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A Biblical Feminist’s Take on Porn

What constitutes pornography pales in comparison to the choice to patronize it.

by
Susan L.M. Goldberg

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October 27, 2013 - 9:00 am
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Sex has seeped into our culture to such an extent that we can no longer accurately define pornography. It used to be simple: Selling sex for money.  Nowadays we Clinton the definition, questioning what is sex versus what is sexy, all the while wondering whether we’re artsy or just plain perverted. As a result, we not only question what constitutes pornography, but we question whether or not individual interaction with pornography is acceptable. For the sake of this discussion the latter is, of course, the more valuable question, simply because to the God who granted us free will, the choices we make are what ultimately matter to our relationship with Him and each other.

So, when it comes to drawing lines regarding porn and porn-related behaviors, the first question anyone needs to ask themselves is: What do you define as pornography and, more importantly, why?

The common definition of pornography involves “obscene writings, drawings, photographs or the like”.  ”Obscene” is defined as “offensive to morality or decency; causing uncontrolled sexual desire.” Biblically speaking, there is no direct commandment proclaiming pornography evil. Yet, there are several commandments regarding acceptable and unacceptable sexual behaviors. And, in relation to writings, drawings and photographs, God prohibits us from making graven images to worship.

When approaching any graphic material we must ask ourselves if we are in any way submitting ourselves to that image. In the case of pornography, are we submitting to uncontrollable desire when we confront an obscene image? Conversely, are we ascertaining authority from our relationship to that image? In either case, how will our relinquishing or claiming of control impact the choices we go on to make?

Porn advocates would argue that as long as a porn user remains “in control” of their porn usage, there is no harm being done. In a recent conversation, my editor relayed two stories to me. The first involved an older, fairly observant Jewish man who found Playboy harmless because his own father, a loyal family man, had a lifetime subscription. The second involved an Orthodox man announcing in front of his wife that he’d be going with his buddies to a strip club to celebrate a friend’s bachelor party, to which his wife didn’t bat an eye. Both are examples of the “no harm, no foul” theory at work.

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All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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Yeah, I'm with Charlie Martin. Estimates of male porn consumption always give regular use numbers well upwards of 90%. If there was any statistically significant effect of the kind you're suggesting, women wouldn't be able to go out in public without being kidnapped.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Biblically speaking, there is no direct commandment proclaiming pornography evil. Yet, there are several commandments regarding acceptable and unacceptable sexual behaviors."

Actually, the bible does address pornography. Both in the old and new testaments, God directly and repeatedly condemns adultery and fornication (the first being sexual sin of married people and the second including all sexual sin, even pre-marital sex). Then, Jesus tells us, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matt. 5:27-28, NIV) Men who look at porn do so "lustily", or "with lust in his heart" as the NASV puts it. So, the action of observing porn, in any of it's forms, is in fact, directly proclaimed to be sin.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
As I remember some Supreme Court judge, concerning pornography, said something like: I cannot quite define it, but I know it what I see it. I will take up the "visual" interpretation and seek to explain how I saw it a night or two back here in Rheinland, Germany as my local gym celebrated (viz., cashed in on) the Oktoberfest, a Bavarian "folk" thing with tons of beer. Again, in order to stress that all is "visual" experience, I note that I have long sense entered into my 70s and am blessed with less testosterone, i.e., the sex drive is noticeably abated. Well back to my visual attempt to "define" pornography.

Some young "ladies", oh say, in their early 20s were dressed in a dirnle, a folksy type of costume usually seen in films with Bavarians men in leather breaches and women in, well, dirnls. Most areas of Germany have their own version of dirnls, though commercialization has mixed it all up. Some other young "broads" were present in normal and abnormal tightly fitting jeans. The distinction in my vocabulary between "ladies" and "broads" is purely subjective, i.e., refers to my reactions not to anything in the women themselves. I did see two really attractive "young" women (please note that my notion of "young" can be stretched to 45 years old) struck me, particularly re the essence (so illusive to the judge) of pornography.

