Warning: This post may contain images that are considered offensive to some. Please do not read if you are under the age of 18.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
I was thinking about my last post; and, I decided that no blog post on masturbation is complete without a follow-on post on pornography. Clearly the two go hand in hand [pun intended].
It's no secret that pornography is big business.
"Sex sells. As the number one income generator on the Internet today, pornography is a ripe business that will continue to grow along with the advancement of technology. With a reported annual growth rate of 40% since 1997, and the status of being the most queried subject on search engines, pornography is a thriving industry and one of the only successful e-businesses."
article titled "The Porn Business" on stanford.edu
Also, much has been written about the evils of pornography by LDS church leaders
"One of the most accessible sources of pornography today is the Internet, where one can turn on a computer and instantly have at his fingertips countless sites featuring pornography. Avoid any semblance of pornography."
Thomas S. Monson, April 2006 General Conference
Make no mistake - pornography is a big problem in the LDS church and in our society. It is probably the topic that gets mentioned most often during our general conferences. It is a problem for men of all ages, ethnicity, religious background, and sexual orientation. But, it seems to be an especially big problem in the gay Mormon community. Most (if not all) of us, at least of the male persuasion, have done battle with the pornography monster - some battles are ongoing.
But, what exactly is pornography? A pamphlet created by the LDS church states
Pornography is any material depicting or describing the human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses sexual feelings.
It goes on to say
Some materials that are not explicitly pornographic can still fill your life with darkness and deprive you of spiritual strength. Television programs, pictures, movies, songs, and books often treat unchastity and infidelity as common, appealing, and humorous. Avoid anything that drives the Holy Ghost from your life.
I don't necessarily disagree with these statements; but, the problem I have is that there are many things - innocuous things - that can arouse feelings within me depending on the situation I'm in and my frame of mind. It could be a good looking guy walking down the street in shorts and a muscle shirt; it could be a cute waiter in a restaurant; it could be the men's underwear ad in the Penny's sales flyer. If I truly need to avoid anything and everything that has the potential of arousing feelings within me; then, my only hope would be to check myself into a convent with a bunch of ugly nuns and avoid all media (internet, TV, newspaper, magazines, ... everything).
So, short of all of us checking ourselves into convents and removing ourselves from society, what can be done about this insidious problem? How can we define pornography in a way that we can realistically overcome?
For example, here is a picture that's been floating around the internet for a while (a naked Harry Potter). Is it pornographic? Some might say 'yes', some might say 'no'.
Where is the line between provocative and nasty? Where is the line between art and porn?
There are some images that, I'm sure, we can all agree are clearly pornographic, such as an image of two men engaging in sodomy. But, what if it is an image of a naked male? What if the model is posed in such a way that genitalia are not shown? What if the model is fully clothed but is posing in a very suggestive manner?
Much has been written about how pornography is degrading to women. But, what about gay pornography? If there are no women involved, is it still degrading? Or is it just as wrong to degrade men as it is women?
According to the gospel of Abelard, we each need to come up with our own definition of what constitutes pornography for us and define our own limits. And, we need to define our limits so that they are reasonable and achievable. We can, and should, listen to what others have to say; but, ultimately, the final definition rests on our own shoulders. Once we define those limits, then we can start to work on making sure we don't cross those boundaries. Some might even suggest we stay as far away as possible to reduce temptation. But, if we set our limits too high such that they are unachievable then we are only setting ourselves up for failure. We also need to be open to the idea that our boundaries can change over time.
But, these are just my opinions. What do others have to say on this topic?
As I've said before, we are a virtual island of misfit toys, only Santa isn't coming to rescue us. So, we need to look out for one another. Is there anything we can do to help those in our little community that may be battling the pornography monster at this very moment? How can we tame this beast?