Pornography and Perversion
April 30th, 1986 @ 7:30 PM
PORNOGRAPHY AND PERVERSION
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-30-86 7:30 p.m.
Do you have your Bible? Turn to the First Gospel, the Gospel of Matthew—Matthew, chapter 5. This is the first part of the Sermon on the Mount; Matthew, chapter 5. We are going to read out loud together verses 27 through 30, in the middle of the fifth chapter. Now that we have it, we are going to read it out loud together: Matthew 5:27-30. Now, together:
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
These messages on Wednesday night are dedicated to the problems we face in human life. And tonight, we are addressing a subject that is before the courts, before the legislatures, before our civic city councils, and is a part of the responsive public in all of the areas whereby we buy and sell—merchandising. The message is entitled Pornography and Perversion.
Porne, p-o-r-n-e, porne is the Greek word for “prostitute,” for a harlot. And graphō is the Greek word for “to write.” So the Greek word pornographes, pornographes, is writing about prostitution. And we have taken it, syllable by syllable, and alphabet by alphabet, into our English language. Pornography is a Greek word spelled out in English. And in Greek, I’ve just said, it refers to writing about prostitution.
Several months ago, the United States Attorney General impaneled a commission to decide whether the pornographic industry had finally sunk beyond the depths of public toleration. And a brilliant lawyer, Henry E. Hudson, was named chairman of that commission. That commission went across America, from one side of it to another, and held public hearings in all the big cities of our nation. And before that committee on pornographic literature appeared federal judges and senators and congressmen and civic leaders and housewives and laborers and the great throng of many witnessing people.
One of the witnesses, a housewife, which was typical of so many that appeared, said that her husband seeks to copy in the home and in the bedroom the terrible examples of sadomasochism seen and read in the magazines. And finally, of course, the home dissolved. Other witnesses said that women were bound, and battered, and tortured, and tied, and cut, and burned, and gagged, and whipped, and chained, following the violence induced by the reading of these pornographic articles.
There are two organizations that defend the publication of smut literature. One is the Playboy Foundation, which, as you would know, has been created by the multi-multi-multi-million dollar success of Playboy magazine. The other organization that defends the publication of smut literature is the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU. And the two are allied, the Playboy Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union. Their members sit on each other’s board and they contribute thousands of dollars to their efforts. For example, last year, Playboy contributed $150,000 to the ACLU in Illinois.
The American Civil Liberties Union tirelessly sues in the courts to erase any and every form of Christian expression from public life. One of the things, of course, they’ve tried to do, and haven’t succeeded, is to take off “In God We Trust” off of our coins. But pretty well they have succeeded in erasing every reference to a Christian expression of religion out of any kind of public life: the public schools, the swearing in of the elected officials of our nation. By and by, if they continue in their successes in the future as they have in the past, you won’t find any Bible opened when the president of the United States is sworn in his office, nor will you have any “So help me, God” before any jury.
That same ACLU tirelessly seeks to promote the rights of the pornographic industry. They vigorously do it. And most of their defense of the smut industry centers around that dark word “censorship.” They say, and this is their constant refrain, that in a free society we are to be permitted thereby to print and publish and draw and show whatever you will.
May I make an aside to that thrust of the American Civil Liberties Union? The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Warren Burger himself handed down the decision of the justices. And I quote one of his sentences, “This much has been categorically settled by the courts: that obscene material is unprotected by the First Amendment.” But however the Supreme Court may avow that, the ACLU and the Playboy Foundation march and thrust through every avenue possible for the defense of the smut industry.
Now I want to address for just a moment the Christian conscience and the Playboy cult of pleasure, or the human tragedy of pornography. First, I speak of what it makes of women. Pornography degrades the woman and makes of her nothing but a sex object to be used, a diametrical opposite of a person to be respected and loved.
I wonder if you have the audacity and the nerve to do something that I might ask you to do. Would one of you men bring your wife up here and stand down there? Would you do that? Harold, bring your wife and put her right there. Come up here. Just come up here and stand. Just stand right there. I’m going to get you in trouble.
Ira, you got your mother here from North Carolina? Bring her up here. Stand up there with her. That’s your mother. Is there a man here, or a young fellow here, that has a sister here? Would you bring her up here? Do you have a sister here? Is there anyone here who has a sister here? Anywhere? Son, where are you? Come up here and stand by your sister. Where are you? Are you right sure he’s in the choir? Come on, son. Come on. Are you ashamed of your sister? That’s good.
Now is there a man here who has a daughter here? Is there a man here who has a daughter? I have a daughter. All right. Would you bring your daughter here? All right. All right. Got you a daughter. That’s all right.
