Pornography is a pretty ubiquitous subject on blogs these days and sadly a common one on Christian blogs like this one. It’s a significant problem and the use of pornography by Christian men (still mostly men) and women is growing not diminishing.

Pornography is a big issue and a big problem. Google tried to ban it from its blog platform and then swiftly backtracked on the decision because well, lots of people like and use and look at porn a lot.

This culture is a challenge to Christians on a whole number of levels and churches need to engage on all of them. We need to equip people to live in a culture where, as Carl Trueman says,

The availability of pornography and the near universality of its consumption are today facts of human existence, at least in the West, and are likely to remain so. That means that moral thinking is thus at the mercy of an industry whose interests do not lie in promoting the common good unless that common good is understood in terms of unfettered sexual license.

Especially as pornographers have always found ways to exploit new technology, so just as the internet opened up a whole realm of porn, so new emerging technologies such as virtual reality pose even greater challenges and dangers *Explicit language*

As the article makes clear VR poses some unique challenges. One of the pioneers of this technology commented,

“This is unlike any porn I’ve seen,” he wrote. “It’s like I’m watching an actual person.”

As the author then says,

That’s a lot of quote to unpack. The subtext suggests that things critics of porn say are true—that it dehumanizes its actors. But pornography has always been fantasy: the fantasy of abandon, of the exotic, of being desired. For years, the adult industry has catered to that fantasy by producing a genre called POV, in which an actor holds a camera or a camera operator films over a performer’s shoulder; it’s meant to create the illusion that the viewer is a participant rather than a voyeur. But beneath that illusion is the awareness that it’s just that—an illusion. In VR, the frame of detachment disappears, and fantasy effectively does too. You’re not watching a scene anymore; you’re inhabiting it. And by being there, you’re implicated in whatever’s happening.

Jesus words in Mt 5:27-28 about lust and adultery will never be more true than when VR and porn mix

So churches need to be aware of what is coming down the line and what is happening in the culture at large. However up until now much of the response of the church has been one-dimensional, that of sin and personal purity. For example, blogger Tim Challies who commendably consistently writes about the dangers of pornography comes at the issue from this stand point. That’s not bad or wrong but it is incomplete.

So for example take this article by Tim Challies where he gives 7 good reasons to stop looking at porn. They are good reasons but there are some pretty huge reasons he misses out. What about the cost to the women involved? Porn is fundamentally degrading for women. That’s a huge omission.

Not only that and I did not realise this but there is a whole industry that employs people (many in places like the Philippines) who sift out porn and other offensive material (*graphic language but important read*) so it never pops up on your Facebook feed.

Recently the blogger God Loves Women has written some very challenging but helpful posts on the subject, that I thought was worthy of reflection. This is the ‘how to talk about it’ section.

You should read her first post Porn is Not a Thing and definitely her post on The Christian Porn Conversation. As an aside if you need a reminder how men can be stupid, mean, offensive, cruel jerks then read this. There are a couple of posts (here and here) from a minister who used porn that is worth reading too. The post I most recommend that particularly men should read is De-euphemism-ising pornographies which strips all niceties and jargon out of the process and puts use of porn in the starkest possible terms (which does focus on male use of porn).

The churches response needs to engage with culture, sin and holiness and the damage done to women as a result. It must- pornography is a cultural issue, a sin issue and a justice issue. It must be talked about and dealt with on all three levels.

Photo by mikecogh