This one will not be pretty or fun. It may not even be safe for work. But I believe it needs to be said.
Yesterday, I read a brutally honest, incredibly painful confession of a tech writer at the Verge. It seems that Paul Miller has decided to try an experiment wherein he lives without internet for one year. As a consequence (I’m not sure if it was intended or not), he found that it was a way to help him deal with his porn addiction. Now you might want to stop at this point because yes, I went there. This one is about porn. Mr. Miller also “outed” himself as a Christian.
Reading through the comments, Mr. Miller received a great deal of mocking. This thing is, I couldn't tell if it was because he was admitting to a porn addiction and wanted to do something about it, or because he admitted to being a Christian and understanding that there was something wrong with pornography.
In the article, he shared a his doctor’s medical opinion on the health benefits of masturbation, as well as his pastor’s opposing cautionary comment to “get a second opinion.” Mr. Miller was castigated in the comments section for even approaching a clergyman on the subject of biology. However, I think these commenters missed the overall point. Mr. Miller was not only concerned about the physical ramifications of his predilection, but also the moral implications; who better to consult regarding the moral issues than his pastor?
I was disappointed that so many commenters decided to make predictions that he would fail in his efforts to live as porn-free as possible once this experiment was over. Way to go tech geeks: you have just outed yourselves as insensitive louts who love to see a man brought low. Why can’t more people be encouraging and uplifting? I’m guessing (and this is only a guess here) that they may well be ashamed that he is attempting something noble and they are stuck in the muck and mire of this world and if they cannot or will not rise above it, they don’t want to see anyone else do so either.
Also, a large number of commenters expressed the belief that porn is natural and healthy and that it is helpful in the enjoyment of sex, and that Christians need to stop being a bunch of prudes and get with it. They (and a fair number of Christians as well, to be fair), need to remember that sex was God’s idea, and that the physical union between man and woman is s symbol of the mystical union between Christ and His Church. I know, there was probably a moment of “Ewwww!” there, but I wonder if it is because we have allowed porn to skew our view of sex that this is a disturbing image for us?
But what I’m concerned about here is the exploitation of a very beautiful act of love and surrender and total, vulnerable intimacy being touted as something to be desired. Mr. Miller rightly hit it on the head that pornography is about objectification. Objectification is essentially (at least here) treating a person as an object, or as a tool to accomplish what at the end is a selfish goal. In this case, it is about a man using a woman in order for him to receive sexual pleasure, without regard for her thoughts or wishes in the matter: its all about the man and what he wants.
What many of the commenters on Mr. Miller’s article apparently don’t care to discuss, and what many defenders of porn conveniently ignore, is that porn drives much of what is classified as “human trafficking” today. A very good definition of human trafficking can actually be found on Wikipedia: it is “Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings mainly for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor.” Porn is an eighty-two BILLION dollar a year industry. That kind of money drives people to do all kinds of shady things including luring young teens and desperate young women into surrendering their bodies for the gratification of an uncaring man’s lust. This article, from the Richmond Justice Initiative covers this subject much better than I could in this post.
Finally, you will note that I have referred to the author of the post on the Verge site by the more formal “Mr. Miller.” I have done so, for two important reasons: first, because I do not know him, and to refer to him by his first name seems presumptuous and second, it is out of deep respect for the way he put himself and his struggles out there for the world to see, and sadly, to be mocked by those who should understand and support him so much better than they did.