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With the death of pornographer Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler magazine, I found pastor Tim Challies’ column on pornographic detachment to be quite timely.
Tim is no fan of pornography and he is constantly cautioning his readers and listeners about the evil of such a highly-addictive habit. In his blog from Feb. 8, he notes how the past couple of decades have seen an unprecedented rise in the use of pornography and an associated decline in the social stigma that accompanies it.
He’s got that right. Studies show that 65 percent of Christian men and nearly a third of Christian women have viewed porn in the past 30 days. There is no social stigma for consuming porn. Yet, ironically, if you get caught viewing it, then people start pointing fingers, especially if a man of faith is ensnared in that trap.
In his blog, Tim reviews a book written by Carl Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. One of the chapters shows how pornography involves detachment in the way it detaches the act of sex from God’s original intent. It does so in one of four ways:
- Pornography detaches sex from a real physical encounter. It makes sexual pleasure a private and personal matter which, in turn, trivializes it as a form of entertainment.
- Porn detaches sex from a personal narrative. It trains people to understand each sexual encounter as an isolated act in which future relationship is meaningless.
- Porn detaches sex from future consequences. As the laziest, emptiest form of sexuality, nothing is demanded of someone who views pornography. There is no worry about pregnancy, disease or fear of being caught.
- Porn detaches sex from any ethical context. Someone may be able to determine that specific forms of pornography have been created in an unethical way (such as when they involve underage or unwilling participants), but its existence and use is not seen to have any ethical significance.
Tim wrote that by using Christian eyes, we see pornography does, in fact, have great social consequence because the material causes great relational harm by detaching the consumer from an act of love that God created to be of the utmost significance in a committed relationship.
Although the article doesn’t delve into how people who are entangled in a porn habit can detach themselves from that sin, it’s still a good read about the damage consuming pornography can do to society in large, the women being exploited and the men being ensnared.