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The annual Christian Retailers Convention is an English major’s dream come true. After four days of walking the floors of the Orlando Convention Center, I received more autographed books than I could possibly carry home by myself. Over one hundred novels and self-help books now lay on the hardwood floor of my one bedroom apartment. My only dilemma was where to start.
It seemed almost natural as my hand distinctly reached toward the pink binding of Porn Nation, written by an older Christian gentleman who had struggled with sexual addiction for nearly thirty years and was now in the midst of his recovery process. Why I would desire to read such a book that has nothing to do with my personal life, is as much your guess as it is mine. But it struck a chord within me. I consider myself a life student, as I continually am searching for material to broaden my horizons and give me new insight into life. This was a topic I knew nothing about. However, it was something that had just recently introduced itself while I was in the dark corners of a friend’s bedroom. Initially naive to the situation, my heart was now aware of the devastating trend that has afflicted our nation, and especially our young men. I had inadvertently discovered a friend’s secret indulgence while borrowing his laptop. Disturbing and dirty images flashed across the screen with one innocent search of the computer’s history.
My heart broke at first sight of the images. So unnatural and perverted, my eyes could only withstand it for a few seconds before I exited the window. Mere seconds told me the entire story. A life of secrets, lies and omitted truth were festering behind his bedroom door. And soon his entire world would spiral out of control if the obsession and infatuation were not handled accordingly, as his objectification of women as elementary objects of sexual gratification would destroy his relationships with women and taint any future intimacy with the opposite sex.
I would soon learn that this was only God’s way of introducing me to a problem that has become so prevalent among our generation. Porn Nation is not a term to be taken lightly. Seemingly exaggerated, the author comes frighteningly close to the true definition of our society’s number one psychological and physical dependency–pornography and sexual addiction.
And where are our young men receiving these outlandish messages? The media, our sports idols, our journalism, our books, our literary devices, our older generations, our peers? What has caused this shift in respect?
Just recently I was organizing some material on the counter at my parent’s house. Behind me, my parents were discussing the local seacoast newspaper. My younger brother was featured in a large photo on one of the inside pages. As a family friend flipped the paper over, my mom let out a disappointed and discouraged sigh. She expressed her annoyance towards the photo appearing on the cover of the newspaper which featured three young girls dressed in skimpy, barely-there bikinis.
“They’re at the beach.” the friend said, not understanding her frustration. I didn’t catch my mother’s response to his statement before he tossed the paper on the counter in front of me. “Tell me what you think about this, Samantha.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just,” he paused, “what do you think?”
“I think it’s sad,” I responded calmly and sincerely, counteracting my father’s sarcastic tone. “I think those girls are dressed very provocatively and that it is inappropriate to place such young teens with ample cleavage on the front page of the paper.”
He heaved and tossed his head back as he walked away, “They’re at the beach for goodness sake!”
“But how would you feel if I was featured on the front page wearing something so provocative,” I asked, curious what his response would be.
“Wear whatever you want! You’re on the beach!” He stormed off and took the stairs two at a time before closing the door to his bedroom.
My heart broke. Was this the message girls were getting? That it didn’t matter? If my own family could care less about how I dressed and how men perceived me, then who else would ever care? Were my efforts for modesty in vain? My eyes traveled back to the newspaper sprawled out before me and I took in the faces of the three young girls and their poster size photograph. Their smiles and glistening eyes reflected innocence. Yet I wondered if they were aware that due to their immodest choices, many men would gawk and ogle at their images. I wondered if they knew that I was one of the few observers fixating on their beautiful faces.
And why? Why have so many women fallen into provocative tendencies and men have begun to hide in the corners of their offices mesmerized by images of women and instigating affairs of the mind with each one of them?
As I was reading Porn Nation I was only slightly surprised to find that every woman is subject to 400 messages each day, in the form of advertisements. that tell her exactly how she should look according to Hollywood’s standards. Women, especially young and sensitive girls, are being sent the message that the only way they will gain acceptance by men is if they dress sensual and entice men with a sexual flair, using their bodies as bait to lure them in.
We are being saturated by our hyper sexual culture that believes that the number one seller is sex. It’s on the air waves, in movies, in advertisements, in song lyrics, and on grocery store magazine racks. It’s becoming accepted as the norm. Our mainstream technological advances have made it nearly impossible to avoid and easy to access. With the birth of the internet, there are no more barriers to the availability of pornography. One can even access it anonymously, keeping their private affairs safely hidden. The Wall Street Journal asked Faith Popcorn, a marketing trend expert, to give her predictions for the future trends in media business. Her response made my skin crawl: “Porn will become the norm. Nothing shocks anyone anymore. Our shock button has been turned off and that is why advertisers are finding it hard to get their messages through. The whole country is desensitized. The media will continue to push the limits of what’s acceptable.”
