Thinking Out Loud

August 22, 2011

Acting Out on Pornography More Prevalent That We Realize

Filed under: addiction, family, internet, marriage, pornography — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:43 am

We have a pastor friend who has at least two more academic degrees than I do — that we know of — who once paid me a huge compliment when we were discussing modern church movements.  He told me, “I don’t know of anyone who is thinking about these things like you are.”

What can I say? I have an analytical mind, and when I came through a many-week period of obvious addiction to the internet’s dark side, I used those same analytical skills to try to classify and document the various aspects of online pornography, which included a willingness to step out and say things that I didn’t believer were being said in other books on the subject, and still feel are not being said strongly enough, if at all.

This weekend we were reminded of the severe consequences that can take place when viewing pornography leads people to act out on impulses generated by what they see. In the online draft version of my unpublished book, The Pornography Effect which you can read online for free — there are a few references to people “acting out” what they see on-screen.

  • In the Relationships section at the beginning, there’s the suggestion that a change in relationship between spouses constitutes a form of acting out, even if the apparent manifestation is an improved sexual intimacy.
  • In the Animation chapter there’s a concern about young people imitating what they see.
  • In the Interactivity chapter there’s a mention of chat rooms and how a progression can take place from chatting to wanting to meet in person.
  • In the Faith chapter, there’s a reference to how the eventual consequence of acting out contributes to national divorce rates and ruined families.

Changed views or attitudes.  Imitating the online subjects.  Progressing into deeper degrees of online involvement with strangers or new acquaintances.  Unfaithfulness leading to divorce. 

Not a lot of good there.  Yet, despite this, I get the general sense that people think that only a very few act out what they view on-screen for one simple reason: Only a very few get caught

So today, I want to toss another audacious comment into the mix which, if the book were ever published, would now form the basis of its own chapter:

I believe that, to some degree, everyone who views internet pornography acts out on what they have seen.

There.  I said it.  We may be dealing with infinitesimal actions or attitudes or thoughts, but I firmly believe that the stimulus always produces a quantifiable response, and that some of those responses are serious but under-reported.  Or, to badly abuse some Biblical language — but in the process make the point in a way that some readers here will better identify with — pornography doesn’t  return void.  It doesn’t just bounce off the eyeballs, or sit in some static manner on the monitor.  The eyes are the doorway to the heart.

  • Sow a thought, reap an action
  • Sow an action, reap a habit
  • Sow a habit, reap a lifestyle

Just as The Pornography Effect makes it clear that your worldview can’t help but be changed in some way by what you see, I believe you can’t help but have some decision, direction or detail in your life changed as well. There will be some action consequence — big or small — even if the initial one is just the decision to return to the internet’s dark side the next day, and continue the long, downward spiral.

Luke 11:34
Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.

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  1. Coincidentally, I was helping my wife last night on a paper for her psychology class. The paper was about Bronfenbrenner ecological systems theory. Basically it’s about how our culture, family, friends etc… influence us as a people. If you watch then you act on it, is what your saying however this should apply to everything in life then. If we watch shoot em up westerns then we should want to shoot people. Watch horror movies and want to chase girls through the woods with an axe.

    It’s far too simplistic. The reality is that the things that have more influence on us are what we will internalize and act out. I’ve stopped being terrified of my kids hearing the improper words from music blasting somewhere. They know and understand that other people may use that language but thats not what we do. They may visit a relative where behaviors are different and accepted but the influence I have is much greater. The key thinking here is what has the greater influence not necessarily the evil being witnessed in and of itself.

    Comment by L.P. ✓ (@LPinCLE) — August 23, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

    • But your own example proves my point, which is that no matter how small, there will be some response; and the response with shoot-em up westerns is that it cheapens life. Americans are exposed to more murders per week on television than any other country; in fact, other countries don’t even produce the kind of adventure shows that air after 9:00 PM in the U.S. and Canada.

      Where we disagree is that “act” in my view can describe a subtle shift in worldview which, multiplied over time, will result in some kind of “action.”

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 23, 2011 @ 7:05 pm

      • *Where we disagree is that “act” in my view can describe a subtle shift in worldview which, multiplied over time, will result in some kind of “action.”*

        and therein lies the slippery slope. How do we prevent this?

        Comment by L.P. ✓ (@LPinCLE) — August 23, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

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