Bin Laden’s porn stash

From the New York Times:

The enormous cache of computer files taken from Osama bin Laden’s compound contained a considerable quantity of pornographic videos, American officials said on Friday, adding a discordant note to the public image of the Islamist militant who long denounced the West for its lax sexual mores.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity about classified material, would not say whether there was evidence that Bin Laden or the other men living in the house had acquired or viewed the material.

The discovery of the pornography, first reported by Reuters, may not be surprising in a collection of five computers, 10 hard drives and dozens of thumb drives and CDs whose age and past ownership is not known.

But the disclosure could fuel accusations of hypocrisy against the founder of Al Qaeda, who was 54 and lived with three wives at the time of his death, and will be welcomed by counterterrorism officials because it could tarnish his legacy and erode the appeal of his brand of religious extremism.

via Pornography Is Found on Bin Laden’s Computers – NYTimes.com.

Some people are dismissing this announcement as American propaganda, but it shouldn’t be surprising.   The original 9/11 hijackers–bin Laden’s henchmen–were visiting strip clubs right before their suicide mission.  Guilt over his porn addiction was allegedly one of the reasons 9/11 leader Mohammed Atta hated the West and wanted to atone for his sin by attaining the assurance of salvation available only to the martyrs who died waging jihad against the infidel.  And if someone has so little conscience as to execute the mass murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children, why should we think he would have qualms about sexually explicit videos?

This is just more evidence of the paradox that legalism in religion does NOT mean more righteousness; rather, it tends to mean more unrighteousness. This is due to legalism’s  spirit of self-righteousness, loophole hunting, and rationalization.  And above all its lack of repentance and faith in Christ that alone can change a person from the inside and that  bears good fruit.

ADDENDUM:  The Daily Beast reports that Pakistan was found to be the leading nation in internet porn searches. Iran was third. Egypt was fifth.

I don’t think the prevalence of pornography in Islamic countries that insist that women be completely veiled should be dismissed as mere hypocrisy. I would argue that this manifestation of our sinful nature is the occasion of both guilt and hatred for the culture that has tempted them to such sin. Further, I suspect this is a factor in the rise of radical, jihadist Islam.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Tom Hering

    I doubt most Muslim men are troubled by bin Laden’s porn stash. Sufficient good deeds and obedience can outweigh such things in Islam. Besides, as a martyr, bin Laden goes straight to Paradise – porn stash or no porn stash.

  • Tom Hering

    I doubt most Muslim men are troubled by bin Laden’s porn stash. Sufficient good deeds and obedience can outweigh such things in Islam. Besides, as a martyr, bin Laden goes straight to Paradise – porn stash or no porn stash.

  • Jonathan

    The Ft Hood shooter, Hassan, was also frequenting strip clubs in the days leading up to the attack.

    Then, speaking of loop holes, there is the whole “man love Thursdays” thing in Afghanistan.

  • Jonathan

    The Ft Hood shooter, Hassan, was also frequenting strip clubs in the days leading up to the attack.

    Then, speaking of loop holes, there is the whole “man love Thursdays” thing in Afghanistan.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    This news seems rather Freudian to me.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    This news seems rather Freudian to me.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Sayid Qutb, the grandfather of much of the current Islamist ideology was a student for a short time in Colorado (in the late 40′s) and was greatly offended by what he saw as “animal-like” mixing of the sexes and overt sexuality from women.

    What a twisted mess of misogyny, hypocrisy and hate.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Sayid Qutb, the grandfather of much of the current Islamist ideology was a student for a short time in Colorado (in the late 40′s) and was greatly offended by what he saw as “animal-like” mixing of the sexes and overt sexuality from women.

    What a twisted mess of misogyny, hypocrisy and hate.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Exile

    For a culture that hates women as much as the followers of radical Islam, it is not a huge leap that they would abuse pornography. The worst thing about porn, in my opinion, is not the leading people to lust part, but the treatment of God’s image-bearers as objects of humiliation, objectification, and debasement. God made male and female in His image and to desecrate that image is to sin against God. Porography sees women as objects, not as Temples of the Holy Spirit. And I’m pretty certain that Bin Laden does not see women as fully human, but rather objects for his personal enjoyment. Makes me ill to think of it.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Exile

    For a culture that hates women as much as the followers of radical Islam, it is not a huge leap that they would abuse pornography. The worst thing about porn, in my opinion, is not the leading people to lust part, but the treatment of God’s image-bearers as objects of humiliation, objectification, and debasement. God made male and female in His image and to desecrate that image is to sin against God. Porography sees women as objects, not as Temples of the Holy Spirit. And I’m pretty certain that Bin Laden does not see women as fully human, but rather objects for his personal enjoyment. Makes me ill to think of it.

