Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Pornography Problem

Pornography addiction destroys families.

Pornography addiction destroys lives.

Pornography addiction destroys.  Period.

My question is this: Do you think that some folks in the LDS faith, or any religion for that matter, are too quick to state that any consumption of pornography is an addiction? 

For most religious people, there is a shroud of mystery surrounding this thing that is constantly referred to as one of the biggest problems in our society today.  Of course curiosity is going to catch hold of folks - male and female.   I believe that almost all adolescents have been exposed to pornography in some form, whether on accident or intentionally seeking it out.  I have heard many women state that any man who has ever looked at pornography in any way is automatically disqualified as a future spouse candidate.  Call me a fool, and good for these gals for holding out, but I truly believe the percentage of men who have never been exposed to this would optimistically be somewhere between 1% - 5% - and that is within religious congregations.  (this is my own random, non-fact based statistic - don't judge)  We are viewing the world through rose-colored glasses if we truly believe the majority of people have not been exposed. 

I know men who are not particularly religious who will consume this type of "entertainment" a few times a year and have perfectly normal, healthy, well-functioning lives and relationships.  Yet it often appears that any consumption at all of forbidden substances is illogically dubbed an "addiction" by religious onlookers. 

I do not condone pornography.  I think the effects are disgusting, immoral, demeaning, and inappropriate.  I do not want it in my home.  I do not, however, believe a person is disgusting if they viewed pornography.  I support and agree with what the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints have to say on avoiding pornography.   However, I believe many people too quickly judge - too quickly jump to illogical conclusions. 

I cannot state that I think a person who has ever or currently does watch pornography is not or will not be a good husband or wife.  I do not believe that.  Yes, I have seen real addictions literally destroy families, relationships, and marriages - several very close to me.  Yes, I have seen a person talk to their bishop about a potential problem and be talked down to to such a point, even called disgusting, that they left the church.  Yes, I have also seen real addictions overcome and beautiful futures grow.  And I do mean any addiction here as well as pornography - alcoholism, obesity (food), video games, drugs, etc.  But, I will state again, any consumption does not mean there is an end-all problem. 

And here I come into the definition of what exactly pornography entails.  
Pornography: writings, pictures, films, etc, designed to stimulate sexual excitement OR the production of such material.  Pornography comes from the Greek pornographos, meaning "the writing of harlots," from pornÄ“a harlot + graphein, to write.

I think each person needs to figure the line of appropriateness for themselves.  I have a friend who struggled with an addiction and, in order to keep his mind clear, will not even look at nude artwork, which is something I find beautiful.  For the ladies?  I'm not even going to get into what I've heard about Fifty Shades of Grey.  

Now that we know the definition of "pornography," what about "addiction?"  
Addiction:  the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

Under this definition, someone who has viewed pornography is no more an addict than someone who has had a drink of alcohol is an alcoholic.  I am not condoning these behaviors in any way, don't get me wrong.  I believe these are not healthy behaviors.  What I am saying is that I do not believe a religious person has an addiction simply because they have a behavior contrary to what their leaders teach.  I've seen at least one man fall off the wagon completely and into an addiction because he felt that after his first experience he was already doomed.  I'm sure there are deeper psychological issues behind that decision, but no matter the reasons, the thought pattern disgruntles me.

We need to keep our eyes open and our attentions alerted to avoid temptations.  However, I hardly think that because an individual consumes one bad thing, they are on their path to destruction.

I am not saying to run out and rekindle a relationship with someone you left because of an addiction.  What I am asking is to please not be so quick to jump to a conclusion about someone's moral integrity and mental state.  Please do not exacerbate problems or blow them out of proportion.  Please love people as much as you can.  Please know I put a lot of thought into this post and I hope it reads as I intended.

Post-article, I found this article about women's addictions, which is fascinating: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lauren-dubinsky/porn-addiction_b_1686481.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000008


Janell said...

I'll go out on a limb and state that an accidental or casual exposure to an addictive substance does not an addiction make. The self-destruction begins when an actual addiction develops. That said, it is extremely foolish to casually seek-out those things.

I agree that a blanket statement on the part of individuals that they would not ever date anyone has encountered pornography is silly. Anyone who has not accidentally stumbled into something pornographic is either extremely lucky, lying, or shuns all forms of media and most typical forms of social interaction (e.g. high school). What matters is what one does, how one reacts, and where one is today. Should I be teaching a YW class my advice would not be to, "never looked at pornography," but instead, "worthy of a temple reccomend or striving to become worthy." There are flaws to that blanket statement, but if we're making blanket statements to teenagers it's a better one.

And, yes, the rhetoric about women's forms of pornography is very lacking, yet those forms can be just as damaging.

miss kristen said...

I agree. Having an encounter with pornography does not an addict make.

Websters clearly defines addiction as such:

compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful

Looking at it one time does not make you an addict. Actively searching it out however is a path down a long and slippery slope towards addiction.

Janae said...

Larissa. Thanks for the refreshing and logical view. I agree completely.

Amy said...

Amen. :)

Gingerstar.kw said...

Well done. :)