The world today is awash with pornography. * It may be found in advertisements, fashion, movies, music, and magazines, as well as on television, video games, smartphones, mobile devices, Web sites, and now online photo-sharing services. Pornography, it seems, is a prominent feature of popular culture. More people in more places are consuming more pornography than at any other time in history.
The nature of pornography is also changing. Professor Gail Dines writes: “Images today have now become so extreme that what used to be considered hard-core is now mainstream pornography.”
How do you view those trends? Is pornography a harmless pastime, a deadly poison, or something in between? Jesus said: “Every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit.” (Matthew 7:17) What fruitage does pornography produce? To find the answers, let us consider some basic questions about pornography.
How does pornography affect individuals?
WHAT EXPERTS SAY: Pornography is highly addictive, with some researchers and therapists even likening it to crack cocaine.
Brian, * who was hooked on Internet pornography, relates: “Nothing would stop me. I felt like I was in some sort of trance. I would literally shake and develop pains in my head. I struggled to stop, but years later I was still addicted.”
People who indulge in pornography often cover up their habit. They are secretive and deceitful. Not surprisingly, many suffer from feelings of isolation, shame, anxiety, depression, and anger. In some cases, they even develop suicidal tendencies. “My mood became self-absorbed and desperate,” says Serge, who downloaded porn to his mobile phone almost daily. “I felt worthless, guilty, alone, and trapped. I was too embarrassed and scared to seek help.”
Even a fleeting or accidental brush with pornography can have a negative impact. Testifying before a U.S. Senate committee, Dr. Judith Reisman, a leading researcher on pornography, said: “Pornographic visual images imprint and alter the brain, triggering an instant, involuntary, but lasting, biochemical memory trail [that is] difficult or impossible to delete.” Susan, 19, who was exposed to pornographic Web sites, relates: “The images are engraved on my mind. They pop up unexpectedly. It feels like I will never completely be able to erase them.”
THE BOTTOM LINE: Pornography enslaves and wreaks havoc on its victims.
How does pornography affect families?
WHAT EXPERTS SAY: “Couples and families break up over porn.”
Pornography damages marriages and families by
Undermining marital trust, intimacy, and love.
Promoting selfishness, emotional aloofness, and dissatisfaction with one’s mate.
—Ephesians 5:28, 29.
Fueling unhealthy sexual fantasies and cravings.
—2 Peter 2:14.
Tempting users to force objectionable sex practices on their mate.
—Ephesians 5:3, 4.
Promoting emotional and physical infidelity.
The Bible tells marriage mates not to “deal treacherously” with each other. (Malachi 2:16) Infidelity is the kind of treachery that can devastate a marriage and lead to separation and divorce. Such breakups, in turn, harm the children from the marriage.
Pornography can also hurt children more directly. Brian, mentioned earlier, explains: “When I was about ten, I accidentally found my father’s pornographic magazines while playing hide-and-seek. I started looking at them secretly, not really understanding why I was attracted to such images. That started a destructive cycle that lasted way into my adult years.” Studies show that pornography can influence adolescents to become sexually active at younger ages and also to become promiscuous, sexually violent, and emotionally and psychologically unstable.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Pornography poisons loving relationships and ultimately brings heartache and pain.
What does the Bible say about pornography?
GOD’S WORD SAYS: “Deaden, therefore, your body members . . . as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
Simply put, Jehovah * God hates pornography. This is not because he is prudish about sex. He created our sexual powers and purposed that marriage mates use them for the sake of pleasing one another, drawing close emotionally, and sharing the wonder of bringing children into the world.
Why, then, can we assert that Jehovah feels so strongly about pornography? Consider just a few reasons.
He knows that pornography can wreck lives.
He loves us and wants to protect us from harm.
—Isaiah 48:17, 18.
Jehovah wants to safeguard marriages and families.
He wants us to be morally clean and to respect the rights of others.
—1 Thessalonians 4:3-6.
He wants us to respect our procreative powers and use them in an honorable way.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Pornography damages a person’s friendship with God.
Jehovah, however, has great compassion for those wanting to escape pornography’s grip. The Bible states: “Jehovah is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness. For he himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:8, 14) He invites humble ones to turn to him to “obtain mercy and find undeserved kindness for help at the right time.”
Countless individuals have accepted God’s help. Is his help effective? Notice what the Bible says about some who overcame bad habits: “You have been washed clean, . . . you have been sanctified, . . . you have been declared righteous in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11) Like the apostle Paul, such ones can declare: “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.”
Susan, who overcame her addiction to pornography, declares: “Jehovah is the only one who can help you get back on track. If you ask for his help and guidance, you can gain a clean standing before him. He will not let you down.”
^ par. 3 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.
^ par. 8 Names in this article have been changed.
^ par. 25 Jehovah is the name of God as revealed in the Bible.