Matthew Anderson’s deeply thoughtful article “How Pornography Makes Us Less Human and Less Humane” (a chapter from The Gospel and Pornography) is worth your time. Though I want to direct you to the article, I hesitate to post an excerpt here simply because to focus on merely one aspect of his article would be to miss much of his overall case against pornography. The problem isn’t merely that pornography is wrong (something he compares to both murder and adultery) but also why it is wrong and how it violates both love and our humanity. Any such discussion also requires an understanding of the beauty of love and sex the way both were intended to be experienced between valuable human beings made in the image of God. And a condemnation of pornography is needed, yes, but a gospel response is also necessary.
Anderson includes all of these things, so I am left with the task of picking out one tidbit with which to tempt you to read the whole in all of its raw beauty and horror. I decided to go with words of hope and a way forward since hopelessness might be causing you to avoid the topic altogether.
Pornography deceives. Its sexualized depiction of human persons promises the viewer what it cannot deliver. But how pornography lies is difficult to see, if only because our eyes have gone blind from our frequent exposure to the medium. Pervasive consumption of pornography dulls the mind: if we delightedly give ourselves over to falsehoods, we lose our ability to sort truth from fiction. Sin has a compounding effect. The twin wraiths of confusion and ignorance preserve the charm of its false pleasures. It is easier for those drowning in a whirlpool of deceits to embrace their situation as “normal” than it is to escape.
The inescapable availability of pornography, and the corrosive “pornification” of all other forms of media, means that the most pressing challenge for Christians is rediscovering what purity feels like. C. S. Lewis famously proposed that spiritual mediocrity is the equivalent of playing with mud pies instead of taking the seaside holiday God offers us. Our situation is more dire, though: we are in danger of forgetting what the sea even offers. The warmth of sunshine that lifts our eyes and our hearts to heaven has been hidden by the stale pollution of our passions. Pornography is the only atmosphere we know: it has clotted our lungs, and we cannot get enough of it.
We have been told by our society to accept porn as the “new normal”—which is an extremely pernicious and effective lie….
Imagining a world that has not so cheapened human sexuality, then, is the first act of resistance to the many lies pornography tells. A porn-saturated world or life is not inevitable: there is nothing in the cosmos that says it must be a permanent feature of our experience. To confess this, and to acknowledge our own responsibility in making the world we have, is to take the first steps toward freedom. By the grace of God, we can live in a world other than that which we now know. That such a thought is so foreign to most of our society betrays how weak the pornography regime is: the moment we begin contemplating the prospect of living otherwise, the whole shoddy artifice that makes it seem attractive collapses into rubble. Finding a “more excellent way” begins with remembering that another way is possible—a thought that the pornography industry does not want anyone to truly believe.
Please read the rest of Anderson’s article here.