Pornography and who we really are

Got this letter in from a young man. I answer him below it.

Is it a sin to masturbate? I do it while looking at porn sites online. I think it’s sinful, but am not really sure, since everybody does it. Isn’t it just part of being human? To be honest, masturbating doesn’t feel like so sinful before I do it, but then, when it’s over, I feel like it is. I can’t find anything in the Bible to help me with any of this. I would be very grateful for any advice from you.

“I don’t think it’s much of a sin before I … go into manual override—but when I’m done I do think it’s a sin.” Man, if that doesn’t wrap up the entire male relationship with … doing hand-to-gland combat, I don’t know what does.

You’re right, of course: literally everyone … debugs their own hard drive. And there’s nothing in the Bible saying anything different—or really saying anything at all on the matter. Apparently even God is too shy to talk about … bopping the bonzo.

So here’s the deal with the whole Masturbation and Porn phenomenon. The entire porno industry’s raison d’être is male masturbation. Sure, sometimes couples watch porn together. But that’s like two people riding the same Vespa scooter. Yes, they’ll probably get where they want to go. But offering two people one ride isn’t what keeps the Vespa company in business.

There are only two modes by which you can access any knowledge about yourself. One is all the information that comes to you from the outside world. All of that information is relative. You’re strong, you’re smart, you’re short, you’re tall, you’re right-handed, you’re ambitious, you’re lazy, you’re young, you’re old, you’re funny, you’re boring, you’re good-looking, you’re not … all of that sort of thing—which is to say pretty much everything you think about yourself—originates from outside of you. It has meaning only relative to everyone and everything else in the world. It’s not internal to you. It’s not organic to you. Though (God knows) it can feel like it is, it is not self-generated. It all comes from … out there.

From inside of yourself—from the other mode of knowledge about yourself available to you—there is only one single thing that is true.

One. Your whole nature and being consists of one quality that is absolute, irreducible, and organically your own—that exists inside of you, and has nothing to do with the relativity of the outside world.

Ultimately, you possess one quality, and only that one. And that quality is that you love.

You love, you love, you love. That’s what you were born to do. That’s what we were all born to do. That’s the only thing that truly, for each of us, defines us.

You, my horny friend (which is to say, my human friend) will masturbate. That cannot be helped. But when you do, do not look at pornography. Why? Because you don’t really want to anyway. And why not? Because there is nothing about the commercial product of pornography that is anything at all about love. It is instead about—and by its objectifying nature can only be about—the exploitation of human beings. It’s about power, creepy voyeurism, the violation of privacy, the heartless subjugation of women, and the reducing of human beings to animals.

The reason you get that crappy, split-down-the-middle feeling after using pornography to get off is because in so doing you’ve betrayed your very essence. You’ve gone against your own nature. You’ve stomped on the only real thing about you that matters to you. You’ve worked in opposition to the love that you were born to give.

You’ve used porno as an ax to drive a separation between … well, you and you.

Not good. Results, as you know, in a very unpleasant feeling.

Again: you will masturbate. Don’t even bother trying not to. If you wish to feel better about it after the fact, an outstanding idea is to use as a masturbatory aid only your imagination. There you can be just as … imaginatively lustful as you want to be. There power and voyeurism and All Things Sexual is fine—you can’t stop it from happening there anyway. So, inside the sanctity of your imagination, give yourself permission to have at it. Go wild, big guy. Doing that is your private business, and your right. (Also recommended: using someone else’s imagination, via erotic literature. Though, of course, buyer beware: see True sex story, or guy lying like a dog?)

When your sole agent of stimulation is your imagination, no one gets hurt. That matters. Lots of people get hurt when you drop a coin into the coffers of the producers of online porn by visiting their websites. And in the very now of that moment, not least amongst those people getting hurt is you.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • IATSH

    Awesome post & great ammunition to use against my subconscious. Thanks.

  • http://www.adamlehman.us/ AdamLehman

    Perfect. Thanks for sharing.

    Tone of your response reminds me of author/pastor Chris McAlister, you heard of him?

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      No, I’m afraid I haven’t Adam.

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

    As I was reading your post I became increasingly disappointed in your apparent direction. But then you made an important statement:

    There is nothing about the commercial product of pornography that is anything at all about love. It is instead about—and by its objectifying nature can only be about—the exploitation of human beings.

    You hit the real issue dead on! There is no problem with masturbation, even James Dobson taught that, but porn has a host of self-destructive issues.

    Thanks for your excellent response to the writer.

  • vj

    Wow, this was awesome! Thanks so much for this – especially the final paragraph. I think I’m going to print this out to give to my kids – you have captured everything I have ever thought about this subject…

  • Keith Witty

    John, this is great stuff. I think you should write about another issue with porn and Christianity, though. There is this belief out there that the Gospel is some kind of magical elixir that is the key to overcoming one’s own humanity. There is a real danger in the work of Christians who deride porn and then tell people that the way to overcome addiction is simply through reading the gospel. All that does is simply introduce even more guilt into the equation. I can remember struggling with a Porn addiction and contemplating suicide because I did not believe myself to be a good enough Christian. I felt as if I totally and completely rejected God every time that I caved to my addiction. The problem with this other side of the coin is not the fact that it is anti-porn, which is a good thing to be, but the fact that it also appears to be anti-sex. Humans are sexual beings and it is incredibly damaging to deny that to a person or tell them that it is wrong to masturbate or act on urges.

    Basically, I would love for you to point out the other extreme: being so anti-porn that one becomes anti-sex and therefore, anti-human.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      yeah, yeah, good stuff Keith. thank you for it–and for the prompt.

      • MikeHaas82

        John, I think you failed to mention that porn gives young people a totally unrealistic and unhealthy expectation of how long it takes to get a plumber or electrician out to your house. Worse yet is the expectation that Pizza will arrive hot, in mere minutes…

        • DevilsAdvoc8er

          HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!

  • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

    Highly recommend using someone else’s imagination. My first orgasm came by way of erotic literature. Which is way more than you needed to know about me.

