Abuse and Pornography: A Digest of Scott Johnson’s “Pornography and Abuse”
NOTE: There are assessment tools by Dr. Frank Skinner at Growth Climate Intuitive Relationships to help spouses of porn addicts and also another one to assess what level of addiction a person is at.
We have referred to Scott Allen Johnson’s great book before, Physical Abusers and Sexual Offenders [*Affiliate link] when we summarized his tenth chapter on Empathy. Here, we will do the same with the 20th chapter of his book entitled Pornography and Abuse. As most of our readers are fully aware of, many abusers are into pornography. It is anything but a harmless pastime and must never be taken lightly. Johnson’s chapter begins with this insightful quote from an unknown source:
“If you believe that no one was ever corrupted by a book, you have also to believe that no one was ever improved by a book. You have to believe, in other words, that art is morally trivial and that education is morally irrelevant. Pornography’s whole purpose is to treat human beings obscenely, to deprive them of their specifically human dimension.”
Pornography feeds abuse by nourishing the perverted and even violent fantasies in the abuser’s mind. It transforms women and children into objects whose purpose is to bring pleasure to the abuser. While, as Johnson notes, research has not proven that pornography directly causes sexual violence, the end result is really the same because porn in fact reinforces violent fantasies and perverted thinking that abusers possess. It is, you might say, gasoline on the fire.
Pornography is progressive as a person becomes increasingly addicted to it. Like larger doses of heroin, the porn addict will advance from “soft” porn to the harder and more perverted. As a person is increasingly exposed to porn, his (and dare we say “her” with the advent of “mommy porn”) tolerance level for more and more grotesque forms of porn rises. That is to say, what he may have once found very offensive and even shocking eventually becomes unremarkable.
Porn leads men to pressure or even force women to comply with what the man has seen in pornography, thus coercing women into degrading, humiliating, and even painful acts. Compassion for women, empathy if you will, lessens as exposure to porn continues. It also leads to increasing dissatisfaction with one’s normal sexual relationship. Here is a great quote and observation by Johnson:
People who say that they buy pornography only to view and read the articles (such as Playboy) are simply liars. If they wanted articles, they could have found similar articles and topics in nonpornographic magazines. Pornography serves a sexual purpose each and every time it is used. There is no such thing as a “nonsexual” use of pornography. People view it and usually masturbate to it..
And that is the ugly truth.
Johnson makes the vital point that much pornography depicts women with facial expressions of fear, discomfort, anger, frustration, or surprise. These expressions are intentional and they do not escape the notice of men who view these images. It is, Johnson notes, “as if the pornographers purposely choose… mostly what portrays nonconsensual sex and unrealistic sexual interaction. I believe that pornographers purposefully pair the negative, degrading, and abusive, because violence and forced sex sells far more than consensual sex would…. So, what they are really selling is sexualized aggression, violence and force with intimacy, and surreal expectations of what to expect from sexual partners. The end result is that they pair anger with sexuality.”
And that spells Trouble with a capital T!
As porn addicts become increasingly callous to the degrading acts committed against women in the porn, the viewer himself becomes increasingly convinced that women are objects to be used by men at will. Johnson notes that “it was not that long ago when victims of sexual abuse (including incest) were questioned as to whether they enjoyed the sexual abuse, whether they asked for or deserved to be sexually abused, and to have their past sexual histories used to determine if they were promiscuous or virginal, as if it really mattered.” By the way, this is exactly the kind of questioning that occurred in the sordid coverup of the rape of a 15 year old girl by a church member, featured on national news. Pastor Chuck Phelps covered it up and when he and his wife interviewed the girl she was asked if she “enjoyed it.”
This has been just an introduction to the content of Johnson’s 20th chapter. We end with one more quote:
Men have long been excused from being held accountable for their physically and sexually abusive behavior…. If men developed more respect for women, they would more than likely use far less pornography. This would certainly not please the pornography industry. Recall how the tobacco industry continues to fight as they, in a state of delusional wisdom, attempt to convince people that smoking is a harmless, low-risk activity, despite insurmountable evidence to the contrary. What would the pornography industry do to maintain the right to humiliate and denigrate women? Wouldn’t that be a battle to witness?
Therefore, the use of pornography and domestic abuse are closely connected. Men, and especially Christian men, must stand against this evil and reject porn for the vile thing that it is. Any woman whose husband is using porn must draw firm boundaries and insist that he be done with it immediately. If this requires that he take serious measures, such as entering therapy or a support group, then so be it. But it must stop.
Proverbs 6:27-29 Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? (28) Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? (29) So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.
