Chances are, while watching television, you have come across channels offering some form of pornography. More than likely, you have driven past an adult video store with a number of cars parked out front. You may have seen several newspaper ads offering “phone sex” or escort services. More than likely, your email inbox has been bombarded with smut-filled messages. Chances are, you have accidentally stumbled across websites filled with all sorts of sexual imagery. And, according to statistics, chances are, there is someone in your home viewing—possibly even addicted to—such sexually-driven “entertainment.”
Almost as old as written history, pornography, while riding the surge of technology, has reached practically every corner of the globe.
Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia explains, “The ancient Greeks used pornographic themes in songs in Dionysian festivals, and ancient Romans painted pornographic pictures on walls in the ancient city of Pompeii. Pornography was also prevalent in some ancient Eastern cultures, such as those of India, Japan, and China…It was not until the 1800s, however, that pornography began to become a social problem, primarily because the spread of technology—such as printing, photography, and motor vehicles—made it more readily available and because of the growth of democracy and individual freedom.”
Once seen as one of America’s last taboos, pornography is finding its home in the mainstream. Aside from books, magazines, games and music videos (mainly geared toward teenagers) filled with sexual themes, pornography is portrayed on television and in movies as “not that big of a deal.”
Such an example is the popular movie The Girl Next Door. In the film, a young man in suburbia discovers that the fresh-faced, attractive young woman living next door is actually a “porn star.” The movie then proceeds to portray the adult entertainment industry as simply a means for someone to have more fun, break the rules of “the standard” and a great way to get more dates. The movie (practically a porn-promoting film) presents teenage viewers a sanitized, unrealistic view of pornography, presenting the “positive” reasons for being in that industry.
Another example was at a book signing, where throngs of people waited in line to get an autographed copy of an underage porn star’s autobiography. Even the “star” was amazed at the response, stating, “When I was in porn, it was like a back-alley thing…But now it’s everywhere.”
Far from being one of America’s last taboos, pornography has actually become one of the nation’s top industries. In fact, as society continues to remove its “shackles” of sexual morality and restraint—sexualizing practically everything (clothing, music, jewelry, television, books, comic books, even our children)—it is no surprise that pornography has taken its hold of so many en masse.
But to what extent has this taken place? How many people actually view porn? Many claim that pornography is harmless entertainment. Is this correct? How does it affect our children? And how is it affecting society as a whole?
Most have heard of the “power of advertising.” This power fuels commercialism—driving people to become consumers purchasing everything they can get their hands on. Similarly, it can be said that the “power of pornography”—ranging from partially-nude music videos and fashion shows, to soft-core advertisements, to hard-core pornographic movies—is driving today’s sexualized mentality.
This new sexual revolution has established pornography as a multi-billion dollar industry. This not only applies to companies and business ventures, but it is turning up profits for the “average” citizen as well. Many new websites showcasing “amateur porn”—home videos of people engaging in sex—appear each day, charging subscriptions to access such video “collections.”
Incredibly, this pornography craze is also helping to pay the tuition of many college-going young women, who are utilizing webcams to webcast themselves on people’s computer screens. Countless new sites appear each day, featuring young women parading in front of cameras and charging people to see them in their daily activities (including being naked and engaging in sex). Before the development of the webcam, such a concept would not be feasible—unless one was a “peeping Tom” and/or a sexual deviant. Yet, today’s society nonchalantly dismisses such behavior as a means “to pay for college.” As the development of technology accelerates and society’s moral fibers altogether dissipate, pornography will find its way into the hands of even more people.
The targeted viewers are also becoming younger. This wider target audience is due to the porn industry’s utilization of new technologies. It has been said that pornography helped drive early sales and development of most new forms of entertainment technologies. It is also credited as one of the main reasons so many flocked to purchase VCRs and utilize the Internet.
Regarding the union of pornography and technology, Frederick Lane III, lawyer and author of the book Obscene Profits: The Entrepreneurs of Pornography in the Cyber Age, explains, “The way I like to put it is that we went from 1,000 adult movie theaters in less than 10 years to 80 million adult movie theaters. And that basically is what happened with the VCR…The computer now, in terms of its penetration into American households—the last figure I saw was somewhere on the order of 70-80 million households, out of the 100 million in this country?” (“Porn in the USA,” CBSNEWS).
