Saturday, December 15, 2007

Protecting our churches and families from online pornography

Pornography in its various forms (magazines, videos, films, online, etc) is a 12 to 13 billion dollar industry that’s wreaking havoc on families and churches. And yet, according to Kerby Anderson’s article “The Pornography Plague” in www.probe.org , “Christian are often ignorant of its impact and apathetic about the need to control this menace.”

Children are the target of online pornographers. According to a 2002 report by the prestigious London School of Economics, 9 out of ten children aged between 8 and 16 years have viewed pornography on the Internet. In most cases, sites were accessed unintentionally when a child used a seemingly innocent sounding word to search for information or pictures.” Sue Bohlin in her Probe Ministries article entitled “Protecting Your Family On the Internet” warns that

Like the tobacco industry used to, the pornography industry aggressively targets young children as consumers. They position their Web sites to be found in seemingly innocent searches using words like toys, Disney, Nintendo, or dolls.” Bohlin’s article further states, “According to NetValue, children spent 64.9 percent more time on pornography sites than they did on game sites in September 2000. Over one quarter (27.5%) of children age 17 and under visited an adult Web site, which represents 3 million unique underage visitors.
Definitions of pornography and obscenity

Jeff Olson in his full-length article “When A Man’s Eyes Wander” from RBC Ministries, defines pornography as,

Pornography is any written or visual material that depicts nudity and/or sexually explicit activity for the purpose of causing sexual arousal. Of course, not all descriptions or photographs of nudity, sexual organs, and sexual activity (such as those found in educational material or medical textbooks) are pornographic. What makes material pornographic is its calculated intent to cause sexual arousal.
According to Anderson’s article, “The 1986 Attorney General Commission on Pornography defined pornography as material that is predominantly sexually explicit and intended primarily for the purpose of sexual arousal. Hard core pornography is sexually explicit in the extreme, and devoid of any other apparent content or purpose.”

Any discussion about pornography includes the term “obscenity.” The Philippine Supreme Court has followed the 1973 US Supreme Court ruling in Miller vs. California in defining what “obscenity” is. According to the Miller case, material is obscene if all three of the following conditions are met:

[1] The average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appealsto the prurient interests.

[2] The work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state (orfederal) law, and

[3] The work taken as a whole, lacks serious, artistic, political or scientific value.

Why men get hooked on pornography

Olson’s article for RBC deals extensively with the dangers, effects and ways out of addiction to pornography. Some of the chapters in his article are [1] Why Are Men So Vulnerable To Pornography? [2] Why Do Men Continue To Look? [3] The Payoff Of Pornography; and [4] A Crisis Of Faith And Hope. From these chapters, Olson enumerates the reasons why men get hooked in pornography:

[1] Men are aroused visually.
[2] History of a man's sexualization: early exposure to pornography; repeated exposure to pornography; and childhood sexual abuse
[3] Male affirmation.
[4] Easy relief
[5] Subtle revenge
[6] Personal sabotage
[7] It feels needed: the idolatry within.
[8] It feels deserved: the cynical anger within.

One of my favorite writers, John Eldredge, defines pornography as a “paper harem”. In page 90 of his book “Wild at Heart”, he has a different spin on why men get caught up in pornography:

Why is pornography the most addictive thing in the universe for men? Certainly there’s the fact that men are visually wired, that pictures and images arouse men much more than they do women. But the deeper reason is because that seductive beauty reaches down inside and touches your desperate hunger for validation as a man you didn’t know you had, touches it like nothing else most men have ever experienced . You must understand – this is deeper than legs and breasts and good sex. It is mythological. Look at the lengths men will go to find the golden-haired woman. They have fought duels over her beauty, they have fought wars. You see, every man remembers Eve. We are haunted by her. And somehow we believe that if we could find her, get her back, then we’d also recover with her our own lost masculinity.”
I don’t agree with everything Eldredge says and in the quote above, he sounds as if he is justifying a man’s desire for pornography. However, he clarifies in page 187 the sinister nature of pornography:

Most men want the maiden without any sort of cost to themselves. They want all the joys of the beauty without any of the woes of the battle. This is the sinister nature of pornography – enjoying the woman at her expense. Pornography is what happens when a man insists on being energized by a woman; he uses her to get a feeling that he is a man. It is a false strength, as I’ve said, because it depends on an outside source rather than emanating from deep within his center. And it is the paragon of selfishness. He offers nothing and takes everything. We are warned about this sort of man in the story of Judah and Tamar, a story that if it weren’t in the Bible, you would have thought I drew straight from a television miniseries.
A pastor’s fall from grace; how pornography affects marriages

Christine J Gardner in her article “Tangled in the Worst of the Web” (Christianity Today, March 5, 2001) chronicles the tragic true story of how a nationally known youth pastor in the US destroyed his marriage and ministry because of his addiction to pornography. (Here in the Philippines, I have been told about a pastor who was forced out of his church when his addiction to online pornography which led to an adulterous affair with the church secretary was exposed.)

