Photo: Jordan Dumba/Photo EditorThe pornography problem Travis Homenuk January 26, 2014 12:00 am Opinions Move aside drugs and alcohol, porn is taking over. According to a church run mission out of Pasadena, California, porn is the new plague, calling it “the most destructive force in our culture.” Sorry guys, but it is not morally wrong to view pornography and it is not a problem merely because it exists. That being said, pornography can be problematic when used in excess, when viewed at inappropriate times or at places where porn really shouldn’t be watched. Gaining some exposure to this issue is good for all of us — even if it’s via a church group. Healing people of their porn addictions and other related issues is xxxchurch.com’s mission. Thank goodness the church is saving people once again. Hallelujah! Let’s pray the porn away. I came across this intriguing website on social media and couldn’t help but question the issue of pornography in our culture. Moreover, I was interested in understanding how xxxchurch.com saw pornography as a destructive force. The website itself is filled with statistics from numerous studies (mostly about the United States) that validate the idea that porn is a serious problem. When I say “porn,” I’m referring to visual images that explicitly display sexual organs or activities that take place between consenting adults. The mission claims that xxxchurch.com does what they do because people matter: “Every woman who poses for the camera? That’s a person Jesus loves. Every man who degrades himself on tape? That’s a person Jesus loves. Every child who has their innocence robbed? That’s a person Jesus loves. Every person chained to the addictive sin of pornography? That’s a person Jesus loves.” In truth, the individuals who do their part for the porn industry really are just people in the end. And according to xxxchurch.com, these people “are so valued that Jesus gave up his life for them.” Thanks Jesus, you rule. So it can be said that because people matter to Jesus, they matter to xxxchurch.com. That’s why their mission exists in the first place. Although I’m wary of pretty much any cause that has strong religious affiliations, I do see validity in the issue xxxchurch.com attempts to expose. Honestly, I was initially really critical of this website and the mission’s cause, but as I look at their statistics (and other statistics from studies conducted in the United States and Canada) there’s a definite reason for issues tied to pornograpy to be exposed. However, I would never refer to watching porngraphy as an “addicitive sin.” Like I said, watching porn can be problematic when done in excess — just like everything else — but it’s not automatically bad because it exists. Notably, a study conducted by the Huffington Post states that “Porn sites get more visitors each month than Netfilx, Amazon and Twitter combined.” Looking at the numbers on the mission’s website highlights the significant role porn plays in the 21st century. “Sex is the number one topic searched on the Internet,” xxxchurch.com states. Big surprise, right? The website claims further that “25 per cent of all search engine requests are pornography-related,” and that “The average age of first internet exposure to pornography is 11-years-old.” Again, I’m really not surprised by these numbers. I vaguely recall being around the age of 10 when all of my friends did a google search for “boobs.” Sex and sexuality are fascinating aspects of the human condition; it’s only natural that we’re all using the wonderful World Wide Web to help us figure out how it all works. And in case you were thinking that porn was only something that men watched because of their perpetual desire to jerk off, you’re most certainly incorrect! Even xxxchurch.com acknowldges that “9.3 million women access adult websites each month.” Good for you, ladies. But two out of three people who view pornography on the Internet are men. According to the stats on the mission’s webpage, “70 per cent of 18-to-24-year-old men visit pornographic sites in a typical month,” while “66 per cent of men in their 20s and 30s also report being regular users of pornography.” xxxchurch.com does not offer information regarding older demographics on their websites. I guess they’ve already saved the older crowd. That all being said, apparently a lot of porn viewing on the Internet happens by chance. “The most common ways people have accidentally reached pornographic content on the web are pop-up windows (55 per cent), misrepresented links (52 per cent), misspelled URLs (48 per cent) and auto links within emails (23 per cent).” So I guess sometimes porn watching just happens. I do wonder, however, how many of those pop-up windows showing pornography happen while one is already watching porn to begin with. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? While watching porn at home isn’t a problem on the surface, if this behaviour begins to take place at work, I’d say it’s probably an issue. xxxchurch.com says that “20 per cent of men and 13 per cent of women admitted to accessing pornography at work.” Yikes! If you find yourself using your coffee time to watch some kinky BDSM or some vanilla missionary all in an effort to take a masturbation break, you might want to check yourself. You might not need Jesus — and if you do, that’s okay, too — but some reorganization of priorities might be a good idea. Therapy is always an option too if you really can’t stop on your own. If we’ve learned anything from Tiger Woods, it’s that a sex addiction is a real thing. The same can be said for anyone who’s obsessed with porn. Interestingly, “half of all hotel guests order pornographic movies [and] these films comprise 80 per cent of in-room entertainment revenue and 70 per cent of total in-room revenue” at hotels in the U.S. Whoah! I certainly hope those hotel sheets get washed with bleach. Perhaps the biggest and most problematic aspect to viewing porn is that it could, in theory, raise one’s expectations of how their partner should look and behave in bed. Yes, issues surrounding pornography should be exposed. We should talk about the dangers of it and when it’s appropriate to watch. Although xxxchurch.com tries to help those who do suffer from porn addicitons, their mission — or at least some of their language — seems to give an overly negative connation to viewing pornography in general, even though the mission operates with what I’m sure are the best of intentions. Personally, I will never pray the porn away — just as I will never pray the gay away — but I think we all should recognize that pornography can be just as addictive as drug or alcohol use. Alexander The author seems overly theophobic, just like the rest of The Sheaf team as is apparent from previous articles that I’ve read. This article turned an issue concerning pornography into an issue concerning religion and prayer. me I agree. There’s nothing wrong with having a religion and practicing it! :) happy atheist There is also nothing wrong with opposing religion should one feel that way. But if the sheaf wants to bash one they should bash them all. It’s not just christianity that has problems. They need to man up and bash Islam and other groups without fear. Honestly they should also bash agnostics and some atheist groups. No system is perfect and only by critique can we fix the flaws. Neither censorship nor fear of controversy will get us anywhere. Sincerely a happy atheist :) Maybe because porn isn’t actually an issue and they needed to stretch out the article. And don’t forget just as you have the right to practice religion, others have the right to oppose it. Just wish the Sheaf attacked more than one group (christians) man up and insult muslims, jews and everyone else already! Relax It was an article about xxxchurch.com Can you blame someone who’s GAY for being theophobic?! Christina It seems especially strange as the author states at one point that “it’s ok if you do” need Jesus, but spends the first half of the article making fun of those people who do believe in Jesus, and who believe that he loves and cares about everyone, including the people in the porn industry. I understand that Christians can take an issue too far, and that not everyone agrees with what they believe in, but it is just as possible for Atheists and people of every other religion to take things too far, as well. And I think the sarcastic “Thanks Jesus, you rule.” comment was just a bit too far. happy atheist I agree that the Sheaf is biased. If they want to be aggressive media they should attack everyone. Even atheists i agree as well and i am one. Though in this case it would need be limited to going after the radicals (ie, anarchists) since going after our godlessness really will earn them nothing. Relax How often do you see an atheist taking things too far as compared with religious people? Simply being religious is taking things too far IMO. Malabar If you are going to be in favor of the ideological framework which suggests that “being religious is taking things too far,” then we must look at the other extreme. The opposite of taking things too far is acting in a manner of neglect. Would it be truthful for me to say that “the non-religious only act in a neglectful manner?” No, I do not think so. Therefore, I would assert that both statements are ridiculous, as are the ideological frameworks which support these ideas. Relax I think the opposite would be acting in an appropriate manner. Malabar Saylavee Allie You make a lot of generalizations about what Christians do and don’t think, and from what you’ve written, it’s obvious you don’t know a whole lot about Christianity. I agree with Christina in her point of your saying it’s okay if you need Jesus AFTER you’ve bashed Christians and Jesus throughout the rest of the article. Regarding what the article was actually supposed to be about (pornography, not religion), I’m glad you didn’t throw everything you read out just because it was a church site saying it. Let me shed a little light on why xxxchurch.com thinks watching/looking at porn is a sin. Christians believe sex is a gift from God meant to be shared between two people only, and porn is a distortion of that gift and what sex is supposed to be. And as you saw from the stats, it’s a problem in a lot of other ways, too. Just as a last comment, I thought your statement “Personally, I will never pray the porn away — just as I will never pray the gay