    We all do it. I, personally, don’t mind visual porn. As a woman, I’m kinda used to imagining I’m the one watched not watching, if you know what I mean. I don’t find it disrespectful. It’s normal. It is ultimately unsatisfying to be treated as an object instead of a whole person with brains and flaws. You… get used to it. Porn only in moderation. Don’t lie to your girlfriend about it.

    • Matt

      I don’t think anyone should ever have to get used to being treated like an object. It’s extremely destructive, in obvious and subtle ways.

    • Geri Sue

      The porn industry treats their performers like trash (read the memoirs of former “Porn Stars” like Jenna Jameson, or testimonials of former performers involved in the Pink Cross Foundation). So-called “Amateur Porn” perpetuates sex trafficking. The images on the screen are merely sex objects, there’s no humanity behind it.

      • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

        The pr0n industry is horrendous, as is sex trafficking in women and girls around the world. My point is, I guess, you (Geri Sue) own a computer. You are not one of the downtrodden on the banks of the Ganges. Those grown women chose to get paid (or not) for placating a male audience. I repeat, the only problem I see is when people hide the urge to watch porn from the people they love best.

        • Geri Sue

          The porn industry is a black hole. One common sentiment that is shared by both men and women who have gotten out of performing pornography is that many of them wanted to get out of it almost right away, but they got dragged back into it -not unlike a drug. There’s always “one last movie” or “one last photo shoot”. The producers are predators that feed on the weak and use every trick in the book to get their performers to stay, including intimidation and other illegal tactics. Yes, ultimately it is their choice, but it’s not as black and white as it would seem.

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            Well, all performance is drug-like. Endorphins. I don’t know actual smut peddlers, per se, but as I’ve indicated elsewhere, I know plenty of women who made money off their bodies.

            You want to fix that problem? Don’t hate women who get naked or the men who ‘allow’ them to do it. Hate that women get paid 82% for the same work men do. Barely up after thirty years.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

        Here’s the thing, The porn industry offers a product that is purchased, and in demand. Yeah it sucks, yeah it portrays sex in an unrealistic light, as well as women and girls,
        Our society has a wierded out obsession with sex. Society loves having it, loves thinking about it, looking at it, reading about it, talking about it, yet at the same time are horribly guilty about all of that.

    • Guest

      You might feel differently about it when it’s your husband watching porn. When he makes it clear by his actions when you are in the bedroom together that he isn’t thinking about you….that is not something “to get used to”. That’s time for counselling. If that doesn’t work and he refuses to change, it’s time for divorce. (Especially when there are other issues in the marriage.)

      Just because you get used to it, does not make it okay. Please, you are more valuable than a sex object.

      • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

        Hi Joy. I’m (proudly) unmarried. When I marry, it will be forever, as written in the scriptures. I have however heard plenty about (mostly men) jacking off. It is no less or more repugnant than any other gift God gave us. In fact, sex is super-simple. Slip on a red dress, pour some bubbly, insert a VHS tape or open a Danielle Steel novel: done.

        Counseling is for when this super-simple concept isn’t seen the same way by both partners. Worthwhile? Yes. Unsuccessful 80% of the time? Also yes. You can’t just “unlearn” who attracts you or why.

      • BarbaraR

        Counseling because your husband looks at porn? Divorce because your husband looks at porn? Isn’t that kind of like pushing your car over a cliff because the windshield wipers don’t work?

        The real issues (as I read it) are the “When he makes it clear by his actions when you are in the bedroom together that he isn’t thinking about you” and the telling “Especially when there are other issues in the marriage.” And also feeling that the porn he (or she) watches has something to do with the other spouse. It doesn’t. Unless it becomes an obsession, I’m not seeing how it damages a marriage.

        It appears to me that the “other issues” are the real problem, but porn is the scapegoat. I could be wrong; I don’t know the situation, but perhaps the inability to accept that spouses do masturbate while looking at porn is a contributing factor.

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

          I would agree Barbara, In such a scenario, I would think porn is just the symptom of a much bigger issue. Why someone uses it has so many possibilities, from an insecurity, a means of shutting someone out, to an attempt to reminisce about the virility of their youth and all sorts of other possibilities.

          We forget that sex is really a minor part of a marriage, despite the crazy obsession our culture has over it. Yeah it can be important and awesome, but we spend so little time, compared to all the rest of the things we do as couples partaking in it, especially as our bodies and libedos begin to fade. Having major parts of our relationship, communication, companionship, trust, sharing of duties and interests, those matter in the long run.

        • Alliecat04

          I actually know a lady who divorced her husband because she figured out that he was watching porn, due to a credit card charge. Most of her friends (who are primarily my mom’s friends, not mine, and more conservative though not necessarily older than my friends) seemed to regard his watching porn as equivalent to adultery, which seems insane to me. I got to hear a lot about her marriage during the divorce, and yes, I kept my thoughts to myself the whole time.

          If I had to break down what was going on in her head, in the most honest and impolite way possible, I believe it was, “I’m fat and my husband treats me like dirt. He didn’t treat me like dirt when I used to be skinny and he looks at skinny girls on the internet. If I could just stop him from doing that, he would be forced to look at me again and he would treat me better.”

          Well… Except that she admits he has always treated her like dirt, even when she was skinny, she just used to believe that if she did enough (offer him hot sex, have another baby) he would magically grow out of it.

          • Alliecat04

            Con’t….

            But that’s not how bad marriages work. A man who treats his wife like dirt while they are courting is not going to improve if she tries the position from Cosmo or has another baby.

            Yes, it’s probably true that her gaining 150 lbs since the wedding while he is the same weight is probably an issue in their sex life. But the idea of starving him of other options until he’s forced to pretend to be attracted to her at her current weight is neither flattering nor healing. Plus it seems unlikely to do anything but make him hate her, and sex with her, altogether.

    • Alliecat04

      I’m weirded out by the line “get used to it.” It seems like I agree with most of what you say, but then there’s that line which makes it seem as if I misunderstood you. Who gets used to what exactly? Are you saying that you have been consistently objectified so much that it’s no longer worth objecting to? Because I strongly disagree with that. If, on the other hand, you’re saying that a healthy woman with a healthy ego is well aware that her husband’s attraction to a porn star (or a regular star, or anyone else he has zero chance with) presents no threat to her, and that the way God made human sexuality (for both men AND women) means that being turned on does not make anyone automatically fall in love, then I agree.

