In my lifetime I have seen the social status of cigarette smoking change drastically. Throughout my adolescence and early adult life second hand smoke was something that we simply had to deal with, like it or not. In a somewhat astonishing way the social views on smoking have been almost completely reversed in the last ten to fifteen years. And over the course of my short thirty eight years it has gone from cool to neutral to annoyance to near universal social taboo. Occasionally I see older movies where people are smoking in offices at work or in airplanes or any other now extinct smoking practice and I think about how no one bothered to analyze the fact that society had broadly accepted cigarettes as harmless fun, seemingly without question. And that always leads me to one question, “What are today’s cigarettes?” You know, those individual practices that society has accepted as harmless fun, but will turn out to be life threatening forces of destruction. It’s an interesting question, and I’ve been thinking about a possible candidate: porn.
Of course, porn is a different kind of danger. I do not think it will turn out to be carcinogenic. But I do believe it brings about other pathologies. In some ways those sicknesses are just as sinister and just as deadly. Whether or not porn could be called today’s cigarette, the attitudes toward it are disturbing. Porn is increasingly accepted as not only harmless fun, but even encouraged as a healthy ingredient for a spicy sex life and defended as an important constitutional right.
Recently CNN posted an opinion article that compared Rick Santorum’s social values with the imposing of Sharia Law by the Taliban in Afghanistan. I think it is a fair question to ask what the difference is between imposing Sharia Law in America and imposing conservative Christian values. But honestly, this article was ridiculously flawed. The big dramatic (melodramatic, in my opinion) punchline was that Santorum might try to make abortion illegal (even for rape victims), annul gay marriages, ban federal funding for birth control, and oppose porn. The most offensive aspect of this article to me was the fact that the author is absurdly ignorant of what life is like in countries governed by Islamic Law if he honestly believes that those four restrictions compare. Almost as shocking is the way that the author implies that the executive office of President holds the legislative power to pull it off. But the interesting aspect of the article was the way that he went about discussing the fourth issue of porn. He states:
4. No porn! I’m not kidding. Santorum signed “The Marriage Vow” pledge (PDF) authored by the Family Leader organization, under which he swears to oppose pornography. I think many would agree that alone should disqualify him from being president.
It’s not just the idea that porn is an individual right that bugs me. It’s the tone that suggests that porn is every cool guy’s favorite past time. The day after reading this poorly done article I found myself in the waiting room of a local healthcare provider. I picked up a copy of a recent Prevention magazine and began thumbing through it. I noticed an article that claimed some astonishing health benefits of sex. After making these points the article went on to discuss various ways for increasing the amount of sex in a couple’s marriage. What was suggestion number one? You guessed it, watch porn together. Porn. Supposedly, according to this unassuming article in waiting rooms around the country, every marriage needs some. Without it your sex life might not be everything it could be. And just in case the wife in the marriage had some reservations about using porn in the relationship the article went on to specifically state that she should not worry if the husband likes porn, that it is completely natural and healthy. And that she should also not feel shame herself, nor think too much about not liking it at first, for she was bound to learn to love it.
Have we become completely insane? Porn has no redeeming qualities, and tons of destructive properties. Consider some facts about porn.
- 90% of youth ages 8-16 have viewed porn online.
- 63% of youth ages 14-16 say they can easily access porn on their mobile phone.
- The largest single group viewing porn is ages 12-17.
- The average age that children are exposed to porn is 11 years old.
- Porn is often not sought when discovered the first time.
- Porn gives children (and adults) unrealistic ideas about sex.
- The majority of child porn offenders first found child abuse images while looking for adult porn.
- There is a correlation between porn use and attitudes of violence towards women.
- The use of porn is highly addictive.
- Porn use causes damage to the frontal lobe of the brain.
- The use of child porn often begins with the addiction to adult porn; 85% of male child porn offenders have also physically abused children.
- The use of porn causes impotence in men towards their spouse.
- Porn is constantly evolving into increasingly deviant forms.
- Porn addictions cost addicts relationships, families, and jobs.
- Porn use has been connected to violent sexual assaults.
- Male adolescents who use porn are more likely to become the victims of forced sodomy.
- 83% of convicted rapists report a high rate of hard-core porn use.
- Porn is a common pathway to infidelity and divorce.
- Porn use from a parent leads to disinterest in relationships with children and other family members.
- Men who use porn have increased attitudes of women as commodities or sex objects.
- 66% of porn stars have herpes.
- 70% of sexually transmitted infections in the porn industry happen in females.
- There are over 68 million daily search engine requests for porn.
That is just a start. Research on the destructive path that is being left by porn can be found online as easily as porn itself. If you are not sure where to get started try a few books like this and this and this. While you’re waiting for your books to arrive start with some websites like this and this and this. And if you have not done so already install filtering software such as this on all of your computers, phones, and other internet ready devices. Addicted to porn? Start here. Are you a Christian who is interested in ministering to the porn industry? Check this out. Want to know the ugly truth about life as a porn star from former porn stars then go here.
Again, these are just a start. But the point is that plenty of people are working hard to educate the rest of us on the dangers of porn, and if you want to be part of the solution it is not that hard to get involved. It is even easier to simply get educated. The real victims of the ubiquitous state of porn in our culture is our children. Unfortunately, many of us have shrugged our shoulders while this problem has ballooned into a multibillion dollar industry. Children shouldn’t have to see porn before they’re twelve. It has no redeeming qualities, and only time will tell just how deadly are its consequences. It is time to sound the alarm on porn. Will you help fight?