Some justify obscenity as innocent escapism. You need to know the overlooked effects of pornography.
YOU'VE probably heard the story about the frog and the kettle of water. Put a frog in boiling water and he will quickly leap out. But put him in a kettle of cold water, turn on the heat, and he'll be boiled alive, quite unaware of the increasing temperature. The heat of pornography today has reached the boiling point and the proverbial frog of human sexuality is at stake. This is no mere metaphor. The West in particular is unaware of how pornography is insidiously destroying the foundational values of love, family and personal relationships.
How Did Pornography Develop?
You may never have been familiar with pornographic literature or seen an obscene film. But you should understand how they infect those around you — perhaps your children. Literally, pornography means "writing of harlots." Its purpose was to cause the reader sexual excitement, as the jocular sex stories of the Middle Ages did. Until the demise of the prudish Victorian era — when women's legs, arms and elbows were regarded obscene if visible — sex was often thought to be nasty and shameful — even in marriage. Then in 1904 Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, made a startling discovery. Sexual repression and ignorance plus the attitudes of shame and guilt did cause neuroses and other mental disorders. Moral standards crumbled as Freud and his followers toppled legal barriers banning sex information. The moral revolution was off and running, winning victory after victory over traditional decorum, conscience and ethic. In the late 1960s, Denmark became the first country to legalize all kinds of pornography. Earning gradual social tolerance, obscenity's subversive impact steadily increased. Five years ago people would not have tolerated scenes that now appear on television and in the theater. But each year both media offer more daring and explicit material than the year before. On May 12, 1981, a section of the New York penal law forbidding sexual exposure of a child for profit was overturned. The New York Court of Appeals ruled in a 5-2 decision that it was unconstitutional to ban the use of children in sexually explicit movies, shows and photos in the state, unless the material was declared legally obscene according to community standards. But what is "legally obscene according to community standards" when the U.S. Supreme Court does not take a stand? Instead of setting a national guideline for obscenity, the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that local juries would have to decide if pornography "lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value." All of which leaves the issue in a state of confusion as in 1964 when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stewart Potter defined pornography: "I know it when I see it." No doubt what society finds indecent or obscene will continue to vary from culture to culture and from time to time. In Malaysia and Singapore, for example, the law strictly forbids both the making and the importation of movies with anything resembling eroticism. "We cannot allow themes which suggest that violence or sexual license is a normal, even fashionable, way of solving problems or increasing human happiness.... It goes against our cultural values and is likely, in our view, to give rise to more anti-social behavior," says Ong Teng Cheong, Singapore's Acting Culture Minister. But in Hong Kong and the Philippines, morality doesn't stand in the way of profiteers who churn out sex films faster than any other places in southeast Asia. Hong Kong's erotic wave started in 1977, when there was a lull on the kung fu scene. Movie producers now rake in rich box-office profits from erotica. Straight screen pornography is illegal in Thailand, but eroticism has become increasingly visible in Thai movies, many of which are produced in Europe and smuggled into Thailand. "In today's Bangkok, economic benefits take precedence over moral considerations," said one Thai observer sadly. Money speaks louder than morality in Britain as well. "The fact is that sex shops are about the only growth industry in modern Britain. Everywhere they sprout, neither obscure nor withholding their toys, but brazenly and, to some, offensively frank" (Daily Telegraph. January 21, 1981). "Liberated" middle-age couples in Japan sometimes operate underground porno — viewing clubs in the face of the forbidding of hard-core obscenity in that country. Film directors have learned to camouflage torrid love scenes without sacrificing the explicit. "Sex and violence are aspects of human nature," notes Japanese director Nozomu Irumata. "We weave these into a plot, a moral story if you like." "But it isn't simply sex for sex's sake," commented a Tokyo psychologist. "It's our surrogate for the many things we've lost — the samurai, the geisha — as symbols of power, meekness and social harmony.... Soft-core [pornography] provides a catharsis." But an antipornography backlash is building up in Sweden, where prosecutions are pending against various porn shops and a new law has banned child pornography. "We wanted everything to be free; we wanted light and air," says Hans Nestius, a former sexual radical in Sweden. "But now I realize that pornography doesn't stand for openness, for sexual freedom — as I used to maintain...." Mr. Nestius now discounts arguments he once used to fight for free pornography. Once regarded one of the more sexually permissive societies, could Sweden be seeing the inefficacy of its widespread liberality? Another former Swedish sex radical, Maj Fant, said: "I don't think pornography fulfills a need." In Spain, where erotic publications dominate many newsstands and peddlers run shops on the sidewalks, one civil servant complained: "We have to pick our way through pornography in the evening paseo [stroll], and when my children empty the mailbox they find leaflets advertising indecent books and films. If this is democracy...." Smut pushers worldwide seem to have taken over, spreading erotica in every way possible, for profit of course. Last year the pornographic magazine, book and film business grossed $7 billion in the United States. Child pornography or pedophilia comprises one fourth of all pornography. Certain magazines portray sadism and abuse of children not as filthy, immoral or disgusting, but normal — even natural! Smut publishers have been having a heyday — anything to titillate and stimulate, with no reference to beauty, love or relationship, with no qualms against distorting, exploiting and the bizarre. "Pornography might be defined," says Ludwig F. Lowenstein, British author and educational psychologist, as "dehumanized sexual behavior — there is no concern for human feelings."
