CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Facing Up To the Porn Plague

Jun 2, 2012

There is little question that one of the most devastating results of the sexual revolution has been the proliferation of pornography in all forms, and the huge number of casualties as a result of this. Countless men have become enslaved to porn, and countless marriages and families have been busted up.

If a group of aliens wanted to find a way to demoralise society, neutralise men, destroy marriages, and subvert a culture, they could scarcely come up with anything better than the porn plague. It is as damaging as it is as pervasive. And the really tragic thing is that there are just as many Christians getting caught up in this as non-Christians.

So serious is the problem that long-standing Christian author and apologist Josh McDowell has just launched a new website to help those struggling in this area. Here is how one news item reports this: “Apologist and author Josh McDowell launched Just1ClickAway.org, a new website to raise awareness about online pornography which he says is a problem big enough to cause the downfall of the church. ‘The downfall of the church will not come from a lack of apologetic teaching; it will come from disintegration of the families in the church,’ says a video posted on the website, which was launched this week, just in time for summer vacation when students’ media consumption significantly increases.

“‘The greatest threat to the cause of Christ is pervasive sexuality and pornography,’ McDowell, known as an articulate speaker, said in a statement Thursday. ‘Today we have, by and large, lost control of the controls because an intrusive immorality is just one click away from our children. With just one keystroke on a smartphone, iPad, or laptop, a child can open up some of the worst pornography and sexually graphic content you can imagine. There’s never been such access in history.’

“McDowell, who has written or co-authored 120 books since 1960, backs his claims with stunning statistics about the destructive impact of pornography on the Christian family. More than 1 billion pornographic websites are one click away, and the average age of first-time viewers of pornography is 9 years old. About 80 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds have been exposed to hardcore porn, and the adult pornography industry reports that 20-30 percent of their traffic comes from children. More shockingly, half of all Christian families report that pornography is a problem, and 30 percent of pastors have viewed pornography in the last 30 days.”

At the same time that McDowell was launching this site, respected evangelical leader Albert Mohler penned a two-part article on this same topic. He especially focuses on how porn viewing and addiction is busting up Christian marriages and families. It is well worth reading in full, but let me here offer some substantial quotes from it:

“The intersection of pornography and marriage is one of the most problematic issues among many couples today–including Christian couples. The pervasive plague of pornography represents one of the greatest moral challenges faced by the Christian church in the postmodern age. With eroticism woven into the very heart of the culture, celebrated in its entertainment, and advertised as a commodity, it is virtually impossible to escape the pervasive influence of pornography in our culture and in our lives.”

He continues: “The bottom line is that, in our sinfulness, men are drawn toward pornography and a frighteningly large percentage of men develop a dependence upon pornographic images for their own sexual arousal and for their concept of the good life, sexual fulfillment, and even meaning in life. Medical research can document the increased flow of endorphins, hormones that create pleasure in the brain, when sexual images are viewed. Given the law of reduced effect, greater stimulation is needed to keep a constant flow of endorphins to the brain’s pleasure centers. Without conscious awareness of what is happening, men are drawn into a pattern of deeper and deeper sin, more and more explicit pornography, and never-ending rationalizing, and all this started when the eye first began its perusal of the pornographic image and sexual arousal was its product.”

He concludes the first part of this article as follows: “Pornography represents one of the most insidious attacks upon the sanctity of marriage and the goodness of sex within the one-flesh relationship. The celebration of debauchery rather than purity, the elevation of genital pleasure over all other considerations, and the corruption of sexual energy through an inversion of the self, corrupts the idea of marriage, leads to incalculable harm, and subverts marriage and the marital bond.”

In the second part he begins by noting the biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality: “The Christian worldview must direct all consideration of sexuality to the institution of marriage. Marriage is not merely the arena for sexual activity, it is presented in Scripture as the divinely-designed arena for the display of God’s glory on earth as a man and a wife come together in a one-flesh relationship within the marriage covenant. Rightly understood and rightly ordered, marriage is a picture of God’s own covenantal faithfulness. Marriage is to display God’s glory, reveal God’s good gifts to His creatures, and protect human beings from the inevitable disaster that follows when sexual passions are divorced from their rightful place.