At the concluding part of Gardner’s article, she cites the devastating effect of this pastor’s addiction to pornography on his wife:

Understandably, many wives have a difficult time surviving the fallout from pornography. One wife who caught her husband looking at pornography on the Internet likened it to a bomb exploding in her heart and marriage. Another wife felt hurt, used, and degraded after she caved in to her husband's demands to watch and reenact a pornographic video. Her struggle to forgive and to believe in him is enormous. Learning to trust her husband again is a long and bumpy process.
Please take note also that sexual violence against a wife under Republic Act 9262 includes “forcing her to watch obscene publications and indecent shows.” The penalty for sexual violence is imprisonment of six years (minimum) up to 12 years (maximum). The maximum penalty is imposed if the violence is committed while the woman is pregnant or in the presence of the children.

Preventive measures and free Internet filters against online pornography

Bohlin’s article for Probe Ministries cites some preventive measures against online pornography, among which are [1} placing the computer in a public place in the home or in the office; and {2] using filters to screen pornographic materials.

Some free internet filtering, parental controls and Christian accountability software you can use are:

[1] TechMission Safe Families We-Blocker internet filtering software from http://www.safefamilies.org/download.php (Free software to block inappropriate material)

[2] X3Watch from http://x3watch.com/ (An accountability software program helping with online integrity. Whenever you browse the Internet and access a site which may contain questionable material, the program will save the site name on your computer in a hidden folder. A person of your choice (an accountability partner) will receive an email containing all possible questionable sites you may have visited within the month. This information is meant to encourage open and honest conversation between friends and help us all be more accountable.)

[3] TUKI from http://tuki.com/ (Web browser designed for children that has parental controls)

[4] Dan’s Guardian from http://dansguardian.org/ (An award winning Open Source web content filter which currently runs on Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, Mac OS X, HP-UX, and Solaris. It filters the actual content of pages based on many methods including phrase matching, PICS filtering and URL filtering. It does not purely filter based on a banned list of sites like lesser totally commercial filters.)

[5] Accountability Pal from http://sourceforge.net/projects/accpal/ (Monitors your network and keeps track of who is using the Internet and what they are viewing, downloading, uploading, etc. It emails a report of each user's activity to the person/people you specify. Great for parents and businesses.)

[6] Naomi from http://www.naomifilter.org/ (An advanced internet filtering program. Easy to use and totally free, this is intended for families, and kids in particular.)

Naomifilter.org enumerates the following useful programs in protecting against online pornography:

Care2's Race for Children - click daily (for free) to help provide children in need with food, medical attention and education
K9 Web Protection - a free internet filter
Safe Families - free internet filtering and parental control software
Reveal - a free program for finding if porn files are stored on your computer
File Sharing Sentinel - free parental control tool for blocking file-sharing programs
SurfPass - free version of the SurfPass filter, which also allows time limits, logging, etc.
B Gone - free web filter based on keywords list
NoWorrys - allows access to trusted sites (list) only (see also: PpGuard)
ICRA Plus - free tool, offers control over access to labelled sites
WebWatcher - one of the best commercial parental control tools
X3 Watch - free accountability program (informs about accesses to questionable sites - for PC and MAC)KidRocket - web browser for young kids (limits access to web sites)
Hosts-File.net - easily block scammer, phishing and other malicious websites (Windows only)
LogProtect - prevent your child from transmitting his personal coordinates (can be bypassed, though)
Popup blockers - free software for removing unwanted pop-ups
FraudEliminator - anti-phishing (email frauds) toolbar
SpyBot - free program to remove dialers, spyware, and other malware from your pc
HiJackThis - invaluable tools for removal of hijackers, dialers, and more (download CWShredded and HiJackThis)
Free tools - listing free filters, website is in French
Squid - proxy/blacklisting for administrators
Censornet - a free filter for Linux

1 comment:

Luke Gilkerson said...

Thanks for all your helpful information. The pornography industry is so pervasive, and it's good to see more and more churches taking greater measures to educate others about these things. I work for Covenant Eyes, a software company that provides accountability reports to those who would like to maintain a high level of integrity with their internet usage. I've had a chance to hear many testimonies about what accountability can do (more than just filtering). It's a real blessing to be involved in helping others find a way out of their addictions and potential temptations. God bless you in what you are doing!

Luke Gilkerson