      Ps autocomplete is being insane today, so if I say anything that seems like I’m on crack, that’s possibly why. In the last sentence it completed “turned on” as “turned out,” which gives it a whole other meaning!

      • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

        Hi Allie! Yes, I went to a performing arts magnet school. I got my first commercial sensing, intuitively, what the (male) scouts wanted. It was… the dawn of the Internet and target marketing. Eons ago. Now, everyone is their own ‘brand’.

        These people you’re dissing are real flesh and bone. In a microscopic way, I’ve been through the same thing: cyberstalked through images I put out on line. The only question is if you are somehow getting recompensed for your efforts, or if someone else is using you for their own gain. My ‘bad’ attitude paid my way through college. My mother was the token Gentile on a radio quiz show fifty years before. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiz_Kids.

        To be alive in a Capitalist society is to be selling something.

        • Alliecat04

          Never done your job exactly but I was a model during college so I believe I can appreciate what you’re saying somewhat. And my grandma was a corporate spokesmodel in the days of live TV.

          It seems to me that there’s a huge gap between “we need a 5’10″ blonde who can zip up this dress and we need her in the next five minutes” (which is, hilariously, how I got my first modeling job) and being, for example, a stripper, like one of my foster daughters was during college.

          I suppose technically, being a model is objectifying, in that you are valued for qualities other than your sparkling personality. But so are most people, in most jobs.

          On the other hand, being a stripper means having the cops break into your apartment at 3 am, asking if “Victoria” lives here, I mean are you Victoria at work and you don’t mind if we search your place you’re free to say no but if you do we will arrest you. It means being roommates with a guy who seemed nice and helpful at work but when the rent comes due he rapes you in the shower for the rent. It means making more money than an 18-year-old could possibly make at any straight job, and having no money at the end of six months because your “friends” expected you to treat them to drugs.

          When I was young and naive, I believed that any woman had the right to shake her titties where and when she wanted to, and to get paid for it. Then I was made aware of how large a percentage of strippers come out of sexually abusive childhoods, and how very nasty the world surrounding strip clubs really is. I suggest that the men who consider it harmless look into it, and think hard about whether they want to be part of it.

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            LOL. Like I typed, acting was my job back in the Dark Ages. Now I make companies look good onscreen and shun the spotlight as much as possible. I’ve got a bunch of former stripper friends for exactly the reason you listed: more money than any 18-year-old could possibly make at a ‘straight’ job.

            One’s a child psych Ph.D. and heads an arts institute. One’s a psych major and office manager. One’s an MA and screenwriter. One’s an EMT. All save one are happily married with children. None was sexually abused, addicted, or woken by cops in the middle of the night. It was just a job.

            Dunno what clubs your foster daughter worked at—and I’m sorry, it sounds like she had a terrible time all around—but dancing with my friends list, clothed or not, is a non-event.

          • karina

            thank you for being one of the voices of reason in this discussion.

  • Alliecat04

    Question, John. One that as a digital artist I’ve discussed at great length among my friends and co-workers. What do you think about porn involving digitally created characters? Speaking for myself, I can’t see why the works of a graphic artist’s visual imagination should be more or less harmful than the works of a writer’s literary imagination.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      I don’t see any basis for not agreeing with that, Allie.

      • Guest

        Well, John, then what makes visual sexually explicit media any less the “use of someone else’s imagination” than published erotica? I think your concern is that the “live” participants are not truly consenting, but I think that may be a broad brush. In some states pornography is a regulated industry with safeguards. What about the festival Dan Savage hosts every year? Your argument, if taken to its logical conclusion, is that no one — by fiat — can consent to involvement in a sexually explicit film.

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

          Sigh, pick up a romance novel lately? Its porn for women. I read them every now and then just to see if someone has managed to come up with a clever plot and truly deep characters along with all the badly written sex scenes (not yet) But they pass the time, when you are stuck on plane, or a long car ride, and I can upload them free to my kindle, as I”m waiting for the good books to get off the hold list at my library. Plus, I’m just waiting for R. R. Martin to finish up his next book installment.

          Still, reading books with all that ridiculous throbbing and thrusting, doesn’t mean that I want to be naked and undercovers with anyone but the amazing man I married two years ago. Neither of us would qualify as models for the sultry book covers, at least not at our age, yet it with each other where the magic happens.

          • Alliecat04

            My mom’s a romance writer. She also writes what she calls “real books,” but the romances pay so much better than mainstream writing.

            They are, basically, porn for women. The funny thing is that for the most part, the writers of them don’t want to write porn. They plot and write as well as it’s possible within the constraints of usually a two-or-three month writing frame, but the sex is required by Harlequin. This amount of this type of sex by this page. My mom, who is an elderly lady, frankly hates writing it and finds it absurd to have to keep coming up with new ways to describe the same sex acts.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Always looking for new authors, and I bet your mom is great at her craft. I can only do short subject and poetry, whole novels stymie me.
            I actually don’t mind the romance, as its popcorn, the good guys win sort of stuff. I understand when you are trying to earn a living, that you gotta go with what the customers want. I’m one of those thats skims over the sex scenes, and goes right back to the plot and dialog.

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          So … that was a lot of irrationality, assumption and presumption jammed into five sentences. I can’t even imagine where to start.

          • Wonder

            have you *read* fifty shades of grey? (not that I recommend it, the relationship dynamics are terrible)

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            I read a synopisis of the series, and I also read a critique of the book that had me laughing so hard I couldn’t breath.

          • Andy

            Point me to this critique, please; I might read it. I have no intention of reading the actual books, but this I might, especially if it’s as funny as you say.

  • MsFury

    I was getting nervous as I read the beginning of this article – Thank God you turned it around, Buddy! Great advice and insight.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Thanks, Ms.Fury. (You know, I’ve now heard a couple of times the idea that they feared what it appeared I was going to say. But for the life of me I can’t see … what their fear was, or what words of mine led to that fear. Funny!)

