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  • Spencer Posey

Porn Is Not The Problem

Updated: Feb 12

And no, I am not going to tell you that you are the problem either. What I want to do is take a step away from this polarized type of thinking and slow down how we think about porn, how we interact with it, and the role it has in our lives. Before I get too far along in this conversation I’d like to assert an operational definition of “porn” for the sake of this discussion. I am aware that there are forms of porn that are illegally produced without the rightful consent of those who appear in these films. I want to be very clear that this is absolutely a problem. Any time a human is forced or coerced into performing in a sexual manner (or any kind of manner for that matter) is a crime against humanity regardless of age, race, sex or gender.


The definition of “porn” I will be using for this discussion is what some might refer to as “ethical porn” - the porn which was produced and acquired legally, and with the conscious and willing consent of all involved. This is important for this discussion because I want to take the focus off of the content (porn) and focus more on the process of the individual viewer.


With that said, if you are reading this article, there is a likely chance that you have experienced some type of adverse feeling or circumstance as a result of porn use. Whether it is low self-esteem, or a significant relational rupture with someone you love, porn has had some sort of undesirable impact on your life. When we are faced with such distress and discomfort our defenses go up as a form of self-preservation. Common forms of self preservation is that polarized thinking I mentioned earlier where we either cast blame on some outside entity (porn), or we absorb all of the blame ourselves and slap harmful labels on ourselves such as “failure”, “addict”, or “loser”. We do this to either escape the blame which could ruin our and others image of ourselves, or to appease others as an attempt to sustain membership in a relationship or community.


So if I am asserting that this distress which drives one to either cast blame on porn or to absorb all the blame for themselves is not actually caused by porn or the person, then where does the distress come from?


Before I answer that question, let me take a step back and break down my thinking even further. As a relatively traditional Christ-follower, Christian, Jesus freak, whatever you want to call my worldview and lifestyle, and one who deeply values viewing all humans as whole, integrated people, and as created in the image of God, how can I say that “porn is not the problem” when it “objectifies'' those who participate in the production of it? If you take the different elements which make up porn and break them down you get humans, nudity, sex, intimacy, and concentual sexual interactions. None of these things are “problems” in and of themselves. In kind, one’s desire and longing for these things is also not the problem in and of themselves. In other words, porn is not the problem and the person is not the problem - so what is?


I don’t have one solid answer for you. Instead, to find the answer which fits best for you, you will need to answer this question - “What are your end goals and values, and how is porn helping you honor and pursue those end goals and values?” further, “How is porn contradicting those end goals and values?”. For instance, as a Christian who has made the choice to embrace a worldview that moves me to honor God and my wife through a monogamous, committed relationship both in thought and deed (aka my end goals), viewing porn contradicts the values I have chosen to elevate in my life. Another example would be if my employer and I have agreed that my end goals are to be productive and abide by company policy by abstaining from viewing porn at work, then watching porn at work is interrupting those end goals and values. In either case, if I am viewing porn I am living a divided life because my actions are incongruent with my end goals. Whether consciously or unconsciously, I experience this division and incongruence internally and often externally in how it affects my relationships.


In short, porn is not the problem, your desire for that which you are trying to achieve through the consumption of porn is not the problem. The problem is either not knowing what your end goals are in this realm of life and relationships, or knowing the end goals, but choosing to utilize a vehicle that ultimately doesn’t take you to what your end goals are.


Once we have an understanding of our end goals, to live a congruent, undivided life, we either have to change our way of achieving our end goals to accurately reflect what our end goals are, or we have to change our end goals to align with the ways in which we have chosen to pursue them.


To wrap things up, although some of us might disapprove with porn in general, I would venture to say the catalysts which support the distress associated with one’s consumption of porn is not porn itself. Likewise, one’s desire for sex, intimacy, love, and sexual exploration is not the cause of distress. The cause of distress is the incongruence one experiences when the vehicles they use to achieve what they desire do not move them toward their end goals and life values. So this is my challenge to you: Identify for yourself what your end goals and life values are and ask yourself if porn helps you to achieve those end goals and life values, or if it goes against them. Once we know our end goals and life values we can make choices to achieve those goals and values in ways which they align with. Incongruence causes distress. It is never too late to start living a congruent life.


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