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Columnists

Porn again

James Cary

Cary

Pornography presents the liberal West with a dilemma. Many people are more or less decided that whatever takes place between consenting adults is fine. And if they want to film it and charge money then who are we to judge or stop them? Except of course it's all over the web, where children are way ahead of the adults and watching months of pornography every year. And if they do this, they'll think that sex is really like that. When it isn't. And that people look like that. Which they don't. And that to get your refrigerator fixed, you have do certain things. Which you don't. I don't think.

That's the problem with pornography. It's profoundly dishonest. It's not art, which is ultimately based on truth. It's a piece of media designed purely to make money. Now some would say this is also a description of the Murdoch press, but pornography goes much further. Like all addictive things, it promises gratification but only offers a short-term sensation which then has to be repeated. It acts like a drug.

Speaking of drugs, there's the effect on the performers. Again, it's consensual and the porn industry is all botoxed smiles with its own red-carpet award ceremonies. And of course it's a film industry where women get all the lead roles, make all the money and even set up their own studios. So, girl power, right? Hmm.

Moreover, it often seems that the industry attracts damaged people and makes it worse, with performers regularly being addicted to drugs or attempting suicide. Brittni Ruiz experienced the latter many times. Fortunately she found faith, became a Christian and left the industry. (Incidentally, Brittni Ruiz is her real name. Her pornstar name was the strangely less glamourous- sounding Jenna Presley. Maybe her first pet rabbit was called Jenna and she didn't want to buck the system.)

The contradiction in our society's thinking was highlighted earlier this year by Miriam Weeks, a student at Duke University, North Carolina, who paid a $47,000 college bill with her alter-ego, pornstar Belle Knox. When she was recognised and her secret exposed, she received hate mail and violent threats for participating in something that is consensual, legal, profitable and extremely popular. It doesn't really add up.

To get pornography in days gone by, it took nerve, money and fake ID, or a deep voice at the very least. But the internet is the perfect delivery mechanism for pornography which is now easily accessible from any smart phone or tablet, affordable - often free - and largely anonymous. So what do we do now?

Jesus's approach to this subject is disarmingly straight-forward. The famous bit on this subject is in Matthew 5 where he says that 'anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.' Assuming we're agreed that adultery is bad, this does not leave much wiggle room.

In the past, this has led to Christians combatting the sin of lust with guilt-tripping children, threats of blindness, and cold showers. These are normally ineffective because they're based on will-power and moralism.

Having said that, they are more effective than the tactic currently employed which is to deny that there's a problem, do nothing and tut about 'technology today'. Churches do not address this subject. We're in total denial. In over two decades of church-going, I've never heard a sermon on it which is why I agreed to do one at my church the other day.

In preparing the sermon, I found one reason why this subject is so tricky. It's there in Proverbs 2 where it says that 'Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words… Surely her house leads down to death.' Falling for the seductive words of adultery, for men or women, either in reality or in the imagination, leads down to destruction. Proverbs is full of these kinds of warnings. And we need them because we are almost impervious to them.

But the power of our self-delusion is even more evident in Proverbs when you realise that it's almost certainly Solomon wrote these words of warning about sex, and all of the dangers it brings. Solomon. You remember Solomon. He's the guy with 700 wives. And as if that weren't enough to satisfy him, he had 300 concubines. That's lasciviousness - and denial - on an epic scale. It makes you want to shout 'Physician, heal thyself! Or at least put some trousers on.' Before preaching to the world on this, perhaps we need to get our own house in order.