away” was uncalled for. Homosexuality has nothing to do with this topic. It has to do with the religion you’re attacking. And as a side note, not all Christians believe it’s wrong to be gay, nor do they all believe even gay marriage is wrong. And even if they do, most Christians I know realize Jesus wouldn’t have judged homosexuals, so they don’t either. So stop lumping people together in your article that was supposed to be one one topic and ended up being about attacking another. just sayin “meant to be shared between two people only” So no threesomes even if all members share an equal and mutual love. Jesus is a prude by the sound of it. Also sex is a product of evolution with pleasure being the encouraging factor, so the pleasure of porn is simply a byproduct. So if i can assume you believe god guided us on this evolutionary path (creationist arguments disregarded) didn’t god make porn. Just a thought. Relax You don’t need to know very much about Christianity to realize that you don’t want to be bothered with knowing much more. Christianity is an anti-gay organization. Just because you are not personally anti-gay, that doesn’t mean you’re not supporting this organization along with all its other faults. angry foodie It is not anti-something to disagree with something. I don’t agree with left wing college ideologues particularly, but I am not anti-left wing. My familiarity with Christianity is such that the proper doctrine is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Therefore, you can believe that homosexuality might be wrong, but the over-arching law is to afford homosexuals the same love you afford yourself. How that becomes “anti-gay” is a matter of propagandistic reframing of a position, not honest consideration of the position. Benj It’s rather ironic how defensive your reaction is to this article. Being a former Christian this article is actually a really eye opener for those who might not be religious. My experience most who aren’t religious either complacent or very skeptical towards religion. The writer is obvious trying to break the scepticism and saying even though most of my facts/ realization on the matter came from religion – hear it out. In no way is the writer bashing religion. Don’t be another over sensitive person that reads into things to start a fight. It’s old – 2000 years old and plus some. Erika I totally agree. I’m Christian and I have absolutely nothing against homosexuality. As for the porn issue, I know a lot of people who are addicted; I know what it does to them. It ruins marriages and expectations. Psychologically it messes with your brain, making it really hard to stick with one partner. As for the addiction part, I’ve been told it’s as hard as a coke addiction to crack. Although I’m not knowledgeable about coke, it did take counselling to help one of the people I know…it’s been a year and he’s still clean, but they say it’s for life. You never really get over it. I hope that despite what anyone thinks of Jesus or religion, they’ll consider the real danger in pornography. From my experience it’s scary business. /: You don’t get over it because it isn’t an addiction it’s biology, the human brain has evolved to love sex, it’s why we are such a successful species. So called porn addicts are usually just people with high libidos and poor impulse control. A little impulse therapy would help a lot more than “giving up” porn. Porn is beautiful and healthy but like everything, is best in moderation. Zach According to natural selection, wouldn’t those masturbating to pornography be de-selected because they are not engaging in sexual activity that would promote their genes? We may have evolved to love sex but that would necessitate procreation if that evolved function were to carry forward. We are a successful species because we can procreate. I don’t think pornography is quite the same biologically as actual sex. One might say that it’s a perversion of nature. Agree/Disagree? Relax We watch porn when we can’t get sex. Where is this idea that we’re all libido-less drug addicts coming from? Do we really need to be ragingly horny and creaming our sheets with wet dreams every night?! angry foodie Nope, you are dead wrong. Porn addiction is the same as any addiction, namely that viewing it triggers the release of dopamine which becomes conditioned to be released whenever exposed to the subject matter. In this way, porn addiction is actually very similar to cocaine addiction and any other addiction. To be certain, most porn viewers do not become porn addicts and just use it for a quick fap. But denying the existence of something does not make your argument credible. Moreover, I have seen much more ugly porn than “beautiful” porn. Nothing hurts your soul more than the consideration that the Czech beauty you are watching engage in intercourse comes from such a sexist culture where prostitution and pornography are considered top notch careers for many women. lol “As for the porn issue, I know a lot of people who are addicted; I know what it does to them. It ruins marriages and expectations.” Anecdote “Psychologically it messes with your brain, making it really hard to stick with one partner.” Citation “As for the addiction part, I’ve