Is It Really So Harmful?
AS WE have seen, the Internet has made pornography readily available to both adults and children. Should you be concerned? Is pornography really harmful?
Many think that a casual brush with pornography is harmless. However, the facts show otherwise. Consider the case of a couple who seemed to have an ideal marriage. They were financially secure, and they loved to travel. Their friends thought of them as close, affectionate, and devoted, and in many ways they were.
However, problems arose when the husband started looking at pornography. Writing to a popular advice columnist, his anxious wife described her concerns: “When [my husband] first started to spend a lot of time on the computer in the middle of the night and early morning, he told me it was ‘research.’ I walked in on him one morning and caught him looking at [pornography] . . . He said it was only a matter of curiosity. When I took a closer look at what he was watching, it made me sick. He was embarrassed and promised to stop, and I believed he meant it. He has always been honorable—a man of his word.”
Like this man, many initially become involved in pornography out of curiosity. Anxious to avoid discovery, they log on late at night or early in the morning. If they are caught, they often try to cover up what they are doing by lying, as this man did. Can anyone reasonably claim that a “hobby” that causes “a man of his word” to sneak around in the middle of the night and to lie to loved ones is harmless?
The practice can lead to serious personal and family problems. Some have admitted that watching pornography has prevented them from developing close relationships with others. They don’t want people around while they indulge their passion for pornography. People tend to fantasize when they watch pornography, and fantasy does not equip a person to cultivate strong relationships or to deal with life in the real world. Can a pastime that alienates people from those who care the most about them be truly innocuous?
In some cases people who look at or read pornographic material even have trouble enjoying normal sexual relations with their mate. To understand why, consider God’s original purpose for married people. He lovingly endowed husbands and wives with the ability to give joyous expression of their love for each other through honorable sexual relations. Proverbs 5:18, 19 shows that these were meant to be pleasurable: “Rejoice with the wife of your youth . . . Let her own breasts intoxicate you at all times. With her love may you be in an ecstasy constantly.”
Note that love was to be the basis for sexual relations. Is the person who looks at pornography cultivating a warm bond of love and intimacy? No, he is gratifying his own sexual desires—alone, in most cases. A married man who looks at pornography may begin to view his mate as a mere object—someone who exists solely for his pleasure. This is far from the dignity and honor that the Creator intended men to accord women. (1 Peter 3:7) Can a practice that interferes with the most intimate aspects of marriage be viewed as desirable?
Moreover, what may have been intended as a casual indulgence can lead to a long-term addiction. One writer observes: “Just as drug addicts require more potent drugs to receive a ‘high,’ consumers of pornography must have a more intense experience to achieve the same euphoric feelings as before.”
That is apparently what happened to the husband mentioned earlier in this article. One evening several months after he promised to stop watching pornography, his wife returned home and found him at the computer. From his demeanor she could see that something was wrong. “[He] appeared quite nervous and upset,” she wrote. “I looked at the computer, and sure enough, he had been looking at some unbelievably raunchy stuff. He said he was sincere when he promised to give it up, but he just couldn’t stay away from it.”
In view of the harm pornography can cause and its wide availability, you have every reason to be concerned about it. How can you protect yourself and your children? The final article in this series will consider that question.
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Pornography is demoralizing