This was in today’s Las Vegas Review Journal.
Pornography: The word literally means “pictures of prostitutes.”
On a good day, pornography is a waste of a man’s time. After that it goes downhill. It disembodies both the power and the sacredness of sex. It isolates men and teaches their brains to eroticize isolation. It normalizes an artificial standard of stimulation and literally programs the male brain to believe it is unhappy with anything less than that standard. It fosters latent antipathy for women. Modern pornography is a satirical cartoon of human sexuality, cast with cardboard cutouts of human beings. It drains sexual energy that rightly belongs to your mate.
Is it immoral? I’m setting aside that question in service to an even more savage criticism: porn is ridiculous.
In fact, none of the above is moral outrage. I have no moral criticism or moral praise to offer anyone regarding the simple fact that he is a man. A man’s brain is designed to notice women. A man’s biology preponderantly ties sexuality to his eyes. There’s nothing wrong with masturbation, per se. In fact, I would lean toward saying it was nice of God to design us with our hands at waist level.
When it comes to matters of human sexuality, I reserve the greater part of my moral outrage for Western culture and its driving subset — Judeo-Christian culture. I’m convinced that the values, prejudices and practices of those cultures have burdened the human race with sexual misery and crippling self-hatred at least as often as it has offered us sexual freedom, joy and wholeness.
Western religion tends to be no friend of great sex.
It has taken me a long time to admit the emptiness and sometimes destructiveness of pornography because I never want to be counted amongst those forces of sexual repression enslaving and tormenting us. I’m whatever is the opposite of a prude.
Sexual repression is a cruel injustice giving rise to all manner of evil. My generation was right about that. The solution we proposed, however, was, in the end, every bit as repressive. We called it the Sexual Revolution. But about two weeks into the revolution we lost sight of what we were revolting against. Or maybe we just wanted to become revolting. It’s hard to say.
What isn’t hard to say is that we traded shame-based sexual mores for shamelessness. We traded paralyzing, unhealthy moral stricture for a paralyzing, unhealthy narcissism and tail-chasing compulsions.
In the ’60s, preserving anonymity required men to put on overcoats and fedoras, then steal downtown to the adult theater. The modern world of cyberspace has changed all that. Now men have literally all the porn choices and none of the accountability. That’s you at 2 o’clock in the morning in the third hour of glazed-eyed surrender to the ghostly glow of the computer monitor. In your underwear. Your mate is asleep upstairs.
No one is watching. Except you. You’re watching. Spying on the feminine. Trying with your eyes to connect to The Woman without her knowing. Which is another way of saying you’re committed to never being known by The Woman. While your eyes drown in voyeurism, your hands ceremonially reassure yourself that getting this close to The Woman won’t cost you body parts. Yep, still there. And she can’t have it!
Bad? I can’t even get to “bad.” I’m saying it’s infantile and ridiculous. The most pressing need of modern men is not that we’re bad men who need to deepen our moral character. No, our most pressing need is that we need to grow up.
Ready to grow up? Go to xxxchurch.com. Download the free version of X3Watch. No, you don’t have to be religious or join a church. Promise.
Find one or two healthy male friends. Ask them to be your accountability partner(s). Every two weeks, the X3Watch software will e-mail your accountability partner(s) a list of every Web site you visit.
Whoa. Ouch. That changes everything.
Anonymity brings out the worst in us. Accountability brings out the best. Covenant community restores a sense of healthy shame. We do better when true friends are watching.
No one else has to know. In the lower right hand side of your computer, all you’ll see is one green “X.”
Like the green “X” on my computer. Uh-huh. If I decide to go porn surfing, I get a phone call from a dear brother in California. And, since I have no coherent explanation for wasting my time in infantile pursuits of false intimacy, and since I take pride in being reasonably coherent, I don’t go porn surfing.
Steven Kalas is a behavioral health consultant and counselor at Clear View Counseling Wellness Center in Las Vegas and the author of “Human Matters: Wise and Witty Counsel on Relationships, Parenting, Grief and Doing the Right Thing” (Stephens Press). His columns appear on Sundays. Contact him at [email protected].