been told it’s as hard as a coke addiction to crack.” Citation “Although I’m not knowledgeable about coke…” Then why did you just mention how addictive it is relative to porn? “…it did take counselling to help one of the people I know…it’s been a year and he’s still clean, but they say it’s for life. You never really get over it.” Anecdote + citation “From my experience it’s scary business” Anecdote Your entire response is personal anecdotes and made up facts. I doubt you’ve convinced anyone to “consider the real danger of pornography”, because you just validated a lot of the negative beliefs people have about religion and religious people. This isn’t church; you need actual evidence if you want people to believe you. angry foodie Looking for citations, see Norman Doidge’s “The Brain that Changes Itself”, pages 93-131. Covers some of the cutting edge research on our understanding of sexuality as a neuroplastic phenomenon. Is a bit pro-psychoanalysis though. Theresa My question is: what’s wrong with taking a masturbation break during lunch hour at work? It’s your time and if it helps you relax and be more productive during work hours, it seems like a good idea to me. anon Exactly if there is no negative impact on productivity go for it. Harold Johunston Another quality post by the Sheaf.. 7$ well spent…. They call me…nevermind. I agree, and this is why I rarely bother to read this publication. And they say the students at the U of S are poor writers? Pffffft! Even if it is under the “opinions” section, I expect something a little more analytical, maybe even didactic (most opinion articles are meant to change your opinion). Mr. Homenuk, I respect your right to an opinion, and in the future I think you could sharpen your delivery by taking cues from some of the opinion writers in the Globe and Mail. Signed, Someone who actually writes for a newspaper in Saskatoon nya “If we’ve learned anything from Tiger Woods, it’s that a sex addiction is a real thing. The same can be said for anyone who’s obsessed with porn.” Tiger Woods only proves how much the media loves a scandal. Sex ‘addiction’ (and porn ‘addiction’) are not recognized as addictions except by the media. If they are negatively impacting your life you should seek help, but sex isn’t to blame; rather self-control issues or other factors are truly to blame. Porn is good for society, repressing sexuality (which includes porn) is most definitely not. Relax So clever that you leave it until the last line to reveal that you’re gay = ) Trust me, you’re better than all these Christian commenters here. On the topic of pornography however, I’d like to share a few links: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/porn-stars-and-the-naked-truth-8348388.html?fb_action_ids=176222782521621&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582#access_token=AAADWQ6323IoBAFf4F9x1FblxswfCYYWEXjl3VuxKHxznJZAOJtdgw5peCnPSX7hR8jq2G1zIK4sJUt0p3CNMTz0HcZBgp4ctSaSJCq1mdsbWkKkLZBO&expires_in=5057 Also, there has been strong ties between the boom of porn and decreases in rape. Look up those statistics. Here’s an interesting documentary that reveals what the lives of people in the industry are like. Apart from the one jerk, it doesn’t seem all that bad… http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/diary-of-a-porn-virgin/ Sarah Very few of the commenters here have stated their religious affiliation. Just because someone objects to an article which bashes Christians does not mean that they necessarily are Christian themselves. It is possible that they simply want to read articles which are respectful of all people’s beliefs. Yeag Who says we have to respect your beliefs? You have the right to believe something and we have the right to think that it is stupid. Too much political correctness is no different than censorship. Wooley Congratulations, you just did more research on porn than the author of this article, who went to a conservative Christian website, bashed their views, and then parroted their statistics. Is this how he writes all his research papers for school?? angry foodie So being gay makes a person “better” than a Christian? Elitist much? Chris I’m saddened by this article, I thought the Sheaf had higher standards for their journalism. You do a lot of talking about how xxxchurch thinks this is a big problem (without actually stating WHY they think it’s a problem, or what problem it is causing) then you state that you disagree and that “it is not morally wrong to view pornography” but, again, don’t back up your claim with any arguments. Somehow, in an article titled “the pornography problem”, you manage to skip over all of the abundant research about the negative effects porn has on users (and actors) emotionally, sexually, and psychologically, choosing instead to practice ad hominem and discredit the argument as being religious rather than exploring whether the topic itself has merit. You have even managed to skip over the recently viral topic of objectification of women even though it’s universally recognized as a possible result of porn viewing. I’ve always found it interesting how people choose to use their free speech to insult others for using theirs. *** And it seems you’ve forgotten the much