Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pornography: How To Make a Vice Nice

Centuries ago Alexander Pope famously warned mankind about vice and how it becomes acceptable: "First we endure, then pity, then embrace." How? How do you turn a sleazy, despicable, and even deadly abomination like pornography into something nice? We list some tactics for your consideration.

To Make a Vice Nice . . .

You skip over some the primary truths of God's plan and the gospel of Jesus Christ, that is, you rarely if ever talk about the fallen nature of man, that he is prone to wander, prone to sin, prone to do and think and feel the worst the world has to offer. You avoid these words: vice, temptation, pleasure, excitement, orgasm, masturbation, dirty mindedness, sexual sin, iniquity, whoredoms, homosexuality, wickedness, evil, the devil, filth, impurity, immorality, punishment, judgment, condemnation, hell. You also avoid these next list of words we suppose because they are inseparably connected to the above words that you avoided: repentance, mercy, grace, Savior, Atonement, change of heart, salvation, exaltation, love of God, Holy Ghost, agency, responsibility, character, inner purity, motives, spiritual growth.

You never talk about what pornography really is or what it really does to people, that it is material that  sexually objectifies human beings and exploits the God-given sexual appetite to get gain, that it incites promiscuous and adulterous lust in ever increasing doses and degrees to the point of sadism, torture, and murder (in what are called snuff films), that it is the fuel for such things as masturbation, fornication, molestation, adultery, divorce, incest, homosexuality, and child sexual abuse and the training ground for rapists and serial killers, that those involved in it are involved in great wickedness.

By the way, the famous serial killer Ted Bundy was raised in an ideal Christian household just like his four siblings and was a model child. The reason he ended up a mass rapist/murderer of  more than 30 women? (Some say it was more like 50.) By his own admission: pornography. It was used in secret and the more he used it the more sensation he craved. Eventually he acted the worst kind of pornography out. Yes, there is very little distance between vice and evil.

Again, to make a vice nice don't use words like sin, temptation, pleasure, excitement, masturbation, orgasm, sleaze, adultery, sinner, destruction, hell, Christ, and redemption. Instead, use words like plague, addiction, problem, attraction, understanding, challenge, manage, mistakes, broken, struggle, pain, devastation, burden, support, disclosure, talk, self, recovery, lifted, cope, healing, forgiveness. Make this incredibly lucrative and pleasurable activity into a condition or circumstance or addiction rather than a sin. Make users into victims rather than sinners. Make sin into something more of a spontaneous contagious disease that is forced on people like the black plague rather than a personal choice between good and evil. Turn evil and the devil into a psychological or even physiological condition.

Note: We know that porn is indeed highly addictive and does reshape the brain. We know that professional counseling can be necessary and helpful. However, defining porn as a plague when it comes to the individual shifts responsibility and excuses the wicked selfish disobedient choices that lead to it. The AA-type treatment of this vice, although it may help people in some temporal and temporary ways, is not godly or exalting. It sidesteps or plays down basic truths about man's fallen nature and basic gospel principles such as humility, repentance, loving God first, and becoming a new creature, washed clean, through faith in Christ.

Yes, to make pornography use less of a sleazy, sinful, and selfish vice and more of an innocent, the-devil-made-me-do-it state of being you must continue to avoid the word repentance and continue to emphasize the worldly mediocrity described above. It doesn't matter what else you say about recovery or human relations or forgiveness, just keep softening and prettifying this vice. Voila! Even ostensibly religious people are well on the road to embracing the abomination that is pornography as an inevitable, acceptable part of modern faith and family life worthy of sympathy and respect anywhere on the spectrum of use or former use. 

Oh, wait, people are already doing that. Apparently, we as a people are way past enduring and even pitying. By turning pornography into more of a contagious illness that is involuntarily caught and can be coped with happily while going about being outwardly religious rather than a sinful vice individuals decide to seek out and participate in, we have embraced it with both arms. As such, we've decided we don't need much divine redemption at all. 

We should know better. 

Post Script: A reader pointed out that the LDS ecclesiastical use of the word plague in reference to pornography today needs clarifying. We'll give it a try. In the sense that society's production, distribution, and mainstreaming of addictive sexual material is a disaster, the comparison to a plague seems appropriate. But the analogy soon breaks down when sane individuals with agency begin to seek out pornography. A plague is defined as an infectious disease (such as the bubonic plague) or a disastrous evil or affliction  (such as the locusts or frogs or flies in Moses' time), which diseases, evils, or afflictions affect people involuntarily. Society's embrace of pornography is indeed disastrous to many of us (others profit by it by reaping pleasure and money). But if referred to as a plague pornography must be clearly distinguished and characterized not as an involuntary circumstance but as something society has chosen to allow and individuals choose to participate in. Man is a fallen creature prone to sin. Sin is pleasurable, at least for a time. Individuals are pleasurably attracted and later become pleasurably/miserably addicted to porn not because porn is pervasive (although this makes it easier), but because of their sinful natures. If we want to truly eradicate porn use from our families and congregations, we have to start with this gospel truth---that we are inevitably fallen--- which truth, if we wish, can lead us to Christ, our Redeemer. 

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