By Steve Pokorny
Recently I was having a conversation with one of my friends and he shared that he wanted to be poor in spirit. However, that’s not the way it came out. He mumbled, saying, “I want Porn Spirit.”
Obviously, that’s not what he meant to say. But it’s a curious phrase, and I believe it accurately sums up the state of our culture. What do I mean?
Porn Spirit is what permeates our world today. We see Porn Spirit in the constant ways women (and an increasing number of men) are portrayed in movies, television shows, supermarket checkout lanes, billboards, and on the net. Porn Spirit is what inspires people to lust and makes us think using people—usually in an eroticized way—is normal. It takes what’s designed to be a beautiful foretaste of the infinite and reduces that great burning desire into something inherently ugly. If you live in the Western world, you’ve been influenced by Porn Spirit and it’s really easy to become possessed.
To illustrate my point, story #1: On the elevator ride up to to work, another friend we’ll call Xavier was riding with 4 other people who were intently looking at their smartphones. One woman was raving about Miley Cirus’ “Wreckingball” video. Others exclaimed, “Oh, I need to see it!” The woman who was carrying on turned to Xavier and asked excitedly, “Have you seen it?” Tobin’s response, “Oh, no thanks. I don’t watch child porn.”
Ding ding ding. Game on.
As you can imagine, this didn’t sit well with the woman. She defensively said, “It’s not child porn!” The others chimed in likewise. Xavier retorted, “If that was my daughter in that video, I would put a serious beating on those who allowed her to appear in the video.” Nothing more that was said after that.
Story #2: I help out at a local parish for Life Teen on Sunday night, and recently I was sitting next to a youth we’ll call Andy. During the teaching time, he pulled out his phone to look something up online. As he began that process, I glanced over and noticed that Andy’s wallpaper was some bikini-not-so-clad woman posing seductively.
Afterward, I pulled Andy aside privately and asked him to show me his phone. As the screen came on, he tried to quickly move to his browser window. “What was that?” I asked him. “Uh…nothing.” He obviously felt uncomfortable, yet I knew I needed to press the issue. When I asked why he had that image, he made some lame excuse like he was honoring (honoring!?!) her. When I mentioned it’s images like that which inspire the sex trade [LINK], he was shocked—actually, he had no clue slavery like this exists today, let alone any slavery (ah, to be young and naive again….).
Don’t get me wrong: Andy’s a good looking kid—an athlete in fact—who had just the previous week tried fasting for the first time. I was proud of him for taking on such a challenge.
Thus I put our discussion in terms of another challenge: Find another image. Heck, there are millions upon millions of beautiful images, yet the one on his phone is anything but beautiful. If you have to have a woman for your wallpaper, find one who’s depicted wearing clothes. Not because the body is bad, but because the way she’s dressed and posing is actually distorting her true beauty.
Then I got him to really think: I told him to take a good look at her and answer me, “What’s she saying with her body? Is she trying to reveal who she is as a person or instead is she saying, ‘Seduce me?’” After some hemming and hawing, Andy agreed maybe his phone could use a wallpaper lift.
Both above situations illustrate just what’s so wrong in our culture. We’re so submerged in porn that many of us don’t know what porn is anymore. We’ve been blinded by our lusts and think this is normal.
Let me be very clear: The problem isn’t porn, per se – even though porn is intrinsically a problem. Pornography is merely a symptom of a much larger problem. The problem is that as a culture we’ve accepted the chains of lust. We’ve accepted that “this is just how men see women” and “this is just how we’re designed to react to sexual stimulus.” It’s not even that we’ve normalized porn. We’ve normalized lust. The only reason porn sells is because we’ve already made a deep peace with lust.
But porn isn’t normal. It’s so far removed from living out a healthy expression of our sexuality, but far too many people are blind to get this. In fact, they’re clueless, and have no clue why their relationships are all screwed up and they aren’t finding what will really make them happy. They’re blind to the fact that we were never intended to use, abuse, and then discard others.
Think about it: if porn were normal, we shouldn’t feel as if it’s something we should hide. Yes, there are some pornographers who like to revel in their “work,” but for a vast majority of people (even the porn stars themselves), porn is the dirty, little secret that they would DIE! if anyone found out. I know this to be true for all my years of being held captive by these chains.
The point is: our vision is all screwed up. Just as a demon hates God’s children and wants to see them suffer, Porn Spirit is destroying the lives of others. This Spirit is what influences the anti-culture in which we find ourselves, for anytime lust is normalized, then somebody’s going to get hurt…or worse. We’re in serious need of an exorcism, to have Porn Spirit cast out from our lives, and to learn how to see others in a truly human way.
Diagnosing the disease, getting to the root, and providing some substantial answers is going to take some work. That’s why the mission and project of Redeemed Vision exists. It’s going to take some serious diagnosing, but with an injection of grace, we can begin to experience profound healing.
Thanks for reading. I’m glad you’re here. Until next time.
What ways do you see Porn Spirit at work? Leave your thoughts in the box below.
Steve Pokorny is the founder of Freedom Coaching, a one-on-one mentoring program designed to break the power of an attraction to lust and pornography. After 12 years of being enslaved, Steve has been granted the grace of freedom and offers a path for others to have their chains broken. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.