Porn, Predators, and Unsafe People

“It’s just a little porn…what’s the big deal?”

A man asked me that question a while back with a defensive tone of voice. His wife, sitting across the table, had just told me that she had felt “ugly and disgusting” when she’d viewed her husband’s internet history that morning.

I told this man the story of a pastor from a small town in Iowa. When Stu took his first pulpit, he was young, enthusiastic, and had a personality that matched the shine on his newly framed diploma. For three years he performed weddings, funerals, and baptisms. He earned the trust of everyone in his community. Then one Sunday morning an elder walked up to the pulpit, instead of Stu, and wept through the announcement that Stu had been arrested for soliciting prostitution from an undercover police officer in Des Moines.

Stu’s wife heard the news from the arresting officer. Stu had to draw a picture of a policeman and a jail for his three-year-old who couldn’t understand why daddy was going to go away for a while.

Stu’s blowup in life didn’t begin with putting on sunglasses and driving down a shady lane looking for a prostitute. About twenty years prior to that moment, Stu got hooked on pornography. He went through the typical stages: soft porn until the soft stuff didn’t do it anymore, and then the hard stuff, and then videos, and then the occasional strip club when he traveled out of town for conferences.

Eventually, when he needed to feed the addiction with more intensity and stimulation, he tried to rent a person.

So, back to the question: “what’s the big deal with a little porn from time to time?”

Nothing…if you’re willing to live with a wrecked conscience.

Nothing…if you’re down with humiliating and devastating the people you most love.

Nothing…if you’re fine with objectifying the women and children in your life. Men who are regularly involved with pornography train their minds to over-sexualize women and children. Much of the sexual abuse of children and women in our nation stems back to men who have spent hundreds of hours on the internet or in front of videos, creating distorted paradigms of sex, the female body, and children as objects of personal gratification. (Cue Sandusky’s awkward response to Bob Costa’s question, “Are you sexually attracted to children?” How much internet porn do you need to look at before that question becomes a difficult one to answer?)

Men addicted to “unhealthy sexual gratification” – photographs, videos, strip clubs, or paying for sex – have imaginations that race in a dozen perverted directions when they see women in the grocery store, at church, or perhaps most sadly, on the junior high playground. These men may be doctors, teachers, insurance salesmen, and as much as I hate to admit it, pastors or priests. It doesn’t matter what role they play in society, they’re not safe people.

I fear for our nation because of how rampant this hurtful pursuit is today. The National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families reports that approximately forty million people in the United States regularly view internet pornography. Twenty five percent of all search engine requests involve pornographic videos and pictures. There are approximately eight hundred million rentals of “adult” (the most ironic of all labels) videos and DVDs each year. And half of all hotel guests order pornographic movies during their stay.

These statistics suggest that we’re a nation full of unsafe people. They make me want to sweep up my bride, my two little ballerinas, and my little baseball player, and move them to Antarctica.

People playing with “a little bit of porn” are responsible for much of the pain caused in our homes and playgrounds across our country. Yet, we make fun of it on sitcoms and offer it for free to husbands and daddies staying in hotels on business trips. What is wrong with us as a nation? Seriously?

Playwright Oscar Wilde said, “Horse sense is what keeps horses from betting on what people will do.”

It makes you wonder what horses have figured out that we haven’t.

 

Suggestions for help

There is incredible hope and help for people struggling with an addiction to pornography. If you’re reading this blog and looking for a way out, I invite you to begin with these helpful resources:

Discussion with D.A. Carson, John Piper, and Timothy Keller on pornography and the Gospel of the grace of God.

A prayer for the strength and help of God.

Covenant Eyes internet accountability.

Find a local Celebrate Recovery group in your area.

 

 

  • David French

    Great post, Zeke. Thanks. Do you find that men are entirely too supporting and “understanding” with each other when we find out that a friend is viewing porn? Giving someone an understanding and sympathetic ear doesn’t necessarily lead to repentance.

    • http://www.zekepipher.com Zeke Pipher

      David, that is such a good question…and point. I’ve found that many “accountability groups” fail to provide the strength and avenue for change that they initially promise. They end up being “commiserating groups.” It’d take too long to describe here, but I DO think there is a way to structure, or shape, a group so that it provides true accountability…but that often involves a lot of vulnerability and willingness to experience pain. I talk a bit about this in “Man on the Run” in the chapter on “friendships.”

      • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

        With David here, and read him this response. He said he thinks this should be a larger conversation between blogs about the “commiserating groups.”

        MUST READ YOUR BOOK!

        • http://www.zekepipher.com Zeke Pipher

          I just saw this comment…
          Yes, please read the book! I’d love to hear your (& David’s) response to it. :)
          I’ll probably kick off the discussion with a post about accountability & friendship sometime…perhaps David and I could write it together.

  • http://megandimaria.blogspot.com/2011/01/if-at-some-point-in-life-you-havent.html Megan DiMaria

    Great post, Zeke. This is running along the same lines as something I’ve been pondering. I can’t for the life of me understand how 50 Shades of Grey became so popular in our culture. As you may know, it’s an erotica novel that features elements of sexual practices involving bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism.

    Last week at a beauty salon it was the talk of the day. One of the stylists was urging everyone to read it because, “It’s okay for girls to read dirty books.” I tried to mind my own business, but my stylist confessed she was reading it, and it made her uncomfortable. I told her that she could give herself permission to NOT finish a book if she didn’t want to read it. The bully wasn’t happy with my statement and told my stylist she “had” to finish reading it.

    It was my 2nd time getting a cut there, and I will NOT be going back to that salon. I plan on calling my stylist to inform her of my reasons. As a Christ follower I believe reading smut is an activity that does not please my Lord and will not benefit my life (or my marriage). I also believe that violence is wrong and should not be glorified as a NYT Bestseller.

    In mulling over my decision it becomes crystal clear that I should not patronize that salon when I put the situation into a different context. If I had gone to a business that employs mostly men, like a shop that changes the oil on your car or a tire store, and the men were all talking about a porno film, I wouldn’t hesitate to leave and never return. So why not have the same standard for a business that has mostly female employees? The conversation there was just as distasteful.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

    A prisoner of hope,
    Megan DiMaria

  • http://bigwhitetail.com R.G. Bernier

    Thanks brother for the post. When anyone takes a good thing, sex that God created for covanental marriage between a husband and his wife and elevates it into an ultimate thing, it becomes an idol. Paul told the Colossians in chapter 3:5 “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you; sexual immorality, impurity, passion, eveil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” When Jesus is not first in someones life, something or someone else will be; sadly, for many men porn has become their functunal savior.

    RG Bernier

  • http://bigwhitetail.com R.G. Bernier

    Sorry Zeke for the misspelling, I am a writer :)
    Covenantal marriage
    functional savior
    Moral of the story, one should not hit send prior to reading first.
    Thanks again, Zeke; really appreciate the post!

  • Brett Strait

    Great job, Brother! We are seeing an alarming number of our new staff, male and FEMALE, who are deeply struggling AND who desperately want help. The Collegiate Navigators is taking this very seriously and are finding ways to help our staff in the area of sexual health and wholeness. This post is helpful. Thank you. Love you Bro!

  • Scott Wallace

    I’ve seen a survey where about 50% of pastors are on porn. You are right it is damaging.


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