Pornography - What's the Big Deal?
by Laurie Hall
The woman next to me on
the plane was talkative. We discussed how many times
we'd flown before and shared a bit about our families.
Then she asked, "What do you do?"
"I'm a writer," I replied.
"How exciting! What do you write?" she asked, leaning
"Right now I'm working on a book about how pornography
destroys marriages," I replied.
"Oh!" she gasped. "I know what you mean."
Turning away, she hid her face, but not before I saw
tears in eyes that moments before had been bright with
A month later, a friend from church asked me how my
book on pornography was going.
"I'm amazed," I said. "Every time I turn around, I
find out about more families who've been devastated
Looking me in the eye, she said, "And you haven't even
talked to me yet."
The First Shot in the Sexual Revolution
Before Playboy magazine hit the newsstands in
1954, sexually explicit pictures were not readily available
to mainstream America. Sure, if he went to the sleazy
part of town and knew where to look, a guy could find
some "dirty" pictures. That's all they were, though
-- "dirty" pictures. No one pretended they were anything
Playboy's approach took porn to new levels of
acceptability. The marketing strategy worked, too. Playboy
magazines were put on regular newsstands with respected
periodicals, and pretty soon, that respectability rubbed
one Promise Keepers event, 50 percent of the attendees
admitted to dabbling in porn during the previous
By 1970 the President's commission on Obscenity and
Pornography described the average consumers of pornography
as predominately white, middle-class, middle-aged, married
males dressed in business suits or neat casual attire.
Today, pornography is a $13 billion a year industry.
A Victimless Crime?
We'd like to believe that pornography is strictly an
intellectual activity, that it has no behavioral repercussions
or emotional implications. We have been told that it's
a matter of free speech. We've been told that it's a
"victimless crime" because we can't see any immediate
There is no corpus delicti to prove something has been
killed. There is no empty shelf to show us what has
been robbed. There is no pile of wreckage that can be
parked outside the local high school to warn others
of the consequences of dangerous activities.
Though there is no smoking gun, there is plenty of
circumstantial evidence that a death has taken place.
Those who want you to believe pornography is a First
Amendment right won't talk about the silent devastation
that occurs in the hearts of men, women and children
when someone in their family adopts the Playboy
philosophy of disposable relationships.
They just argue that pornography is "free speech" and
try to persuade you that it has no effect other than
the brief thrill of the moment. They want you to think
that pornography is but a moment of time in an otherwise
They don't want you to know that the images of, and
experiences produced by, pornography are permanently
burned into your mind by a curious mixture of hormones
that are released when sexually explicit materials are
viewed. They don't want you to know that this mix of
hormones becomes more potent when the sex portrayed
involves violence or fear. They especially don't
want you to know that as a result of this imprinting
process, sex for you will now be linked with fear, violence
They also don't want you to believe that these permanently
imbedded images recur at will, much like LSD flashbacks.
These recurrences draw the pornography participant further
and further into a world of fantasy. Over a period of
time, the lines between what is fantasy and what is
real become blurred. The mind begins a process of dissolution
as thoughts track only one way.
Eventually, the pornography participant becomes an
empty shell of a man. Hollow to the core, he wanders
through life, seeking only one thing: fulfillment of
the lust that has taken hold of him. Every other achievement
becomes merely a means to that end. Until at last, instead
of spending his time achieving, he spends most of his
No wonder Proverbs 6:26-28, 32 says, "For by means
of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread:
and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.
Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not
be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not
be burned? But whoso committeth adultery with a woman
lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his
own soul" (KJV).
Just One Bad Apple
Whether we want to believe it or not, who we are affects
what our communities are. The way we live our lives
affects the way our neighbors live theirs. The way we
behave in private becomes the way we behave in public.
We are salt and we are light, and if our salt has lost
its savor and our light has been dimmed, everyone around
us is affected.
of April 1, 1990, the population of the United States
was 248,709,873. That same year, over 300,000,000
X-rated videos were distributed in our neighborhoods.
Since then, sales and rentals of adult videos have
risen 75 percent.
In an article about the psychological and social effects
of pornography, Dr. Harold Voth, a professor at the
Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry, writes:
"By permitting the ever-expanding display of pornography,
or sexually explicit material on the printed page, in
theaters, on television (regular TV, cable, and satellite),
our social structure is being bombarded continuously
by powerful erosive stimuli. Sexuality in its mature
form is a necessary aspect of the heterosexual bond
and the stability of the family. The massive unleashing
of sexuality which is occurring in Western civilization
is a reflection of cultural decline. It is well-known
that an inverse relationship exists between indiscriminate
sexual expression and cultural excellence."
The ripple effects of the Playboy philosophy
are broad based. In a society where using people is
tolerated, more and more people will become "users"
resulting in more and more "victims." Those who break
trust on the most intimate matters will eventually begin
to apply the same mind-set to business and civil-rights
matters, saying and doing whatever it takes to get whatever
is a $12-13 billion a year industry-more than the
combined annual revenues of the Coca-Cola and McDonnell
In a society where using others is tolerated, the used
find their security continually threatened as each day
brings a new violation of trust. It doesn't take too
many violations of trust for an individual to lose his
ability to trust. When the number of untrusting individuals
reaches critical mass, the society they live in loses
its ability to trust. Losing our ability to trust is
a grave matter. Without trust, our souls wither and
die. Without trust, there can be no civilization.
