Q. I have some friends who like to look at pornography on the Internet. My parents have always said that kind of stuff degrades women. When they start looking at the pictures, I just don’t look, but I haven’t ever said anything. I don’t really want to lose them as friends, and I don’t want people to think I’m weird. What can I do?
A. My dear friend…this is, unfortunately, a topic that affects more people than most of us want to admit. Let me offer a few thoughts.
First of all, your parents’ response is absolutely correct! And I’d add that pornography also degrades men. This is a good conviction to keep in the forefront of your mind anytime this discussion or temptation comes up.
Why is it degrading? As one very good chastity speaker I heard recently said, “The problem with pornography is not that it shows too much; rather, it shows too little!” He’s exactly right. What he means is that pornography only shows the body of another and does so in a way that the person is turned into a selfish object of another’s disordered pleasure. We call this “objectification.” Therefore, it “shows too little” in the sense that pornography fails to show the true beauty and dignity of the person being exposed. It fails to reveal that this person is in fact a person…a son or daughter of God made in God’s image and likeness. Pornography also does much damage to the person looking at the images, because it has the effect of drawing that person into a disordered sexual desire. This means that the person’s sexual desires will most likely become disordered and out of control by the use of pornography. This creates a type of “imprisonment” and an unhealthy attachment. As a result, the person caught in the world of pornography will have a hard time looking at others with dignity, respect, and true love. It truly has the potential to affect one’s relationships in a very negative and selfish way. So, yes, it is degrading all the way around.
Regarding your friends who are looking at pornography and trying to expose you to it, you say that you “don’t really want to lose them as friends” and that you “don’t want people to think [you are] weird.” I have a couple of thoughts on this. First, it’s not “weird” in any sense of the word to respect the dignity of another person and to see them the way God sees them. God would never want you to look at another person in the way they are portrayed in pornographic images. Believe me, you are far from weird for not wanting to get drawn into this practice.
As for losing them as friends, it’s important to understand what a friend is and is not. A true friend would not push you into viewing pornography. A true friend would see that this practice is unhealthy and would respect your choice not to participate. So, if your friends do not want to spend time with you, make fun of you, or even call you “weird” for not being interested in joining in with them, I can assure you these are not your true friends. I know the pressure can be strong to “fit in” with the crowd, but it’s not worth it. You are much better off standing your ground and experiencing their rejection than you are going with the flow of this disordered behavior. Recent brain science studies reveal that pornography can be as powerful as some of the most addictive drugs. Sadly, there are many who are so addicted that they simply cannot find a way to break their habit. This addiction can go on for years and cause much distress, guilt, shame, and sexual confusion. The end result is that an addiction to pornography can (and I dare say “will”) affect your healthy ability to love others in the way God wants you to.
So, stay strong and keep talking to your parents about this. That open communication with them will help you for years to come!
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