Ross Olson's Web Site

Social Issues: Pornography


by Ross S. Olson MD

Why do some people get so hot and bothered about sexy pictures? Is it because they are repressed or something? Why not just let everybody look at what they like? It doesn't hurt anybody, does it?

The truth is simple but sometimes hard to express. Sex can be beautiful. Sexual attraction may lead a person to seek out a mate, and help to bond a lasting relationship in which children can be born and raised. That is what it was designed to do. But uncontrolled sexual impulses destroy lives and damage society. Essentially every honest adult will have to admit that they have had sexual thoughts that they KNOW should never be acted out.

If I look at sexually stimulating pictures or words, they can produce a powerful emotional reaction that draws my interest and makes it hard to stop looking. My focus is on the image as an object, even though it may be a picture of a person who in real life has feelings, hopes and dreams. Further, it makes me think -- very selfishly -- only of how this makes ME feel.

How I react to this sort of situation depends on my worldview. If I believe that every thought is basically good or that the most important thing in life is my own pleasure, I will pursue my desires wherever they go. If I recognize the evil bent of my human nature, I will be on my guard and avoid being led down any dangerous path, which is what pornography does.

If I am honest, I know what sort of material affects me in this way. If I am not insightful or have other reasons for being blind to the issue -- such as being addicted to pornography or because in some way I profit from it -- then I may demand a definition. Pornography can be defined, although the criteria tend to be vague, and borderline cases exist where individuals may truly differ in their interpretation. But the real problems lie in the material that is nowhere near the border and is far over "the fine line."

For those who produce or distribute pornography and refuse to regulate themselves, there need to be external controls. This is possible because pornography can be defined and legal action can be taken although it must be done for each piece of material as a separate case. This means that many people need to be involved as watchdogs and whistleblowers. Yet it is vitally important to do this because pornography destroys lives.

How is pornography destructive? Sexual images are extremely persistent. Men who started with pornography as young boys often can remember in great detail the images that got them started and continue to be affected by them. But the major danger is that the intensity of the material tends to escalate because after a while the mild stuff is no longer as stimulating. The images become associated with masturbation and it is the nature of orgiastic activity that it produces a desire for repetition.

When sex is kept within the context of marriage, this habit-forming tendency helps cement the commitment and motivate a couple to work out the inevitable problems that go with human relationships. But sexual stimulation with pornography, because it is devoid of human interaction, is intensely selfish and becomes quickly jaded. Thus the fantasies need to become more explicit, more bizarre and more blended with violence to achieve the same level of excitement. Finally, images alone are not enough and the desire to act out the fantasies becomes powerful. Since the focus has been consistently on selfish pleasure and the pictures seen as objects, the transition is sometimes frighteningly easy.

So pornography makes monsters of susceptible people, mostly men who started as boys. Rapists, child molesters and serial killers uniformly are addicted to pornography. To say that some who use pornography do not reach this extreme is beside the point. For some, it "only" makes sexual fulfillment in marriage difficult if not impossible. This is because the patterns are so hard to change and the pornography user finds the mate inferior to his fantasies. There is a parallel here with alcohol. Some people do not have a problem with it, but their use may inadvertently lead others to use, abuse and ultimately be destroyed. With pornography, the danger is so dramatic, why play around with it?

But we also need to think about the subjects of pornography. They are not simply those people who have made a career choice to enter the sex industry. The sad truth is that it is usually vulnerable young adolescents who have been tricked, seduced, coerced or bullied into a lifestyle of degradation that often ends in death, from suicide, drug overdose or murder. Pimps, often themselves shaped for their heartless role by pornography, prowl the malls of this nation, looking for suitable youngsters.

Young girls, or boys for the homosexual community, are approached and dealt with according to their vulnerabilities. Those who are rebellious are lured into what sounds like excitement. Those who crave attention or approval are told they would be great models. They might be photographed decently but have their faces attached to computer-altered pornographic websites. Some believe that the pimp is their boyfriend and have their minds slowly twisted to the point that they become exotic dancers, pornography subjects or prostitutes.

Pornography is not a victimless crime. The users and the subjects are both devastated and the societal cost is immense. It is only the subject of debate because of human nature. Sexual behavior is very highly rationalized -- people are capable of justifying anything they really want to do. The profit motive is powerful for those who make this a business and, in the case of pornography, organized crime controls the major portion of it. Smokescreens, such as preservation of free speech, are off the point for that principle does not mean we can say anything we wish. Yelling "fire" in a crowded theater or maliciously slandering another person are not protected. And we are not just talking about Venus de Milo. Even though there are individual differences in response to nude representations, pornography is light years removed from real art.

Just as it is not sensible to try crack cocaine "just to see what it is like," the wisest answer to pornography is to "just say never." And to those who justify the industry, we must say, "We will not remain silent and will not tolerate the destruction of lives in the name of freedom."

How can we take action? First, Christians must pray. Next, become informed on the issue. (There are many excellent resources that can be accessed on the Internet.) Then take whatever action God leads you to do.


Pure Life Ministries
14 School St.
Dry Ridge, KY 41035
888.PURELIFE - order / information
859.824.4444 - administrative offices
An organization dedicated to helping men addicted to to pornography to break free.
web site Http://
e-mail info{at}

Minnesota Family Council

Family Resource Council
Family Research Council
801 G Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
Tel: 202/393-2100
Search "Pornography" for resources

Filtering Facts
Provides filters for internet.

American Family Association Law Center PO Drawer 2440 Tupelo MS 38803 601-844-4234

American Family Association
Search on "pornography"
mailto:afalaw{at} Gives legal advice.

"A Guide To What One Person Can Do About Pornography"

Help & Hope for Sex Addicts
Christian Alliance for Sexual Recovery
PO Box 2124
Tupelo MS33803-2124
mailto:rob{at} Helps those who have become addicted to pornography.

If you have been caught up in the sex industry and think no one cares, click HERE.


In 1973 the Supreme Court of the United States said that to determine if something is obscene and thus a crime, the basic guidelines for a judge or jury must be: 1) Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest; 2) Whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state or local law, 3) Whether a reasonable person would find that the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. The Supreme Court has further said that while obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment, it must be determined to be obscene by a judge or jury. In other words, any material is protected by the First Amendment until a judge or jury declares it to be obscene.

Send comments to me at ross{at}

Send comments to me at ross{at}

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