By Diana Tyler, Contributing Writer
“I think the biggest problem ultimately is that porn preys upon our vulnerabilities and appeals to the lowest parts of ourselves.”
This didn’t come from a pastor; it came from Hollywood actor Josh Radnor in an interview with Fight the New Drug (FTND), a nonprofit organization that raises awareness on the harmful effects of pornography using scientific facts and research, as well as personal accounts, to support their cause.
Radnor, a filmmaker and actor whom many know from the hit TV show HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, told FTND that porn is “a pretty epic disaster physically, psychologically, and spiritually” and spoke passionately about its devastating effects on individual relationships and society as a whole. He joins a growing list of celebrities, such as Rashida Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Terry Crews, who aren’t afraid to speak their minds on this important issue.
“Those who speak out against it are reliably tagged as religious nuts or prudes or puritans or anti-sex,” he said. “I had just gotten really tired of the refrain ‘Everybody watches porn.’ It’s crazy how often that’s said, as if all the data has been collected and the discussion is finished. It’s a tactic to get porn more and more normalized.”
Indeed, pornography use is rampant and on the rise.
According to Covenant Eyes, an Internet filtering service, a quarter of a billion people are expected to access mobile adult content from their phones or tablets in 2017, an increase of more than 30% from 2013. One in five mobile searches is for pornography, and 24% of smartphone owners admit to having pornographic material on their mobile handset.
The Republican National Committee has declared pornography a public health crisis. Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, stated that she is “aware of children as young as nine years old who have reached out for help because they are struggling with pornography use.”
That troubling fact is why Radnor is so passionate about the issue.
“My oldest nephew is ten, and I have another who’s seven, as well as two nieces, nine and three,” he said. “You hear about many kids discovering pornography as young as eight or nine, which is so upsetting. By the time they’re in their twenties, they’ve downloaded countless pornographic images into their brain. They’ve learned to equate sex with porn.”
Hawkins voiced the GOP’s desire for a public health approach to raise awareness about the pitfalls of pornography, provide support for those struggling with it, as well as offer strategies to prevent wrestling with it in the first place.
“Prevention programs on sexual violence must involve a discussion of the harms of pornography in order to be holistic and effective,” Hawkins said. “For instance, a study of university fraternity men has shown that pornography viewing is nearly universal among this group, and that pornography viewing is associated with a greater intent to commit rape across pornography genres categorized as ‘mainstream,’ sadomasochistic and rape-themed.”
Radnor had this to say about “mainstream” porn: “[It] makes porn twenty years ago look kind of quaint by comparison. So much of porn brutalizes women and normalizes violence towards women. That’s inarguable. You see its influence in prime time television with the ever-increasing numbers of murdered strippers and prostitutes.”
Though many people today don’t consider pornography harmful, both Radnor and Hawkins agree that it is only a matter of time until its damaging impact is widely recognized.
“I believe pornography today will follow the trend of the tobacco industry in public perception,” Hawkins said. “Pornography is pervasive and popular, similar to smoking in the 1950s, but as the harm become apparent, both the general public and elected officials will demand that a multi-disciplinary public health approach be implemented across the country to address it.”
Radnor holds a similar opinion.
“There are those who say there’s no such thing as pornography addiction and that watching porn is harmless,” he told FTND. “History will not be kind to those people. They’ll be the doctors from the fifties in the cigarette ads.”
Radnor drew from personal experience when discussing how porn affects love, sex, and relationships.
“I feel like it took me a long time – too long – to learn that sexual gratification is not the highest human aspiration or achievement and that the relentless, single-minded pursuit of it is hollow and depression-inducing,” he said. “Porn peddles selfishness, domination and oppression – all terrible qualities to bring to a relationship.”
He then urged men and women to eradicate porn from their life if they care “about their emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual well-being” and want to have a healthy relationship with another person.
When speaking of adultery during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructed His listeners to gouge out their eyes and cut off their hands if they cause them to lust. He used hyperbole to make His point plain and unmistakable: adultery and similar sins of the flesh are not to be treated lightly. We are foolish if we think we can play with fire and not be burned.
“I played a character with a morphine addiction,” Radnor said, “and in my research I came across a description of opiates as ‘the Judas drug,’ in that it will ‘kiss you then betray you.’ This is also true for porn.”
We at MOVIEGUIDE® applaud Josh Radnor’s bravery and boldness in speaking about such a destructive and pervasive spiritual sickness in our nation. We hope this message will convince men and women who may be battling a pornography addiction and encourage them to seek the freedom, healing, and restoration they need. The “Judas drug” and its prevalence might be strong, but Jesus Christ’s miracle-working, bonds-breaking, life-changing power is stronger.
Sources: Fightthenewdrug.com (July 13, 2016) and National Center of Sexual Exploitation.
Diana Anderson-Tyler is the author of multiple books on Faith and Fitness and she is a co-owner and coach at CrossFit 925. Diana can be found on Twitter here.