The Problem(s) with Pornography
I’m looking forward to worshiping our Savior with you this week. I’ve been praying for you over the last few days, that God would enable you to find your strength and encouragement in him (1 Samuel 30:6b).
Recently, the respected survey organization, the Barna Group, released a study on the use of pornography in America called The Porn Phenomenon. Perhaps the most disturbing finding, in my estimation, was the discovery that many young adults now deem the use of pornography as “good for society” because it offers a “safe alternative” to sexual intercourse. When they talk about porn with friends, the survey reveals, 89% of teens, and 95% of young adults say they do so in a neutral, accepting, or encouraging way. Would you believe that of the 3,000 people interviewed, nearly twice as many young adults view not recycling as “more immoral” than watching pornography? It’s true.
The use of pornography, and the widespread approval thereof, is the new norm.
With that in mind, I’d like to briefly consider just one problem with pornography. Aside from its occasionally discussed and less controversial effects—the emotional and spiritual harm it brings to a marriage, the inescapable guilt and shame that accompany its use, the barrier to intimacy that it creates among couples, and the diminishing of relationship commitment that it breeds (and all of these are worthy of separate essays) —I’d like to offer another reason to eschew pornography that’s rarely talked about. It’s this:
Indulging in pornography is tantamount to participating in sex slavery.
In case you’ve never heard of the sex trade, it is an industry in which (mostly) young women are captured, threatened, and violently coerced into having sex with older men. It is nothing short of modern day slavery. And pornography fuels the sex trade industry by building the demand.
In the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, pastor and professor, Andy Naselli, writes, “The sex trade industry consists of supply and demand. The supply consists of women and children who are either forced into exploitation at home or lured away from their homes with promises of jobs, travel, and a better life. The average age of girls who enter into street prostitution is between 12 and 14 years old, and even younger in some developing countries. Traffickers coerce women and children to enter the commercial sex industry through a variety of recruitment techniques in strip clubs, street-based prostitution, and escort services. Thousands of children and women are victimized in this way every year. The trafficking industry would not exist without demand. According to researcher Andrea Bertone, the demand consists of men who feed a ‘patriarchal world system’ that preys on women and children.” These men are, namely, the purveyors and watchers of porn.
“Plant this deeply and firmly in your conscience,” Naselli concludes, “since pornography fuels sex slavery, indulging in pornography to any degree is participating in sex slavery. This is the case even if the porn star you lustfully look at is profiting financially from that pornography. The point is that any and all pornography is part of the worldwide system that fuels prostitution and thus fuels sex slavery.”
It’s a harrowing thought, isn’t it, that by watching this so-called harmless entertainment, a person is perpetuating the criminal and heinous mistreatment of women and children via a system of human slavery. Again, the demand is created by the digital world of pornography, and those who participate in it. Sergeant Grant Snyder, a long-tenured detective in downtown Minneapolis, who regularly arrests people for sex trafficking, says, “The connection between pornography and sex slavery is tighter than many people realize.”
As the father of two daughters, and a teacher and proponent of the compassionate and ethical treatment of all women, I find the notion of aiding a sex trafficker by bolstering the demand for the abuse of young women to be reprehensible. But outrage towards sin (of any kind) is often short-lived. In fact, every sin becomes more reasonable and less offensive the longer we ponder it. May God remind us of this devastating effect of porn use when the temptation to indulge arises.
Of course, in any discussion on pornography, as with any consequence-heavy sin, the point must be made that God’s forgiveness is readily available to everyone. Even to pornographers. God’s grace is infinitely wider and more sufficient than we ever imagined, saving even the most violent of offenders. The Apostle Paul makes it clear in his first letter to the church at Corinth, that God’s grace is powerful enough to cover the sins of the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) and plenty of others.
So, as you consider this seldom discussed (yet, devastating) effect of pornography, rest assured that if you have indulged, even today, there is nothing that can separate you from the love of God in Christ, if you belong to him. In fact, Jesus died for you so that his righteousness would be yours by faith.
God sees you as perfectly clean. Let me say it another way: If you saw yourself through God’s eyes, you wouldn’t even recognize yourself. To him, you look just like Jesus.
Allow that reality to stir your heart toward greater love for your Redeemer and a greater hatred for the things that God hates.
Simultaneously saint and sinner,