      • MsFury

        Well, I guess the generalized debugging comment got me a little nervous but that’s only because I’m a noob and I misunderstood what you meant. I thought you were saying that literally everyone looks at porn. Anyway, the article was great. I told my 16 year old son about it and he asked me to email it to him. It is so important for young men to hear this sort of message from other guys…

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          Maybe that isn’t a clear enough reference to You Know What. I thought “Debug your hard drive” so funny. But maybe I should change that to something more obvious. “Doing the hand jive” or whatever. (Also funny!)

          • Jill

            I laughed about that very comment hours after reading this. Don’t change a thing.

          • MsFury

            lol – I dunno – I think it probably was clear enough – I just wasn’t paying attention. : )

  • John Thomas

    John, I like this perspective, regarding a progressive Christian view of sexuality (as our conservative friends often ask “where do you progressives draw the lines?”, I like Dr. Elaine Heath’s perspective: http://elaineaheath.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/a-new-set-of-questions-about-sex-and-sin/

  • Liya

    Good post. I often wonder why there are not that many good erotic movies for women to enjoy masturbating to. Yet also wonder if men would find that enticing.
    Essentially, quality erotica would probably be a great substitute for lame porn that we have now in abundance…

  • Wonder

    don’ t you think it matters more what sortof material a person (and by the way’ women fantasise and masturbate every bit as much as men do) is feedin their imagination in order to generate images? having been an avid consumer of rather explicit “romance” novels in my younger years I’m actually a bit disturbed at some of the rather unhealthy ideas I picked up from them

    (there was a whole series of regency-era historicals involving virginal heiresses falling in love with their kidnappers – ew!)

  • anakinmcfly

    “Also recommended: using someone else’s imagination, via erotic literature.”

    NO NO NO NO NO. Speaking as someone who has been there, there is some really, deeply, screwed up stuff in the online repository of erotic literature. I’ve been deeply traumatised so many times by accidentally stumbling across literary child porn, incest, necrophilia, necrophiliac pedophiliac incestual rape (basically someone raping their dead kid), and lots of other things that I wish I could erase forever from my imagination. Twice I’ve been driven, shaking, to my therapist’s office because of stuff encountered in erotic literature. I still feel the pull to return – but almost every time I really, really regret it, so I’m trying my best to swear myself off that stuff forever. Also, their grammar and spelling tend to really suck.

    At least in video porn (which I never got into), there are certain limits enforced by physical reality. In erotic literature it’s really a free for all for people to air their deepest, darkest, majorly effed up fantasies in some sleazy area of the web, many of which have some extremely disturbing ideas about women that make me worried for the females in the author’s life.

  • anakinmcfly

    also: “Don’t even bother trying not to.”

    Why not? There can be good effects of abstinence, though moreso for some people than others. I’m on 28 days of no-fap and feel awesome. My anxiety has almost completely vanished for the first time in years, my acne is clearing up, and I haven’t had a panic attack since I started. Which is a big thing. I’m also a lot more energetic, productive, don’t feel tired all the time, and have started regaining bits of happiness at the tiny day-to-day pleasures of life where previously all was numb. I’m aiming for the 90 day challenge; but even if I fail, it’s already created a marked improvement in my life, as well as for many others if the nofap subreddit is anything to go by.

  • Josh Magda

    Saw your post linked on Facebook from PCA. Thanks for your concern, but the sex/love, animal/human, self/other, one real thing about us/everything else, inside/outside, imaginal/actual and even imagery/text dualisms in your post did not resonate with me. Not to diminish your relevant criticisms of the “professional” porn industry, but the guilt surrounding masturbation mostly comes from the 2,000 year old Christian inability to deal with sex. Respect for the Sacred Web can include erotic and sexual imagery. God touches Herself, and out pops the World: Gen 1:1. The Spirit “moves over” the face of the waters. Gen 1:2. God experiences all She has made, and finds it to be “very good.” Sounds like an orgasm to me. We shouldn’t remove sex from its Cosmic context.

    Sexual imagery can help us overcome the neurotic dualisms that plague ordinary existence, some of which you employ in this blog post, that, after reading, had me feeling pretty split-down-the-middle. ;-) Our culture is almost unique in world history at villainizing it. Perhaps that is why, given the chance, we have gone off the deep end with the Internet.

    I also strongly disagree that rehearsing what you call “power” scenarios that “hurt no one” in your imagination while masturbating is a healthy alternative to porn. From a spiritual perspective, given the choice between the two of them, I would choose actual, egalitarian amateur video sex over dominator fantasies any day.

    But instead, I think I’ll recommend a box of tissues, some lube, and a copy of Genesis 1 to all your readers, for the next time any of us feel the urge to join in on God’s wank-fest called Creation. After all, He’s had it up for 4 billion years now and counting. God’s not a prude. If you don’t believe me, look out the window! :-)

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    I guess one could engage in erotic fantasy but it isn’t like one is unable to masturbate without it. Why not just be enjoying YOURSELF, loving your own body, loving that activity that gives so much pleasure. No need to feel guilt about GIVING to yourself.

  • Y. A. Warren

    Sometimes, the feeling at the end of self-stimulation is simply loneliness.

  • Guillermo Iglesias Patiño

    I like the way you, John answers the guy, with respect and empathy…that’s what love means to me. The only thing is that I don’t know is if I should agree with you about “using someone else imagination” because: is everything allowed as long you don’t hurt anyone with it? I am not sure about this..I don’t think I can agree with that but that’s fine…I don’t have to have everything clear for now, sometimes yo have to rethink things….But the main thing is…I like the loving way you communicate with this guy…

  • IATSH

    Okay. This has been eating at me. How far do you recommend carrying this advice as a principal. Porn is partly wrong because a great deal of people are hurt via commercial exploitation. Do I need to also concern myself with other forms of economic exploitation to the level of boycotting? And if so what brand of Tennis Shoes do you recommend :P?

