This post has been updated as of October 2020.
As a Christian, and as someone who regularly speaks out about the evils of pornography, I am often accused of being anti-sex.
This is an interesting but extremely faulty generalization to make. Historically, there have been segments of the Christian church that have viewed sex as a necessary but nonetheless depraved pleasure. This is certainly not where I am coming from.
Porn Is Commodified Sex
I was struck by a recent quote I heard from Gail Dines, a noted feminist speaker and recent author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality.
One thing people often ask me: ‘Are you a prude?’ Well let me say something. If I was speaking against the fast-food industry, if I was talking about the obesity and the health issues with fast food, would you accuse me of being anti-eating? So why, when I talk about pornography, am I accused of being anti-sex? It’s the same thing. Pornography is the industrialization and commodification of sex. It’s not sex: just as fast food is not just food. It’s the commodification and the industrialization of it.
To be anti-porn is to be pro-sex. Because we believe sex is a good thing, we hate to see it commercialized and reduced to pixels on a screen. Pornography trains men and women to be consumers when it comes to sex. It trains us to see sexual pleasure as something on-tap and made-to-order.
Porn Is Exploitative Sex
In a recent interview, my friend Noel Bouché, VP of pureHOPE, talks about what pornography actually is:
If you look at the etymology of the word, “pornography” comes from the Greek “pornographos,” which means writings about prostitutes. So when we’re talking about pornography, we’re talking about a very specific form of sex, indeed, illicit sex, and a type of sex that is illegal throughout most of the world. It’s the prostitution of human beings.
To consume pornography is therefore to consume the fruit of an act of prostitution, of sex-for-hire. Pornographers are pimps by another name. Porn stars are prostitutes, plain and simple. Having a camera in the room doesn’t change the nature of the act.
Porn Is Cheap Sex
Pornography makes a guy feel like a man without requiring him to be one.
Dr. Mary Anne Layden, Director of Education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Therapy, wisely says,
I have seen in my clinical experience that pornography damages the sexual performance of the viewers. Pornography viewers tend to have problems with premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. Having spent so much time in unnatural sexual experiences with paper, celluloid and cyberspace, they seem to find it difficult to have sex with a real human being. Pornography is raising their expectation and demand for types and amounts of sexual experiences at the same it is reducing their ability to experience sex.
Porn requires nothing from the viewer except the ability to access it, which today is nearly effortless. Romance and face-to-face intimacy is not a prerequisite for the pixellated women on the screen. And thanks to the Internet, the viewer has the ability to jump from one model to the next, training their mind to get off on variety and novelty, not the familiarity of one committed relationship.
Free Ebook: Your Brain on Porn
In my ebook, I weave together a biblical understanding of sex and lust with scientific observations about the damaging effects of porn. It is called Your Brain on Porn: 5 Proven Ways Pornography Warps Your Mind and 3 Biblical Ways to Review It.
It is a pro-sex-approach to why pornography is harmful. It is also a beginner’s guide to those who want to stop looking at porn but don’t know where to start. I hope you find it helpful.
I could not agree with you more. Great quotes… and thank you, Covenant Eyes, for being one of the very few sites online where honest discussions and articles about pornography can take place.
I think it’s very typical in American culture to regard anti-porn = anti-sex. That’s because of the multitudes who have no idea of the beauty of purity and the sacramental nature of the union of male & female as God intended.
@Amy – Thanks for your comments. Yes, I agree with you. It is very common for people to see equate antiporn and anti-sex. I think this is for a numbers of reasons: (1) There are historical examples in of Christians treating sex itself as an evil thing; and (2) The porn industry has done a very good job marketing itself as “just sex.” I think both of these misrepresentations need to be corrected.
“Pornography trains men and women to be consumers when it comes to sex. It trains us to see sexual pleasure as something on-tap and made-to-order.”
I love it! I’m going to use it whenever I’m trying to convince those people out there (and you know who you are) who see porn as a good thing and anti-porn as bad thing.
