The Merchants of Vice

Lately, in the height of some key world events, the real news was put on hold for a “ground-breaking” one, which seemed to be equally (if not more) important to the mainstream media. It was about some nude pictures released by a reality TV star described by the Huffington Post as “the queen of nude selfie” – Kim Kardashian. Of course, this is not the first time this lady would pull off such a stunt. Kim rose to worldwide fame in 2010 with her leaked home-made sex videos, which earned her family a whopping $65 million. Since then, she has gained more attention from her fans worldwide by re-enacting her rotten start with slight variations. She is not alone.

Years ago, porn actors were characters who preferred to keep their real identities hidden and strictly under guard, but as pornography is now being accepted on different fronts – music, fashion, adverts, TV shows – these actors are now becoming icons to millions of youths around the world, occupying a niche that media personalities or rock music stars used to have.

We may spend days, perhaps weeks, stoning these fallen men and women with endless editorials, but it will hardly push the envelope, because they are trading in a collective hypocrisy and depravity that exist in the society at large. Each time they put their bodies and souls out there with indecent pictures or videos, what can’t be denied is the traffic of voyeurism that follows them. Even those who will pass judgement on them first pause to feast their eyes on their erotic acts. Indeed, the issue is deeper than mere attention-seeking; a decadent lifestyle is being sold to the consumers.

The standard argument of porn advocates is that viewing pictures of nude women or men is not really pornography, especially since the performers enjoy what they do. Some researchers actually state that there is no link between looking at porn and real acts of sexually offensive behaviour in people. Such a view neither squares with facts nor Biblical truth.

a) Porn is basically a material (photograph, video or writing) that is intended to sexually arouse the user. It involves lust of the eyes and the flesh. Matthew 5:28 says that when a man looks lustfully at a woman, by God’s standard, he is guilty of adultery (or fornication). Therefore, viewing porn images, which often stimulate immoral desires, are offensive to God.

b) The term “pornography” is from a Greek word porneia which means “illicit sexual intercourse in general” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). Its a word encompassing all forms of sexual immorality – fornication, adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, oral sex, anal sex – which are the acts being recorded and simulated in most porn materials. Others include acts of bestiality, child sexual abuse, gang rape, bondage, brutalizing of women and sadistic torture which are sins condemned by God (and even human laws). These acts mould people’s morals and thinking, since we all change into the images we behold.

Porneia, says Thayer, is also “used metaphorically of the worship of idols” in Scripture. A study of ancient religions shows that the oldest idols people worshipped were representations of the male and female genitals, which is probably natural since they produced and pleasure. In the same way, modern porn is also a type of sex organ worship and its allied with the sin of masturbation. The influence of porn leads to a morbid obsession with the sex organs and preoccupation with sex – a trend commonly observed among youths today.

Strong’s Concordance defines porneia (#4202) as “harlotry (including adultery and incest), whoredom derived from perna – “to sell off” a selling off (surrendering) of sexual purity; promiscuity of any type.” Porn is a form of harlotry involving fantasy or mental imagery. It’s literally prostitution with the eyes and mind. This is why a porn user seeks out more attractive models and “exciting” erotic acts from time to time the same way a person seeks out the next prostitute to offer a newer thrill. Porn can thus result in lack of intimacy and unrealistic sexual expectations in marriage because when a man’s head is filled with pictures of models, his desire for his wife wanes. The same can also affect a woman.

Porn is the selling off of the decency and purity of men and women to appease the baser instincts of the viewers. Since it’s a market, it has some profit. Most individuals who put up nude photos or sex videos gain fame and many hits on their Web sites.
A survey states that 30,000 people are viewing porn every second; nearly 2 hardcore porn videos are released in the US every hour, and an average of more than 2 million porn movies are rented in the US. In short, the global porn industry generates an estimated $100 billion (US) annually.

Music videos laden with graphic sexual imagery and porn TV channels also target for profit. Germany, the porn capital of Europe, has 60 porn channels while Britain has 36. The Daily Mail reports that millions of British children view Freeview channels in their bedrooms, leaving most of them in danger of accidentally accessing porn.

Some reality TV shows like Big Brother Africa (and its European counterpart) also indirectly promote whoredom by enhancing and funneling the nudity and sex acts within the four walls of the perverse house to millions of subscribers. It was recently reported that Big Brother draws in a salary of £60,000 through this spy business. Me thinks this “Big Brother” is some lecherous old man who goes about peeping at naked ladies through bathroom key holes with spittle running down his chin. The money these folks are raking from sacrificing the morality and innocence of people are more or less “earnings of a harlot” (Deut. 23:18).