    • harrisco

      I think the word you want is ‘principle.’ In answer, I would say there are many kinds of economic exploitation that should concern us–and lead us to take action via protests and boycotts. I do not know John’s views on this subject. How far do we take those protests? That is a tough question. It disturbs me to know that my shirt was likely made in a sweatshop and my tomatoes likely came from the hands of exploited farm workers. At least with the videos they keep in the back room, there is no ‘likely’ about it. It would take a great act of willful ignorance not to understand the exploitative relationships through which those videos were produced. The same may be true for garments and food crops, but there is a bit more doubt there–though not enough to let us off the hook completely by any means. I do not think Jesus wants people exploited, for their labor or their sexuality. As people of love, we should also take that view. Yes, I am a hypocrite, but I am working on it.

      • IATSH

        Thanks. I’m an idiot when it comes to spelling.

  • Mel.P.

    when imagination is based on pornographic images stored in the brain from previous experiences of porn, it has the same separating-from-love effect. fantasy is not harmless. that’s BS. and masturbation is not harmless. sex is meant for two, not for one alone. masturbation says “i don’t need intimacy” even though the very thing driving the “need” (turned addictive compulsion) to masturbate is the deeper desire for intimacy. this article is half giving truth, half giving up on it.

  • http://www.desiremercy.wordpress.com/ Chad Holtz

    This is hedonistic nonsense. I used to think there was nothing wrong with masturbation, like you John, but the reality was I was in bondage to it. The Bible teaches that we should not be enslaved by anything, and masturbation – our lusts, desires, loves, etc – enslave us. And this lack of biblical wisdom on your part perpetuates the enslavement.

    I can testify to being free for 2 years from self-gratification and have never been more free or happy. I’m not a slave to my desires like an animal. And NO, you don’t HAVE to masturbate. That’s just a lie. Furthermore, a Christian knows that our loves are disordered. Just because we love something does not make it right. But God can and does reorder our desires and our loves to make them God-honoring as well as liberating in the best sense of the word for us.

    I have written a 4 part blog on the sinfulness of masturbation as well as tips for being set free from it’s entrapment. It can be found here: http://desiremercy.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/the-sin-of-self-gratification-taking-on-the-m-word-part-i/

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      free from self gratification huh? Do you still enjoy the taste of your favorite dish? Still enjoy that feeling when you stand under a hot shower stream after a long day? You still get a desire to jump in a puddle when walking by one after a rain, and give into that desire anyway? If you have a choice between carrots and BBQ potato chips, do you always go for the carrots?
      Self gratification is a biological thing. It helps us feel better, it can distress us, help us just to set the world aright for a moment, enjoy a moment of fun or pleasure. Trying to be guilty about it is just, or insist others feel guilt is sad.

      • http://www.desiremercy.wordpress.com/ Chad Holtz

        All of the things you describe do not require me to isolate myself (apart from the shower, perhaps). Life is full of things that are pleasurable. Some of them God names as sinful. Jesus said that even thinking lustfully about another woman is the same as adultery. But even the good pleasures you named can become idols – ANYTHING can enslave us. This article has a very low view of God’s power to change our desires as well as a low view of man’s ability to rise above animal instincts.

        • hoknok

          Chad, I agree the article misses some critical points and maybe glosses over other issues… but I still see masturbation as neutral in general (see my comments up front). Just because you struggled with it does not mean everyone does in the same fashion you did. And to add a note here… I once struggled with it too in my past… but no more… and yet, I still masturbate at times. Its not an all or nothing issue.

          Much the same way I can eat a bowl of ice cream and stop… without eating until I get sick or over weight. Its about self control. Me dictating the terms. I don’t eat chocolate cake every day… as much as I would love too.

          I read a little bit on your Masturbation blog and will read more later… but I get the feeling that you believe that “Self Gratification” is wrong… just because its self gratifying? Granted, masturbation can have negative outcomes… but so can eating too much.. Its about Self Control… or lack of… not if it’s self gratifying or not.

          You state in your article that ” Self-gratification is what I prefer to call masturbation because it names it for what it truly is: a selfish act.”

          Then, with this is mind, EVERYTHING a person does for self gratification is sin? Like what Allegro63 implies… does this mean food, a great sunset, a relaxing bath, a nice healthy massage, the joy of receiving, sleeping in late are wrong? By the way… most of these acts DO require one to isolate themselves!

          In a nut shell, you are implying that anything that we as humans could enjoy for ourself in isolation is wrong?

          Help me understand because I believe you have put much thought into this…

          Peace!
          Hok

        • Liya

          why is that you decided to quit masturbating? Investigate the health risks , especially for males, of going without a release for a long time. Do you have a sexual partner ? What about when she is not felling well or not in the mood for sex?
          Yes, one can re-channel his or her sexual desires into many things from food to preaching, but you headed for prostate problems (at least)

  • Garrett Burns

    John, I am unsatisfied with your conclusion. I agree with your approach to pornography and your attempt to bring him to a less “dualistic” understanding of sexuality. However, I think you over-correct. Would you agree that our imagination is based on an external reference point? I do not know but I assume it must be in some capacity. If this is true, what else does this young man have to imagine besides power and the subjugation of women as pornography has been his only point of reference for human sexuality? Who is hurt when his dreams do not correspond with reality? I believe he needs involved parents/guardians/mentors such as yourself who are willing to be honest with him about the appropriate frame for human sexuality AND the dangerous abyss our mind can become.

    Particularly, I would offer him a quote from C. S. Lewis

    “For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back; sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides.
    “And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman.
    For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no woman can rival.
    Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover; no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity.
    In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself. . . . After all, almost the main work of life is to come out of our selves, out of the little dark prison we are all born in. Masturbation is to be avoided as all things are to be avoided which retard this process. The danger is that of coming to love the prison.”
    Personal Letter From Lewis to Keith Masson (found in The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3)

    • Guest

      For what it’s worth, I didn’t mean to “upvote” myself. Forgive my vanity.

    • Blind Boy Belvedere

      See ‘guest” immediately above.

  • Guest

    I’ve struggled with porn since I was a kid, having gotten into it
    without knowing much about it before it was too late and the claws were
    already in deep, and some of the reasons this article cites are among
    the reasons I’m still trying to fight it.
    I have made some headway I think, as it’s not as bad as when I was a teenager, but I haven’t conquered it yet.

