Monday, March 21, 2016

A Pornographic Culture (Part I): We Are Being "Groomed" For It

I am honored to feature an incisive two-part essay on pornography by Amanda Zurface, J.C.L., the Catholic Campaign Coordinator for Covenant Eyes. Covenant Eyes is a company committed to Internet accountability and filtering, providing powerful weapons against the electronic encroachment of porn. Amanda Zurface is a licensed canon lawyer with undergraduate degrees in Catholic Theology and Social Justice. 


Our Culture is Grooming Our Appetite for Porn


We all know it’s there and probably have some idea of how we could access “it.” Yes, pornography. Although porn affects some of us more directly, there’s no doubt that porn is a problem impacting all of us, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Pornography has formed the culture we now live in - a “Pornographic Culture.” No one person can separate himself or herself from the scourge of pornography and then declare the battle won. Porn has created a culture of its own and this culture is influencing each one of us spiritually, physically, emotionally, and relationally – though to a greater or lesser extent depending on if we directly participate in the use of pornography. There are immense moral, social, and spiritual dangers.

Here’s a clear example of the Pornographic Culture in the works. The movies and television we watch, even our state and national laws, and our public schools now tell us how and what to think about in regard to our sexuality. Their main message: human sexuality has no God-given purpose. Society – the Pornographic Culture – says we can use our sexuality however we feel. And, guess what? It will have no consequences! Wrong! But, this is the message of the Pornographic Culture itself. That is, do what you want, how you want, when you want, and at the cost of the dignity of the human person, at the cost of betraying God’s design and purpose for the sexual act, at the cost of your marriage and family, your child’s innocence, your priestly or religious vows, and so on.

Author Kristen Clark, writing on the topic 5 Ways Our Culture is Grooming Your Daughter for Porn for Covenant Eyes, shares this: “Whether your daughter is seven years old or seventeen, our culture is grooming her for an appetite for pornography.”  Clark is speaking directly about our daughters, but this is also the case for all of us. Society is grooming girls and boys, men and women in a way that all of us may acquire an appetite for porn and even begins to lead us down a path of dehumanization. It may be subtle on some occasions, but it's happening and it has been happening. With every “sex scene” we innocently watch at the movie theatre to the advertisements we see in magazines and at the malls, romance novels we read, nude images we accidentally come across on social media, Clark expresses, "we are slowly becoming desensitized and our conscience and sensitivity to purity and morality is weakened and our view of sex is being watered down. We are one step closer to viewing porn as a harmless pleasure.”


The Porn Industry Unjustly Targets and Victimizes the Most Vulnerable


Pornography currently occupies over 12% of the Internet, with 25 million sites today, making $5 billion in profit a year. Those who work for the pornography industry are typically pulled into it by the promise of money that can be made easily and without an education, references, or prior experience. This industry doesn’t discriminate, and it targets the most vulnerable: the poor, the abused and marginalized, and even children. This probably doesn’t sound like the job market we’re used too, does it?

In his Pastoral Letter titled Bought with a Price, Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Virginia, explains that the porn industry's “exploitation of the weak is gravely sinful. Whether need, confusion, or alienation leads men and women to become pornographic objects, their choice to do so certainly cannot be seen as free.” It is becoming increasingly known that more of the “workers” or more appropriately, the “victims,” are younger girls, sometimes they are even children. This is another example of what a Pornographic Culture looks like. The vulnerable are taken advantage of, dehumanized, and innocence is destroyed for profit: all acts of violence.

Further, it is becoming more apparent that there are critical links between the use of pornography and the prevalence of sex trafficking. A free e-book from Covenant Eyes, called Stop the Demand: The Role of Porn in Sex Trafficking addresses the connection between pornography and human trafficking: “A key ingredient to the success of commercial sex is the belief that people—women and children especially—are sexual commodities, and Internet pornography is the ideal vehicle to teach and train this belief.” Pornography destroys the lives of those depicted in porn, as well as the intended audience. While human trafficking – a consequence of pornography - may seem like an issue that has little to zero impact on our own community, we need to think again. Our own communities may be corridors for human trafficking.

This article was originally printed in Our Northland Diocese. It is lightly edited and reprinted here with permission.

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