Young People Ask . . .
How Can I Avoid Pornography?
“A boy at school had a picture of a naked girl pasted inside the door of his locker. His locker wasn’t far from mine.”—Robert.a
“I was doing research on the Internet for a school report when suddenly I came across a pornographic Web site.”—Annette.
WHEN your parents were your age, people who wanted to view pornography had to look for it. Today, it seems that pornography looks for you. Like Robert, quoted above, you may find that your eyes fall upon a schoolmate’s porn. Or, like Annette, you could inadvertently see it online. Says one 19-year-old girl, “Sometimes I’m browsing or shopping on the Internet or even just checking bank statements online when wham—pornography pops up!”b
This is hardly unusual. In one study, 90 percent of youths between the ages of 8 and 16 said that they had unintentionally encountered pornography online—in most cases while doing homework! The fact is, with millions of Web sites hosting hundreds of millions of sexually explicit pages, pornography is more accessible than ever. It can even be accessed through a cell phone. “It’s a big thing at my school,” says 16-year-old Denise. “On Monday, conversation seems to be, ‘What pictures did you download to your cell over the weekend?’”
Knowing that so many people are looking at pornography, you might wonder, ‘Is it really all that bad?’ The answer is yes, for several reasons. Consider just three of them:
◼ Pornography demeans both those who produce it and those who look at it.—1 Thessalonians 4:3-5.
◼ Looking at pornography is often a stepping-stone to committing sexual sins.—James 1:14, 15.
Pornography has devastating effects on those who are ensnared by it. Consider just two examples:
“I was exposed to pornography at a very young age, and it was really a struggle for me to break free from it. It’s been years, but those images are indelibly burned into my memory. The thoughts always seem to be lurking in the back of your mind, and your conscience never seems truly clean. Pornography destroys your self-esteem and can leave you feeling dirty and worthless. You always have this silent burden to carry.”—Erica.
“I was addicted to pornography for 10 years, and I’ve been free of it for 14. Even now, though, it’s a daily battle. The desire, although much more subdued, is still there. The curiosity is still there. The images are still there. I wish I’d never started down this hideous path. It seemed so harmless at first. But now I know better. Pornography is damaging, it is perverse, and it is demeaning to all parties concerned. Despite what its proponents may claim, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—positive about pornography.”—Jeff.
Making an Evaluation
How can you avoid even unintentionally stumbling across pornography? First, analyze the situation.
How frequently do you encounter pornography by accident?
□ Never □ Occasionally
□ Weekly □ Daily
Where does this most often occur?
□ Internet □ School
□ TV □ Other
Is there a pattern to your encounters?
Consider the following examples:
Are some of your schoolmates likely to send pornography via e-mail or cell-phone attachments? Knowing this may impel you to delete such attachments without opening them.
When you’re online, do pop-ups occur when you enter certain words in a search engine? Knowing that this is possible could help you to be more specific in your use of key words.
Below, list any circumstances that have led to your encountering pornography.
In view of the above, what might you do to reduce the number of times you inadvertently encounter pornography? (Write your thoughts here.)
How do you respond when you stumble across pornography?
□ I turn away immediately.
□ Curiosity causes me to stare at it briefly.
□ I continue to look at it and even search out more.
If you checked the second or third response, what goal could you set in this matter?
Some who are unwittingly exposed to pornography become curious and, in time, develop a habit of viewing it. Breaking such a habit isn’t easy. Jeff, quoted earlier, says: “Before studying the Bible, I had experimented heavily with nearly every major drug. But of all my addictions, pornography was by far the most difficult to break.”
If you have fallen into a habit of viewing pornography, do not despair. You can get help. How?
◼ Understand pornography for what it is. It’s nothing less than a satanic attempt to degrade something that Jehovah created to be honorable. Understanding pornography in this light will help you to “hate what is bad.”—Psalm 97:10.
◼ Think of the consequences. Pornography destroys marriages. It devalues women and men. It debases the person who views it. For good reason the Bible says: “Shrewd is the one that has seen the calamity and proceeds to conceal himself.” (Proverbs 22:3) Write below one example of a calamity that could befall you if you were to view pornography habitually.
◼ Make a commitment. “I have made a solemn promise never to look with lust at a girl,” said the faithful man Job. (Job 31:1, Today’s English Version) The following are a few ‘solemn promises’ you could make to yourself:
□ I will not use the Internet when I am alone in a room.
□ I will immediately exit any pop-up or site that is explicit.
□ I will talk to a mature friend if I have a relapse.
Can you think of one or two other resolves that could help you in the battle against pornography? If so, list them below.
◼ Pray about the matter. The psalmist prayed to Jehovah: “Make my eyes pass on from seeing what is worthless.” (Psalm 119:37) Granted, it can be difficult to resist something that is appealing to the sinful flesh. But Jehovah God wants you to succeed, and he can supply you with “power beyond what is normal” so that you can do what is right!—2 Corinthians 4:7.
◼ Talk to someone. Embarrassed? Probably! Yet, think of how relieved you will be to unburden yourself. The person you confide in can be like “a brother that is born for when there is distress.” (Proverbs 17:17) Choosing a confidant is often an important step in breaking the habit.
If you have a habit of viewing pornography, write below the name of a mature person whom you would feel comfortable approaching about the matter.
Be assured that you can be successful in the war against pornography. In fact, each time you turn away from it, you have won a significant victory. Tell Jehovah about that victory, and thank him for the strength he has given you. Always remember that by avoiding the plague of pornography, you make Jehovah’s heart rejoice!—Proverbs 27:11.
More articles from the “Young People Ask . . .” series can be found at the Web site www.watchtower.org/ype
a Names in this article have been changed.
b The term pornography refers to sexually explicit material that is designed to arouse the viewer, reader, or listener. It can include pictures as well as written and audio material.
TO THINK ABOUT
◼ How does pornography degrade something that is honorable?
◼ What practical measures can protect you from pornography?
◼ How would you help a sibling who had a problem with pornography?
[Picture on page 12, 13]
Are some of your schoolmates likely to send pornography via cell-phone attachments?