Thursday, May 2, 2013

Christians and Pornography

My article from this week's Algona Upper Des Moines about a Christian response to pornography:

Q:  What is the Christian approach to pornography?  Since a person is not engaging in a physical relationship outside of marriage and nobody is being hurt, is it still a sin?

The starting point for this question would be the same as any other inquiry about sexuality, which is the sixth commandment, “You shall not commit adultery,” along with Jesus’ explanation, “whoever looks with lust upon [another person] has already committed adultery in his heart.” 

Spiritually speaking, pornography, live shows featuring nudity, physical extra-marital affairs, and even inappropriate fantasies about other people who remain fully-clothed, are all violations of God’s intentions for human sexuality. 

God institutes all of the horizontal relationships of human life (father-child, mother-child, husband-wife, pastor-congregation, government-citizen, etc) to be reflections of the greater vertical relationships between God and humanity or Jesus and His Church, and whenever an alteration occurs, whether to the number or the identity of the participants, even if only in thought or fantasy, or to the permanence of the relationship, they fail to reflect the greater divine truth as he intended.   

Video or photographic depictions of other people, which are created for the purpose of arousing erotic desire certainly achieve this relational destruction in a similar manner to live nudity and physical affairs.  Although the practical consequences might build more slowly or seem less severe, the spiritual and relational destruction occur all the same. 

Practically, repeated studies have shown direct relationships between increased levels of pornography usage and decline in measures of marital satisfaction and the user’s desire or ability to please or be pleased by their partner intimately.

It has also been observed that habitual pornography usage alters responses in the human brain so that the ability to achieve pleasure or the degree of pleasure people experience from various forms of stimulus is diminished, which in turn causes a continuous increase in the amount of stimulus necessary to create the desired response, very similar to that observed in drug addiction. 

This often results in further increases in usage, (accompanied by increased withdrawal from health relationships and appropriate outlets) or sometimes escalation to other behaviors such as soliciting prostitutes and other risky sexual actions.

In addition to the marital consequences, many sources are beginning to report that fathers’ use of pornography negatively impacts their ability to relate to and express affection toward their daughters as they grow from little girls into young women, which then may manifest in undesirable emotional or behavioral consequences in their daughters. 

Even further, an alarming relationship has recently been observed between pornography and human trafficking, so that many of the women involved in the making of pornography (along with large numbers in prostitution and exotic dancing) are actually victims of kidnapping, rape, and other atrocities, who are deceived or forced into various forms of sexual slavery. 

Even those who enter this profession voluntarily report dramatically increased rates of mental illness, as well as alcohol and drug abuse as a consequence of the psychological trauma of their occupation.  Most experience short careers followed by extreme guilt and regret over their involvement.  Meanwhile those who produce and sell the product rake in yearly revenue that exceeds that of all professional sports combined.

Even if a person disagrees with the spiritual and moral evaluations of pornography usage based on Biblical commands, it ultimately has to be acknowledged that the human suffering created by the industry would inspire nearly-unanimous agreement that it is necessary to refrain from this product in order not to contribute to the extreme consequences experienced by those employed by the industry, as well as to avoid the negative impact on the marriages and families of those who use it. 


  1. Thank you for writing this. I am in a support group of women whose husbands use porn. Some of the husbands (despite being Christian) do not see porn as a problem, and they take a strong stance that porn is normal and a right and is a private matter, none of the wife's business. Despite that we are hurting very much, we do not see men willing to consider the harms of porn and God's message on porn. I wish this topic would be discussed in church more. Men need to hear this from other men. They need male role models. Women are not being heard. And no one wants to acknowledge the realities of the industry and its link to trafficking. Child porn is clearly linked to trafficking, and many who have abused kids have looked at child porn. The same is true for women, but no one wants to acknowledge it. Please continue to spread the word on this.

  2. I agree with anonymous from 20Jan2014. I think this was a well written and direct article. We MUST TALK ABOUT THIS IN CHURCH!!! It must be made clear to our impressionable youth. The draw to pornography is stronger than ever and we can see now, more than ever before it’s effects on marriages.