Porn As Wallpaper

retro seamless wallpaperIn an article in New York Magazine author Naomi Wolf mentions a quote by David Amsden: “Porn is the wallpaper of our lives now.” I love pithy phrases and that one certainly nails the truth. I remember a house I once toured as I was looking for a home to buy. Every room including the stairwell was wallpapered. Every single room! The effect was overwhelming. In addition to wanting to keel over from a heart attack like Fred Sanford, I came out of there never wanting to see wallpaper again for the rest of my life. The idea behind porn is the same. Pornography is so prevalent we are saturated with it. The effect is diminished, not increased desire for real sexual intimacy. The article puts it more eloquently: “The ubiquity of sexual images does not free eros but dilutes it.”

Naomi apparently travels to college campuses talking about the effects of porn on relationships. Women and men list different effects of living in a porn saturated society. Women feel it is hard to measure up to pornographic images. In their sexual lives they wonder if they can “ask for what they want.” They worry that “as mere flesh and blood” if they can “get, let alone hold, a man’s attention.” Men report that they have learned sex from the school of pornography and how it does not help them “to be real with a woman.”

Wolf reported in the article that when she brings up the subject of loneliness “a deep, sad silence descends on audiences of young women and young men alike. They know they are lonely together even when conjoined and that this imagery is a big part of that loneliness.” In conversation with a young man at Northwestern she asked him “Why have sex right away?” His answer: “Things are always a little tense and uncomfortable when you just start seeing someone. I prefer to have sex right away just to get it over with. You know it is going to happen. It gets rid of the tension.” “Isn’t the tension kind of fun?” Wolf inquired. “Doesn’t (having sex right away) also get rid of the mystery?” “Mystery?” He looked at her blankly. Without hesitating he said, “I don’t know what you are talking about. Sex has no mystery.”

“Sex has no mystery.” That has to be one of the saddest statements that I have heard. King Solomon, one of the wisest men to ever live said: “There are three things too wonderful for me, four that I do not understand: the way of the eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship in the sea, and the way of a man with a woman.” Proverbs 30:18 This comes from a man whose wisdom was as “vast as the sands on the seashore.” Even with that breadth of wisdom he had to admit that the beauty of the sexual relationship was a profound mystery. So profound he could not search the depths of it.

Sin is always about the shortcut. Always. C.S. Lewis says it most profoundly in the Screwtape Letters: “An ever increasing craving, for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula.” Pornography is the easy shortcut to intimacy. Men can look at it and fantasize about the “perfect relationship with the perfect girl” in their imaginary world. Fantasizing gives them a high, so they need to look at the images again, but the next high isn’t as great. Meanwhile they diminish their ability to have real pleasure with a real woman. They could spend their whole lifetime learning to love one woman sexually. The pleasure would increase and they would never be able to plumb the depths of even one woman. Lust glances, but love gazes. It gazes on the beloved in wonder, in awe. Wolf was right when she said, “a powerful, erotic bond between parents is a key element of a strong family.” How often it is when we take down wallpaper we uncover some beautiful hidden architectural treasure. In the same way, when we take down the wallpaper of pornography we can begin to discover the profound mystery of sex and the beauty of a real woman.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *