“Who am I to say that porn is wrong?” “It’s not affecting anyone but themselves, so why does it matter?” “Those girls, they’re choosing to do these things. It’s how they make a living.”
I could go on. Millions of excuses to justify pornography are made every day, but the truth is this: sexual exploitation is always wrong.
It seems crazy to me that we even have to say this—that it’s something many don’t automatically know in the marrow of their bones.
How far gone are we?
No matter the answer to this question, I refuse to say that as a society we are too far gone. There is still hope. There is still time to retrain our brains and teach our children something better. There is still space for Jesus to heal in this generation—the consumers, the producers, the participants.
There is no chain that He cannot break.
But what is our responsibility? What can those of us who have in some way, directly or indirectly, reaped the myriad of destructive consequences of porn do to stem the tide? How can we fight back, not against the people of porn, but against the powers of darkness that perpetuate the slavery, the bondage, the exploitation?
Here are 12 things you can do to turn the tides on a pornified culture:
Within Your Own Four Walls
1. Unsubscribe from catalogues and magazines that use sex to sell their merchandise. Both men and women, boys and girls, receive messages from these about their bodies and the purpose of our bodies that are not helpful in shaping our view of the value of us as people.
2. Talk to each other about God’s values regarding people and sexuality. This isn’t a one-sided conversation. While we can pass down values to those in our family, we can’t make our loved ones internalize them. They have to, at some point, own their own beliefs and make choices on their own volition. How do we do this? We ask questions like:
- “What do you think about that advertisement?”
- “How do you think that person on the cover might feel?”
- “What do you think drives people to do this?”
- “What might be part of their story we don’t know?”
- “How would you feel if you found out this person didn’t have a choice?”
3. Educate yourself continually. The research regarding porn and its effect on society is evolving and growing. More and more secular and spiritual research shows it’s truly harmful to us individually and as a society. The more you know about how porn affects the brain and our actions, the more you can intelligently and respectfully share with others. In addition, you can also learn about various software filtering devices that can be one line of defense to protect yourself and your family from exposure.
4. Use your computer for good. There are several organizations whose sole purpose is to end sex trafficking and speak out again the harmful effects of pornography. Some accept monetary donations so they can further their research and their reach. Others give you ways to contact large companies so you can let them know how you feel about their involvement in the porn business—no matter if they are contributing directly or indirectly. I’ve really appreciated the research and tools from Fight the New Drug and Endsexualexploitation.org.
5. Be mindful of what you watch. The porn industry exists because the demand exists. It continues to expand because the demand expands. How would you feel if that was your wife, daughter, son, friend in that movie/ad/cable TV show?
6. Pursue a healthy relationship with your spouse. First, hear this: having an unhealthy relationship with your partner never gives you an excuse to look at porn. However, cultivating a good relationship with your spouse reinforces the joys of true intimacy and allows you to share the fullness of love—something porn never offers.
When You’re Outside Your Front Door
7. Seek help if you need it. It can be hard and embarrassing to admit you have a problem with porn. Shame over your addiction will keep you in bondage, but revealing your issue is the first step to healing. Talk to your pastor, a good friend, a certified sexual addiction therapist, and/or your spouse.
8. Learn the signs of human trafficking. Be watchful and aware of the things going on around you and when sexual slavery is likely to occur (hello, Super Bowl). You can learn more about signs of human trafficking and what to do if you encounter them.
9. Consider how you’re using social media. What images and articles do you share? Are they ones that uplift and encourage or objectify and demean?
10. Continue the conversation beyond your family (especially in your church). As noted in number 7, it can be incredibly difficult to take that first step and admit you have a problem (or that your spouse does). If you’ve had experience with pornography, share it. If you have questions about it, ask your church leadership to begin a conversation that involves both men and women.
11. Appreciate true beauty. It’s ok to think someone’s pretty or handsome. But when thoughts go beyond pure appreciation and turn to lust, take the thought captive and move on to thinking about other things. (Covenant Eyes’s free e-book Transformed by Beauty shares the story of four individuals who found their lives and vision transformed as they encountered the beauty of a transcendent God.)
Wherever You Are
12. Pray. Pray for yourself, your family, your church, your friends. Pray for the porn stars and the porn producers and for all who benefit from and suffer at the hands of this industry. Your prayers make a difference—in your life and in those around you.
It may seem that eradicating porn in our society is a battle we have no hope of winning. But my job, your job, is not to save the world from porn. My job, your job, is to do what we can to love people well, to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves, to show self-control, and to contribute to a conversation that promotes freedom from bondage and exploitation.