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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.