We all want to be loved. We all desire admiration, acceptance, and the joy of connection. We remember those feelings of nervous excitement when an attractive stranger glanced in our direction or our high school crush bumped into us in the hallway. These are wonderful emotions that help spark what can become fulfilling, enduring, and loving relationships. Such feelings of attraction are normal. Yet we, being human, sometimes forget that loving relationships are more than just a “spark.”

Like a spark, a seed contains the potential to grow into something more. A seed needs to be planted in rich soil, receive water, nutrients, and sunlight. A “spark”, likewise, will not develop into a healthy relationship without appropriate care.  Without care, both seeds and “spark” quickly die.

Related: Pornography and Sex Trafficking: A Vicious Cycle

Pornography creates a spark. This spark is the body’s automatic response when attraction occurs, similar to the response when seeing an attractive stranger or bumping into a crush [1], but this spark lacks the seeds of love. Pornography isn’t real; it is merely images. You cannot take a picture of a seed, plant it in the ground and expect it to grow any more than you can have a “spark” viewing a piece of paper, television screen, billboard or magazine and expect it to grow into a fulfilling, enduring, and loving relationship.

Pornography is a “hollow counterfeit”[2] of fulfilling and enduring love.

Love vs Pornography

C.S. Lewis suggests in his book “the Four Loves” that “God is love…In God there is no hunger that needs to be filled, only plenteousness that desires to give.” Love “desires what is simply best for the beloved.”[3]  

Pornography is: The depiction of erotic behavior in pictures or writing intended to cause sexual excitement. [4]

The following compares what love is according to one of the most trusted and read books in the world [5], with a list of attitudes and behaviors that are taught and encouraged through pornography. This list was created through compiled research [6].

Patience vs. Insistence

Love is Patient

  • Liberty: Sex involves choice
  • Focused on the needs of others
  • Controlling desires
  • Willing to wait until the partner is ready

Pornography Teaches Insistence

  • Entitlement: Sex is a right
  • Sex as a need
  • The seeking out of prostitution
  • Coercion of sex through verbal and/or physical means

Kindness vs. Cruelty

Love is Kind

  • Caring for and respecting the partner
  • Considerate of the feelings of others and listens to their desires
  • Keeping Promises
  • Giving the partner a choice

Pornography Teaches Cruelty

  • Sex devoid of intimacy caring, love or respect
  • The idea that women enjoy being raped and enjoy degrading sex.
  • That marital affairs are acceptable
  • Non-consensual sex (rape)

Selflessness vs. Selfishness

Love is Selfless

  • Desiring what is best for the partner
  • Seeking the happiness and joy of the partner
  • Recognizing that women are human beings with feelings and desires of their own
  • Acknowledging responsibility towards others for actions involving those others
  • Recognizing that sex can produce children

Pornography Teaches Selfishness

  • My pleasure is more important than another’s pain
  • Women’s bodies are sexual entertainment for men
  • Sex without responsibility
  • Spouses/partners are less attractive
  • Sexual performance of spouse/partner is lacking
  • That sex is not about children

Peace vs. Violence

Love is Peaceful

  • Showing kindness and affection towards partner
  • Giving the partner a choice

Pornography Teaches Violence

  • Violence against women is acceptable
  • Sexual abuse of partners

Hope vs. Despair

Love is Hopeful

  • Freeing people from harm.
  • Looking forward to a bright future
  • Interested in children and family
  • Desiring to develop a relationship

Pornography Teaches Despair

  • Enslavement through addiction and trafficking[7]
  • No future with desired object
  • Sex is not about marriage and children
  • Multiple sex partners are acceptable

Related: Pornography and Sex Trafficking: A Vicious Cycle

Enduring vs. Temporary

Love is Enduring

Forming relationships based on patience, kindness, selflessness, peace, and hope; achieved through the “thinking part” of your brain (choosing such behavior).[8] This then acts to form innumerable pathways that strengthen through continued exercise. Personal choice controls the emotion. Relationships based on consistent loving choices, rather than instant gratification and addiction, are much more likely to be fulfilling, strong and endure the ups and downs of life.

Pornography Prioritizes the Temporary

When pornography is viewed, the brain instantly responds and releases dopamine, which helps us feel good. Continued pornography viewing results in a dopamine overload and the brain responds by “taking away some of its dopamine receptors.” And the body will no longer respond to the same levels of dopamine.

As with addictive drugs, the user must increase use or alter intake to something more hardcore in order to achieve the same “high” previously experienced.[9] In other words, pornography produces temporary feelings which do not endure long- term and are never satiated.

A Hollow Counterfeit

Pornography is a hollow seed with no hope for growth. It is temporary pleasure, taken at the expense of enduring personal happiness; at the expense of real love. And in love, “there is no hunger that needs to be filled, only plenteousness that desires to give.” [4]

I hope we may each seek real love, for such love grows into something beautiful and lasting. If we grow in such a way then we, our families and our societies will be better for it.

[1] Jenson, Gristen A. MA & Poyner, Gail PhD; “Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids”; Glen Cove Press, Richland WA; 2015

[2] Clay Olsen; CEO & Co-founder of “Fight The New Drug”; Signing of the Utah Resolution Recognizing Pornography as a Public Health Crisis; https://endsexualexploitation.org/publichealth/

[3] Lewis, C.S. “The Four Loves”. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1960

[4] Merriam-Webster online dictionary;

[5] Bible; King James Version; 1st Corinthians 13:4-7

[6] Mary Anne Layden, PhD; “Long Term Consequences of Pornography Use: Overview of Research”; Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation; https://endsexualexploitation.org/publichealth/

[7] https://stoptraffickingdemand.com/

[8] Jenson, Gristen A. MA & Poyner, Gail PhD; “Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids”; Glen Cove Press, Richland WA; 2015

[9] “How Porn Changes The Brain”; Fight the New Drug; August 8, 2014; citation 1; https://fightthenewdrug .org/how-porn-changes-the-brain/

For more information on the harmful effects of Pornography on the brain, the heart, and society: