Apostle Paul quotes from a secular poet in his Gospel presentation to the people of Athens. He said, As some of ‘your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring’”(Acts 17:28) to underline a point of connection between the Gospel and the literature that people in that place were familiar with. Of course, Paul went on to present the teaching about the Final Judgment which did not go well with the listening crowd (Acts 17:31-32). This is what I learn from Apostle Paul’s example here: quote from secular sources in your communication of Bible Truth; compare and contrast, biblical truth around those sources; but do not compromise any part of the biblical message in your presentation.
In connection with this, I was thinking what I read in Indian newsmagazine, Open. In its 26 November 2018 issues, pages 49-51, it carries an article by Lhendup G. Bhutia that talks about “porn-busters” – people in India who are fighting the plague of pornography. These folks are not believers of the Lord Jesus!
Kamlesh Vaswani is one of them. Kamlesh Vaswani who? A lawyer from Indore, Central India. This lawyer talked about what would typically happen when he walked into a cyber café in Indore: “Very young boys – sometimes just school boys would continue to watch porn, shamelessly, even when adults like me walked in!” This article reports that “Vaswani filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) asking for a ban on internet pornography.” Vaswani continues, “I started getting calls from across the country saying that they want to support me (in my fight against porn). Some of them were suffering because their family members were addicted to it. And they wanted to become party to the case, to show just how serious this issue was!” Vaswani talked about “two women, one from Kolkota in her twenties and another from Mumbai in her fifties, both of whom who said that their husbands are addicted to pornography and how its ruining their marriages.”
He is not alone in his fight against porn. Lhendup Bhutia writes in the same article about Vijay Nath Mishra, a professor of neurology ‘at Banaras Hindu University’s Institute of Medical Sciences and medical superintendent at Sir Sundarlal Hospital.” He has “been watching Varanasi youths take to porn with dismay”. Professor Mishra said, “People say Varanasi is the spiritual capital of India. You should come and see what the boys here are watching these days. I have been feeling (bad that youth of my city are watching porn) for a long time. I wanted to do something about it!” What did he do? Bhutia explains: “In 2017, Mishra roped in an acquaintance, Ankit Srivastava, a web application developer who recently relocated from Bengaluru to hometown in Varanasi. After working together for about six months, they created an application that blocks porn sites. As internet filters go, this is like any other. But what is unusal about it is what happens when one attempts to reach a forbidden website. The chant Har Har Mahadev, an ode to Shiva, begins to play aloud if the user registers himself as a Hindu, or the Azaan (Islamic call to prayer) if the user is registered himself as a Muslim; and if the user is registered as ‘other’, the user is directed to a collection of inspirational quotes from Mahatma Gandhi’s speeches.” Hear Mishra’s logic: “The whole idea is when people hear a bhajan or a call from God, it will make them more resolute (to say ‘no’ to porn-watching)!”
Bhutia’s Open magazine article presents the story of Indian anti-porn crusader Atul Gupta as well. Here is the story: “Atul Gupta, a Noida-based tech professional who also teaches a course on hardware technology at IIT-Delhi, runs a website called India Against Pornography with the tagline ‘porn kills love’…Whenever racy content is shared on any WhatsApp or online group he is part of, he warns them to keep it clean or he will exit the group. For the last few years, many neighbours and friends have been using his help to set up internet filters for their own computers. Gupta points to a 2014 German study that had claimed that watching porn can impact the size of the brain. The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, on 64 healthy men with an average age of 29, had found that the more porn men reported watching, the less volume and activity they had in the regions of the brain – specially the striatum – linked to reward and motivation.” Gupta explained why he crusaded against porn using a familiar, memorable imagery: “Our minds are like gardens. You can fill it with crap, or you can grow the most beautiful flowers.”
Bhutia’s Open magazine article presenting India’ anti-porn crusaders (none of whom were believers in Jesus, as I pointed out) finishes with the story of an anonymous 28-year-old infotech professional who lives in Hyderabad. Here is his story in his own words: “When I began living alone working for a corporate company in Hyderabad, I became completely dependent on porn. I took up an porn de-addiction plan called no-fab. Till last year, I hardly used to go about. I had major self-esteem issues. I used to feel very demotivated. It was all because of porn. But now, though once in a while I relapse, I feel so much better!” [The Bible calls us for continual holiness through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. If Paul were to write Romans 8:13 in the post-porn age, he would write, “I can put to death the desire to keep watching porn by the enabling power of the Spirit!”].