The Way of Wisdom
Would it surprise you to know that the ancient Hebrews
believed that wisdom is closely related to the things
we look at? The Hebrew word for wise -- skal -- gives
us the understanding that the things we look at and
think about affect our ability to be intelligent and
prudent. Because of this, what we take in through our
eyes is extremely important.
The eye is the window to the soul. Satan knew this,
and because he desired access to their soul, he used
Adam's and Eve's eyes when he tempted them to eat the
forbidden fruit. First Satan told Adam and Eve that
having wisdom would somehow affect their eyes, "for
God knows that in the day ye eat thereof, then your
eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing
good and evil" (Genesis 3:5, KJV, emphasis added). Then,
"the woman saw that the tree was good" (Genesis 3:6,
KJV, emphasis added). Finally, immediately after they
ate the fruit, "the eyes of them both were opened,
and they knew they were nakedand Adam and his
wife hid themselves (Genesis 3:7-8, KJV).
See No Evil
Opening our eyes to evil has relational consequences.
Once their minds were awakened to evil, Adam and Eve
immediately saw their nakedness in a new light. Where
moments before they had viewed their bodies with no
shame, suddenly they felt so much shame that they hid
from themselves, from each other, and from God. By focusing
the soul on nakedness in a way that produces shame and
isolation from self, from others, and from God, looking
at evil destroys both freedom (the ability to know oneself)
and intimacy (the ability to share oneself with others).
Jesus also talked about how exposing our eyes to evil
is related to our ability to be wise. In Matthew 6:22-23,
He said, "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore
thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of
light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall
be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is
in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" (KJV).
The Greek word for evil -- poneros -- means that which
is malicious and deliberately harmful of others. In
other words, if our eyes are looking at things that
are malicious and willfully harming others, we are closing
ourselves off to truth. The result will be a plunge
Exploiting others for personal gain is evil in its
rawest form. A man who feasts his eyes on pictures that
have been made by expiating others is plucking out his
own eyes. He is plunging himself into darkness. He will
lose his ability to be wise.
Today, we don't talk much about how what we see affects
our ability to be wise. We just keep wondering why our
society is losing its soul. Could it have anything to
do with the window dressings we allow it to have? Could
it have something to do with pornography?
I think that it does. I saw my husband lose his soul
to pornography. I have held other women and listened
to them weep as they told me how their husbands also
lost their souls to pornography. Pornography kills the
soul, steals the heart, and destroys the mind. Pornography
is not a victimless crime.
Taken from An Affair of the Mind by Laurie
Hall. Published by Focus on the Family. Copyright ©1996
by Laurie Hall. All rights reserved. International copyright
secured. Used by permission.
The Price of Unkept Promises
Kari West: One Sunday, after attending
church as a family, I walked into the family room
toward images of a porn film flickering on the
video screen. "What are you doing?" I asked.
I had read about the lewd acts of topless strippers
in nightclubs under prosecution by our local district
attorney. I was embarrassed by X-rated movies.
Ed had occasionally asked me to check into motels
with him to watch films like a couple he knew
who "got turned on." I refused.
Years later, when Ed filed for divorce, I was
devastated by his comment that he now liked "bleached
blondes with long, painted nails." I glanced at
my short-cut fingernails. All those years I worked
for us, I thought, putting you through college,
making house payments
Not until I learned of Ed's many affairs throughout
our 22-year marriage did I clearly see signs of
his early involvement with pornography and understand
how porn leads to sexual addiction and is dipping
its fingers into men's pockets.
Noelle Quinn: Dan was a busy lay pastor
in a mainline evangelical denomination. Writing,
teaching, counseling and preaching were his life.
He was known for his theological insight, family
priorities and creativity.
But Dan became increasingly restless. Something
is wrong with this picture, I sensed. But I couldn't
put my finger on it until truth exploded in my
face. Shortly after canceling our 20th wedding
anniversary trip, he told me he was leaving me
for a friend and neighbor.
Minirth-Meier counseling center claims sexual
addiction is the number one reason Christians
come to them for counseling.
I know now Dan is only one of thousands of men
who are known by others as Christians but whose
lifelong porn habits are hidden beneath layers
Anonymity and Unaccountability
The ravages of pornography creep slowly. In increments,
a man allows them to invade his mind, seal off
his conscience, stroke his ego and massage his
guilt. Often imaginary sex is better than real
sex because one's partner, the performance of
both participants, and the surroundings are controlled
by the mind. Reel sex or cybersex is an instant
tension release without responsibility. It is
shaped by wandering thoughts spliced together
and stored in a steamy fantasy bank.
"Relationships on the Internet are much more
sexually explicit and fantasized than anything
face-to-face," says Shirley Glass, a Baltimore
psychologist. This creation of "an artificial
space" allows people to take risks into unknown
territory and talk about all kinds of erotic fantasies.