Porn could become the norm? If the country is becoming desensitized, then the men who fantasize alone must be desensitizing themselves as well. As they move on from one, seemingly innocent, genre of porn to the more extreme and raw genres, a new norm will form for them. As their desires intensify and their expectations grow and their need for more offensive porn to achieve their high increases, then what does that leave for the women? Porn offers one thing that one woman alone could never provide: variety. Men surf the internet and objectify and gawk at over hundreds of women–a variety of women in all shapes and sizes. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that women, including myself, have fallen into this trap of finding our worth by our sexual attractiveness. The media tells us what the perfect body looks like. And the images that men look at mislead them by telling men that women should look like the women on the cover of Penthouse. Curvaceous, soft and toned. A perfect size two, ample cleavage, and a tiny waist. They are alluring, mysterious, and are willing to give them whatever they want, when they want, at whatever price to their innocence.
If porn is to become the norm, then how will women cope? If viewing porn is simply determined to be a normalcy among men, and society throws its head back and exclaims, “boys will be boys,” then what do women have left? How can she believe in a one woman man when his attention is fixated on other women? If men are so sexualized by the media and our culture tells them that they have their male right to get their fix off pornographic images of women, then where will women find their worth? My guess is that they will become isolated in their minds. They will turn inward and attempt to numb themselves to the pain by trying to become good enough for their man. They’ll try to exemplify those women he’s having affairs with every night at his computer desk. The average women finds a significant amount of her worth in her husband’s acceptance, and most will go to extreme measures to gain his approval.
If porn is to become the norm, than the covenant of marriage will be forever destroyed. In the sanctity of the marriage bed, where will the man, or woman, who is struggling with sexual addiction be? Who will he or she be fantasizing about? Sex addicts, especially men, will be the first to admit that once they view an image, it is forever stored in their memory banks to be pulled out and viewed at any time regardless of how long it has been.
That truth terrifies me.
Is my Cinderella happily-ever-after fairytale precisely that–a fairy tale? I refuse to believe it. I refuse to accept the trend that our nation is consuming so quickly. But it is something that Christ has truly opened my eyes to. The porn industry is a multibillion dollar industry in our nation (we are the fourth largest consumer worldwide) and rakes in more revenue than the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball combined¹. Every 39 minutes a new pornographic movie is under new construction¹. Seventy-two million people visit adult Web sites each month and forty million adults regularly visit porn sites on the internet¹.
The effects of pornography? Well, I can think of exactly how I would feel: devalued and unimportant, ugly and unattractive. In my head and heart I would believe that the only reason why my man was visiting those sites, watching those videos and browsing those magazines is because I can’t provide him with the pleasure he desires. I would believe I wasn’t enough. Even though this isn’t necessarily the case, and in his book Porn Nation, Michael Leahy says that it has nothing to do with the victims, the feelings would naturally arise because that’s exactly what our Enemy would desire us to feel. But according to Harris Poll in “No Consensus among American Public on the Effects of Pornography on Adults or Children or What Government Should Do About It,” he found that 51% of United States adults surveyed believed that pornography raises a man’s expectation about what a woman should look like and how they should behave and interact with them. Forty percent believed that pornography and related addictions harm the relationships between the sexes².
God has revealed to me that sexual addiction is becoming one of Satan’s greatest tools against us. Pornography, lust, idolization, and adultery are at the crux of sexual fixation and will tear apart the foundation of the family. And if Satan can divide the family, then he has easier access to the individuals that make up that family. His goal is to lure men away from their wives, girlfriends, and families by destroying him with sensual images as men are wired to be visually stimulated. How women react is crucial as well. If they fall into the trap of acting and dressing sexually, then they feed the vicious cycle that is becoming nearly unavoidable, but not impossibly unavoidable. When men are hooked and women respond by internalizing their fear, hurt and rejection and turn the blame on themselves, then Satan has killed two birds with one stone. He’s causing men to lust after other women of which they have no commitment to, which is a form of adultery in the heart, removing them from socialization with their children and families, and forming in them unrealistic expectations of women, whether they be their wives, girlfriends or peers. In turn, he has destroyed the self esteem of the women involved and caused them to feel devalued and unlovable, which is vital to a woman’s fulfillment and happiness. And finally, by destroying the parents, he will have easy access to the children, whose hearts are becoming filled with tension, anger, betrayal and confusion. With one match, Satan can take down an entire household. And as the media distorts reality and as we are unable to distinguish authenticity, the Truth Himself will begin to fade as well.
¹ Ropelato, Jerry. “Internet Pornography Statitstics.” Http://www.toptenreiews.com. Leahy, Michael. Porn Nation. Pp. 200-203.2008.
² Poll, Harris. “No Consensus Among American Public on the Effects of Pornography on Adults or Children or What Government Should Do About It.” 7 October 2005.
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