In describing the porn industry blazing the trail in finding new, efficient media for their product, USA Today reports, “They’re among the Web’s most innovative and profitable entrepreneurs, but pariahs among mainstream business people. Online pornographers have been among the first to exploit new technology for more than a decade—from video-streaming and fee-based subscriptions to pop-up ads and electronic billing. Their bold experimentation has helped make porn one of the most profitable online industries, and their ideas are staples at Fortune 500 companies” (Jon Swartz, “Online porn often leads high-tech way”).
But this utilization of new technologies is not a new trend—it has been this way for decades. Today’s new “porn entrepreneurs” are merely carrying the torch of the many pornographers who exploited the development of film, photography and videotapes to turn “trash into cash”—from early nude portraits and depictions of sex to even silent pornography films from the 1920s! If there was a new way to spread such filth, pornographers were immediately there to expand and develop technological innovations.
In the past, pornography was not as mainstream as it is today—it was something one had to search out in the “back alley.” But today, it is readily available live, uncut and in your face. This attests to society’s growing obsession and carefree attitude toward the adult film industry, solidifying it as a highly profitable venture.
In business with Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Comcast, Time Warner and Cablevision (to name a few), there are now several companies traded on the New York Stock Exchange involved in pornography. Even a non-profit medical center (the “Adult Industry Medical HealthCare Foundation”) was formed, dedicated to treating the spread of AIDS and HIV among porn stars.
Pornography is big business! And it will continue to bring in its profits regardless of how, where and when it reaches consumers. Mr. Lane continues, “I think that they [those in the porn industry] get involved in it because of the profit margins that are involved. One of the things about pornography that’s consistently true across the board is that because there’s a social stigma still attached to it, you can charge a premium for these materials. And because you can charge a premium for it, the profit margin is higher. So, it makes pure economic sense.”
Derived from sources such as Google, WordTracker, PBS, MSNBC, NRC, Alexa Research and Internet Filter Review, the informational graphic reveals that pornography is “pure economic sense.” Considering the principle of “supply and demand,” most people are spending thousands of dollars to feed their hunger for porn.
We have already seen that sexually explicit material has infected millions of people, desensitizing them to see it as something “everyone watches.” This reasoning has led many to question whether pornography actually harms its viewers. Is it simply harmless entertainment used by people to thrill their senses and enhance their sex lives?
Consider the following:
• Pornography is meant to increase sexual excitement in its viewers, leaving them wanting to fulfill what they viewed. The “I-want-more” mentality takes hold, instilling a craving for sexual gratification. This can lead to increased sexual encounters (and an increase in unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and even cervical cancer), to sexual crimes (such as child molestation, sexual assault and battery, and rape). Regardless to which it leads, pornography is a clear-cut case of feeding the “lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes” (I John 2:16).
• It forever warps one’s view of sexual relations, including the many children and teenagers who happen to come across some type of pornography. It instills in the viewer’s mind that contact with the opposite sex is for the purpose of sexual gratification—not for the sake of having a loving, caring marriage relationship. It corrupts the viewers’ understanding of the proper use of sex, turning it into a guilt-ridden act of selfishness; instead of a form of expression of love between a husband and wife, it is twisted into an act of self-fulfillment, regardless of the other’s needs or wants. Not only does this distortion of the God-ordained reasons for sex affect the present generation, it also corrupts the next generation—creating an endless cycle of further perversions.
• In addition to changing one’s views of sexual relations, pornography sexualizes the viewer’s mindset, unnaturally elevating the sexual act in the mind. While viewed as a way of enlivening or exciting the sexual relations of a married couple, it actually creates the opposite effect. It causes the porn viewer to compare his or her sex life to those on screen—where all things appear much more glamorous and arousing. In effect, the person becomes disinterested in his or her spouse, or is driven to further sexual experimentation to keep up with the scintillations provided by porn.
• Pornography leads to sexual addictions and further sexual perversions. For example, porn sites often link to other websites depicting every type of sexual perversion, such as child porn, homosexuality, bestiality, necrophilia, masochism, rape, sadism and other abominations.
• Research has proven that since the human impulse is to act out what is often seen, sensations attributed to watching pornography remain as sexual anxiety and tension in the mind.
