28 Apr Pornography, Boiling Water, and You
In today’s society, many of us have grown up hearing the parable of the Frog and the Boiling Water. So for just a moment, picture if you would, a frog placed into a pot of boiling water, the frog will hop immediately out of that pot due to the high temperature of the water. However, as we know, if a frog is placed is a pot of lukewarm water and then gradually the pot of water comes to an intense boil that frog would lounge around in the water and be slowly cooked. Many would think the frog would jump out when the water got too hot, but in this case the frog stays put in the warmth of the water; not realizing that the water’s heat is increasing, and he would eventually meet his demise.
Pornography is the pot of lukewarm water and we are the frogs. Too many people are lounging around in lukewarm water, not realizing they are cooking themselves into relational and emotional death. The prevalence of pornography is astounding; here are a few statistical facts. Forty million Americans are regular visitors to porn sites, and 20 percent of men have admitted to watching porn online while at work. The lowest day of the year for viewing porn is Thanksgiving and the highest day of the week is Sunday. The average age for children to first see pornography online is eleven years old. The word pornography comes from a Greek word meaning “porn” and “graphic,” which means the depictions of the activities of whores. In our day and age it is defined as any material that is sexually explicit and intended primarily for the purpose of sexual arousal.
The most common damage sustained by viewers of pornography is that it warps their perception of people, relationships, and sex. Pornography also teaches its viewers unrealistic and inappropriate sexual expectations, decreases satisfaction with monogamy and lowers family loyalties, objectifies and degrades women, links sex and violence and it is harmful to others. Some may think, “So what is it to you, pornography is not harming me now?” The answer to this question is that you are still “in lukewarm water.” But as the water heats up, so does the use of pornography.
Viewing pornography may not be seen as addictive as drugs, alcohol, or abuse of medical prescriptions. But in reality, pornography addiction leads to the same brain activity as alcoholism or drug addiction. A study of MRI scans of test subjects who admitted to compulsive pornography use showed that the reactions of the reward centers of the brain to seeing explicit material are parallel to what an alcoholic might experience on seeing an alcoholic drink in an advertisement.
As the water heats up so does the damage. Not only are we seeing the harmful effects in the brain, but as stated previously, pornography alters a person’s perception in the following ways:
- Fear of intimacy: In pornographic material, the people who are portrayed have no demands or expectations beyond sexual arousal and pleasure. Pornography viewers or users do not learn how to form realistic relationships with friends, family, and coworkers. They also do not learn how to be selfless, sacrificing, and committed. As a result they come to fear true intimacy which requires them to relate emotionally and spiritually with other people in their social circle.
- Validation: Those who view pornography numerous times see people in an idealistic form, and they begin to judge people’s worth by their physical attractiveness. They also only feel masculine or feminine when they are with beautiful people [beauty is based off the unrealistic, flawless people they see on screens/magazines]. They are less likely to be in committed relationships or committed to their partner when they go through life changes such as the aging process, childbirth or illness that decreases their youthfulness or their good looks.
- Objectification: On several, or nearly all pornography sites, men, women, and children are almost always portrayed as sexual objects, whose worth lies in the size and shape of their body parts.
- Voyeurism: When viewers are looking at pornography, they are being taught to focus on looking at a person instead of forming real relationships.
- Trophyism: When in relationships, those who are viewing pornography will have tendencies to view romantic partners as trophies to be displayed and owned, and not to be treated as real people
Another harm that originates from pornography is the excessive use by its participants. The water heats up even hotter and the harm that is created is the development of pornography into a compulsion. Compulsion can be defined as “an intense urge to do a certain behavior (view pornography in any form; internet, magazines, books, etc.) regardless of the negative consequences.” Compulsions, like addictions, can be so powerful that the person often feels helpless to deny them, even if they know it is harmful. Below are actual accounts of how pornography has affected lives.
- In one study, a man happy in a relationship described getting curious about porn on the Internet. Although most sites bored him, he soon noticed that there were more that fascinated him to the point he was craving it constantly. The more he used porn the more he wanted to, yet while his cravings for porn were strong, he did not like them. He found himself thinking of porn just from thinking about using his computer. Later he also admitted that he was far less attracted to his partner.
- Another young man tells of his personal experience with pornography by stating, “Some boys can look back at adolescent years and recall one or two occasions they were exposed to pornography. I look back and recall the one or two days I wasn’t. It consumed my life. It affected my grades, faith, employment, and relationships.”
- Dr. Cline, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah and a practicing psychologist demonstrated the addictive nature of pornography when he related the story of a married, religious man who came to him in order to break his pornography habit. This patient explained to him, “It’s like being on crack, I can see what it is doing to me and I want to get rid of the habit, but I can’t seem to stop. Nothing seems to work.” In order to break his habit, he was given a challenge of putting $10,000 into a bank account. If he could make it 90 days without viewing porn he could get the money back, but if he failed the money would go to a charity. The man successfully made it 87 days. However, when having to go on a business trip he gorged himself with pornographic materials. Dr. Cline, giving him another chance, told him if he could make it 87 days, he could make it 90 days. As a result he did not even last two weeks before relapsing and all the money went to a charity. Losing large amounts of money could not even help this man break the habit.
A Word of Warning
In conclusion, many people, religious or not-religious, may try to convince themselves that pornography is harmless to them and to those around them. However, research and experiences that have been described here are telling us otherwise. Pornography has emotional, social, and self-negative consequences. It leaves the user, like the frog, spiritually and emotionally dead. It is important as a nation that we familiarize ourselves with the knowledge of the effects of pornography and the harm it can cause to ourselves as individuals and those around us such as loved ones, friends or colleagues. Pornography is no joke. It best not to take the first peek – stay out of lukewarm water.
Jessica Madrid was born and educated in Los Angeles, but spent three years of her childhood in the Dominican Republic. She is a student at BYU-Idaho studying Child Development with a minor in Clothing Construction.
Birch, P. J. (2002). Pornography use: Consequences and cures. Marriage and families, 18-25
Retrieved June 15, 2004.
Brewer, A., & Jamieson, R. (n.d.). Use and harm of pornography. Retrieved from http://foreverfamilies.byu.edu/Article.aspx?a=140.
Cline, V. B. (2002). Pornography’s effects on adults and children. Retrieved June 15, 2004.
Cline, V., & Wilcox, B. The pornography trap. Bringham Young University. Retrieved from http://overcome.byu.edu/Articles/Cline.asp
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