“Yes Christian brother, we care deeply about your porn addiction. Now, that’ll be $8.99 a month for something that will do nothing to tackle the actual root of the problem in your life. What? You don’t have $8.99 a month to spare? I guess that Jesus doesn’t want you to be free of this terrible addiction then.”
You’re making money off of desperate people in a time of financial crisis in America.
@Frustrated – We have a hardship program specifically for people in financial crisis. We provide anyone our services for free if they can’t pay for them. We have always done this since the beginning of the company 11 years ago. We never want finances to get in the way of people’s earnest desire to have integrity online.
I’m a bit confused by your comment. On one hand you say Internet accountability services like our don’t “tackle the actual root of the problem,” and then you say because people aren’t able to get Internet accountability “Jesus doesn’t want you to be free of this terrible addiction.” I can see you are being sarcastic for the purpose of criticizing our business, but I’d love to hear your honest opinion: is Internet accountability something Jesus can use to help a person be free of the addiction or not?
I agree software alone will never deal with the root of the of the problem (and if you read the e-book you would see why I say that). But godly relationships in the body of Christ are one of the means of grace God has given us to sanctify His people. Because of this, communication technologies (like accountability software) can be wonderful tools in the hands of the church to facilitate these relationships. For example, telephones don’t change people’s hearts, but habitual telephone calls used to speak words of truth to a brother trapped in sin can be instrumental in bringing about change. Smartphone apps don’t transform hearts, but a Bible study app that is accessed regularly can be very helpful in helping someone hide God’s word in their heart. Webcams don’t root sin out of our hearts, but godly friends communicating over Skype can be an incredible tool to draw people closer together.
And yes, accountability software does not change someone’s desire for sin, but when godly friendships use this tool to facilitate regular encouragement and confessions of sin, it can be a tool in the church’s hand to draw us close to one another and thus closer to God.
Porn? 95% of it isn’t porn at all, it’s SMUT, slice and diced rereleases put out in the worse possible manner, very bad for society, and that’s slave labor because the performers aren’t paid for it. You do 30 films in a short year, then it’s sliced into worse films, deprived of script, made into 400 other films of smut, not the way the original films were made, over a period of 14 years, no pay either, nor permission to put the footage out that way, they just do it and that’s where their 95% of 100s of billions of dollars comes from, while exploiting these on millions of pages, you get nothing, only treated poorly. Why? Why do I always have to hear, “Oh, that’s Kimi Gee” when I haven’t even been doing porn the past 14 years. To top it off, I was in child porn back when Traci Lords did child porn, and those films have been selling on the internet on all the major porn sites, including Playboy, Hustler, and Excalibur’s domains, selling for the past 14 years. I reported it to the FBI and the FTC and not even a courtesy phone call to make any effort to remove it. What about the laws that say you can’t sale child porn? It’s just one big cover up.
Pornography undermines the journey into spiritual, relational, sexual maturity for both married and single men and women.
Lets always remember, it’s NOT the porn we are dealing with! “Out of the heart comes sexual immorality (porn included). Yes, porn is an evil in its self, but the real enemy is within. All sexual desire, whether heterosexual or homosexual, given “our lack of self-control” (1 Cor. 7:2-5), which is a given for every man and woman, will lead to sexual sin.
And lets be clear, looking, but not touching is only half true. Porn is impure thought with impure touching of self.
These thoughts all seem to come from a heteronormative worldview. Unlike for straight people, many Christians do indeed say all sex is bad when in the context of two people of the same anatomical persuasion (specifically referring to LGB, not T here. Transgender issues are a completely separate topic). This makes many of these lessons fall flat for people like me because the lessons come with the subtext “We believe sex is healthy (except the gay kind).” Where does that leave us, those for whom any form of sex ever is condemned by their church? Do you know of any resources that help tackle porn addiction that specifically address the unique challenges of LGB Christians (especially those in heteronormative environments where gay marriage is out of the question for social or religious reasons)?
Thanks for reaching out! I appreciate your comment, thanks for sharing your perspective with us. Covenant Eyes has not written much on this topic, but I encourage you to check out the resources at https://harvestusa.org/. I hope this helps!