  • Porcell

    Sarah in Exile, excellent. The essence of pornography has to so with serious degradation of human being with women suffer the most. from its abuse and men from its use.

  • Porcell

    Sarah in Exile, excellent. The essence of pornography has to so with serious degradation of human being with women suffer the most. from its abuse and men from its use.

  • DonS

    Well said, Sarah.

  • DonS

    Well said, Sarah.

  • Robin

    I am not surprised. I live near an Army base and I frequently talk to soldiers. Most tell me that homosexuality is rampant as well as porn addiction. No one is immune to any sin and as Dr. Veith says legalism does not produce good fruit. Only knowing that Jesus forgives even in your messiest mess do you ever began to change. That reminds me of some lines from Paul Zahl’s book Grace in Practice.

  • Robin

    I am not surprised. I live near an Army base and I frequently talk to soldiers. Most tell me that homosexuality is rampant as well as porn addiction. No one is immune to any sin and as Dr. Veith says legalism does not produce good fruit. Only knowing that Jesus forgives even in your messiest mess do you ever began to change. That reminds me of some lines from Paul Zahl’s book Grace in Practice.

  • John C

    For a culture that hates women as much as the followers of radical Islam, it is not a huge leap that they would abuse pornography

    Men in the US watch porn as well Sarah — a lot of them are Christian.

  • John C

    For a culture that hates women as much as the followers of radical Islam, it is not a huge leap that they would abuse pornography

    Men in the US watch porn as well Sarah — a lot of them are Christian.

  • boaz

    Objectification is what lust is. They aren’t separate categories. Non lustful sex is only possible in marriage, when both parties are committed to each other as a family for life. If there is not the willingness to be with the other for life and raise the children that may be conceived, then it is selfish lust, using the other to service animal desires.

    It’s not about birth control like the Catholics teach, its about lifelong commitment and welcoming attitude to creating a family.

  • boaz

    Objectification is what lust is. They aren’t separate categories. Non lustful sex is only possible in marriage, when both parties are committed to each other as a family for life. If there is not the willingness to be with the other for life and raise the children that may be conceived, then it is selfish lust, using the other to service animal desires.

    It’s not about birth control like the Catholics teach, its about lifelong commitment and welcoming attitude to creating a family.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is “American propaganda”, but I don’t exactly expect anyone who’s not stridently anti-0sama to believe this story, either. There’s no evidence, either way, and the US has every motive to issue stories like these. It’s sort of the posthumous equivalent of an anti-American POW tape.

    Also, that Daily Beast claim (“Google ran an analysis of its search queries and concluded Pakistan is the leading nation in sex-related, porn content searches”) is remarkably specious. Google did no such thing. Someone used Google’s own publicly available tools (i.e. Google Insights) to do searches on a handful of selected terms, but those tools don’t exactly reveal statistically meaningful data, even if they are potentially useful for comparisons. And they certainly don’t tell you about overall porn searching or viewing.

    I think Veith’s larger points are interesting, but I think basing them on questionable data points like that actually undermines his argument.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is “American propaganda”, but I don’t exactly expect anyone who’s not stridently anti-0sama to believe this story, either. There’s no evidence, either way, and the US has every motive to issue stories like these. It’s sort of the posthumous equivalent of an anti-American POW tape.

    Also, that Daily Beast claim (“Google ran an analysis of its search queries and concluded Pakistan is the leading nation in sex-related, porn content searches”) is remarkably specious. Google did no such thing. Someone used Google’s own publicly available tools (i.e. Google Insights) to do searches on a handful of selected terms, but those tools don’t exactly reveal statistically meaningful data, even if they are potentially useful for comparisons. And they certainly don’t tell you about overall porn searching or viewing.

    I think Veith’s larger points are interesting, but I think basing them on questionable data points like that actually undermines his argument.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Exile

    John C- many American men have no regard for women either. It’s also not the only reason to watch porn.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Exile

    John C- many American men have no regard for women either. It’s also not the only reason to watch porn.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Didn’t they find something similar with Saddaam as well?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Didn’t they find something similar with Saddaam as well?

  • Bob E

    It seems to me that pornography in general is an effort in psychological transference. IE. People produce and view pornography to transfer their own sexual feelings to something outside themselves, a fantasy world, thinking that this will assuage their guilt and shame of lust. This goes along with the legalism leads to more unrighteousness argument since this is one of the loopholes and rationalizations (although often subconscious) that lead to a way to cover-up the sin rather than repent and seek the forgiveness in Christ that is there for everyone. We try our own atonement but it just ain’t gonna work.