    As
    for masturbation, I forced myself to go without masturbation for about a
    year, in my mid twenties, and nearly went crazy. Seriously. Maybe some
    can go without for whatever reason, either because they’re married and
    have a good sex life or because they don’t have much a sex drive and
    it’s not that hard for them to do that to begin with, but that wasn’t
    the case for me.
    I didn’t feel awesome, I felt tense and all messed up.
    Also I felt all self-righteous about it, ‘oh look at me, I’m holier than yo because I’m not masturbating.’
    Which can’t be a healthy attitude to have.
    So I stopped trying not.

    My
    fiancee tells me (and we’re waiting till marriage for sex by the way…
    and will hopefully be getting married this year, after seven years,
    which is longer than I was expecting to wait… as you imagine that
    hasn’t been easy for me, though I do believe she is worth waiting for)
    if I’m going to masturbate, she’d rather I think of her than someone
    else, and she doesn’t want me to look at porn, because she knows it
    makes me feel bad and she doesn’t want me to have unrealistic
    expectations of her.

    I’m not a virgin. I fooled around in my early twenties before I met my fiancee.
    I feel bad about it, and wish I could undo it, but I can’t.
    But I learned a hard lesson, that sex alone does not make a relationship.

    My
    only experience of sexuality throughout my thirty years of life has
    been one of physical pleasure mingled with guilt and emptiness. I have
    never gotten to experience it has something I know God is okay with, and
    without a doubt.

    I do hope that being married will help me find some healing in this.
    I
    have no illusions that marriage will solve all of my problems, I’ve
    been in this relationship long enough to know that neither of us are
    perfect and we can’t expect too much of each other, because we’re both
    only human, but I really do hope that being able to experience sexuality
    in a context that virtually no one on the planet would argue is wrong
    would at least bring some psychological healing in this.

    And this is where I want to say something that I think is important.

    I
    agree, for some of the reasons cited in the article and in comments
    here, that pornography is not a good thing, for various reasons. But
    masturbation alone is another thing, and a complicated thing. So is
    sexuality in general.

    But this is what I want to say.
    I get
    really frustrated with people who judge others for this, or people who
    are either married and have a good sex life and don’t feel drawn to porn
    to begin with or who don’t have much of a sex drive to begin with and
    could be a monk or a nun if they wanted to be, preaching to people like
    me about what I should and shouldn’t do sexually.

    ‘Oh, you just
    need to do this’, ‘Oh, you just need to stop doing that’, ‘well, this is
    what God thinks about that’, ‘well, this is what the Bible says’, and
    on and on.

    Fact is you’re not in my shoes, or the shoes of any of
    us guys (or girls for that matter, because there are girls out there
    who struggle with porn too), so don’t pretend to understand my
    struggles, or any of our struggles.

    Stop being so bloody high and
    mighty and self-righteous and try to be more compassionate and
    understanding. This is not an easy thing for anyone who wrestles with
    it.

    To those of you who are in a place where you are at peace
    sexually, whether because you’re happily married or happily celibate,
    who yet are compassionate and understanding towards those who aren’t at
    peace sexually, I commend you for that. Thank you.

    But for those
    of you who aren’t, please, please, try to be, because by your not being
    compassionate and understanding, it’s only frustrating people and
    discouraging people who are struggling and making things worse.

    I
    do hope and pray that I and others like me can find healing. But I also
    hope and pray that people on the outside of this struggle can remember
    not to judge or condemn, can remember to be patient and kind, and can
    remember not to be too proud or holier-than-thou, but rather more humble
    and gentle, thankful for their health, and yet compassionate towards
    those who do not share that health, but who long for it.

    And that’s all I have to say. Peace

    • Bones

      Dude, you’re human.

      It’s ok. Happens to all of us. Don’t beat yourself up. No one else is.

      My years as a single Christian were a nightmare. My most peaceful times were when I broke from church for a couple of years. I used to think I had a demon in me and I’d let Jesus down because good Christians don’t masturbate.

      This idea that God is interested in what we do with our genitals is ridiculous.

      As a parent now with kids nearing their teens I have to think a bit about how to tackle masturbation.

      It won’t be a problem for my kids.

      It’s part of growing up and being human.

      Peace

  • Guest

    I’ve struggled with porn since I was a kid, having gotten into it
    without knowing much about it before it was too late and the claws were
    already in deep, and some of the reasons this article cites are among
    the reasons I’m still trying to fight it.
    I have made some headway I think, as it’s not as bad as when I was a teenager, but I haven’t conquered it yet.

    As for masturbation, I forced myself to go without masturbation for about a
    year, in my mid twenties, and nearly went crazy. Seriously. Maybe some
    can go without for whatever reason, either because they’re married and
    have a good sex life or because they don’t have much of a sex drive and
    it’s not that hard for them to do that to begin with, but that wasn’t
    the case for me.
    I didn’t feel awesome, I felt tense and all messed up.
    Also I felt all self-righteous about it, ‘oh look at me, I’m holier than yo because I’m not masturbating.’
    Which can’t be a healthy attitude to have.
    So I stopped trying not to.

    My fiancee tells me (and we’re waiting till marriage for sex by the way…
    and will hopefully be getting married this year, after seven years,
    which is longer than I was expecting to wait… as you imagine that
    hasn’t been easy for me, though I do believe she is worth waiting for)
    if I’m going to masturbate, she’d rather I think of her than someone
    else, and she doesn’t want me to look at porn, because she knows it
    makes me feel bad and she doesn’t want me to have unrealistic
    expectations of her.

    I’m not a virgin. I fooled around in my early twenties before I met my fiancee.
    I feel bad about it, and wish I could undo it, but I can’t.
    But I learned a hard lesson, that sex alone does not make a relationship.

    My only experience of sexuality throughout my thirty years of life has
    been one of physical pleasure mingled with guilt and emptiness. I have
    never gotten to experience it has something I know God is okay with, and
    without a doubt.

    I do hope that being married will help me find some healing in this.
    I have no illusions that marriage will solve all of my problems, I’ve
    been in this relationship long enough to know that neither of us are
    perfect and we can’t expect too much of each other, because we’re both
    only human, but I really do hope that being able to experience sexuality
    in a context that virtually no one on the planet would argue is wrong
    would at least bring some psychological healing in this.