The Lord Jesus says a good tree produces good fruit (Matt. 7:17). If porn is so harmless as we are told, then why do we keep seeing its damage in the lives of the performers and users? A study has shown that porn users, due to the frequent secret indulgence, tend to be secretive and deceitful, establishing a link between porn use and depression, anxiety, social isolation, shame, damaged relationships and suicidal tendencies.

A team of German neuroscientists from Chante University of Medicine, Berlin, scanned the brains of 64 healthy men noting the amount of porn they consume each week. The study showed that the men who watched more porn have a smaller volume in their striatum (the reward region of the brain) and those who watched it the most had less activity in the striatum. This implies that a repeated exposure to porn dulls the brain’s response to intimacy (Psychology Today, June 5, 2014).

This shouldn’t be a surprise. “Porn studios aren’t sitcoms” says Norm Kent, a porn director. “They aren’t places where actors develop ongoing, deep relationships.” This highlights the damage that having sex with complete strangers for money does to the soul. A friend to Michael Cohen, a porn actor who committed suicide recalls, “He laughed and joked about it when he could, but he was ashamed, frustrated, and angry, and it did a lot of damage to him emotionally. He was sensitive, and he couldn’t deal with it.”

Ex-porn actress, Jenni, clearly remembers her first experience, “The porn star I was supposed to work with that day was there but she couldn’t do anything because of her health. Her insides were so damaged from porn.” Contrary to what many viewers think, these actors don’t enjoy what is being done to them. “When I did porn, I wanted it to be over as quickly as possible and it was all about the money for me,” adds Jenni. “You don’t have any respect for yourself or the person you’re with. It’s all about money, and getting what you can from the other person.”

Alex agrees, “Everyone wanted a piece of you. So you basically get rewired to think that is what you’re worth.” Though he booked as many shoots as possible to stay sane, he said, “It doesn’t go away, and that festering is what leaves people high and dry.” The average life expectancy of a porn performer is 37.43 years whereas the average life expectancy of an American is 78.1 years. That means untimely death is rampant in the porn industry. Below are some examples and their manner of deaths:

1. Pierce Daniels (36), died of AIDS.
2. Jon King (32), died from AIDS complication.
3. Karen Mereness (27), suicide by hanging.
4. Randy Potes (34), suicide by gunshot.
5. Christopher McLaughlin (22), suicide by drug overdose.
6. Rommel Hunt (31) suicide by gunshot.
7. Eve Valois (37), prescription drugs.
8. Elisa Bridges (28), heroin and meth overdose.
9. Jeanette Rogers (42) drug overdose while having AIDS.
10. Natel King (23), murdered after shooting an adult scene.
11. Tim Barnnet (37) committed suicide by hanging while in jail on rape charges.
12. Rex Hickok (40) committed suicide by jumping off a building.
13. Patrizia Grazzini (39), cancer.
14. Yumika (35), choked to death on her vomit while asleep.
15. Arpad Miklos (45), suicide by drug overdose.
16. Zac Stevens (25), suicide.
17. Mehran Chesnut (25), seizures caused by “poppers.”
18. Dimitri Kane (20), accidental drug overdose.
19. Holie Stevens (30), breast cancer.
20. John Weston (39), HIV.
21. James Erik (30), heart attack.
22. Marland Anderson (39), cardiac arrest during an attempted suicide.
23. Katie Kiong (20), suicide by unknown causes.
24. Joe Romero (40), HIV complications.

While certain suggestions have been made to explain this tragic menace, some Biblical truths stand out: “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction…” (Gal. 6:7-8)

When a person offers his/her body parts to sin “as instruments of wickedness,” he/she becomes a slave to sin which leads to death. (Rom. 6:13). It is these things that brings God’s wrath on the disobedient. “Therefore do not be partners with them.” (Eph. 5:6-7) Romans 1:29-31 list out the lifestyles of people with “a depraved mind”:

“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder strife, deceit and malice. They are … God-haters, insolent arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil … they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” Verse 32 says God has decreed that both those who actually practice these and those who support those who do deserve death.

The note of the Full Life Study Bible (published by Zondervan) in Romans 1:32 says:
Being entertained by watching other people sin and engage in ungodly actions, even while you yourself abstain, brings you under the same divine condemnation as those engaging in such evil practices… Those (and especially those who profess faith in Christ) who use immoral actions of others for entertainment and enjoyment are (also) directly contributing to public opinion favorable to immorality and therefore to the corruption and eternal damnation of an indefinite number of other people.”

In essence, when we share or view porn pictures or videos, visit their Web sites or subscribe to their channels, we are in the same category as those producing them and upholding their influence. Every time we invest our time, money and emotions into immoral entertainment, we are partnering with the dehumanization, depravity and exploitation of these merchants of vice and courting the same sentence hanging over them.

Deriving pleasure from porn typifies feeding off human pain and degradation for selfish purposes. Like David, our stance should be: “I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me.” (Ps. 101:3)

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