A special guest joined our student body for chapel this week to talk about a growing threat in our society. Most of us are familiar with the the “Just Say No” campaign of the 80s and 90s warning young people about the misuse of drugs and alcohol. But there is mounting alarm over another threat that is more prevalent than most of us realize.
Our speaker began by talking about how drugs, which we now know to be deadly, were once thought to be beneficial. He gave the example of how doctors used to think smoking cleaned out the lungs and that alcohol consumption benefited not only expectant and nursing mothers, but their babies as well. The more information we have and the more we learn about how the brain develops and functions, the more we realize what negative practices we need to avoid.
He talked about the pleasure centers of the brain and how repeating behaviors re-enforces habits. This applies to good, healthy practices as well as bad. Scientists and the medical community now know how addictive smoking and drug use can be by its effects on the brain. We are discovering how these addictions impair cognitive function, judgment and ruin relationships. Instead of enhancing our lives, they are actually inhibiting our freedoms and destroying our ability to make good choices. The new drug that is coming to light is not a new practice but new in its widespread availability to younger and more diverse users: We are talking about pornography.
Porn has not traditionally been a topic for the dinner table. It has lurked in the corners and shadows of shamefulness for generations. It was not easy to access and was not widely socially acceptable. With the explosion of the worldwide web two decades ago, and the Smartphone ten years later, millions of people have unlimited access to every kind of deviant image or video that would make the writer of Leviticus blush. Younger and younger children are seeing stronger and more graphic content that is rewiring their developing brains. A whole generation has grown up on an steady diet of porn and many are reporting that they are struggling to enjoy actual human relationships because they’ve been conditioned to relate sexually to screens.
People have argued that porn serves a function---that it enables people with disparaging appetites to fulfill physical “needs” without “cheating” on their significant other. They tout porn as a “victimless” crime. Yet what is being increasingly documented is the overwhelming violent content that is being produced in the porn industry and its connections with human trafficking and slavery. Porn not only hurts the brain and individual relationships, it hurts society.
The program that was held in chapel is produced by a secular organization called, “Fight the New Drug.” It presents the ills of porn not from a moral argument, but one of science and mental health--both individually and as a society. How much more can be said when we emphasize this from a biblical perspective--that we are made in the image of God and that our bodies and minds belong to Him?
This is such an important concern for two reasons:
1). We need to warn people about the dangerous and addictive properties of engaging in pornographic activity. It is not neutral. It is not harmless. It is not victimless.
2).We need to reach out to those who feel trapped in the secrecy of this addiction. We must offer hope that God can heal their minds and relationships. In a spirit of compassion and humility we need to provide grace and accountability to our brothers and sisters who’ve been caught in the deceitfulness of this sin.
If you would like more information or want to know how you can spread the word and help, check out: fightthenewdrug.org online, on Facebook, and on Twitter.