What’s the Problem with a Little Porn?

Awhile back, I watched an interview with former adult film star Ron Jeremy. He was advocating for the harmlessness of pornography. His main point was, what’s wrong with a little porn? It helps a person take care of their own needs without bothering anyone else, and can be done in the privacy of your own home whenever the timing suits you. It is very convenient and easy. So, what is the problem?

I have heard and read tons about the biochemical reactions of rewiring your brain to porn and how it creates legitimate physical problems for people. I have read all kinds of material about how the addiction to porn is as strong as the addiction to heroin. I have read all kinds of material about how, from a cerebral place and an emotional place, it is destructive.

But let’s be honest, for all that conversation, it isn’t changing much. If anything, the consumption of pornography is getting worse. There seems to be an “it won’t happen to me” attitude about the negative effects of watching pornographic movies.

I want to throw out a couple of thoughts that don’t, in my opinion, get enough credit in the conversation. I think these are critical for our understanding of the negative effects pornography can have in a person’s life. But they don’t start from the inside out; they start in how we relate in community.

  • When you watch porn, there is no need to learn how to love your spouse well. This may be the most destructive thing about porn in my mind. It gives me permission to disregard my spouse’s needs. I have wants and desires, and if my spouse won’t take care of them with minimal effort on my part, then I have no need to keep finding ways to unlock my spouse’s heart. I simply disconnect from my spouse and take care of things myself. On the surface, this sounds like it isn’t a bad idea.

    But Peter writes something about this in the Bible: “Husbands, live with your wife in an understanding way.” With easy access to porn, it seems as though the days of trying to understand how to romance your wife or help her feel as if she is the only person in the world for you is going the way of the dinosaur. I am concerned that men are losing the ability to love their wives well simply because it takes effort, while watching porn takes none.
     
  • It paints a false picture of women in general, and your spouse specifically. The idea of womanhood painted through the adult film industry is grossly inaccurate. No, they don’t react that way. No, they don’t like that. No, they don’t. And it is our job as husbands to serve her in all parts of our relationship, but especially in the most intimate pieces.

    Sex is not about nerve endings and body parts — it is the mingling of souls. We must pursue our lovers at a soul level. The physical pieces of sexuality simply become an extension of a relationship that is already founded on an undying passion to inspire our partners to become everything they are intended to be. Then they are most alive, fulfilled, and capable of serving the world.
     
  • Porn presents men and women as objects to conquer, not human beings to value and support. I cannot stress this enough. People are not puzzles to solve or objects to dominate. They are precious and valuable, and they have a story worth treasuring and redeeming. The more a person watches porn, the more people become objects that serve personal desires.

    Jesus said, “Anyone who lays his life down will find it in the end.” At one level, we can certainly assume that means salvation. But I would offer a second way to understand this statement. When I lay down my own desires to serve and uplift others, I find a version of life the world does not value, but is more than I could have ever imagined. The fullest life possible is found in serving others, not in serving self. This is most true in our sexuality. When we give our whole effort to loving our partner well, it opens newer and deeper and more profound connection and intimacy than any computer screen or TV could ever give us.

It has been said many times that sex starts in the kitchen. This illustrates that taking time to cultivate emotional intimacy and openness in our spouse is critical for effective physical intimacy to happen. Porn robs our need or desire for that. It takes hard work to love your spouse well, and it is really easy to run to porn for your release and thereby neglect the person you said you would be faithful to.

But I would invite you to consider the possibility that it is in the hard work where we find true meaning and purpose in our lives. Sex isn’t just about sex — it is an awakening of the soul to a connectedness that opens up whole new worlds of freedom and healing and hope for us.

May you see porn for the destructive force that it is. May you open your heart to being a true lover. And for those of you who are single, may you understand the self-control you develop as a single person now will help you be a better lover for your future spouse than any amount of porn ever could.