From Under a Rock

If I ask you what comes to mind when you hear the word "pornography," I would imagine that words like "perversion" and "shameful" might pop into your head. Well, if trends in modern society are any indication, you may need to add the word "mainstream" to that list. That's right, because no matter where you look these days, there is evidence of the increasing acceptance of pornography and its purveyors. Pornographic actresses regularly appear in rock videos; some have even appeared on the Grammy Awards. And some make cameo appearances on popular television shows. In the February issue of Talk magazine, author Martin Amis has written an article titled "To Millions of American Men, These Women Are Movie Stars." It's all about the growing acceptance of the pornography industry in this country. Not surprisingly, what Amis finds is an industry where sexually-transmitted diseases are rampant, drug use is common, and the people involved are emotionally and spiritually dead. Yet, Amis argues that pornography is not going mainstream. Well, a look at the numbers says otherwise. According to U. S. News & World Report, Americans spent no more than $10 million on pornography in 1973. By 1999, however, they were spending $10 billion a year -- a one thousand times increase. As U. S. News put it, it's "an amount much larger than Hollywood's domestic box office receipts and larger than all the revenues generated by rock and country music recordings." Sounds pretty mainstream to me. But how did this happen? A large part of the answer lies in America's attitudes toward morality, especially sexual morality. The main consequence of the so-called "sexual revolution" was the severing of the link between promiscuous sex and sin. Stated simply, Americans no longer believe that a person's sexual conduct says anything about him or her as a person. Christians see this as a kind of neo-gnosticism that divorces our bodies from our souls. The Bible -- and theologians like St. Augustine -- have taught that sexual sin is a sin against the image of God within us; the apostle Paul called it sinning against the body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. [I Corinthians 6:18-19] In contrast, modern culture believes that what we do with our bodies is irrelevant to our spiritual and moral well-being. Seeing the people involved in the pornography industry independently of what they do on screen is simply the logical extension of our attitudes toward sex. Then there's the culture's increasing reluctance to pass judgment on the "lifestyle choices" of other people -- especially their entertainment choices. This explains why some people can refer to the porn queens profiled in Talk magazine as "movie stars" with a straight face. But being able to say something with a straight face doesn't make it true, and it certainly doesn't make it right. And the mainstreaming of pornography has dangerous implications, not only in the culture but in the church as well. Over the next few days, I'm going to be telling you more about how this came to be and what you can do about it. I know it's a difficult subject, but I hope you'll be listening. I believe there is still time to reverse course. But only if we know what we're seeing, and what to do about it.   For further reference: Amis, Martin. "To Millions of American Men, These Women Are Movie Stars." Talk Magazine, February 2001.


Chuck Colson


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