A Theology of Sex: The Dehumanizing Power of Porn

All porn is violent! Young men often act like their pornography addiction is not that big a deal, especially if they have successfully kept it a secret. But that is a lie from Satan. No pornography is harmless. It always does violence to both consumer and actor. Pornography is fundamentally dehumanizing.

Pornography is a business, a fifty-seven-billion-dollar-a-year-business. And it creates a product to be consumed, whether that be videos or pictures, or stories, or people. It’s a fact that many pay lip-service to, but the reality is that the men and women in the pornographic industry are not treated as and viewed as people. They are products to be purchased and consumed. Pornography doesn’t introduce us to people. It doesnt’ tell us about who a person is, what their story is, where they come from, what their hopes and dreams and aspirations are. It’s not interested in their parents, their siblings, their children, etc. The industry doesn’t want to hear about their divorce, their desire to go to law school, the rape they endured at fourteen, or their hope that God exists. Porn isn’t about people, it’s about a product. It just so happens in this case that the product comes with a fleshy skin and a name.

And don’t be fooled, it’s not just the acts that interest consumers. In some rather disturbing research William Struthers found that men don’t just focus on a woman’s body, but they spend equal time examining their faces. He writes:

When viewing sexual intercourse, men still spend a significant amount of time looking at a woman’s body, but they also spend time examining the woman’s face, presumably looking for her response to the sexual act. Men are more preoccupied with a woman’s sexual arousal than they are given credit for.

What are people consuming when they view pornography? They are consuming people. It’s a real human being with facial expressions and responses and no personhood that is being consumed.

Pornography is violent. It dehumanizes the people who participate in it. It robs them of their dignity as creatures made in the image of God. pornography forces women especially to do disgusting, unimaginable things, even intentionally humiliating them. The terms too by which these videos and images go by reveal that much. The porn industry refers to its products as whores, sluts, and far worse labels that I won’t even type. Perhaps calling them “products” is almost too nice of a way to talk about how the industry treats women.

The believer knows better. Man is created in the image of God and has an inherent dignity. By indulging in pornography we not only defame that image, but we defame the God in whose image man is made. Porn is always violent!

Comments

  1. Yes it is dehumanizing. Yes it is a trap! Yes I am a sinner in most need of God’s grace and forgiveness. Write about how to avoid the trap how to open up to the one you love that you feel trapped and can’t escape. I go to the Lord often with this but like any bad habit it has become entrenched in my spirit, I don’t like me when I do it. Like Paul I do things I don’t want to do. I go to God in prayer about it but how do you break the cycle of addiction. God’s grace should be sufficient what am I doing wrong? Yes I am a sex addict. Though I do not do it often I still sin in this way and can’t stand me and what it has done to my realationship with my wife.

    • satanwillnotwin says:

      The people who need to read this article are not the ones who will. Forwarding this article to someone who has a porn problem seems futile–they get angry and deny there is a problem. The porn watchers are not the ones who will seek out articles like these. If you email this to them, they will delete it. If you mail it to them, they ignore it. So how do you broach this subject with someone who is in denial? What suggestions do you have to share the article with someone who really needs it.

    • satanwillnotwin says:

      You need to get rid of your computer. You need to give your wife access to your email address. You need to get a joint email account—only one account. You need to be accountable to your wife–fully. You need use the computer only when your wife is at home. You need to get rid of your android or iphone. Imagine this: Porn causes you to cheat on your wife and get an incurable STD. Your wife takes the kids and leaves you. You lose your home and your money. Your use of porn is made public on the evening news. No one wants to be around you. You wind up homeless. Is your life really worth it? Even with these threats, men and women still risk it all with porn. Satan is so cunning. He did not just deceive Eve in garden. Adam was deceived also. The “woman you gave me” was not good enough, so I looked elsewhere for another. Fantasy only appears to be real.

