It’s all around us. The young guy in his room on his device. The talk show host casually endorsing it on his show. The teenager sitting absorbed in his phone on a park bench. Even the plane passenger a few seats across from you watching a screen.
What is it?
Why is it ‘an enemy’? After all, some therapists recommend couples watch porn together so that they can free up or widen their sexual experience.
And why is porn-watching so insidious?
Understanding the ‘enemy’
The biggest sex organ in our body is the brain. Our attitudes towards sex and sexual experience are deeply influenced by porn-watching.
Watching porn has become so main-stream, so ‘normal’, and so widespread that it has now become the sex education medium for millions of young people, usually guys, who have access to the internet. This is why porn-watching is so insidious – it is shaping a generation’s perspectives in a way that can only be harmful to relationships and therefore to society.
Schools and parents can’t compete, despite attempts to block viewing. Even airlines are having to take steps to try and restrict viewing during flights because some passengers have become so accustomed to their fix of porn that they don’t care who else, including children, may see their screens.
Addicted to porn
Porn-watching has become an addiction. Experts report that some young men are so used to the instant gratification they get from viewing porn that they are unable to form relationships. The thought of holding a girl’s hand scares them. Navigating and developing relationships can be difficult enough in adolescence anyway; with the instant fix porn can give, why bother?
Some guys have been so influenced by the way in which porn shapes their views of sexual encounters that they expect a woman to behave in a similar fashion to what they see on porn movies– women are treated as sexual objects, often violently, and it’s the male who is in charge. Whether they like it or not, girls are expected to go along with what a guy wants, and what he wants has been shaped by his viewing. Many girls do, in the hope that a guy will like them.
Insidiously, porn is putting the final nail in the coffin of the cultural expectations Western society has maintained until recently; that young men and women date in order to get to know each other, before they enter into any kind of deeper relationship. Once upon a time courtship was seen to be a necessary prelude to any kind of committed relationship, usually marriage. Now lust so often comes before love, and if love emerges during encounters, then it may be a complication!
Porn – the ultimate expression of a hook-up culture
In a hook-up culture you don’t have to bother with forming relationships. That expectation of meeting just for sex has been with us for some time. People can use the Tinder dating app or similar if they want to meet a real person. Under the guise of emancipation and equality women too can engage in such encounters, without the bother of building relationships.
Neither sex seems to realise that they are jeopardising their ability to form sustainable in-depth relationships in the future.
But porn-watching takes things even further – why bother with relationships when you can switch on a device and there’s immediate porn-watching to gratify you? So tempting, if you are an introvert, or something of a nerd, who doesn’t socialise easily.
Some guys have become so porn-addicted their bodies can no longer respond normally in the context of an actual sexual encounter. Their devices are where their sexual activity is located.
Currently in the media there is the sad case of Sir Ron Brierley who is being charged with a number of offences. Although he’s pleaded not guilty, apparently he’s been caught with thousands of images on his devices. He was a regular visitor to Thailand to meet with underage prostitutes. (This was even referred to in a biography written about him some years ago, but nothing was done about it.)
Without therapeutic help, how will these guys ever be able to live a normal life that involves marriage and parenthood? Sir Ron Brierley wasn’t able to, despite being one of the richest men in NZ and being knighted.
Dealing with the enemy
There’s no easy answer, because access to porn is only a click away. And sometimes it’s in your face, even when you least expect it. I’ve become aware how young people can so easily be drawn into porn-watching. Hearing other people’s experiences also helped me understand how guys end up viewing porn.
One friend who suffered from depression found that this was a trigger for him to end up viewing porn as an escape from his depression. Of course, it only made the situation worse, but what he was brave enough to do was tell his adult family, and to put in place a password that the family could access but he couldn’t, which prevented him from indulging in porn-watching when he was vulnerable.
Being open about struggles in this area, and being accountable to others, is a helpful way to deal with the ‘porn issue’. For those who have become addicted, seeking help for their addiction is vital, if they are to move beyond porn and form vital, living relationships with others.
Sadly but realistically, it seems to be an essential part of a youth group’s tool kit to have some helpful means of dealing with these issues.
In the church there is the call to teach everyone that ‘our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit’ if we are Christians. Temples are for worship, but how can we worship God if we are also engaged in practices that endorse the objectifying and abuse of others? If we watch such abuse, then we are party to it – and it ultimately means we are abusing ourselves.
Porn-watching is an enemy we must understand – and fight, out in the open.
Liz Hay is appalled by the amount of vitriol that is now being slung at any Christian who dares to comment on an issue raised in the media. Christianity is not only seen as an aberration, but is being increasingly regarded by some as a scourge to be removed from society. With the growing malevolence being expressed towards the church, it is no wonder that even going on to church property can be a daunting experience.
The balm of the natural world, and friendship with genuine and real people, that Liz experiences in her small village in the mountains is a wonderful antidote to anti-Christian comments.