyond their limit, because the excitement of gambling releases powerful chemicals in the brain - especially endorphins and enkephlines. Those chemicals bring with them a feeling of euphoria or high.
In a similar way, the theory goes, some people get involved in porn simply because they've become physiologically dependent on a chemical reaction. They want the sexual fantasy and activity just for the high it gives them; and the more they get, the more they want.
People who've suffered in this way often say that their unhealthy use of sex started with pornography then, over a period of time, morphed into more and more risky types of behavior.
After a while, they found themselves having extra-marital affairs, or seducing work mates, or making indecent phone calls -- or involved with something even more serious.
In the end, they've experience great feelings of shame, pain and self-loathing. Above all, though, they've felt powerless to change their own habits.
One person who struggled with compulsive sexual behaviours for years said: 'Our habit made true intimacy impossible. We could never know real union with another [person] because we were addicted to the unreal. [we were] first addicts, then love cripples…Fantasy corrupted the real; lust killed love.'
Pornography is essentially a form of psychological, emotional and spiritual poison. It will exact a high price from our relationships, but it will also cost us in terms of our self-control.
The ancient wisdom of the Christian Scriptures teach us that self-control is like a wall that protects the city of our emotions and thoughts (Proverbs 25:28).
If you break down that wall in one corner, you expose the whole city to attack.
The shattered lives of millions who've become addicted to porn remind us that once our self-discipline begins to be eroded by it, we may find it increasingly difficult to keep out other, more dangerous thoughts and attitudes.
Watch Mal's Video Blog on Porn
Hear/Download Mal's Podcast on Porn
Keywords: porn | pornography | social comment | sex | abuse | sexual abuse | addiction | sex addiction | masturbation | edges
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