No, Christianity Today, These Women Do Not Have a ‘Porn Problem’

Christianity Today published a piece by Trillia Newbell about women who “struggle” with pornography. They have an “addiction” to it, the article says.

That’s gotta be pretty awful, right? If this is a serious issue, we’re talking about the kind of women who skip work so they can keep watching porn, women who have withdrawal symptoms when they don’t/can’t watch it, women who have an inability to derive pleasure from anything that’s not porn, etc.

So how does porn addiction affect the three women who shared their lives for this story?

Well, let’s see what Rachel went through:

As a teenager, I became romantically involved with a guy who had just graduated from my school. Before long, we were discussing sexual fantasies. I went back to pornography, and I began to masturbate frequently. When things between us ended, I combated rejection and heartache with pornography and masturbation. It was an intimacy that I could control.

So she discussed sex with her boyfriend, watched porn, and masturbated…

I fail to see how any of that is cause for alarm…

But Rachel thinks there was something seriously wrong with her (and Newbell agrees):

Every morning and evening — sometimes even in the afternoons — I would engage in those things. On the outside I was a straight-A student, a leader in my high school’s chapel band, a core part of my youth group, a social butterfly, and a talented athlete. On the inside I was slowly wasting away, chained to my addictions and the woundedness that I was trying to avoid. For those four years I led a double life, and I was good at it.

Show me a teenager who *doesn’t* live Rachel’s version of a “double life” and I’ll show you a liar.

Maybe “Sally” has a more terrifying story to share:

I eventually started experimenting while watching [the Spice channel]. I was a virgin and I was curious, and at the time, I didn’t think it was doing any harm. My addiction with porn and masturbation lasted until I was a senior in high school, when I entered into a relationship with a guy in my church.

She found porn on the TV. She later writes that she fooled around a bit with her boyfriend — getting to “third base” with him, though she never elaborates on what that is, and my gut feeling is that we have very different definitions.

And after they broke up, her problems just got worse:

I remember watching a steamy scene from The Notebook (and if you’ve seen the movie, you know the one) on YouTube, and before I knew it I was viewing pornographic material. I was shocked at how fast it led there.

Online porn. That’s what she’s freaking out about. Not “23 hours a day of online porn,” mind you, just some “I got turned on by a movie and then I went to a porn site” porn.

Again: I’m not seeing the problem here.

Sally was so devastated by her own actions that she “cried out to the Lord for help [and] asked to be delivered from… sexual sin.”

Finally, we arrive at “Sarah.” How bad is her addiction?

As a kid, I was exposed to sex scenes in movies and sex chatter among other students at school, who repeated details of what they had heard of, seen, or done. I began to develop impure thoughts and daydreamed about sexual activity…

I would stay up and watch porn after-hours on premium cable channels such as HBO and Showtime.

In college, I was a virgin addicted to pornography. More of my friends were having sex and telling me about it, and I wanted to see it for myself without actually taking part. I ran into pornography on social networking sites. I would go to sexually explicit chat rooms and watch webcams.

*sigh*

Obviously, I’m not a doctor or an expert on what is and isn’t addiction. Of course there are legitimate instances of porn addiction. But I’d be shocked if any expert, working off of these passages, would classify the stories as anything remotely resembling addiction.

I’m not trying to mock these women. I just feel bad for them. They’re so repressed that they believe thinking about sex or watching an online clip of people having sex is something so horrible that only Jesus can save them from it. They think having thoughts about sex makes them impure, somehow, and that it’s unnatural and evil… when the truth is there’s nothing wrong with them at all.

The problem isn’t that they’re addicted to porn. The problem is that they fear any kind of sexual pleasure that doesn’t involve a husband. That’s *far* more damaging that wanting to watch late-night HBO when you’re a teenager.

Instead of shutting off the computer, maybe these women need to take a second look at their faith. That’s the cause of the real damage.

(Image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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