So much from a story about anti-porn non-believer crusaders from an Indian secular news magazine! Shall I now take you to a story about the same category of people which I read in an American secular news magazine?
Let us talk about the content from Belinda Luscombe’s article for Time magazine, April 11, 2016 issue titled, Porn and The Threat To Virility: The First Generation of Men Who Grew Up With Unlimited Online Porn Sound The Alarm (pages 40-47). This article has a lot of material that strongly discourages porn viewing from a secular point of view and I want to reproduce those parts with few of my comments. Right at the outset, I want to say that I do not fully agree with the content of the above-mentioned article and you will see why in my brief comments inter-woven along with the main text which is largely Belinda Luscombe’s (in italics).
Listen to the Story of Noah Church, narrated by Belinda Luscombe, writing for Time magazine:
“Noah Church (name of a person) is a 26-year-old part-time wild land firefighter in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. When he was 9, he found naked pictures on the Internet. He learned how to download explicit videos. When he was 15, streaming videos arrived, and he watched them. Often. Several times a day, he was at doing that which people often do while watching that genre by themselves.”
“After a while, he says, those videos did not arouse him as much, as he moved to different configurations, sometimes involving just women, sometimes one woman and several guys, sometimes even an unwilling woman. “I could find anything I imagined and a lot of stuff I couldn’t imagine,” he says. After the appeal of those waned, he moved on to the next level, more intense, often more violent.” [Notice here, what the Bible teaches about sexual sin is proved true. Yahweh says through Prophet Hosea in the Eugene Peterson-authored, Message version of the Bible, “You walk away from your God at the drop of a hat and like a whore sell yourself promiscuously at every sex-and-religion party on the street. All that party food won’t fill you up. You’ll end up hungrier than ever” (Hos. 9:1-2). The Bible teaches that sinful sexual activity and increasing doses of it (check out Hosea 4:18-19 – ‘it’s sex, sex, and more sex. Bold and sordid debauchery— how they love it’ MSG Version), leaves one dissatisfied and even more hungry. That’s what Noah Church experienced here and it was confirmed by neuroscientist and neuropsychiatrists Valerie Voon and Simone Kuhn say that “people have to watch more porn to get the same thrill” (Time, April 11, page 45)].
Back to the Belinda Luscombe’s, Time magazine article:
“In his (Noah Church’s) senior year of high school, he had an opportunity to have actual sex, with a real partner. He was attracted to her and she to him, as demonstrated by the fact that she was naked in her bedroom in front of him. But his body didn’t seem to be interested. ‘There was no connection between what I wanted in my mind and how my body reacted,’ he says. He simply couldn’t get the necessary hydraulics going.”
“He put it down to first-timers’ nerves, but six years went by, and no matter which woman he was with, his body was no more cooperative. It responded only to sight of porn. Noah came to believe that his adolescent Internet indulgence had somehow caused him problems and that he had what some are calling porn-induced erective dysfunction (PIED).”[Sex with a person, not your spouse is a sin, the Bible teaches].
“A growing number of young men are convinced that their sexual responses have been sabotaged because their brains were virtually marinated in porn when they were adolescents. Their generation has consumed explicit content in quantities and varieties never before possible, on devices designed to deliver content swiftly and privately, all at an age when their brains were more plastic – more prone to permanent change – than in later life. These young men feel like unwitting guinea pigs in a largely monitored decade-long experiment in sexual conditioning. The results of this experiment, they claim, are a downer.”
“So they’re beginning to push back, creating online community groups, smartphone apps and educational videos to help men quit porn. They have started blogs and podcasts and take all the public-speaking gigs they can get. Porn has always faced criticism among the faithful (meaning Christian Believers) and the feminist. But now, for the first time, some of the most strident alarms are coming from the same demographic as its most enthusiastic customers.”
Belinda goes on to narrate two more stories of young men who were porn-addicts quitting porn because it affected their real- sex-life. Their names are 1. Gabe Deem, 28, founder of Reboot Nation, ‘a forum and online video channel that offers advice and support for young people who believe they are addicted to pornography, have sexual dysfunctions as a result and wish to quit’ and 2. Alexander Rhodes, ‘who left a good job with Google to develop counselling and community-support sites, including NoFab.com, for those who are struggling with a porn habit’ and a person who said, “I fantasized about porn while having sex. I had to depersonalize partners to achieve sexual satisfaction”).
