The evils of pornography
By Leela Ramdeen, Chair of CCSJ (April 12, 2004)
"I have lived in prison a long time now and I've met a lot of men who were motivated to
violence just like me. And without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in
pornography, without a question, deeply influenced and consumed by an addiction to
Ted Bundy, convicted killer (hours before his execution)
As we seek to promote moral and spiritual values among T&T‟s citizens, we should
reflect on the harm that pornography can do to individuals/society. On Tuesday 27th
April, my Commission‟s monthly TV programme on Channel 10, Ask Why?, (8.00 pm)
will focus on this issue.
Biblical theology understands sexuality positively as a gift from God (Gen. 1:26-31).
Pornography should be opposed because it exploits and degrades people; it undermines
families; it distorts personal and social relationships; and it reduces God‟s gift of
sexuality to a level that lacks personal dignity, human tenderness, mutual love and ethical
commitment which are part of God's plan.
From information received by CCSJ, it is clear that not only are pornographic magazines
and photographs in use in our country, but some of our citizens are accessing
pornography on cable TV, the internet in homes, at work and at internet cafes. Such easy
access to pornographic material makes it imperative that all people of goodwill pray and
work together to rid ourselves of this destructive evil.
The Times (USA) observes that in America, pornography is easier to order into the home
than pizza. 20% of the Internet contains pornographic content. One in five children in the
USA (age 10-17) has received unwanted sexual solicitations online. UNICEF reports that
one million children each year are forced into prostitution and used to make
pornography< /FONT>. Other statistics place this figure at 5 million.
Although we may be unaware of the scale and seriousness of the problem in T&T, we
must mobilize efforts to educate people about the dangers of pornography. Schools in
particular, should warn students about this evil. If we are to build a culture of Peace we
must reject pornography.
Phil Burress, who was addicted to porn for 25 years, is now the president of the
Cincinnati, Ohio-based Citizens for Community Values (see http://www.ccv.org/and
http://www.nationalcoalition.org/) and a passionate crusader against pornography warns,
"If you want your young people to grow up thinking that women and girls are to be used
and abused, then ignore the problem. But I would hope that today's parents will not
ignore this problem."
I am still in London. Last week I visited some friends here. After a while the wife burst
into tears. Her husband placed his arm around her and comforted her. I have obtained
their permission to share their story as it may help other families to avoid the pitfalls of
About 6 months ago the wife discovered that their 15-year-old son was accessing
pornographic sites on their computer, downloading material on videos and showing these
to his friends whenever they came to visit. When she spoke to him about it he
immediately replied that if daddy could do it, he could do it too. She had no idea…
For months the family argued constantly about this issue. As soon as the boy was 16
years old he left home and has not been seen since. The couple are now receiving
counselling and are trying to rebuild their lives but believe that things will never be the
Dr Victor Cline, Univ. of California, says that in his clinical experience, “the major
consequence of being addicted to pornography is not the probability or possibility of
committing a serious sex crime (though this can and does occur), but rather its
disturbance of the fragile bonds of intimate family and marital relationships. This is
where the most grievous pain, damage, and sorrow occur. There is repeatedly an
interference with or even destruction of healthy love and sexual relationships with long
term-bonded partners. If one asks if porn is responsible or causes any sex crimes, the
answer is unequivocally in the affirmative, but that is only the "tip of the iceberg."
Definitions of pornography around the world vary in focus and legal force. It has been
suggested that several narrow definitions are needed at this time, in view of the
complexity of both content and media used by purveyors of sexual goods and services.
Pornography is obscene, an affront to decency, and usually demeaning and destructive in
its portrayal of women and children. It teaches individuals distorted values about their
sexuality, healthy relationships with others and respect. Often it involves sexually explicit
descriptions or portrayals of women or children in dehumanized, mutilated, animalistic,
submissive, distorted, sadistic and/or masochistic positions through which women or
children are placed and kept in a subordinate role and status.
The distortions, violence, and callousness towards human dignity present in much of
today‟s pornography does more harm than good, especially to sexually maladjusted and
immature people who use pornography instead of seeking professional help.
Research shows that in many countries today commercial sex-oriented materials and
services have increased in volume, in variety of media used, and in brutality. The content
of sex-oriented materials has become more varied, graphic and explicit. On the other
hand, the social climate in many countries has become both more tolerant of sexual
expression and less tolerant of it.
While some believe that it is „no big deal‟, there are many who oppose a liberal,
permissive approach to the issue and are unwilling to accept explicit sexual material as
harmless or victimless.
Certain kinds of sexual material have been shown by scientific studies and crime analysis
to have contributed to the commission of crimes against women and children, perpetrated
mostly by men who purchase and consume such material. For example, see the scientific
studies of Dr Victor B. Cline (University of California), Edward Donnerstein (University
of Wisconsin), and many others, which indicate that consumption of certain types of
violent sexual portrayals does have a negative effect on both the individual user and
society. As Larry Kuperman (USA) stated recently:
“The prevalence of violent pornography, child pornography and Internet pornography has
sparked a heated debate over moral, legal, and civil rights issues. The big question is, "Is
it just harmless fun?” Increasingly, pornography is being found to be addictive, like a
“Unfortunately, our minds operate like a computer hard disk, but one which cannot be
erased - wiped off. Everything we load into our minds stays there. It slowly changes our
character. It takes over our thinking. It controls us. We stop thinking of people as people.
They become objects. Then we can no longer relate to them properly.”
In an article about the psychological and social effects of pornography, Dr. Harold Voth,
a professor at the Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry (USA), writes:
"By permitting the ever-expanding display of pornography, or sexually explicit material
on the printed page, in theatres, on television (regular TV, cable and satellite), our social
structure is being bombarded continuously by powerful erosive stimuli. Sexuality in its
mature form is a necessary aspect of the heterosexual bond and the stability of the family.
The massive unleashing of sexuality which is occurring in Western civilization is a
reflection of cultural decline. It is well-known that an inverse relationship exists between
indiscriminate sexual expression and cultural excellence."
I believe that freedom must be balanced with responsibility and we must educate for
responsible behaviour/a positive attitude towards sexuality. On its own, legislation
against pornography will not rid us of this evil. We must do more to teach healthy
sexuality, nurture spirituality, promote human dignity and mutual respect.
The sex-oriented industry is a $13 billion (US) industry in the US alone, but saleability
alone should not determine the availability of a product or service, especially if monetary
profit for some is gained through physical, spiritual, and social harm to others, both
individually and collectively. It is said that the eye is the window to the soul.
“Pornography is insidious. It kills the soul, steals the heart and destroys the mind.”
(Laurie Hall). We must develop a culture in which the eyes of our citizens abhor
pornographic material. A liberal, permissive approach to human sexuality should be
rejected. Pornography attacks the fabric of our society, our faith, and our respect for one
another. We are all its victims. It is as an insult to God, to human dignity and to decency.
Let‟s stamp it out now.