Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Return of the attack of the killer porns!

The LDS (Mormon) church's attitude towards pornography worked well enough before the internet. Pornography was a Very Big Deal. It was Evil. It was also kind of rare and exotic. It took a certain amount of effort, and the risk of public exposure, to get it. You had to go somewhere and find it, and maybe someone you knew from church would see you buy that magazine or come out of that forbidden store. So porn was easy to avoid. It was easy for church members to feel set apart from "the filthy things of the world."

If Mormons did indulge, then the furtiveness, guilt, and shame that the church teaches would usually make them quickly throw away the porn. They'd feel sad and pray a lot, but since getting more porn required an effort, it was easy enough not to. "Repentance" was simple and easy.

But now porn is always available. If you have internet — if you live an ordinary life, in other words — porn is never more than a few seconds away. You can't throw your porn away anymore. There's always more. And, unless there's someone monitoring your computer use, there's little worry of getting caught. Those are important changes.

Because the furtiveness, guilt, and shame that the church teaches obviously prevents Mormons from casually enjoying porn, but it also prevents them from casually not enjoying it.

By that I mean that it's hard for Mormons to simply indulge once in awhile and feel a little guilty but not really worry about it. They've been taught that porn is a Very Big Deal and its Evil. So not only can they not think, "That was fun" and go on their way, they can't simply think "Oops!" and go on their way either.

Now they're faced with this Very Big Evil Deal, but they can't get away from it. Porn is always there waiting for them. And there's a whole culture of "porn addiction" surrounding them. There's no one there to tell them that it's actually pretty normal behavior, that pretty much everybody does it, and few people have a problem with it, so don't worry if you do it once in awhile. Everybody acts like it's a Horrible Sin and a Danger rather than a mild self-indulgence at worst, and no one believes that more than the poor wankers themselves.

And that's where some of them fall into a sort of porn death spiral. They feel guilty and ashamed, and what makes them feel a little better? Porn. But that makes them feel guilty and ashamed again. So they need more porn. More guilt and shame. More porn. A vicious circle results, and something very like addiction does occur.

And this is going to continue until the church finally comes to its senses and lightens up. I think the church's treatment of porn will eventually, after many years and a lot of suffering, come to resemble its treatment of youthful masturbation. It has to go from its current 1950s-Mark-E-Peterson-tie-your-hand-to-the-bedpost attitude to something more realistic. It has to treat porn the way it treats youthful masturbation: the church won't come out and say "Everybody does it, so its no big deal." But everybody does do it. So it's no big deal. That's how every sensible bishop treats it now. (I realize that there are probably plenty of not-sensible bishops out there, but the mainstream attitude now is that it's just not that big a deal.) The church has to realize that porn is no big deal either. Until it does, it's going to go on creating "porn addicts."

See also:
Attack of the killer porns!
Discussing potato chips with your son-in-law

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5 comments:

  1. you are invited to follow my blog

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  2. Nice blog. You have a good writing style. I will be sure to return to it often. Keep up the good work!

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  3. There may actually be no need for the Church to discard this strategy. They may have lucked into a general principle: The religion benefits from creating an orbit of shame (from doing normal things) and redemption (which only it can provide). It's perfect for creating broken and dependent people.

    The only risk is that people might realise that porn is no big deal, but what are the odds of that? As long as the church keeps loudly saying that porn is bad, and as long as porn is slightly sketchy and transgressive (which it kind of is), they'll never get wise.

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  4. Yeah, I tend to err on the side of thinking the best of people and institutions, so my first assumption was that the church doesn't want to go on damaging people and would stop if it knew how. That assumption may be unwarranted, of course. It could very well be true that the church would gladly hurt people if it gives it more control over them.

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  5. I take the evolutionary view. Organisms that have survived are the ones that have somehow made the optimal adaptations. I'm not sure if this is adaptive or maladaptive — only time will tell — but I'm pretty sure that it's not under the control of any one person.

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What do you think?