Could I be dreaming? For decades the media has been a staunch defender of pornography—freedom of speech, freedom to choose, sexual liberation and all that, don’t ’ya know.
But now, wonder of wonders, America’s leading news sources seem to have awakened from their long slumber. They’re finally recognizing pornography for what it is: an unprecedented public health crisis.
TIME magazine, for example, just ran a cover story about the grassroots backlash against internet erotica. Belinda Luscombe documents a movement of former porn addicts helping their peers find ways to break the grip of online voyeurism. Guys like Gabe Deem, the 28-year-old founder of Reboot Nation, offer “advice and support for [fellow] young people who believe they are addicted to pornography…”
The reason some are swearing off smut, Luscombe explains, is simple: These mostly non-religious twenty-somethings who’ve been guzzling porn since puberty are realizing that porn has rewired their sexuality, leaving them crippled in real-life relationships.
The new crusaders against porn, writes Luscombe, “are convinced that their sexual responses have been sabotaged because their brains were virtually marinated in porn when they were adolescents…[They] feel like unwitting guinea pigs in a largely unmonitored decade-long experiment in sexual conditioning.”
And this experiment involves a lot of guinea pigs. One online traffic-monitoring company recorded 107 million hits on explicit Web pages in the U.S. alone, just in the month of February. The Huffington Post reports that in 2013, x-rated sites got more monthly visitors than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. And one of the most popular “adult” pages reported that its visitors last year watched nearly 4.4 billion hours—or 500,000 years’ worth--of explicit video.
Other news outlets are coming to their senses on this issue, as well. Writing in The Washington Post last week, sociology professor Gail Dines argues that the scientific question of whether porn is bad for society is settled:
“Just as the tobacco industry argued for decades that there was no proof of a connection between smoking and lung cancer,” she writes, “the porn industry, with the help of a well-oiled public relations machine, [has] denied the existence of empirical research on the impact of its products.”
But Dines cites a wealth of peer-reviewed studies showing that men who consume porn are more accepting of rape, sexual assault, and harassment, and that kids who watch porn engage in sex sooner, and at greater risk.
Even the New York Times chimed in, admitting that the number of teens who are getting their de facto sex education from porn should worry us. Peggy Orenstein complains that women today have to cope with men who’ve been conditioned to treat them as objects to be used, rather than people to be loved. And ironically, the ubiquity of sexual imagery has had a chilling effect on sex, itself.
For Christians, the fact that the mainstream media is finally admitting these consequences is encouraging. Very encouraging. But this is just a start. We’ve got to be able to point those who want to be freed from the prison of porn to something better. Our sexuality was not designed for screens, and as the Apostle Paul writes, our bodies weren’t meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord. Will TIME magazine one day admit that, too? Maybe not. But hey, a guy can dream.
If you know someone who struggles with pornography, there are helpful resources at BreakPoint.org.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Publication date: April 20, 2016