Many men think that porn, in its many forms,
is sex without consequences. With anonymity and
lack of accountability, no one need know. And
what no one knows can't hurt. Or can it?
Kari: Early in our marriage, Ed subscribed
to Playboy, browsed girlie magazines when we stopped
to buy the Sunday paper and justified swooning
at braless women in miniskirts. In the late 1960s,
pornography wasn't talked about from the pulpit
or in ministry circles. I didn't know to whom
to talk or if I was reading too much into Ed's
behavior. So I excused it as a "typical male response."
When the marriage ended at his edict, he accused
me of not meeting his sexual needs or fantasies.
He was good at convincing me I was the problem.
All the time I put into exercise and personal
hygiene and all the money invested in silky lingerie
didn't count. Instead, Ed's angry outbursts kept
me from stepping on the truth. He evaded the real
When you can't go back, you go on. So I moved
on with my life, forgave Ed's affairs and eventually
married a man who validates me. Ed continues to
move from relationship to relationship. Once he
admitted that the biggest lies are the ones he
Noelle: In the last few years of our marriage,
Dan gradually removed himself from accountability.
He restructured his job so he could work his own
schedule and make his own rules. He slowed, then
stopped attending church.
Dan alternated between criticism and kindness
to keep me off balance. When I suggested we talk,
he'd say, "Give me space." If I wanted to rev
up our love life, he'd say, "Lots of men my age
Eventually, his new woman friend dumped him for
another man. Dan hid his grief behind more alibis,
then moved away. Alone. Broken. Besides losing
his reputation, home and family, Dan lost the
most important thing of all -- the trust of those
who loved him.
The Real Victims
The truth is a part of Kari still loves Ed. A
part of Noelle still loves Dan. Divorce is not
a clean-cut separation of two individuals but
a ripping apart of one flesh. In a deep place
beyond tears, we cry some days -- but not just
mourning what we lost. We mourn their loss. We
wonder if Ed and Dan will ever face the truth
and make the choice to change?
Will they wear the mask of pretense and fantasy
into each new relationship? Or will they open
wounds to healing, feel their feelings, talk to
somebody and admit things are out of control?
The bottom line is that the pornography industry
profits while men and women lose. Before you face
the consequences that Ed and Dan faced, examine
the data, consider the cost. What are you willing
to lose? Your wife? Your family? Yourself?
Ask yourself: Can I afford the price of an unkept
NOTE: Pseudonyms have been used to protect
the privacy of all parties involved. Kari West
and Noelle Quinn are freelance writers from California
and Oregon. They are co-authors of the book When
The Mind Polluters, by Jerry R. Kirk.
Thomas Nelson, 1985.
Faithful and True: Sexual Integrity in a Fallen
World, by Mark R. Laaser. Zondervan, 1992.
Pornography: A Human Tragedy, by Tom Minnery,
ed. Tyndale House, 1987.
Shame and Grace: Healing the Shame We Don't
Deserve, by Lewis B. Smedes. Zondervan, 1993.
Eros Redeemed, by John White. InterVarsity
Places to go for help:
The American Family Association
107 Parkgate P.O. Drawer 2440 Tupelo, Mississippi
The premier place to get good research on pornography,
they also have an OutReach division to help those
with sexual addictions.
Enough is Enough
P.O. Box 888 Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Helps women take action against child pornography,
hard-core pornography and other illegal pornography
in their communities.
National Coalition Against Pornography
Dr. Jerry Kirk, President
800 Compton Road, Suite 9224 Cincinnati, Ohio
Offers training resources, videos, organizational
materials, audiocassettes and research reports
for use in the battle against pornography.
My wife has been writing this book for over two
years now. She has gone through hell both during
my addiction to porn and after, reliving it again
and again by putting it into print. She has suffered
more than I'll ever understand. I pray that God
will show me the suffering and pain she and the
children have endured.
It's essential to have a strong idea of what
your family has gone through in order for the
addict to take responsibility, start giving back
and start healing.
You might ask whether it's worth the pain and
struggle to recover from sexual addiction. Why
not just get along? Well, I no longer want to
just get along! I want Christ to finish that good
work He started in me, the work I helped put on
The Lord didn't put us here to just get along.
We exist to give others hope and live a victorious
and fruitful life. Some of the fruits have been
so sweet and wonderful -- for example, a pure
mind. It's still going through the cleaning process,
but my mind is already much better. A clear conscience
is also in the works, freeing me more and more
as I ask for forgiveness and make wrongs right.
The guilt that I tried to carry is now in the
Lord's hands. It is freeing to be able to come
to Him when I sin and ask Him to carry that guilt.
Being able to talk to the Lord as He walks beside
me is the best relationship I can think of. Yes,
it is worth the struggle to come out of a frozen
state of lust and self-centeredness.
Taken from An Affair of the Mind by
Laurie Hall. Published by Focus on the Family.
Copyright ©1996 by Laurie Hall. All rights reserved.
International copyright secured. Used by permission.
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