“The marginalization of marriage, and the open antipathy with which many in the culture elite approach the question of marriage, produces a context in which Christians committed to a marriage ethic appear hopelessly out of step with the larger culture. Whereas marriage is seen as a privatized contract to be made and unmade at will in the larger society, Christians must see marriage as an inviolable covenant made before God and man, that establishes both temporal and eternal realities.”

He continues, “A biblical worldview understands that God has demonstrated His glory in both the sameness and the differences that mark men and women, male and female. Alike made in the image of God, men and women are literally made for each other. The physicality of the male and female bodies cries out for fulfillment in the other. The sex drive calls both men and women out of themselves and toward a covenantal relationship which is consummated in a one-flesh union.

“By definition, sex within marriage is not merely the accomplishment of sexual fulfillment on the part of two individuals who happen to share the same bed. Rather, it is the mutual self-giving that reaches pleasures both physical and spiritual. The emotional aspect of sex cannot be divorced from the physical dimension of the sex act. Though men are often tempted to forget this, women possess more and less gentle means of making that need clear.”

He finishes with these words: “Pornography is a slander against the goodness of God’s creation and a corruption of this good gift God has given his creatures out of his own self-giving love. To abuse this gift is to weaken, not only the institution of marriage, but the fabric of civilization itself. To choose lust over love is to debase humanity and to worship the false god Priapus in the most brazen form of modern idolatry.

“The deliberate use of pornography is nothing less than the willful invitation of illicit lovers and objectified sex objects and forbidden knowledge into a man’s heart, mind, and soul. The damage to the man’s heart is beyond measure, and the cost in human misery will only be made clear on the Day of Judgment. From the moment a boy reaches puberty until the day he is lowered into the ground, every man will struggle with lust. Let us follow the biblical example and scriptural command that we make a covenant with our eyes lest we sin. In this society, we are called to be nothing less than a corps of the mutually accountable amidst a world that lives as if it will never be called to account.”

Exactly right. Porn is clearly a mega-problem both in and out of the church. We need to take it absolutely seriously. To help in this area, I present in another article some terrific, practical resources which we all can benefit from: billmuehlenberg.com/2012/06/02/countering-the-porn-plague-selected-resources/

www.christianpost.com/news/josh-mcdowell-launches-website-to-fight-porn-churchs-no-1-threat-75584/
www.albertmohler.com/2012/05/29/the-seduction-of-pornography-and-the-integrity-of-christian-marriage-part-one-2/
www.albertmohler.com/2012/06/01/the-seduction-of-pornography-and-the-integrity-of-christian-marriage-part-two-2/

[1356 words]

21 Responses to Facing Up To the Porn Plague

  • I know that I am going to ask the question of younger men I know. “How are you going with purity?”. Men everywhere, engage your young people on this topic – it can even be a point of convergence for you both. Timely article, Bill.
    Keith Jarrett

  • Thanks Keith

    There are many dark and ugly sides to porn. Here is one in today’s press:

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/more-news/killer-porn-stars-victim-a-chinese-student-poilce/story-e6frf7lf-1226381362175

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Yes, as men, it is important to be accountable, especially as porn is so freely available on the internet. Are there any internet filtering programs available that do not interfere with other programs on the computer? Can anyone advise of their experiences with a filtering program?

    I once had one, but it made other programs do funny things so I had to remove it, as I have young children who are now beginning to surf the web, I am concerned for what they might accidentally come across.

    Fred Merlo

  • Fred, as a long-time computer user, I would recommend not trusting too much in Net-Nanny type sofware blockers.

    There is ALWAYS someone out there trying to circumvent the software on our computers, whether it’s junk emails (many of which are enticing people into porn viewing) or porn sites.

    I offer the following simple suggestions:
    a) keep computers in plain view, never in bedrooms/private spaces (getting harder with tablets and smartphones)
    b) make sure you keep an eye on what your children are doing
    c) ask them randomly, “what is that you’re watching/doing?”
    d) if possible change to non-MS-Windows computers, which are less prone to suffering attacks from software, junk emails and malicious websites.
    e) see Bill’s resources article
    and for ouselves as Dads, make sure we are in a close and strong accountability relationship, like a prayer group. That, along with a wonderfully supportive wife, is how I am able to win more battles than I lose in the war against porn.

    John Angelico

  • A bit of advice for the single girls looking for a husband. One of the questions you need to ask your prospective date is:
    Do you look at porn?
    Why do you need to ask this question? Its simple, you will never, ever, ever match up to the girls in the porn films, never. If they say yes, run. Its not worth it. You wont even have a chance.
    Save yourself from grief.