  • Bob E

    It seems to me that pornography in general is an effort in psychological transference. IE. People produce and view pornography to transfer their own sexual feelings to something outside themselves, a fantasy world, thinking that this will assuage their guilt and shame of lust. This goes along with the legalism leads to more unrighteousness argument since this is one of the loopholes and rationalizations (although often subconscious) that lead to a way to cover-up the sin rather than repent and seek the forgiveness in Christ that is there for everyone. We try our own atonement but it just ain’t gonna work.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bob (@14), you think that people view porn … in order to “assuage their guilt and shame of lust”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bob (@14), you think that people view porn … in order to “assuage their guilt and shame of lust”?

  • Bob E

    Not consciously.

  • Bob E

    Not consciously.

  • The Wanker

    I freely view porn and anything else I want, but more sparingly now than before. But I follow some rules about that. For starters, it’s not a good idea to save or subscribe to stuff like porn because at that point, you are slowly evolving into a monster. As an adult bachelor who isn’t accountable to anyone else, you unfortunately have no one there often times to check your bad habits and limit them from becoming worse habits.

    The second thing might be that as much as I as a male want sex, I have to remind myself what an inconvenience it must be to a woman, from consummation to pregnancy. After awhile porn wasn’t as much fun any more because I kept being quietly reminded that I had a conscience. I sensed that women get truly hurt by a man who refuses to act logically, and a world full of pointless sex may not seem like harm at first but later it might be. I’m not a prude, but I am trying to be more aware of my displacement as a bachelor when it comes to things like enjoying porn a little too much.

    The final thing that I learned from absorbing all of that porn over the years was that I was becoming less interested in actual sexual intercourse and more interested in that kind of imaginative, non-penetrative sensuality that is sometimes associated with women. I didn’t want to inflict on women discomfort, and I didn’t want to inflict on myself the troubles which do spring from having done that to someone. I began to suspect that women hate men because of how they use their penises: they claim with some merit that we are dogs when bachelors and that we are unrepentant cheaters when married. A bachelor has more freedom and more responsibility to society when it comes to how he handles sex and sensuality, while a married man has volunteered for less freedom but must be mindful of the habits he feels a need to hide from his wife.

    I could treat you to the sob story of how I was rejected a lot by girls when I was younger or how my parents divorced or how I tried being abstinent and taking cold showers, but I’d shrug at that if I heard that from someone else, so here I’m not going to say much about that. My one regret after having been turned down by girls and women was that they never gave me decent criticism so I could improve. Not that that is a problem these days, though. :)

    Happy Trails,
    The Wanker

  • The Wanker

    I freely view porn and anything else I want, but more sparingly now than before. But I follow some rules about that. For starters, it’s not a good idea to save or subscribe to stuff like porn because at that point, you are slowly evolving into a monster. As an adult bachelor who isn’t accountable to anyone else, you unfortunately have no one there often times to check your bad habits and limit them from becoming worse habits.

    The second thing might be that as much as I as a male want sex, I have to remind myself what an inconvenience it must be to a woman, from consummation to pregnancy. After awhile porn wasn’t as much fun any more because I kept being quietly reminded that I had a conscience. I sensed that women get truly hurt by a man who refuses to act logically, and a world full of pointless sex may not seem like harm at first but later it might be. I’m not a prude, but I am trying to be more aware of my displacement as a bachelor when it comes to things like enjoying porn a little too much.

    The final thing that I learned from absorbing all of that porn over the years was that I was becoming less interested in actual sexual intercourse and more interested in that kind of imaginative, non-penetrative sensuality that is sometimes associated with women. I didn’t want to inflict on women discomfort, and I didn’t want to inflict on myself the troubles which do spring from having done that to someone. I began to suspect that women hate men because of how they use their penises: they claim with some merit that we are dogs when bachelors and that we are unrepentant cheaters when married. A bachelor has more freedom and more responsibility to society when it comes to how he handles sex and sensuality, while a married man has volunteered for less freedom but must be mindful of the habits he feels a need to hide from his wife.

    I could treat you to the sob story of how I was rejected a lot by girls when I was younger or how my parents divorced or how I tried being abstinent and taking cold showers, but I’d shrug at that if I heard that from someone else, so here I’m not going to say much about that. My one regret after having been turned down by girls and women was that they never gave me decent criticism so I could improve. Not that that is a problem these days, though. :)

    Happy Trails,
    The Wanker


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