Creating a Porn-Free Culture

By Jonny Campbell

 

It’s the elephant in the room, isn’t it?

Maybe it’s the elephant in your church!

Depicting sex is hardly a new thing. The practice can be observed in ancient Aboriginal art. Make no mistake, however, the birth of the Internet in 1993 produced the almost unavoidable saturation of contemporary culture. It feels like our every shady and not-so-shady nook has been flooded by porn. Once it was difficult to source; now hardcore porn can be difficult to avoid.

We’re bringing up the first generation of 15-year-old boys in which a third or more are accessing porn every week, swallowed by oh-so-alluring windows into a dizzying world of instant gratification and a never ending buffet of visual stimulation at every click. That’s not to mention the seeping down of this more extreme world into everyday content of music videos, glamour magazines, and mainstream movies. It’s the new ‘normal’.

It’s the new ‘normal’.

The thing is… now the alarm clock is going off. Sure, the world might long to press snooze again, but the ringing keeps getting louder. Way beyond Christian sexual ethics and worldview, nowadays everything from neurological science to Russell Brand’s social media is sounding off about the harmful effects of porn and our super-pornified culture.

So here’s the million-dollar question. Is a porn-free culture possible? Is it an unrealistic pipe dream, a soundbite to stir the idealist or a genuinely realisable future? Could all our kids, our marriages, our relationships, our churches and our communities one day be free from the pervasive visual assault of porn?

At Love for Life, we believe it is possible. We’re passionate about change in our society. We’re not persuaded that a generation of 15-year-olds educating themselves about sex through watching porn will produce a generation of happy, healthy, and flourishing relationships. We want young people to respect themselves, the value of those around them and the inherent beauty of sex itself. We believe this can happen better in a porn-free culture.

Here are three things we can do today to make it happen.

 

ASK THE QUESTIONS
Let me ask you a question. The shirt or jumper you’re wearing. Where did it come from? I don’t mean River Island. I mean what country was it made in? No reaching for the label. If you don’t know, it’s not surprising. Generally speaking, we don’t know. We don’t know the name of the worker who made it. We don’t know what they got paid, or what their breaks are like, or where they sleep, or where their family is. We don’t know because clothes, chocolate and copies of magazines appear in the shops, and when they disappear, they simply replenish. There’s nothing visible behind the shelf and there never has been. From birth, this is simply the daily rhythm of consumption that we’re used to.

What about “do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”?

Isn’t it essentially the same with porn? The content appears and there’s nothing behind the screen but wires and processing chips. Nobody’s daughter, no drug use, no danger, no coordinated exploitation… Except, of course, that is exactly what the world of porn is like!

Encouraging people to ask questions about how they value and think about those involved - people (not things) on the screen - and how they got there brings the truth into disturbing and uncomfortable focus.

Asking the right questions exposes the nature of what is really happening. At Love for Life, we sometimes ask about who is in the room when porn is made. Upon reflection, some young people will realise: “a sound guy.” “Oh, and a director.” “But… everything looks so spontaneous! Actually, now I think… it couldn’t be.”

Porn is not spontaneous sex nor enjoyable sex, and it teaches us nothing about real relationships or true intimacy. Jesus was the master of the right question at the right time, not always desperate to hammer people with right answers. His strategy is an underused weapon.

Porn is not spontaneous sex nor enjoyable sex, and it teaches us nothing about real relationships or true intimacy.

 

GET INFORMED
The church will not be part of the battle we’re called to by hiding or hoping the problem will go away. We need to be profoundly aware of what’s out there, how to safeguard our technology, how addiction happens and be equipped with the tools and vocabulary to get to grips with reality.

The temptations facing young people (and older people) and the mixed messages about sex and relationships are age-old. At the same time, the vehicles through which these are delivered evolve, and it’s very difficult to pastor, protect, or guide people without understanding their world.

Love for Life is part of a community of agencies pursuing a porn-free culture. We’ve held conferences and hosted training days for teachers, youth workers, and professional counsellors. We work closely with the Naked Truth Project and Ian Henderson, who recently took the ‘porn debate’ to the House of Lords. Their work was resoundingly commended.

There are also so many online resources at our disposal that can help. Check out www.loveforlife.org.uk and www.x-it.today for more information. Could your church partner with us in running an event?

Other great resources include www.nakedtruthprayer.com or www.fightthenewdrug.org. Check out particularly the statistics that reveal the extent of the problem. There are amazing videos on the basic neuroscience of addiction and great practical resources to share with those struggling.

Of course, by using the Internet to get informed, we are using the primary weapons of immediacy, accessibility, and community of the porn producers against them! Let’s get reading, sharing, and exploring!

 

PICK A FIGHT
In Judges 6, God’s people are in hiding. Oppressed and brutalised by Mideon, they have taken to clefts, mountains, and caves. They felt hopeless, overrun, defeated - until God’s messenger inspires Gideon to pick a fight. He gathers his confidence, takes aim at two idol strongholds and tears them down. In doing so, he also provokes the anger of the community around him.

We live in a world full of contradictions and a kind of neurotic anxiety about strong moral stands or statements. Anyone insisting upon objective truth or moral clarity is running the risk of being branded ‘offensive’ or ‘intolerant.’ However, for our young people, their relationships, and their future, it simply has to be worth sticking our heads above the parapet. Make no mistake, one day the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness and the culture then will be entirely porn-free. We’re called to herald, invite, and usher in that reality every day until then.

We can imagine the world of love, relationships, and sex differently. In a porn-free culture, it’s much happier, healthier and more whole.

Let’s ask the right questions, get informed and, like Gideon, get to the front line.
 

Jonny Campbell is a programme developer for Love for Life. The charity works with over 30,000 young people a year in schools, community groups, and churches in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.