Few who revel in the fantasy world of pornography realize what obscenity does to them or how it reaches its tentacles into home and family, strangling loving relationships and contorting the proper use of sex. Instead they're lured by pornography's siren message: "Enjoy smut and obscenity; it's good for you. If you don't you're a prude." But Solomon, king of ancient Israel 2,900 years ago, asked, "Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?" (Prov. 6:27.) Psychologists maintain that the natural human impulse is to imitate what is seen. Research has proven that sexual sensations derived from looking at pornography remain in the brain as sexual anxiety. Victor Cline, a pornography expert living in Utah, goes so far as to say that pornography has an addiction effect — "a person needs more and more, and there is a tendency for its users to act out what they have seen." Pornographic magazines exploit women as objects merely for satisfying sexual appetites, and that has a profound effect on anybody. Sex in this material is presented as an abusive weapon. Result: a plethora of pathetic, sexually misoriented personalities. Timid or bored pornographic addicts are left empty and miserable, devoid of the happiness that a natural, healthy sexual relationship could bring. Obscene films, books and magazines reinforce immature withdrawal from positive relationships.
Filling Void of Parental Neglect
When parents neglect to teach their children proper sex education, pornography becomes a primary sex education resource for children and teenagers. From it they learn that there is little connection between sex, reproduction and marital love just barren titillation. People become objects to be consumed, like an orange, to satisfy immediate thirsts and hungers. So much for the fiction of "innocent escapism" or "healthy fantasizing" as proponents of pornography would have one believe. In the shallow world of pornography, people don't grow old together. Forgotten are children, husband and wife. Never displayed is emphasis on the proper family and normal father-mother or parent-child relationships. Sadly, but true, the one family interest often revolves around incest. Why not follow lust wherever it leads? "Pornography encourages impulsive sex, careless sex, daring sex, irresponsible sex, and it implies that there are no adverse consequences," said Reo Christenson, professor of political science at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. "You would never guess from viewing pornography that irresponsible sex leads to teenage pregnancies, premature marriages, abortions, illegitimate children, venereal disease or psychic traumas. Nor would you suspect that extramarital sex had any unhappy consequences." British author J.B. Priestley put it this way: "Eroticism in itself, wanting a sensation and not another person, makes love impossible." The fantasy world of smut saps enjoyment out of life because people want to get sex, fulfill themselves with no strings attached — strings like childbearing. Children mean responsibility and that impedes casual, unbridled sex. The "love" (really lust) that magazines describe is anything but outgoing concern or giving to the other person. Editor in chief Herbert W. Armstrong explains in his book The Missing Dimension In Sex: "Self-centered lustful pleasures [including pornography] corrode, injure and tend to destroy the indulger." Satan — whose existence many do not want to admit — has instigated a clever deception: illicit sex is OK anytime, anywhere. But God says beware this grand illusion: "So God has given them [those who break his laws] up, in their hearts' lust, to sexual vice, to the dishonouring of their own bodies — since they have exchanged the truth of God for an untruth, worshipping and serving the creature [themselves] rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever: Amen. That is why God has given them up to vile passions..." (Rom. 1:24-26, Moffatt). God pronounces sentence on those who disobey: "Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind [homosexuals], nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God" (I Cor. 6:9-10). Yet we are told today that there is nothing wrong with loveless sex.
Purposes of Sex
Our Creator designed sex in marriage for bringing happy children into the family and to bind husband and wife together in a sacred, giving relationship not shared with others. Both purposes are impossible with pornography. Former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon cut to the heart of the problem: "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 [barriers] against obscenity, but only people can turn back the tide." Until the prophesied utopian values of the World Tomorrow, when parents and schools will teach infants and young children right sex knowledge, everyone must be on guard against warped sexual values and realize the perils of pornography. If those who insist on indulging in obscenity could only understand the positive relationship between two people genuinely in love as revealed, for example, in the story found in the Song of Solomon in the Bible. And why not read our free book The Missing Dimension In Sex?