As Reach 10 members engage in the mission to reconnect relationships in a pornified world, we sometimes run into questions and statements like these: “Why are you part of this?” “I already know porn is bad, isn’t that enough?” “You do realize that you’re making the problem worse, don’t you?”
Chances are, if you are reading this article, your emotional response to these questions is the same as ours. We are always sad to meet opposition from the people who should be our allies–people who, like us, believe that the word P-O-R-N could also be spelled T-H-O-R-N, and that the wound it has made in society’s side is festering and growing daily.
So for starters, let’s get a few things straight. We do believe that porn is a problem, and we are NOT afraid to talk about it. But we also know that many of our friends who agree that it’s a problem still hesitate to talk about it due to timidity, fear, disgust, or the misconception that talking about it might actually make the problem worse.
A Good Question
We don’t believe that the people who ask these questions are out to get us. On the contrary, we recognize that those who question the utility of our cause are often doing so out of a legitimate concern.
That concern was expressed in another question we recently ran into:
“How do I find the balance between making the pornography issue comfortable to talk about, while still maintaining that it’s harmful?”
What does this question show us? Sometimes people think that talking openly and seriously about pornography and its harms is somehow the same thing as endorsing it, or encouraging its use. It’s not their fault – this way of thinking is the result of a culture that has taught us to think and talk about pornography in two overly simplistic ways:
- Porn is good.
- Porn is bad.
Let’s take a deeper look at these kinds of conversations, and what Reach 10 is trying to do about them.
Bad Conversations: “Porn is Good”
Not much needs to be said for the first category. A sizable slice of the population pie not only believes that there is nothing harmful about porn, but vocally advocates for its use. There are also those who champion it as a beneficial tool for both individuals and couples. We know what these people are saying.
Reach 10 would like to see the ‘porn is good’ perspective change through education. We are grateful for fighters like Clay Olsen and his team at Fight the New Drug, Dawn Hawkins and her associates at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, Kristen Jensen of Protect Young Minds, Craig Cobia and his grassroots organization Citizens for Decency, Covenant Eyes and its founder Ron DeHaas, and other movement leaders who have paved the way in these efforts. We are grateful to parents, legislators, celebrities, and religious leaders who make an unceasing effort to help an increasing number of individuals recognize the damaging impact of pornography.
But at Reach 10 we recognize that the problem goes beyond the ‘porn is good’ group. Let’s talk about category two.
More Bad Conversations: “Porn is Bad. So stop talking about it.”
Those who believe that porn harms individuals, relationships, and society as a whole have been quick to talk about its potentially negative effects. Parents and religious leaders have spoken to their children and congregations for years, warning them to stay away from it. But where does the conversation go from there?
For many, the ‘porn is bad’ talk has remained just that: a singular, embarrassing, get-it-done-and-get-it-over-with monologue never to be brought up again unless absolutely necessary. And when is it necessary? Often, it is long after someone has been exposed and is well into a cycle of habitual behavior before they finally muster up the courage to confess and begin a dialogue of recovery. In other cases, the behavior is discovered by a concerned parent, sibling, spouse, or mentor, who then confronts the individual with a lecture or emotional outburst.
We hope to see these dialogues, once they have begun, produce positive results. In many cases they already do. But experience has shown that disclosure and recovery conversations are far too often handled poorly.
When guided by fear, shame, distrust, and anger, conversations about pornography only lead to more fear, shame, distrust, and anger.
Relationships are damaged, honesty becomes a burden, and the individual in question often sinks deeper into his or her cycle of behavior.
So what are we going to do about it? How do we start a new conversation, and how do we start the change?
The New Dialogue
We want to create a new dialogue, a third category, in which we not only acknowledge that ‘porn is bad,’ but in which we can also confidently answer the question, ‘porn is bad – now what?’
We want parents and religious leaders to continue teaching their children and congregations about the harmful effects of pornography, but we don’t want them to stop there. We want them to keep going. We want the pornography conversation to start long before pornography-related behavior. We want it to become a regular, healthy conversation in the homes, schools, and meetinghouses of those who care and who don’t want to see porn causing more damage than it already has. We want to change the culture of fear, silence, and shame surrounding pornography to a culture of courage, communication, and compassion.
To put it simply, we want to do more to REACH out. And we hope you want to do the same.
We recognize that everything said up to this point could be considered nothing but rhetorical jargon. The bold opinion of a handful of college kids who came together and managed to start a website.
But we are offering more than our opinion.
So reach out to us. Use our resources. Follow and share our social media pages. Look for more guidance, more experiences, more invitations, and more dialogue to come. Then join us, and participate. Become part of the solution. Together, we can make this happen.