Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Pervasive Culture of Pornography

Anyone that thinks pornography is not a huge  problem these days must have his head buried in the sand. True it has been a problem long before the internet came along. But it used to have built in societal controls. If one wanted to access it, he would have to go out of his way to get it. There was an ‘embarrassment factor’ too. Which means people that wanted it were embarrassed to let other people know they have such desires. Buying Playboy Magazine is not anything a respectable citizen living in a religious community would want to be caught doing. While these factors did not prevent porn access entirely, they certainly curbed it.

Today it is easy to access porn in private. No one will know. All you need is a computer or a smartphone to access it instantly. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how such easy access can lead to substantially increased numbers of sex addicts.

This is not just a religious issue. Porn addiction has victims even outside of religious circles. Many marriages have been ruined and families destroyed when a husband was discovered to be addicted. This does not mean that an addict cant’t be treated. Nor does it necessarily mean a marriage will always be ruined or a family destroyed. But the odds are not great.

This is not to say that I have changed course and now thing the internet and smartphones should be banned. I do not think that. I also believe that there far more pervasive problems with the internet and smartphones. (I have addressed those issues in the past and they are beyond the scope of this post.) But that should not minimize the concern over the explosion of porn access. Or the sexually aberrant tendency in  some people that after a while leads the to do more than just view child porn online! 

I mention all of this because of an article by Terry Schilling in First Things (linked at Torah Musings).  There are some chilling statistics about porn in a New York Times article Schilling referenced: 
According to the most popular pornography website, users viewed 4.6 billion hours of porn on its site in 2016 alone. Moreover, surveys have consistently shown that large numbers of people regularly use porn, including—most distressingly—young people, whose brains are not fully developed and thus far more susceptible to the effects of psychological stimuli. One recent poll found that 64 percent of respondents aged 13–24 actively seek out porn on a weekly basis, while another study of college males found that about half had first encountered porn before age 13. 
Wow. 4.6 billion hours! That is a breathtaking number. This includes an explosion of online child pornography: 
According to the (New York Times) story, in 2018 there were a record 45 million photos and videos of child sexual abuse reported by tech companies, a monumental increase from only a few years ago.  
As Schilling notes, this should come as no surprise considering how sexualized our culture has become. 

I have said pretty much the same thing and blamed it on an entertainment industry that glamorizes sex. Seeing it as nothing more than a pleasurable leisure time activity between 2 consenting  (or more) adults. There is no such thing as immorality anymore when it comes to sex – as long as everyone involved gives their consent. Religious views about sexual morality are seen as an archaic vestige of a deeply superstitious religious past with no basis in reason or logic. To be discarded as harmful since it generates guilt about something seen as natural human behavior. With birth control and abortion on demand making it even easier to engage in without fear of unwanted consequences.

I have heard celebrities say with complete sincerity that they would sooner allow their children watch 2 people making love on TV than allow them to  view TV violence.

To the liberal mindset that permeates Hollywood - that might make a lot of sense. At least in a vacuum. But this mindset coincides with an unprecedented number of child pornography cases law enforcement is not equipped to deal with. Some of which include horrific sexual violence to women or children. Is there a connection? I think there is. It has to be more than a simple coincidence.

The question is, what do we do about it? Do we legislate the kind of morality suggested by religion - as Schilling seems to suggest? I’m not sure that is such a good idea either. Whose morality are we going to legislate? Jewish morality? Christian? Islamic?

On other hand the world in which we now live has brought us this huge problem. That is where compromise comes in. There has to be a ‘happy medium between too much legislation and not enough. And clearly we are now in the ‘not enough’ stage.