bigger mountain of evidence towards the benefits of porn. Distribution of porn leads to higher standards of living, and reduces sexual assault. Also most porn stars actually have amazing self-esteem and are considered very healthy mentally. Check out Relax’s post below. Roman What evidence are you talking about, Chris? What’s the mechanism that causes porn to increase standards of living and reduce sexual assault? An elementary understanding of statistics and the difference between correlation and causation makes it very obvious that porn is most widely distributed in more affluent countries that are not sexually repressive. Porn does not make people rich or make people less violent. Probably the most authoritative force I’ve found on this subject is Robert Jensen, I suggest you check him and his work out. Modern porn is filled with racist depictions of women and is built around their degradation and humiliation. Women in the pornography industry aren’t treated well, and there are plenty of ex-porn stars who testify to this. Their bodies are literally beaten and abused and reconstructive surgery for anal and vaginal tearing is pretty common. Anyways.. I’m pretty disturbed by this article. How can somebody take a moral stance without even thinking about what he or she writes When the author smugly writes “Sorry guys, but it is not morally wrong to view pornography and it is not a problem merely because it exists,” one would think he actually thought about whether or not porn is immoral, but it’s pretty obvious he didn’t. An article worth reading is http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/20091011_the_victims_of_pornography Roman Woops, not Chris. *** is the person I was responding to angry foodie Claiming that the distribution of porn leads to higher standards of living is about the most absurd argument I have ever read. Yes, it’s not science, innovation, research, investment, (and on and on for some time) that has improved our standard of living, it’s porn! I am seriously wondering how someone who can plainly state something so idiotic is even worthy of a post-secondary education. I’d actually say that investment in porn is a great leakage in our economy that could much more easily be spent on activities that actually improve our standard of living as a society. And most porn performers aren’t “stars”. That’s the point you miss. The numbers on sexual assault, as I have seen them, indicate that there is no relationship between porn and an upswing in sexual assaults. I highly doubt that it contributes to less sexual assault though, as those numbers have remained relatively inelastic despite a proliferation of easy access free porn. Seems to me that the people who are going to rape will with or without porn and the people who are going to fap just might find that porn makes it easier! O People need to realize this is under the “Opinions” section – the author is clearly stating his OPINION on a matter in which pornography and religion are not independent factors. Thus, talking about religion was bound to happen in this article which focused on pornography. Malabar “Sorry guys, but it is not morally wrong to view pornography and it is not a problem merely because it exists.” How can I trust your statement when you never provided a basis for what establishes an action as being morally right or wrong? Are you asserting that nothing in its mere existence can be morally wrong? Sarah The author’s comparison of porn addiction to homosexuality is entirely inappropriate. Watching porn in excess is generally as a result of a decision someone has made out of their free will at some point. Being homosexual is not. I don’t see anything wrong with praying to overcome an addiction you want and should get over. Relax I don’t think he was making a comparison. Zach Travis says he will never call porn an “addictive sin” yet readily admits that Tiger Woods has shown use that sex addiction is a real thing. Travis has also stated that moderation is important and that pornography is not a problem per se. However, I would contend that the addictive nature of pornographic material is way to obvious to be dismissed by simply a call for moderation. Like the alcoholic, it is a gross misunderstanding to suggest him to use moderation when the nature of his addiction limited the ability of his will to simply choose not to drink. A common saying within the Alcoholics Anonymous world is that and alcoholic may choose gin, wine, or beer, but he cannot choose not to drink. Too much is made of our freedom of choice without the realization that the addict is not free to choose at all. Therefore, the addict needs help from the outside which xxxchurch is graciously there to provide. Let us set aside, however, the Christianity that Travis tastelessly and sarcastically dismisses. There is, even outside the religious community, a movement that viewing pornographic material is detrimental to the normal functions of the brain of men and women. Macleans recently had an article about this: http://www2.macleans.ca/2014/01/20/can-swearing-off-porn-improve-your-life/ While I am no scientist, it is my understanding that the scholarship regarding the biological effects of pornography on the brain is