What's the Big Deal?

by Laurie Hall



The woman next to me on the plane was talkative. We discussed how many times weíd flown before and shared a bit about our families. Then she asked, "What do you do?" "Iím a writer,"- I replied. "How exciting! What do you write?" she asked, leaning toward me. "Right now Iím working on a book about how pornography destroys marriages," I replied. "Oh!" she gasped. "I know what you mean." Turning away, she hid her face, but not before I saw tears in eyes that moments before had been bright with excitement. A month later, a friend from church asked me how my book on pornography was going. "Iím amazed," I said. "Every time I turn around, I find out about more families whoíve been devastated by it." Looking me in the eye, she said, "And you havenít even talked to me yet."

The First Shot in the Sexual Revolution

Before Playboy magazine hit the newsstands in 1954, sexually explicit pictures were not readily available to mainstream America. Sure, if he went to the sleazy part of town and knew where to look, a guy could find some "dirty" pictures. Thatís all they were though, "dirty" pictures. No one pretended they were anything more.

Playboyís approach took porn to new levels of acceptability. The marketing strategy worked too. Playboy magazines were put on regular newsstands with respected periodicals, and pretty soon, that respectability rubbed off.
By 1970 the Presidentís commission on Obscenity and Pornography described the average consumers of pornography as predominately white, middle-class, middle-aged, married males dressed in business suits or neat casual attire.

Pornography is a $13 billion industry - more than the combined annual revenues of the Coca-Cola and McDonnell Douglas Corporations.

A Victimless Crime?

Weíd like to believe that pornography is strictly an intellectual activity, that it has no behavioral repercussions or emotional implications. We have been told that itís a matter of free speech. Weíve been told that itís a "victimless crime" because we canít see any immediate victim.

There is no corpus delicti to prove something has been killed. There is no empty shell to show us what has been robbed. There is no pile of wreckage that can be parked outside the local high school to warn others of the consequences of dangerous activities.
Though there is no smoking gun, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that a death has taken place. Those who want you to believe pornography is a First Amendment right wonít talk about the silent devastation that occurs in the hearts of men, women and children when someone in their family adopts the Playboy philosophy of disposable relationships.

At one Promise Keepers event, 50 percent of the attendees admitted to dabbling in porn during the previous week.

They just argue that pornography is "free speech" and try to persuade you that it has no effect other than the brief thrill of the moment. They want you to think that pornography is but a moment of time in an otherwise productive life. They donít want you to know that the images of, and experiences produced by, pornography are permanently burned into your mind by a curious mixture of hormones that are released when sexually explicit materials are viewed. They donít want you to know that this mix of hormones becomes more potent when the sex portrayed involves violence or fear. They especially donít want you to know that as a result of this imprinting process, sex for you will now be linked with fear, violence and shame.

They also donít want you to believe that these permanently imbedded images recur at will, much like LSD flashbacks. These recurrences draw the pornography participant further and further into a world of fantasy. Over a period of time, the lines between what is fantasy and what is real become blurred. The mind begins a process of dissolution as thoughts track only one way. Eventually, the pornography participant becomes an empty shell of a man. Hollow to the core, he wanders through life, seeking only one thing: fulfillment of the lust that has taken hold of him. Every other achievement becomes merely a means to that end. Until at last, instead of spending his time achieving, he spends most of his time fantasizing.

No wonder Proverbs 6:26, 28, 32 says "For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul" (KJV).

Just One Bad Apple

Whether we want to believe it or not, who we are affects what our communities are. The way we live our lives affects the way our neighbors live theirs. The way we behave in private becomes the way we behave in public. We are salt and we are light, and if our salt has lost its savor and our light has been dimmed, everyone around us is affected. In an article about the psychological and social effects of pornography, Dr. Harold Voth, a professor at the Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry, writes:

"By permitting the ever-expanding display of pornography, or sexually explicit material on the printed page, in theaters, on television (regular TV, cable and satellite), our social structure is being bombarded continuously by powerful erosive stimuli. Sexuality in its mature form is a necessary aspect of the heterosexual bond and the stability of the family. The massive unleashing of sexuality which is occurring in Western civilization is a reflection of cultural decline. It is well-known that an inverse relationship exists between indiscriminate sexual expression and cultural excellence."

The ripple effects of the playboy philosophy are broad based. In a society where using people is tolerated, more and more people will become "users" resulting in more and more "victims." Those who break trust on the most intimate matters will eventually begin to apply the same mind-set to business and civil-rights matters, saying and doing whatever it takes to get whatever they want.

In a society where using others is tolerated, the used find their security continually threatened as each day brings a new violation of trust. It doesnít take too many violations of trust for an individual to lose his ability to trust. When the number of untrusting individuals reaches critical mass, the society they live in loses its ability to trust. Losing our ability to trust is a grave matter. Without trust, our souls wither and die. Without trust, there can be no civilization.

The Way of Wisdom

Would it surprise you to know that the ancient Hebrews believed that wisdom is closely related to the things we look at? The Hebrew word for wise skal gives us the understanding that the things we look at and think about affect our ability to be intelligent and prudent. Because of this, what we take in through our eyes is extremely important.

The eye is the window to the soul. Satan knew this and because he desired access to their soul, he used Adamís and Eveís eyes when he tempted them to eat the forbidden fruit. First Satan told Adam and Eve that having wisdom would somehow affect their eyes, "for God knows that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5, KJV, emphasis added). Then, "the woman saw that the tree was good" (Genesis 3:6, KJV, emphasis added). Finally, immediately after they ate the fruit, "the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew they were nakedÖand Adam and his wife hid themselves" (Genesis 3:7-8, KJV).

See No Evil

Opening our eyes to evil has relational consequences. Once their minds were awakened to evil, Adam and Eve immediately saw their nakedness in a new light. Where moments before they had viewed their bodies with no shame, suddenly they felt so much shame that they hid from themselves, from each other, and from God. By focusing the soul on nakedness in a way that produces shame and isolation from self, from others, and from God, looking at evil destroys both freedom (the ability to know ones self) and intimacy (the ability to share oneself with others).

Jesus also talked about how exposing our eyes to evil is related to our ability to be wise. In Matthew 6:22-23, He said, "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" (KJV).

The Greek word for evil - poneros - means that which is malicious and deliberately harmful of others. In other words, if our eyes are looking at things that are malicious and willfully harming others, we are closing ourselves off to truth. The result will be a plunge into darkness.

Exploiting others for personal gain is evil in its rawest form. A man who feasts his eyes on pictures that have been made by expiating others is plucking out his own eyes. He is plunging himself into darkness. He will lose his ability to be wise.

Today, we donít talk much about how what we see affects our ability to be wise. We just keep wondering why our society is losing its soul. Could it have anything to do with the window dressings we allow it to have? Could it have something to do with pornography?

I think that it does. I saw my husband lose his soul to pornography. I have held other women and listened to them weep as they told me how their husbands also lost their souls to pornography. Pornography kills the soul, steals the heart, and destroys the mind. Pornography is not a victimless crime.

As of April 1, 1990, the population of the United States was 248,709,873. That same year, over 300,000,000 X-rated videos were distributed in our neighborhoods. Since then. Sales and rentals of adult videos have risen 75 percent.

Taken from An Affair of the Mind by Laurie Hall. Published by Focus on the Family. Copyright 1996 by Laurie Hall. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission of the author June 9, 1998. An Affair of the Mind is now in its 9th printing and is available here.