There’s another kind of sickness growing in the shadow of the pandemic. It feeds on isolation and loneliness, and our quarantines and lockdowns have created the ideal breeding ground for its growth, which is already being documented. Unlike the virus it’s nothing new, and I’ve seen the destruction it can leave behind.
I remember the eyes of my friend – I saw it there. More precisely, I saw nothing. His eyes were empty, and I found it unnerving to see them looking around with no life in them. I’d seen plenty of tired eyes, sad eyes, and eyes filled with fear – but I’d never seen eyes so full of emptiness. No spark. No motivation. No concern. Nothing. Except for one thing: pornography. And that one thing had driven out all the others. He lived for it, and died a little more each day for it. I saw it happening, and I hated it.
I know, we’re not supposed to admit to hating anything these days. But I hate. I hate porn. I hate what it did to my friend and I hate the way it shouts about being “victimless” and “harmless” even as it devours minds and character and hearts and dreams and takes the beauty of desire and twists it into the self-serving destruction of humanity because it can’t see humans. It can only see bodies. Bodies that exist for another’s personal use and pleasure, slaves. The logic of porn is the logic of slavery is the logic of human trafficking: people are objects. Victimless! There’s hardly a person in the world that hasn’t been harmed in some way by this kind of thinking.
Bullying. Shaming. Cat-calls. Abuse. It’s not only trafficking victims who are degraded by pervasive porn use: we all are. Pornography puts a price tag on our bodies and a measuring stick in our hands to beat each other (and ourselves) with. Value is found in smooth curves and bulging muscles. Wrinkles and deformities are hidden at all costs, if at all possible. We are judged by the contours of our skin, not the content of our character. Victimless? I don’t think so.
Our humanity is more than our attractiveness, our purpose is bigger than moments of pleasure. We are made in the image of God, body and soul, a unified whole with depth and beauty and richness far beyond what any camera can capture, what any eye can see. “I knitted you together in your mother’s womb, you are fearfully and wonderfully made” says our Creator. We are – every one of us – a masterpiece of careful sculpting, inside and out. We are not pound shop commodities. We are not machines. We are not accidents of chance. Every body you’ve ever seen is a whole person, deeply reflecting the glory of their Maker.
Even in lockdown, we can still value the humanity of our fellow humans. Can you imagine how different our culture would be if we stopped seeing objects, and started seeing each other? If we ever want to get there, one thing is clear: the porn has to go.
If you or someone you know is struggling with porn, don’t go it alone.