Pornography as case study in good and evil

People are not black and white.

I’m not referring to race but to the false dichotomy too many of us have when labeling people as “good” or “bad.”

We make good decisions sometimes, and we make horrible decisions sometimes.

Over the course of time, the sum consequence of a series of decisions will have ramifications on the alteration of our character, thus making it easier for us to make exponentially better or worse future decisions.

We tend to ignore the words of those we label as “evil,” and I think we do so to our detriment.

Very recently, Ariel Castro (the man who plead guilty to imprisoning and sexually abusing three women in Cleveland for over ten years) claimed in court that he is not a monster, but a sick man who is addicted to masturbation and pornography.

Similarly, Jeffrey Dahmer was not the first serial killer who blamed his actions on his unhealthy addiction to porn.

Because pornography is such a normalized and socially acceptable industry in our society (and because so many people like it), we write these comments off as mad justifications from psychopaths.

And it’s true that millions upon millions of people watch porn and never commit heinous crimes. Ergo, we reason, these guys are grasping at straws looking for excuses.

Perhaps instead these few unfortunate souls are predisposed – be it through genetics, life experiences, or both – to be fully impacted by what pornography and masturbation truly are in ways that most of us never realize.

No sugar coating here: pornography is commodification. It makes sex a “thing” in and of itself instead of an expression of love between two people.

When you make sex a “thing,” it is a very short trip to viewing those we are attracted to more like objects that have the potential to gratify our desires than as human beings.

Because in pornography, people aren’t people, are they? They are objects to be utilized for gratification; they are in effect no different than a sex toy or a hand in masturbation.

It is blatantly obvious that if one has a full-blown addiction to pornography, a very realistic consequence is the complete objectification of other humans one is attracted to – in such cases pornography is shown for what it truly is, but we hate to see it that way because we love it so much.

From complete objectification comes the ability to commit horrible actions – when a human is no longer fully viewed as a human but as a thing, it’s not nearly as difficult to thus treat humans as things.

And as we all know, we can more or less do whatever we want to with “things.”

This is hard to think about because most of us have learned to demonize criminals and morally corrupt people, to make them something other than human themselves.

Because the uncomfortable truth is they are inherently no different than we are. Corruption lies at the heart of human nature, and only by the grace of God and hopefully the culmination of positive decisions are we not also monsters ourselves.

Of course we must be held accountable for our actions and face the consequences. People who commit terrible crimes must be withdrawn from society and undergo extensive treatment in hopes that they may be healed – not to necessarily be released back into society – but for the sake of their own sanity and the ownership of the acts they committed.

And, yes, for the redemption of their souls. Because they are human beings just like you and me and loved by God just like you and me.

Let’s think about that the next time we pick up stones to hurl at “those people,” whoever “those people” are.

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