• Pornography often leads to divorce and break-up of the family. Oftentimes, married couples who view porn go on to adulterous relationships. A link between porn and cases of incest and child molestation has been made, with police often finding pornography on the offender’s computer or in the home. In addition to breaking up present families, it also contributes in destroying future families by instilling in young minds that one can forgo marriage in the pursuit of free and easy sex. In all, it creates a lack of human emotion and feelings.
In light of the above, it should be clear that pornography is anything but “harmless entertainment.” It has many side effects that most simply overlook in pursuit of their own pleasure.
Quite plainly, society has become addicted to pornography and its convenience of always being “one click away.” And this addiction applies not only to hardcore pornography, but also to softcore porn and sexually explicit entertainment. Pornography is no longer just a problem for men; a growing number of women are becoming addicted to porn! According to a study by Nielson NetRatings, about one in three who visit pornographic websites are women—bringing the number of women who viewed pornography online to 9.3 million (“Pornography: A Woman’s Struggle, Too,” March 9, 2004, Jason Collum). This expansion of the viewing audience is creating a more sexually aggressive society of individuals who have opened themselves up to a new interpretation of what sex should be.
Meanwhile, practically all other non-pornographic media are being further sexualized. In essence, this is further blanketing society in a craze for sexual entertainment. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia’s definition of pornography is one that sounds much like the average prime-time television line-up: “Films, magazines, writings, photographs, or other materials that are sexually explicit and intended to arouse sexual excitement in their audience. Deriving from the Greek words pornē (“prostitute”) and graphein (“to write”), the word pornography originally referred to any work of art or literature dealing with sex and sexual themes.”
But this slide into the full-scale indecency of today has been a long time in the making. Following the sexual prudery of the Victorian Era blossomed the modern thinking of Sigmund Freud, Austrian physician and neurologist. Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, invented the theory that “…the symptoms of hysteria were ascribed to manifestations of undischarged emotional energy…” and that sexual repression and ignorance led to these psychological disorders.
This led to the sexual revolutions of the late 1960s and the 70s. During these years, moral standards were broken down and the “new morality” was unveiled. An avalanche of pornographic films made its way into movie theaters. This included films depicting such perverted acts as rape, bestiality, homosexuality and pedophilia. All of this was unprecedented in American society at that time, but today, it is practically commonplace. Although American law is trying to crack down on the proliferation of child pornography, how can one truly stop the deteriorating morals of the nation? Examining the sex-crazed society of today reveals that it cannot be done on human effort.
If the profits for pornography were not there, the industry simply would not exist. Notice the following quote from President Richard Nixon: “When indecent books no longer find a market, when pornographic films can no longer draw an audience, when obscene plays open to empty houses, then the tide will turn. Government can maintain against obscenity, but only people can turn back the tide.” Unfortunately, people are no longer interested in turning back the tide—so prove statistics!
This leads to the all-important question: Is pornography sin?
I John 3:4 explains that “sin is the transgression of the law.” The Law of God includes not only the Ten Commandments, but all of the laws, principles and points found in the Bible—such as “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (I Thes. 5:22); “…when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed” (II Cor. 12:21); “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness [impurity (the quality), physically or morally]…that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19, 21); “And He said, That which comes out of the man, that defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications…All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23); “Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness [an accurate description of the porn industry]” (Eph. 4:19).
Matthew 5:27-29 also reveals that not only is it sin to commit the physical act of adultery, but lusting is also sin. No doubt, lust is a driving force behind the porn industry.
As we have seen, pornography is hurting many children, teens, husbands and wives—and only benefits the pornography industry. It is warping and distorting the purpose of sex—turning it into merely a means of satisfying one’s lusts.
However, God designed sex as a beautiful act between a married couple, and as a way to draw the couple together. In fact, Genesis 1:28 shows that the first marriage command was for Adam and Eve to “be fruitful, and multiply”—conceive through sexual relations.
Unfortunately, as with almost everything man gets his hands on, sexuality has become twisted and distorted. Instead of following the laws of God and carrying out the sex function in the way that God designed, people have continually sought to redefine sex—from being a guilt-ridden pleasure in the Victorian age, to today’s new morality, where practically any and every form of sex is accepted (and new forms are always welcome).
But this is not the way that God—the Creator and Designer of all things, including sex—meant it to be. (To learn more about this, read our free books Dating and Courtship – God’s Way and Sex – Its Unknown Dimension.)