    And this is where I want to say something that I think is important.

    I agree, for some of the reasons cited in the article and in comments
    here, that pornography is not a good thing, for various reasons. But
    masturbation alone is another thing, and a complicated thing. So is
    sexuality in general.

    But this is what I want to say.
    I get really frustrated with people who judge others for this, or people who
    are either married and have a good sex life and don’t feel drawn to porn
    to begin with or who don’t have much of a sex drive to begin with and
    could be a monk or a nun if they wanted to be, preaching to people like
    me about what I should and shouldn’t do sexually.

    ‘Oh, you just need to do this’, ‘Oh, you just need to stop doing that’, ‘well, this is
    what God thinks about that’, ‘well, this is what the Bible says’, and
    on and on.

    Fact is you’re not in my shoes, or the shoes of any of us guys (or girls for that matter, because there are girls out there who struggle with porn too), so don’t pretend to understand my struggles, or any of our struggles.

    Stop being so bloody high and mighty and self-righteous and try to be more compassionate and understanding. This is not an easy thing for anyone who wrestles with it.

    To those of you who are in a place where you are at peace
    sexually, whether because you’re happily married or happily celibate,
    who yet are compassionate and understanding towards those who aren’t at
    peace sexually, I commend you for that. Thank you.

    But for those of you who aren’t, please, please, try to be, because by your not being compassionate and understanding, it’s only frustrating people and
    discouraging people who are struggling and making things worse.

    I do hope and pray that I and others like me can find healing. But I also
    hope and pray that people on the outside of this struggle can remember
    not to judge or condemn, can remember to be patient and kind, and can
    remember not to be too proud or holier-than-thou, but rather more humble
    and gentle, thankful for their health, and yet compassionate towards
    those who do not share that health, but who long for it.

    And that’s all I have to say. Peace

  • hoknok

    Masturbation is no more a sin than nudity. Let me explain.

    Both are neutral. It’s what surrounds these than can make it positive or negative. Many people assume masturbation is wrong based upon their own personal experiences… and perhaps with nudity as well?

    I find masturbation to be a healthy method of stress release from the natural build up due to my God created hormones. Have I ever stepped over the line with masturbation in my thought life? Sure, plenty.. But it was not the act of masturbation that was wrong, it was what I was dwelling on.

    I guess the next questions is… how can one dwell on positive thoughts and images that are not”sinful”? Well, that is the tougher question because each individual has their own line they can cross, or not, before entering into a thought life that produces conviction. BTW, there is a big difference between conviction and condemnation. One is from God and the other is from the enemy or shame based lies. but thats another story…

    Now lets talk about nudity for a second… some people think that every time you see a nude person, you are committing sin. Or that exposing yourself in situations that you are nude in is wrong. Does this mean that the Gynecologist your godly wife sees is in sin then? Or that she herself participated in this “sinful” act because she exposed herself in a much more invasive manner (I could argue than general pornography). Of course not! We expect that people have the ability to conduct themselves in mature and respectful ways.

    I am a fine artist and photographer. I have photographed, painted, or drawn hundreds if not thousands of pictures of nude people forever 25 years. I can honestly say that with the vast majority of these situations, I never lusted, had sexual thoughts or crossed the line that I thought was displeasing to my Father God. Yes, it took training of the heart and mind… but it was not that difficult as one may think. It really boils down to respecting the other person in both mind and actions.

    So to anyone that says masturbation is wrong in all cases… I would suggest perhaps that person has more of a personal heart issue and is assuming the other people out here think and feel the same as you do when in the act of masturbation?

    Peace
    Hok

    • anakinmcfly

      yeah, this. There are some kinds of masturbation that are sinful and some kinds that are not, at least that’s what I think. It depends on what’s driving it and what you’re thinking about. Every time I’ve felt guilt and shame over it, it was because my fantasies were driven by anger and hatred and the malicious desire to hurt or humiliate others, and I was getting off to that. And I’d consider that to have been sinful, vs the times when my fantasies were driven by the desire for love and connection and intimacy with another human being, imaginary or not. There’s a marked difference in how I feel after each of those: guilty and dirty and like a horrible person, vs peaceful and calm and full of love for humanity. I intend to stop the former.

      I do however have to disagree with the apparent consensus that masturbation is purely harmless health-wise. Orgasm releases chemicals that do things to your brain, and in excess can mess up your dopamine receptors and lead to mental health issues like anxiety, which I’ve definitely experienced a link with first-hand multiple times. Also carpal tunnel.

      • Bill Steffenhagen

        Carpal tunnel!!!!! My hoot for the day.

  • Christy Gordon

    As a psychotherapist all I can say is that I have seen pornography ruin marriages. I have seen it ruin careers when it became part of one’s work day. And I have seen it ruin a man’s ability to be intimate emotionally and physically with a real woman. This happens because when it becomes a habit, his physiology is linked to certain sex acts and certain unrealistic expectations that end up hampering the real deal. Suddenly he gets erectile dysfunction. And this is not even how it affects others by exploitation, just the man himself.

    • hoknok

      I agree with this and have seen the same things with the guys I know and counseled in the past.

  • Joe Hayes

    I avoid pornography, not for what it does to me, but what it does to the people involved. Some of them are sex slaves, or coerced, or addicted, or in some other way really, really messed up. That’s not a disembodied picture, that’s a real person, just like your child or parent or friend. I don’t want to be a part of that.
    RE: Masturbation. Know thyself. Some people can enjoy alchohol, some are mean drunks. Some people can enjoy a sporting event, others lose their witness by becoming sports-jerks. Some can eat one cookie and leave the rest, some eat the whole jar. I suppose, like nearly any other human activity, masturbation is both natural, pleasurable in moderation, and potentially harmful in excess. If you have an issue with it (which you might, and that’s fair), then by all means, don’t do it. I don’t (generally), because I have a fantastic thing going on with my wife, and want to save that for her. Doesn’t mean you have to.

