THE CHRISTIAN AND PORNOGRAPHY
by Wayne S. Walker
In Jeremiah 8:12 we read of ancient Israel, "Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush." A similar situation is developing today. We live in a nation that is full of pornography, yet a growing number of people do not blush at it. Our English word "pornography" comes from two Greek roots–porneia: "illicit sexual intercourse in general"1 and graphe: "a writing, thing written"2–and is defined as "writings, pictures, etc., intended to arouse sexual desire."3 With this definition, we see that pornography may include movies, television, magazines, even music.
Today there are over 270 separate slick magazines filled with pictures of boys and young men in sexual poses,4 not to mention all the popular "girlie" magazines. Video casettes and cable television allow people to watch X-rated movies at home. It is estimated that the U. S. porn industry’s annual gross, which was nearly $2 million in 1971,5 is currently around $4 billion.6 A 1979 survey indicates that the average porn fan is a man, twenty-one or younger, unmarried with a college education, who likes it because it is interesting and different.7 [Note: with the availability of computers and the Internet, the situation is much worse today.]
Should We Be Concerned?
Yes, we should be concerned about pornography. It promotes values at odds with God’s word. It attacks the family by encouraging marital infidelity and warping children’s minds. It exploits human weaknesses by destroying self-control and presenting a distorted view of life, treating people as objects rather than persons. It is undeniably linked with crime.8 In the decade of 1960-1969, sex related crimes rose nearly 120%, accompanied by a simultaneously skyrocketing increase in pornography.9 Pornography presents all that is rotten in life with a sense of glamor, and a society that openly tolerates it cannot long uphold the sanctity and decency of life.
Most importantly, we should be concerned because pornography is anti-Biblical. It is lasciviousness (Galatians 5:19), which means "licentiousness, lack of restraint, indecency, wantonness, inclination to sensuality"10 and includes "filthy words."11 By definition, pornography is designed to excite the physical passions of men and women. Those who practice and enjoy such shall not inherit the kingdom of God. It is looking upon women (or men) to lust after them in one’s own heart (Matthew 5:28). Jesus did not specify whether the individual was viewed in person, in a movie, or in a magazine. Lust brings forth sin which brings forth death (James 1:13-14). The lusts of the flesh, along with the other things of this world, shall pass away (1 John 2:15-17). Our obligation is to "Abstain from every form of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22; cf. 1 Peter 2:11).
Parents should especially be concerned. Do not fool yourself that this will not affect your children. Pornography stimulates sexual desire. It is a special danger to young people as it fans the flames of their immature curiosity. Court studies reveal that much of the anti-social, delinquent, and criminal behavior today is the result of children’s exposure to and stimulation by pornography. The abnormal stimulation creates a demand for illicit expression. Instead, we must bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
How Does It Affect People?
The point of attack made by pornography is that it affects one’s heart or mind. It blurs his concept of right and wrong. It produces and perpetuates all kinds of unholy lusts which lead him down the path of sin and death. The whole intent of sex magazines and paperbacks is to break down moral fiber and destroy character. Notice the following illustration given by Dennis Abernathy. It is by no means a pretty picture.
"A teen boy stops by a drug store for a snack before going home. As he passes the magazine rack he notices a section of magazines displaying nude and semi-nude women. He stops and begins to shuffle the sports magazines, but his eyes are concentrated on the pornography. Passions he hasn’t known before begin to stir within his mind. Curiosity arouses, but he hesitates to reach for any of the alluring magazines. Something seems to warn him of the evil before him. For the moment he refuses to go so far as to pick up one of the pieces of trash, but he has become careless. He has allowed to lodge in his mind pictures which have appealed to lust.
"This carelessness continues for several days until one afternoon at the same magazine rack the boy gets bolder, bold enough not to care who is looking, bold enough to get one of the magazines in hand and look through it closely. Eventually, he has scanned the pages of all the nude magazines. The figures are fixed in his mind. He thinks about them at school. He thinks about them on a date as he makes advances to the girl. He talks about them with his buddies. He feeds his thought processes on them as every female he sees becomes the object of hidden lust. He is bolder now having stifled any warning of danger.
"Boldness leads to habit. The boy’s collection of pornography grows as he manages from various sources to buy the foul print. He is introduced to all types of sexual experiences. Through the literature he becomes acquainted with perversion in all its vile forms. Thoughts are not enough. He constantly seeks companions to fulfill his lust. On and on it goes until things happen he never imagined when he first started the downward trail. His mind is a moral sewer. His body is a diseased wreck. His future is dark. He is a slave to the lust he only played with at first!"12
Of course, this entire process may not happen in every case. But it does in many. Those who have studied the effects of pornography agree with this assessment. J. C. Drummon in Deluge of Filth, wrote: "Each day of the year, several thousand obscene photographs, color slides, books, films, and other items pour into the United States from abroad. This smut is dangerously easy to obtain. Any American, child or adult, with a half dollar in his pocket can purchase what is virtually a ‘Buyer’s Guide’ to foreign pornography….This filth comes from Sweden, England, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and from points in the United States.
"A recent report on delinquency by a Senate sub-committee states that one out of every five American boys between the ages of ten and seventeen has a court record. Again and again, the investigation of juvenile robbery, extortion, embezzlement, forgery, rape and murder reveals that those guilty were or had been collectors of obscene pictures and films. ‘There is,’ the report continues, ‘a peculiar resemblance to narcotics addiction in the exposure of juveniles to pornography. There is the same pattern of progression.’