Now I want you to get a good look at them, and I want you to remember their relationship. There’s a man here with his mother. There’s a man here with his sister. There’s a man here with his wife. There is a man here with his daughter. Now I want you to get a good look at them and remember them. All right. You all may be seated. You can go back to your room, you can go back to your place, go back to your choir, go back to your seat.
You will have in that remembrance: “This is my mother”—your mother. “This is my sister”—your sister. “This is my wife”—your wife. “This is my daughter.” You will remember poignantly. And now the psychology of the Playboy cult: do you have in your heart a revulsive response of that woman or that daughter as the centerfold of the Playboy magazine, or as the pictured women in the articles that are published, or as the public spectacle for the world to see nude, naked, in all of the possible poses of a Playboy photographer? Don’t you see the vast psychological and spiritual and domestic chasm between what is represented by the Playboy Foundation and what you know and love and respect in your heart?
I cannot help but think of that story by George Bernard Shaw, an English satirist, infidel, unbeliever, iconoclast, but one of the greatest playwrights of the twentieth century. He died not too long ago. The story of George Bernard Shaw was this: that a rich old playboy propositioned a beautiful and attractive young woman to spend the night with him. And she indignantly replied, “No!” But she finally agreed to for 10,000 pounds; that would be about 15,000 American dollars. And he kept on talking to her, and she finally agreed to go to bed with him for 2,000 pounds. Then he kept on talking to her, and tried to get her to go to bed with him for 100 pounds.
And when he did that, she indignantly said, “What do you think that I am?”
And the rich old playboy said, “It has already been established what you are. We’re just now haggling over the price.” That story—sordid, tragic, is one of the most incisive depictions that I ever heard of about womanhood.
What does pornography do to men? We have just avowed its degradation of womanhood, motherhood, daughterhood, sisterhood. What does it do with men? In men, they are brought to a loss of a sense of decency, walking through filth. They are made more aggressive. They become increasingly prone to rape and abuse. And the witnesses before that United States appointed committee described how their attackers copied articles in pornographic magazines during the terrible ordeal to which they were subjected. The pornographic industry trivializes rape and it induces sexual killings.
What does pornographic literature do to children? Youth is debauched, and smut-induced child abuse is everywhere, and child molestation is like in epidemic proportions here in our nation. We hear little concerning the amount of it, but it is tragic and terrible.
And what does pornographic literature do to the physical psychological responses of the individual? What effect does it have upon anybody? Life magazine says that more than forty billion dollars a year is spent in America on the pursuit of pleasure. That is more than is spent on education and religion combined.
What happens to one psychologically who opens his mind and his heart to pornographic literature? He becomes an addict and he must read more and see more in order to be stimulated. Any addiction is like that. A little cocaine may stimulate you, but you keep using it and it takes more cocaine and more cocaine and more cocaine to have the same result until finally, as an addict, you become hopelessly involved. Sexual response is exactly like that. It takes more of the pornographic, takes more, takes more, takes more, in order to achieve the same stimulation and you become trapped in it. An increasing appetite for ever more bizarre forms of sexual stimulation and satisfaction is induced. It is a vicious addiction.
My time is gone. May I take a moment to conclude? Pornography furthers the degrading depiction of women. They become used sex objects without reverence, without love. Pornography destroys the moral health of the individual. Pornography is antithetical to the Christian attitude towards sex. Pornography damages the physical psychological life of children and adolescents. Pornography has nothing to commend it or to defend it. And last, pornography destroys the intention and the purpose of God in the creation of the man and the woman.
It was the purpose of the Lord God in making the man, as He made the man, and in making the woman, as He made the woman, that they find completion in one another: to love, to commit, to share, to live, to be, to build the foundation of the home, the foundation for the care of our children, the ultimate foundation for the nation, for the church, for all we hold dear. And to decimate and to degrade what God hath intended in loving, reverential care and purpose is one of the most violent affronts to God that my mind could ever think for. And that’s why your Christian people and your churches and your loved members of the family will do all in our capabilities to oppose the dissemination of pornographic literature.
Now Brother Denny Dawson will lead us in a hymn of appeal, and as we sing and as we wait and as we pray; to give your heart to the Lord, “Pastor, tonight I stand here accepting the Lord as my Savior” [Romans 10:8-13], Or, “I want to be baptized according to His command [Matthew 28:19], and holy example” [Matthew 3:13-17]. Or, “I want to put my life here in this dear church.” Or, “I am answering a call of God in my heart.” Or, “Pastor, I want someone to pray for me.” As God shall press the appeal, make the answer now. Out of that pew, down one of these aisles, here with our godly ministers, “I’m on the way, pastor.” And may angels attend you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.