  • Inuki

    Unless the visual medium is objectifying by definition (which is doubtful), the claim that porn is exploitative and objectifying is not really about the concept of porn, so much as it is about the content of many types of porn. But the argument makes it sound like we should just forget about the potential benefits of the visual medium to transmit the erotic because there’s something inherently wrong with the medium in itself (and so the author suggests we read literature instead or fantasize). I find that suspicious. There is now porn made by women for women, for example. There are also varieties of gay porn that do not follow the heterosexual stereotypes and dynamics. I’m a woman and I enjoy certain types of these varieties of porn and they have contributed positively to widening my options and expanding my consciousness about sexuality and self-expression. Also, let’s not forget that paying for porn is becoming all the more rare; now we have user-generated porn with real couples. Porn as a massive industry is on its way out as we move toward a more local, community-based way of living.

    Finally, there is something to be said about having a repository for fantasies and carnal desires that one would not act on in real life. This is healthy and natural. I don’t see a principled difference in reading about these fantasies vs. watching them–again, it’s a conflation of content and medium.

  • karina

    I’ll agree to disagree. Not all porn goes to pay the coffers of sex trafficking and other horrible things. Nor do I feel like porn really divides you from you. Granted, I’ve only seen it a few times and don’t really get the appeal in the first place, but still. Masturbation is harmless as is fantasizing about your dream sex night. For a author that says he’s not a fundamentalist….this sounds fairly fundamental and assumptive. If you are a part of a loving couple and don’t get your needs met, but don’t want to go breaking the rules of your faith, then masturbation is far better than engaging in cheating or adultery. I feel like too many people are just hating on the porn industry here. Do I want it no….but that doesn’t give me the right to say that its wrong for everyone…or the right to assume that in all cases it is being destructive to oneself…because that’s far too generalized to be true. Yes there are problems out there, but I’m tired of people intimately connecting the porn industry with human trafficking. Live and let live and watching porn isn’t hurting anyone so long as those in the videos are consenting adults being paid for their time.

    • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

      Hey karina. Thanks for the shout out below. Not sure there’s a voice of non reason, though. I trust John’s advice 99% of the time. I try to follow it. I really appreciate when he brings subjects like sex and gender bias into Christian perspective. That the reactions are so personal is … the whole point.

      • karina

        Oh I wasn’t trying to say that people didn’t have reason behind what they were saying. More so that I resonated more with your perspective on it more than many of the other things I’ve read in the comments here.

    • LysanderSpooner

      Lysander Spooner wrote an essay titled Vices are not Crimes. But are they sin? I would posit that vices are entertainment ( i.e gambling, drinking, etc); unless they do physical harm to oneself or another, or are habitual and interfere with an otherwise virtuous life; then in some instances it could certainly be defined as sin.
      In the discussion at hand (pun intended) if the practice interferes with, or does not allow, a normal healthy relationship with another human being then any such vice needs to be avoided if it cannot be controlled.

  • hoknok
  • Jeanne S

    The idea that porn “isn’t hurting anyone” is naive at best. I know directly how marriages can be wrecked by a spouse addicted to porn. The damage it causes to me as I wonder why he prefers fake images that I can’t begin to compete with and that he prefers to me, a flesh and blood, willing and able partner. The neglect is agonizing. The damage to my self esteem is crippling at times. Harmless…hardly.

  • JenellYB

    Porn is not without victims, including the consumer, and there is no sound, valid defense for porn. It dehumanizes, degrades, demeans. Porn does not provide “release” of sexual tensions, it increases them. And since such themes as dominance and subjugation for sexual objectification, and engaging in ‘illicit and forbidden sex’ are integral elements used in porn to heighten excitement, the risk of acting out such thoughts and behaviors are increased, with the result being sexual and emotional abuse carried out against real people. So too are those “used” by the porn industry to produce the product, the devastating effects on those “used” range from psychological to physical (extremely high rates of STDs, including HIV, since no one wants to watch porn in which condoms are used). Typical porn ‘story lines’ present really inaccurate and unhealthy representations of people’s sexuality, from which the porn viewer forms their beliefs about how to treat others. Such common story lines as presenting young women, even teenage or younger little girls, as being ever hot and panting for sex beneath their outward ‘disguise’ of naïve innocence and/or prim and proper appearance, in so strongly prevalent in porn, that the male porn viewer can easily come to believe it true, and encourage him to act aggressively and offensively toward even vulnerable young females, justifying to himself that they really “like” to be treated that way, and that pushing past her “no” and objections and even struggles is just part of the “game of sex.”. I’ve personally lived with a partner with porn addiction, experienced the effects on not only myself, but him, and other women/girls he victimized, and it very definitely played a big part in the irresolvable conflicts in the relationship. I’ve personally known many situations of others caught up in the effects of porn addiction, and studied it at academic/professional levels, and there is no “redeeming” qualities or arguments in support of porn.

  • charlesmaynes

    a magnificent piece John…. really….

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    I guess I agree with you John….for most porn, but I’ve seen some (in my case) gay vids that were truly beautiful.

  • Bones

    Hmmmm.

    Never heard this in my local church. And to think I used to struggle because it was Satan in me.

    It might be keeping me alive.

    Masturbation prevents cystitis, diabetes and prostate cancer, study suggests.

    http://www.universityherald.com/articles/6033/20131206/masturbation-prevents-cystitis-diabetes-prostate-cancer-study.htm

    “For women, masturbation can help prevent cervical infections and urinary tract infections through the process of ‘tenting,’ or the opening of the cervix that occurs as part of the arousal process. Tenting stretches the cervix, and thus the cervical mucous. This enables fluid circulation, allowing cervical fluids full of bacteria to be flushed out,” the researcher said in The Conversation, a website where academics write opinion pieces.

  • Jld33

    By estimates 1/3 of the viewer of online porn are women. Not just women watching with partners, but women watching on their own. A lot of porn is degrading and dehumanizing to women, but not all of it is and their are so many amatuer sites where real couples with real bodies are enjoying each other that no one has to watch any other kind unless they are seeking it out. And yes, lots of women masturbate too, sometimes to porn. Even Christian women. I realise the letter was from a male and I have mixed feelings about your conclusions, but I get really annoyed when masturbation and porn are portrayed as *only* male issues. It’s time for Christians to realize that women have sex drives too and we don’t need to pretend otherwise.


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