"Like the dope addict, the boy or girl who becomes addicted to pornographic filth, with the characteristic desire for knowledge found in those reaching maturity, searches for something which will impart a greater thrill. The victim, once ‘hooked,’ may turn to theft, mugging, or worse to secure funds to support his appetite for obscenity. Girls run away from their homes and become entangled in prostitution."13
In an article "You Can Clean Up Your Newsstands," O. K. Armstrong said: "Let me summarize what seems to be the purpose of such publications: It is to justify the lewd, the abnormally sexual, the obscene, in such a way as to arouse and appeal to the lowest interest of readers of both sexes and [all] ages. To accomplish this, these magazines and books consistently and regularly offer articles, pictures, cartoons, jokes, advertising, and other material which do the following:
"1. Present illicit sexual relations in an attractive manner. 2. Glorify adultery, fornication and prostitution. 3. Present infidelity as the accepted way of life, holding in contempt the marriage relations and sanctity of the home. 4. Suggest ways and means of seduction, drunkenness, theft, sadism, and general disrespect for law and order. 5. Create disrespect for religious ideals and for religious leaders by presenting them in a ribald or obscene manner.
"Do you, Christian fathers and mothers, know what the newsstands of your community are displaying and selling? Have you ever inspected the newsstands? Have you ever stood by as the teenagers pour of of high school and into a drug store nearby to get cold drinks, and watch the magazines and paperbacks they are buying? Well, you’d better! For a veritable flood of indecent literature has risen in the last 5 years. It is vulgar, dirty and obscene. It is closely connected with the liquor traffic, and encourages delinquency and crime."14
In the January, 1960, issue of Mercury, Donald T. Morrison, Jr., argued, "In order for a democratic government to exist, its people must possess a sense of morality….The leaders of world Communism know that if they can remove the sense of decency and morality from the American people, our society will collapse. To take the place of the cohesive factors of decency and morality will come totalitarian government….In the Communists’ own words, it is their goal to ‘corrupt the young; get them away from religion, get them interested in sex, make them superficial and destroy their ruggedness."15
Dr. Max Levin, in the Medical Digest, observed, "Let us not delude ourselves that pornography is a beneficial outlet for unwholesome sex tendencies. The smut merchants have no medals coming to them; they are not to be regarded as benefactors, contributing to mental health; on the contrary, they are crippling our youngsters."16 Admittedly, some of these comments are ten to twenty years old. But the unfortunate truth is that since that time the situation has not grown any better. Indeed it has grown worse. In the face of cries for all legislation against pornography to be abolished in the U. S., something must be done.
What Should We Do?
Because of claims of first amendment protection by pornographers, action taken by many civic officials has been weak and ineffective. What can you and I do? The first step is simple. Do not buy pornographic magazines or books and do not patronize adult movies. Furthermore, teach your children the dangers of these things and do not allow them to buy or attend such. Rather, instill in them proper attitudes long before they reach teenage. Provide the proper kinds of reading materials for them. Spend time with them studying the Bible and take them to worship regularly. By teaching and example make sure that your children do not become consumers of smut.
The next step is to reach out and have an influence on the environment. First, if your local drug, grocery, or book store sells smutty magazines, let the manager know how you feel. Whole retail chains have quit dealing in such materials because someone had the courage to do this. Then, if nothing is done, you might decide to do your shopping elsewhere. Also, write the sponsors of suggestive TV programming and tell them your reaction. This too can have a beneficial effect.
Recent Supreme Court decisions make it easier for communities to rid themselves of adult movie and literature shops. Indeed, whole cities and even states have been cleaned up through the courts.17 But it is now necessary to keep fighting. There are several non-sectarian legal organizations, like Citizens for Decency through Law, and the National Federation for Decency, which are working on this. You may want to join one if you are interested. We can be sure that the porn people will continue their legal efforts! Therefore, decent people must act as well. Truly, all that is needed for evil men to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
1. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, N.F.C.E. edition, p. 532.
2. Ibid., p. 121.
3. Webster’s New World Dictionary, Southwestern Company edition, p. 579.
4. Information by C. H. Keating, Jr., from Moral Majority Report, Nov., 1980, p. 15.
5. Reported by Bob Tuten in Glad Tidings, Jan. 11, 1971.
6. Reported by Michael Satchell in Parade, Aug. 19, 1979.
7. Material in Parade via Viewpoint, July 8, 1979.
8. Material by Harold Jantz from The Christian Reader, Nov./Dec., 1976, p. 55.
9. Reported by Tuten.
10. Composite definition from Arndt-Gingrich, Thayer, Vine, and Webster.
11. Thayer, p. 79.
12. Article in Truth Magazine, Vol. XXIII, No. 22, p. 8 (360).
13. Quoted by Loren Raines in Love Not the World (Truth Magazine Bookstore), p. 17.
14. Quoted by Raines.
15. Quoted by Raines.
16. Quoted by Tuten.
17. For examples, see Moral Majority Report, Nov., 1980, p. 13; The Christian Reader, Jan./Feb., 1977, p. 71; Truth Magazine, June 6, 1974, p. 2 (482), and Nov. 6, 1975, p. 6 (806).
(—Taken from Faith and Facts; Vol. 11, No. 2; Apr., 1983; pp. 34-39)