I just finished Pamela Paul’s Pornified — How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. (Henry Holt books, 2005)
Paul’s book addresses the incredible demand for pornography. She interviewed more than a hundred people (approximately 80 percent male) about the role pornography plays in their lives. Her book is a sobering (to my mind) account of the story of how pornography’s growth, ubiquity and acceptance are affecting American society, told through the lives of the people who know it best: pornography consumers. What physicians, lawyers, executives and lots of average guys told Ms. Paul about their voracious pornography consumption is incredible.
From one of the interviews: "Look," says Ethan, the recently married music exec, "most men are enthusiastic about sex and want to have it with different women, but they’re married or in a monogamous relationship. Pornography is an outlet to release sexual energies when they’re not in the mood to engage in these activities with their wives or girlfriends. And it’s better than the alternative — cheating." Indeed, that’s exactly how Ethan, who has been married for seven months, views pornography’s role in his own life. Porn has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with his wife, he explains. Pornography provides the vicarious thrill of other women without the threat of actually being with one." (Wonder how Ethan’s wife feels about the matter?)
And here’s Paul explaining the demand for pornography: "Today, one in four American adults admit to having seen an X-rated movie in the past year, and $4 billion a year is spent on video pornography in the United States — more than on football, baseball, or basketball. Americans rent upward of 800 million pornographic videos and DVDs per year (about one in five of all rented movies), and pornography far outpaces Hollywood’s slate of 400 features films with 11,000 pornos produced annually."
In the end, Paul writes: "Passively accepting life in a pornified culture is helping pornography flourish, a fact of which the industry is well aware. Our eyes become blinded by porn. … Those who have been silenced (by the pornography industry) have only served to further legitimize pornography with their lack of censure. Those who are now quiet must speak out."
Is this a serious problem for the Church? Do we even have to ask? Check out, and pass along to others, a very gutsy ministry described at www.xxxchurch.com. Also, check out drdougweiss.com. We brought Weiss to the Vineyard back in February. His ministry centers, among other things, on helping men who are addicted to sexually addictive behaviors. Also, check out Weiss’s site sexaddict.com/.
As a pastor who works with men, and really enjoys teaching and encouraging men, I find this all very troubling and extraordinarily sobering.