Here is the testimony of one abuse victim. Listen as she provides her “take” on this nemesis:
From where I stand, the Church is dropping the ball big-time with pornography. A wise friend has said for years, “Sin is anything that breaks down relationship.” I tell my children this. When you steal, covet, lie, gossip . . . . . all of those things fall under the canopy of relationship-destroying and are, therefore, sin. It can be subtle. A person can do something very righteous looking but it ends up breaking down a friendship . . . . . so, no matter how you slice it, it still comes from the black pie of sin. OR, we can try to generalize it (“everybody’s doing it”) and, therefore, justify it. (Didn’t work for Sodom and Gomorrah now, did it?) But, that is what we have done with porn. We’re all a little more OK with it than we think. . . . . somehow. There is a book (which I hate and I am certainly entitled to my opinion) called “Every Man’s Battle.” Just the title slays me. I might FULLY be reading into this (no pun intended) but the title suggests that every man struggles with lust and porn. I don’t get that. That is a sweeping generalization that, surely, must make a LOT of men feel a WHOLE lot better about what they do in secret. Because EVERY MAN battles this . . . . . . right? The title says so!
I am not going to go into some sort of platform about porn because I know I will miss some big issues . . . . I hear that a lot of women look at porn now . . . . I hear that there is some sort of a whopping 90% of men who are church-goers who regularly look at porn (OK. That is probably an exaggeration . . . . but it is some ridiculous number like that). I cannot be sure of all the new information out there on pornography. But I do know this . . . . . it wreaked much MUCH more havoc in my life over the past 12 years than I EVER see documented in these studies. HAVOC. And I feel almost certain that people do not understand the devastation years of pornography can have on a person. I once saw a glimpse — A GLIMPSE of porn at someone’s house when I was 22 or 23. It was (literally) about 2 seconds. I can still see it in my mind. And it was mild. But, it has been burned into my memory. I cannot imagine what a lifetime of porn does to a person’s soul . . . . . it makes them soul-sick.
I will step onto my soapbox for one sentence: I wish pastors/people took pornography more seriously. (OK, two sentences) I also wish they would quit trying to blame wives for husbands’ porn addictions. Listen . . . .
God never holds anyone responsible for someone else’s sin.
Stepping off . . . . .
Whoops. Stepping back on . . . . . a woman is created in God’s image. When you reduce her to an object for your personal, loveless use, it is a slap in God’s face.
Moving on . . . .
I am already talking to my two oldest about porn. I actually started last year. Because I know PLENTY of young men who started looking at it as early as 10 or 11 . . . . . Here are the main points that I discuss with my children:
1. There is NO WAY to look at pornography and have any sort of healthy view of husband/wife relationships.
2. There is NO WAY to look at pornography and still maintain a healthy view of women (or men).
The reason for these two assertions is that . . . . . as soon as you step into the realm of using a person (that is what pornography is — using a person for your own pleasure, devoid of any sort of real intimacy) . . . it is very difficult to then turn around, look a woman in the eye and view her with the honor she deserves as a human being, having been created in God’s image. Pornography wears down a view of women, bit by bit . . . . over time . . . . until she is . . . . . only a thing. Which helps lead . . . . . . to abuse.
I know several men who have become so incredibly convicted that they can hardly bear the guilt . . . . . so they do this funny thing where they blame the women in the videos. They believe they are temptresses . . . . out to get them. It is the weirdest thing but, I promise you, they do it. It doesn’t take long for said men to believe that all women are temptresses. That is why you get the weird super-conservative guys who insist that women dress super-modestly and not wear make-up, etc, and then they get caught doing something sexually sick. In their minds, women are condemned for being beautiful. Because they are manipulative temptresses . . . . . as are the women in the movies they watch . . . . rather than the beaten-down-kidnapped-sex-slaved-shells-of-women-who-need-to-be-loved that they are. (Incidentally, give me a room full of men and I can tell you who is addicted . . . . . they don’t look me in the eye . . . . they treat women with disdain. They are arrogant.) Sadly, these twisted beliefs lead me to number three . . .
3. There is NO WAY to look at pornography and have a healthy view of daughters.
Many many many many little girls are de-valued by the very men who should treat them like princesses. Their views of women are so incredibly warped that they have a natural disdain for their daughters. Little girls can sense this at a VERY young age. The damage is near irreparable. Treat a girl like she is a manipulative slut and that’s what you’ll get — a love-starved girl chasing after boys at age 12.
If death is the total break-down of relationship . . . . utter selfishness . . . . then what is porn? It is destructive to the greatest degree and we’re glossing over it .. . . . . well, either glossing over it or we’re telling the wives that they need to get in there and fix their husband’s sin problem. We’ve got young men marrying because they think that if they can “legally” have sex then they won’t look at porn. What. A. Lie. You cannot use a woman to stop your addiction. And boy . . . . . does that woman feel used if you try.
Porn kills. And I’m telling it to my children now. I don’t care about all the books that have come out. I don’t care about what the church or Promise Keepers or anyone else is saying about it. They’re not getting it right. Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean that it is OK! But, I can tell you this: It WILL NOT have a foothold in THIS FAMILY . . . . anymore.