quite new. http://yourbrainonporn.com has been examining what happen to the brain when a person views pornographic images. Furthermore, there is a subreddit dedicated to a “nofap” movement. So why must Travis dismiss this as a just a problem excited by evangelists? I believe this article fails to understand the pain that pornography causes in so many people’s lives and marriages irregardless of religion. So let us not make light of addictions, whether you think them to be a sin or not. If someone recognizes their viewing porn to be problematic or addictive, it is our responsibility as a community to graciously support them in walking through that addiction. There is much more to be said about this, however, I simply wanted to address how poorly Travis has represented the issue at hand. Gwen I really appreciate your comments. This article caught my attention, because I am the partner of someone dealing with pornography addiction. The addiction has caused us both an incredible amount of heartache. There is help available beyond what Travis terms “pray the porn away,” particularly counsellors who deal with addictive and obsessive behaviours, as well as those who specialize in pornography addictions. While it may not be for everyone, I have found this website to be particularly helpful: http://markchamberlainphd.blogspot.ca/ I can’t recall if Dr. Chamberlain identifies as Christian, but his writing does not emphasize healing through faith. His blog includes information for both addicts, as well as their partners. Relax I had my girlfriend walk in on me watching porn a few times. She made way too big a deal out of it, calling me an addict. I thought she was nuts. And we broke up. = / Zach So it was her problem? Gwen The issue with my partner was not so much the high usage of pornography, but the lies surrounding this usage. He had always told me that he did not watch pornography, because he found it to objectify women and be incredibly sexist. My partner identifies as a feminist, so he felt conflicted about watching it. I don’t believe that just because I don’t like pornography, that other people should not. The issue in my case was the outright lying by a partner I deeply trusted. Relax I also consider myself a feminist: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/porn-stars-and-the-naked-truth-8348388.html?fb_action_ids=176222782521621&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582#access_token=AAADWQ6323IoBAFf4F9x1FblxswfCYYWEXjl3VuxKHxznJZAOJtdgw5peCnPSX7hR8jq2G1zIK4sJUt0p3CNMTz0HcZBgp4ctSaSJCq1mdsbWkKkLZBO&expires_in=5057 Roman If you consider yourself a feminist, listen to this feminist critique of pornography. There’s a book by the same name. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbxBJf9UtWg Relax The number one rated comment on the Maclean’s article says it all: “Listen, “porn”, or otherwise watching others have sex, has been around for thousands of years. It was going on back in the days of the Roman Empire. Other than making it easier to get your hands on, the Internet has done nothing to change something that’s been around forever. Scientific evidence has shown that, in moderation, sex (including masturbation) is actually healthy. As far as I am concerned, these “NoFap” people are completely out to lunch.” It only messes up your mind for what sex is supposed to be if you’re an idiot and think that your partner will appreciate you climbing up and splooging on her face. I watch porn daily and still LOVE to cuddle girls. If you can’t share a joke with a cashier, you’ve got bigger problems than a little porn. Funny that NoFap is raising money to reduce incidence of sexual assault when if you look at the statistics, the porn boom was associated with a decline of sexual assault. Zach Porn may have been around for thousands of years but it has never been so easily accessible. The internet has radically changed the environment of sexual stimulation making is readily available to whoever can use a search engine. Relax And the Maclean’s poster acknowledges that saying “other than making it easier to get your hands on…” Zach Granted he said that, but why is this not taken seriously into account? The point is that the internet does lots to change the “something that’s been around forever.” Will you dismiss this new medium as contributing absolutely nothing to the message? Are you saying that the experience of getting porn on the internet is not profoundly different than anything that has been previously? By way analogy one can look at the way the social world has changed because of the internet and social media. Would anyone deny that people communicate with others differently than they have ever done in history? And then say that there are no implications of these new forms of communications? The medium is the message… Relax The only real statistics relating to this new medium are that it has caused a large fall in sexual assault. angry foodie Correlation does not equal causation. There, your entire line of reasoning, demolished. In the same period analyzed in the leading study (1975-1995), there was a sharp drop in ALL crimes. Clearly, that is not attributable to porn, so why would the drop in sexual crimes be attributable to porn?