Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Ethical Porn'

(Photo by Andrew Tanglao on Unsplash)

In recent years, there has been a rise in pornography producers claiming they make "ethical porn." They are trying to overcome the negative press around porn's link to human trafficking and sexual abuse.

Ethical pornography is described as porn that is legally made, fully respects the rights of both male and female performers (including consenting to all actions), provides violence-free and good working conditions, promotes sexual diversity and provides fair pay. But is that the reality?

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology research fellow Megan Tyler says, "The claims about ethical porn ... are more industry propaganda than anything else, and are—what would elsewhere be rightly recognized as — corporate whitewashing...It's for a small segment of consumers who would like to think that their pornography consumption is unproblematic, and they would like to think that what they are doing is totally different from what others are doing when, in reality, it all feeds the same commercial sex industry."

The idea of ethical porn is obviously a marketing stunt that distracts people from finding healthy sexuality. It prevents people from finding true healing for the deep wounds that are the real causes of pornography addiction.

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Joshua Sharp, a Master of Divinity student and graduate assistant at Truett Seminary in Waco, Texas, said, "Personally, I find the concept of 'ethically sourced porn' about as absurd as 'ethically sourced cyanide.' Pornography is corrosive to relationships, individual sexual health, and spiritual vitality."

Pornography Is Simply a Matter of Lust

By making porn users feel that watching porn is fine since all the actors are fully consenting and enjoying their jobs, the porn industry convinces consumers that watching videos on a computer doesn't hurt anybody, so what's wrong with it?

But even if you believe the lies that the producers were doing everything legally and providing acceptable working conditions, can pornography ever be considered ethical and harmless?

According to Matthew 5:27-28, the answer is no.

"You have heard that it was said by the ancients, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart."

Joshua Sharp explains, "A person does not look at porn to appreciate the beauty of God's design for human sexuality. A person views porn specifically to pursue sexual satisfaction through the objectification of other people. The screen and the page allow the viewer to bypass relationship, commitment, sacrifice and love. The people in the picture or video are no longer people; they are objects to be used and disposed of at will. Consuming pornography, then, is inherently lustful, and those who make pornography do so specifically to feed others' lusts."

Former porn actress Jessica Neely is now an anti-pornography activist. Bluntly she explains,

"Lust is something that is never going to be satisfied. It is a trap that makes you resent your wife. My job was to make you hate your wife. Lust is a monster that can never be satisfied. The very end-road of an all-consuming addiction is a guaranteed death. You are going to lose everything."

Porn in Any Amount Harms the Viewer

Pornography is harmful to you because it literally changes your brain, affects your relationships with God and people and impacts all areas of your life.

Dr. Tim Jennings, the author of The God-Shaped Brain is also featured in a cinematic small group study that helps men quit porn. In the Conquer Series, he explains,

"I don't want people to get this idea that you have to be a porn addict for porn to be a problem. Porn's a problem at any dose, and it doesn't need to be utilized at any dose. Just like I wouldn't tell people, 'Well, as long as you're not addicted to cocaine, cocaine's fine.' Well, it's not."

There is a bonding nature to watching porn. You create a bond to the actress or person on your screen rather than with your wife or husband. It requires no personal interaction, commitment or rejection. Eventually, you desire to spend more and more time with the image on the screen than with your spouse.

Wendy and Larry Maltz, authors of The Porn Trap, wrote, "Powerful human bonding hormones, such as oxytocin and vasopressin, are released with orgasm. They contribute to establishing a lasting emotional attachment with whomever, or whatever, you happen to be with or thinking about at the time. The more orgasms you have with porn, the more sexually and emotionally attached to it you'll become."

Porn Addiction Grows Stronger

Porn addiction is a four-step process: addiction, escalation, desensitization and acting out sexually.

Northpoint Recovery said, "What once seemed like an enjoyable way to spend a weekend can escalate quickly. It often doesn't take long before the porn that once excited a person to seem mundane. To compensate, they may begin viewing things that most would agree go too far."

According to Reformers Unanimous, "Pornography addicts develop tolerance and it only takes a short time before escalation sets in ... he has to have ever-increasing 'doses' of pornography, and these must be of a stronger and stronger stimulation to elicit arousal originally brought on by 'soft porn' ... Material that would have once been repulsive—horribly shocking—now becomes acceptable, even commonplace."

Ethical porn does not exist. Sex was created by God to be used only within the bounds of marriage. Any other use violates God's plan and cannot lead to peace and healing.

Matt Fradd, the author of The Porn Myth, summarizes,

"If you want something to flourish, you need to use it in accordance with its nature. Don't plant tomatoes in a dark closet and water them with soda and expect to have vibrant tomato plants. To do so would be to act contrary to the nature of tomatoes. Similarly, don't rip sex out of its obvious relational context, turn it into a commodity and then expect individuals, families and society to flourish."

Freedom From Porn Is Possible

Don't be fooled by the lie of ethical porn. If you want to be truly ethical, then live a life changed by God's love and grace and the practical guidance of the Conquer Series. Over 1 million men are starting their journey to freedom through this course that is packed with solid biblical teaching, powerful testimonies and action video footage.

Conley Nichols has been through the Conquer Series. He wrote,

"Great series. The best I have ever seen. It has changed my life."

Learn more at ConquerSeries.com.

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