  2. Our society trains us for sex-addiction. Unfortunately the church generally fails to resist this trend with a strong and frank theology of human sexuality. What most pulpits promote first is the moral regulation of sexuality rather than what should come first, the theological foundation of sexuality. For that reversal we are now paying a dear price in today’s sexually-confused world. A proper doctrinal focus on our physical sexuality, based on the human body’s relationship to “the image of God” and its designation as “the temple of the Holy Spirit,” is sadly lacking as a priority in both Bible colleges and seminaries. In contrast, God’s own focus on sexuality is primary and up front! The Bible’s very first description of how we image God is stated in terms of our physical gender (Gen 1:27), and God’s very first command to us is about sexual reproduction (Gen 1:28). Yet, Christians are famous for prudishly shunning the positive aspects of our physical sexuality as a means of curtailing its distorted misuse outside of marriage. This practice itself is a religious perversion that begs for reformation. As Dr. Archibald Hart, a Christian psychologist from Fuller Theological Seminary, said in writing about sex-addictions, “…we desperately need a ‘theology of sex’ in our churches today. I don’t mean stricter moral rules. What we need is a balanced understanding of what God intends for us in this area of our lives.” (HEALING LIFE’S HIDDEN ADDICTIONS, p. 149).

    So many pastors wrote to Dr. Hart about their own personal porn addictions that he included in his book a very telling composite letter from them—too long to quote here, but so very pertinent. When porn invades the pulpits that preach strong on sexual morality, it’s the best evidence that “trying harder” morally and using legalistic methods to curb mental lust DO NOT WORK. The truth, however, does work. The truth sets people free, as the anti-porn website I’m associated with (mychainsaregone) claims for its motto. The truth is that the naked human body is not the problem. As an obstetric RN who works intimately with nudity, I’m not just an exceptional male who doesn’t lust after beautiful nude bodies. Lust can’t subvert the blatant truth that my patients’ body parts are not “sex objects.” They are “fearfully and wonderfully made” extensions of their gender-specific physical identities as persons made in God’s image. That, and that alone, is the sound theology we need to hear from Christian pulpits. Yes, to see human nakedness otherwise is dehumanizing both to the viewer and to the viewed. But our ongoing failure to see the unclad body in a proper, godly way stems from being rigorously taught that its sight will automatically cause lust. This is simply not true. Teaching that such a response is automatic is far from sound doctrine, and it finds no support in Scripture, except when our own cultural standards are read back into the culture of Bible times. But, although it’s not true, we have made it real in practice by deeming it so. We insure its social continuity by training our little ones early on to forget their unadulterated view of the body and adopt our cultural Victorianism, right alongside the Gospel…even treating it as if it’s part of the Gospel. This is a form of cultural idolatry never owned, never confessed, never repented of, by Christian leadership.

    Our ongoing dilemma in freeing our flocks from porn addiction results directly from this religious loyalty to a porno-prudish view of the body. Prudery and pornography are symbiotically inseparable twins, both born from the same ungodly view of the body. They perpetually play off of each other’s distorted focus on that one false view. The present state of the church in fighting porn addiction is hopeless as long as it maintains a doctrinal allegiance to its own pornographic style of “body shame” and flees the healthy truth of “body acceptance.” Correcting this long-lived-out theological error will take much time and effort through Christian teaching that has removed the cultural eyeglasses of Victorian prudery and has painstakingly reviewed Scripture with eyes that see the body as God does. The tragedy is, we Protestants aren’t even serious about taking the first step toward a creational, incarnational theology of the body, as the Catholics have done in their recent attempts to expound the late Pope John Paul II’s landmark work on human sexuality, MALE AND FEMALE MADE HE THEM. We are lagging extremely far behind theologically! We’ve got much catching up to do, if we want to see lasting results in emancipating porn-addicted believers with the truth.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Online porn – for some, a substitute for interaction with an actual human.  For both producer and viewer, a dehumanizing experience. […]

  2. […] have read more on the subject of pornography than I ever wanted to. Several years ago I took a full year to study a theology of sex and in the […]

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