    Some links to look at:
    Managing the Male Sex Drive.
    Sexual “Liberation”
    Pornography Toxicity

    Jeffrey Carl

  • Fred, I use a dns service to block most of the porn sites. Its provided by OpenDNS.

    OpenDNS Launches Free Porn Filter

    Setup Information
    You don’t need to sign-up, just use their dns servers.

    Like John said this is not 100% fool proof. But it is better than nothing.

    Jeffrey Carl

  • Pornography is not just a problem for men.

    It’s tiring to read through an article like this with no mention to a woman potentially struggling too. We’re human and we have sex drives, and in our sinful nature, we too are drawn to pornography. It’s more prevalent than you think.

    It’s simply that no one talks about women struggling with porn. It’s truly a sad problem because our lack of acknowledgement adds an extra social stigma and extra shame to come forward and confess it. I promise that a woman who struggles with pornography, is a woman who at some point believes she’s the only one. That is a lie from Satan.

    Christian Men – please awake to this truth and step up. Your women, your daughters, your sisters may secretly need your help.
    Stop writing articles about porn that are only for men. You may accidentally be preventing a woman from confessing her sin.

    Thank you.
    Karrie Jo Marks

  • Thanks Karrie Jo

    While men are still the main group to struggle with this, yes you are right that increasingly women do too. Here is one example of this:

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jul/11/more-women-lured-to-pornography-addiction/?page=all

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • People should be aware that ISPs exist that do the filtering for you and do not require any extra software to be loaded at all, therefore any computer running any operating system connected to your router/modem is automatically protected. Profiles can be personally customised based on time-of-day, white lists, black lists, even blocking of proxies, chat rooms and messenger services. If you do happen upon a website that escapes the filter, you can report it to the general blocked list, so the effectiveness of the ISP is dynamically helped by the subscribers themselves. One such Australian based service you can find at http://www.webshield.net.au
    It should not matter which telephone provider you are with.
    It’s not cheap, but then peace of mind usually never is. I have no financial interest in the company above but I do use it and know the owner personally, who set it up in part as a result of two suicides he knew of. I think for many it is not the only solution, but definitely a step in the right direction. It is not much different than putting locks on your doors and windows.
    Mark Rabich

  • SIN has I in the middle.
    Porn is a virus. Kill it before it kills YOU.
    Judith Bond

  • Greetings Bill,
    You hit upon one of the most significant problems attacking manhood in today’s society.
    We stand against it.
    Thomas Davenport

  • My thanks to John and Jeffrey, I will heed your good advice, yes keeping computers, laptops in the open certainly helps and I will look into implementing the dns service. Accountability is certainly required for us men and also for women Karrie Jo. May we all find brothers and sisters to be accountable to in this fight.

    Fred Merlo

  • Wow Bill, now you have really opened a Pandora box. I like your alien line on the problem. But let’s say a bunch of demons wanted to develop a mess media destructive tool! What would they come up with? Porn, of cause, that is simple. Plenty of volunteers will do the performing. We don’t even have to help them, said one demon to an other.
    Destructive family stuff indeed, but it also wreck many a body of people in churches, schools and what ever other form of association to can imagination. Numerous example have come to light in recent time, just to my own attention. Heaven forbid what this destructive tool, of the devil will do to our society. I fear we have only just seen the tip of the iceberg.
    Bill Heggers, Perth

  • The proliferation of porn and easy access over the internet is of major concern. Recently I typed one character wrong in a URL and immediately found myself on a porn site. The ease with which an internet user can be unwittingly redirected to a porn site is staggering. Many parents are blissfully unaware of what their children are being exposed to and are often ignorant of what is out there in cyberspace.