Belinda Luscombe continues: “The young porn abstainers do have an unlikely guru: Gary Wilson, 59, a former part-time adjunct biology professor at Southern Oregon University and various vocational schools and the author of “Your Brain On Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction”. His website, yourbrainonporn.com, or more commonly YBOP, is a clearinghouse for information that support the link between heavy adolescent pornography use and sexual dysfunction. Many people find him through 2012 TEDx talk, which has more than 6 million views (add another 2 million after Time published this article about him). [Note here that as a Christian Youth Evangelist, I disagree with the implication here that watching porn now and then, or watching a little porn, is fine. Watching porn is direct disobedience to God’s Word in Leviticus 18, where God says, ‘a wife’s nakedness is for the eyes of the husband alone’ (in the KJV) and I Samuel 11:27, where it is written, David’s act of watching a disrobed Bathsheba displeased the Lord. Watching porn also brings demonic influence into our lives. Read Luke 8:27.]
Going back to the Belinda Luscombe article: “YBOP contends watching too much porn ‘trains your brain to need everything associated with porn to get aroused,’ Wilson says. That includes not only the content but also the delivery method. Because porn videos are limitless, free and fast, user can click to a whole new scene or genre as soon as their arousal ebbs and thereby, says Wilson, ‘condition their arousal patterns to ongoing ever changing novelty’…. A heavy porn schedule and the resulting sustained levels of dopamine (a chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells as a result of which one feels sexually satisfied, according to the context of this article) reinforces these patterns. “Extreme novelty, certain fetishes, shock and surprise and anxiety – all those elevate dopamine,” he says. “So they need those to be sexually aroused.” Philip Zimbardo, emeritus professor of psychology at Stanford University, says, porn has the same effect on behaviour as a drug addiction does: some people doing much else in favour of pursuing it. “And then the problem is, as you do this more and more, the reward centers of your brain lose the capacity for arousal,” he says.
Belinda Luscombe records the response of Gabe Deem to researchers who are “dismissive of any link between porn and erectile dysfunction”: He crosses off every other reason for his sexual dysfunction. Inexperience? “I’ve been a sexually confident and experienced guy since the age of 14,” he says. Obesity? He is a certified personal trainer with, he says, under 10% body fat. Drug use? He claims to have smoked about five joints in his life. And his Erectile Dysfunction (ED) couldn’t have been due to performance anxiety, because he says he couldn’t get aroused even when masturbating offline on a relaxed Sunday afternoon. “I ran back to my computer to double-check. I turned on porn (in my computer) and bam (the ED was gone!)” (Time, April 11, 2016, page 44).
Not just Time magazine, the Wall Street Journal also spoke against porn in recent times. A woman who has posed provocatively for a popular American adult magazine for 14 times has also surprisingly spoken against pornography in an opinion piece she wrote along with a Jewish Rabbi Rabbi Shmuley Boteach published by the Wall Street Journal on August 31, 2016. We are talking about Pamela Anderson here. The essay calls pornography “a public hazard of unprecedented seriousness.” It closes by saying “porn is for losers” and calls it “a boring wasteful and dead-end outlet for people too lazy to reap the ample rewards of healthy sexuality” [according to a U.S. News, September 2, 2016, report].
While these secular porn-fighters suggest that there is nothing wrong in pre-marital sex, as Bible-believers we strongly disagree with them. “Porn-viewing causes harm, including causing the harm of non-enjoyment of actual sex with spouse. Erectile Dysfunction is a definite possibility. So, porn-viewing should be avoided.” We agree with this viewpoint of folks like Gabe Deem, Noah Church and Alexander Rhodes in this article. Their comments about porn can become starting points in evangelistic conversations. You can quote from this Time magazine article in your Gospel presentation with the Google Generation, the same way Apostle Paul quoted from secular writers those in Athens were familiar with. And as Paul signed off with an uncompromising call to repentance as a step to get ready for the Day of Judgment, we too can sign off with a clarion call for repentance and a total break from porn, which only a living, loving, daily, deep relationship with Jesus can sustain!
(This is an updated chapter from Duke Jeyaraj’s book, Straight Talk [dealing with forty hot issues faced by Google Genners from the Bible, including other articles on porn-temptation], now available via Amazon.in (print), Amazon.com (Kindle), Word of Christ Book Stores (Across India), OM Book Store (Main Branch in Hyderabad and via Whatsapp to +91-8886040605 (post payment of Rs.200 for India addresses via Google Pay to +91-8885075888 or Paytm/Whatsapp to +91-8886040605 or net banking transfer to one of the banks on http://www.dukev.org/about)