Well, one of the young "ladies" wore a particularly feminine dirnle and danced about most alluringly. What I saw in a quite aesthetic manner was beautiful, in some way eternal woman-ness, feminity, leading me to affirm and give thanks to creation. My giving thanks was a feeling, not an expressed verbalization. The visual feeling was aesthetic because it retained a certain contemplative moment. I was in no way fixated in the moment and momentary pleasure, rather had a vision of that wonderous female reality, a reality that supplements my male-ness.

The young "broad", on the other hand, possessed an attractive face, fantastic figure, one quite clearly revealed as much as tight jeans allow, simply fixated my attention on the "real" consumption of now. In other words, the "broad" (I repeat the term reflects my reaction) in someway focused interest away from contemplating female totality to itching for female genitality--and that means displacing non-contemplative visual experience with exiting visual experience that seeks implicitly physical contact, immediate real genital satiation. I stress here that I had no wish for sex, only my visual awareness was genitally real and not aesthetically appreciative.

The difference between the two experiences defines pornography for me, not by abstraction, rather as for the judge by what I see.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here are a couple of examples to give a perspective on how art has evolved and has now merged with pornography.

In 1863 the brilliant French painter Edouard Manet exhibited his painting Le Dejeuner sur l'herbe (The Luncheon on The Grass), a classically-based painting depicting two men in contemporary dress and a casually naked woman in the foreground enjoying a day in the outdoors. The woman looks directly at the viewer with a slight smile on her face. The painting scandalized Paris.

Today I saw an announcement at The Daily Caller of an exhibit in England which will take place on 1/25/14. A gay artist named Clayton Pellet will lose his anal virginity and the general public is invited to come and observe. More than likely they won't be able to accommodate the throngs who will want to attend because we all understand that in a short time this young artist will be all the rage in the artistic circles of London, Paris and New York. Though one can only shudder to imagine what his next artistic work of genius will be.

It's taken a mere 150 years to go from point A to point B. Where do we go from here?
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
More sensational nonsense. Everything we do in life has influences and consequences. Sometimes they include benefits as well as negative aspects. It doesn't necessarily make them bad. Depending on the latest research, a glass of wine is healthy for you. Yet alcohol kills tens of thousands of people every year. But for the vast majority, a glass of wine is a satisfactory indulgence. Chocolate? Contains good chemicals, but can lead to obesity, along with much junk food. In other words, enjoy, but beware of excess that may lead to negative consequences.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Susan,

I agree with your observations and with the studies. As social beings we have a built-in trigger to conform to the culture we perceive. We want to be accepted. But what does that mean today. Everywhere we look, girls and boys as young as six, are engaging in sex, not because it arouses them at that age but because they see and hear it's the thing to do to be accepted by their social group. Every day I ride the metro, and all I see are people staring at their cell phones playing games, no-one interacting or even acknowledging their neighbors to the point of rudeness. It's like the movie "The Time Machine" with the Eloi, watching one of their own drown and no one lifting a finger to help the victim and no one caring. All being bred by the Morlocks for sheep in a Morlock driven society. I suspect it is getting harder and harder for each successive younger generation to be connected with each other despite facebook, etc.. Why go to the trouble or risk of being accused of sexual abuse or being publicly humiliated by daring to tell someone that you're attracted to them. Better to take no risks and live in your fantasy computer game porn world where the only one you abuse is yourself. I also suspect that this is especially true for young men who are told by society that their physical urges toward guns, playing cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, violent sports, etc. are abnormal and are to be punished. Load them up with Ritalin and turn them into metro-sexuals or worse. How many children today live in homes where parents can't or wont given them love and teach them how to behave in society? Too many. I don't know what the cure is but we'd better find one quick before our society devolves to savages and cannibals who prey on each other rather than help each other.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hmm. So porn causes men to stop wanting to have sex and become abusive rapists.

Right.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
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