    Peter Coventry

  • As a counsellor who sees many Christians in my practice I can attest to the problem of porn in peoples lives. I continue to be amazed at how often it is mentioned in personal and marriage counselling.
    I offer 2 comments. Firstly the woman in the fantasy life that men develop will do whatever the man asks, which of course just does not happen. This indicates, among other things, a problem with the control men have over their thought life.
    Secondly I believe that the church should do FAR more about teaching and instruction on what marriage really is. Not about a commitment, but about covenant relationships. Time to move away from 3 point sermons that have little relevance to real life and get to the nitty gritty stuff.
    One other thought. Maybe it is time to make another very loud call for men to meet in accountability groups.
    Thanks
    Warwick Murphy

  • Yes quite right Warwick

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • How appropriate do you think it is to suggest a “men’s spiritual health group” along the lines of the “men’s health” groups and activities that are being encouraged by health departments? It would take some incredibly courageous men to lead the way, to openly acknowledge their own weakness and turn it with God’s help into a fortification for other men.
    Of course for women too. But anything that is out in the open can be dealt with, cleansed and forgiven. If it remains in the dark, it grows, festers and the patient eventually dies.
    So, continue to shine the light on it, for all our sakes with the vision of having the tumor reduce and disappear and celebrate all stages on the way to that end. and never losing sight of it.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  • I can highly recommend a book I read together with each of my two sons when they were about 11 to prepare them for adolescence.

    “PREPARING YOUR SON FOR EVERY MAN’S BATTLE” by Stephen Arteburn and Fred Stoeker.

    This book helps prepare boys for adolescence and the onslaught of sexual temptation from the media and society so that they can have strength to resist and develop integrity. It stresses not putting a foot on the slippery slope to ruin that pornography (among other things) leads to.

    Jeffry, I particularly like your suggestion to the girls looking for a respective husband. We need to help keep each other accountable.

    How would we answer an honest question (if it were asked) about our own prayer life, time reading the bible, thought life, giving and any number of other aspects to our life. If young men know that they may be asked by a your girl considering marriage whether they look at porn, and the consequences of having to answer no, then it may help to keep them from starting down that path.

    Richard Jardine.

  • Judith A. Reisman, Ph.D., The Brain Science Behind Pornography Addiction and the Effects of Addiction on Families and Communities. November 18, 2004

    I specialize in the communication effects of images on the brain, mind and memory; fraud in the human sexuality field; and the addictive properties of sexually explicit images, commonly called pornography.
    My working, scientific definition of pornography is measurable: “intimate private-space behavior in public space forums, provoking psychopharmacological responses in viewers that puts the model and those s/he represents, at risk.”
    Thanks to the latest advances in neuroscience, we now know that emotionally arousing images imprint and alter the brain, triggering an instant, involuntary, but lasting, biochemical memory trail.
    This applies to so-called “soft-core” and “hard-core” pornography, which may, arguably, subvert the First Amendment by overriding the cognitive speech process.
    Once our neurochemical pathways are established they are difficult or impossible to delete. Erotic images also commonly trigger the viewer’s “fight or flight” sex hormones producing intense arousal states that appear to fuse the conscious state of libidinous arousal with unconscious emotions of fear, shame, anger and hostility.
    These media erotic fantasies become deeply imbedded, commonly coarsening, confusing, motivating and addicting many of those exposed.
    Pornography triggers a myriad of endogenous, internal, natural drugs that mimic the “high” from a street drug. Addiction to pornography is addiction to what I dub erototoxins – mind altering drugs produced by the viewer’s own brain.
    How does this ‘brain sabotage’ occur? Brain scientists tell us that “in 3/10 of a second a visual image passes from the eye through the brain, and whether or not one wants to, the brain is structurally changed and memories are created – we literally ‘grow new brain’ with each visual experience.”
    Children and others who cannot read can instantly decode and experience images, hence images are not speech.5 In fact, erotic (any highly arousing) images commonly subvert left hemisphere cognition.6
    Since the 50s, as pornography became mainstreamed and pushed the envelope of normal sexual conduct, law enforcement reported that sex crimes mimicking comparable acts were being inflicted on women and children.

    http://www.drjudithreisman.com/archives/2011/06/2004_testimony_1.html

    Daniel kempton

  • Just so you all know, God does heal hurting and dead marriages!

    This is a great website for anyone undergoing marital strife even divorce, and “re-marriage” etc. This couple encourage deserted husbands and wives not to give up on their spouse, no matter how long they have been gone or even if there are enormous obstacles like abuse, addictions, adultery, non-covenant children etc. I highly recommend them and their encouragement would certainly be good in a family where there are addictions to porn.

    Bill, it would be great if you’d consider checking them out.

    http://www.rejoiceministries.org/

    Louise Le Mottee

  • Thanks for that Louise

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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