In the Orthodox Church we believe that everything within the Church helps the believer become closer to God. Saint John of Kronstadt said that,
“The Church, through the temple and Divine service, acts upon the entire man, educates him wholly; acts upon his sight, hearing, smelling, feeling, taste, imagination, mind, and will, by the splendor of the icons and of the whole temple, by the ringing of bells, by the singing of the choir, by the fragrance of the incense, the kissing of the Gospel, of the cross and the holy icons, by the prosphoras, the singing, and sweet sound of the readings of the Scriptures.”
When a newcomer or an Orthodox Christian from birth enters an Orthodox Church, one of the first things that they see are the various icons of Christ, the Theotokos, and of the legions of Saints. These painted images are known as being “windows into Heaven” and help us better connect with the spiritual realm and with the very nature of God.
Throughout the centuries, iconography has been an integral part of the Christian form of worship and the day-to-day prayers of the Orthodox faithful. Believers are called to have icons in our homes, places of business and even in our cars as constant reminders of what is good and holy to help spiritually encourage us through our lives. In an Orthodox environment, surrounded by icons, the believer is lifted up spiritually into the Heavens during prayer and meditation, with sacred art lifting our eyes, hearts and souls to the glory of the Kingdom of God the believer is emboldened in his or her Faith to live a Godly life.
That is the purpose of Christian icons.
In modern Western society however, the iconography most present is not the Godly images of heroic Saints, the Son of God, or of the Theotokos. Secularism and the push of degeneracy in Western culture has pushed Christian symbols nearly out of the public sphere. Even churches that openly display Christians images are often vandalized. The modern age is looking to replace the iconography of God with a different type of icons, the iconography of the Devil: Pornography.
Throughout human society the desires of the flesh have long driven both men and women to both righteousness and to sin. The passions that God gave us are not inherently bad, it is only when we focus them on sinful behavior that they become a hindrance to us spiritually. The passion of hatred for instance can be used positively when channeled to hating sin, in this case hatred can actually help us work out our salvation and keep us on the moral path. Lust is one of the strongest passions that mankind has, which when properly channeled strengthens the bond between husband and wife to have a physically satisfying monogamous relationship that leads to children. In modern times however, the passion of lust has been redirected from a healthy bond between husband and wife to promote sex outside of wedlock and widespread addiction to pornography.
While prostitution and other immoral forms of sexual media have been around for thousands of years, in Christian Europe both the Church and the State worked to stop these industries from being prevalent in the overall culture. This began to change after the French Revolution, when the anti-clericalism of the Jewish and atheist backed Revolutionary forces began to work to tear down Christian morality in the nation that was once known as the “daughter of the Catholic Church.”
Alongside destroying churches and killing priests, the Revolutionaries began promoting the spread and sale of pornographic images and promoting sex outside of wedlock. To be able to destroy the family and make the people essentially worship the atheist State, they had to undermine the Christianity and familial bonds of the people. Soon France became the leading producer of pornographic drawings and then photographic images in the entire Western world. The French Revolutionaries were the vanguard of secularism and degeneracy in the Western world, soon to follow with movements throughout Europe and America to produce and promote pornography throughout not only Western culture, but the world.
Until very recently in American history there were regularly enforced laws in all fifty States to prosecute those who produced and purchased pornography under obscenity laws. These laws were designed with the Christian mindset in mind to protect the youth and society at large from the dangers of pornography. With the spread of Satanic influence in the Western world in the post World War Two America and Europe, ideas such as women’s liberation, the homosexual movement, abortion “rights”, and opposition to obscenity laws saw a swift decline in the Christian nature of mainstream American culture. Beginning in the 1960’s, pornography went from being an underground business to being a product that was readily available in adult movie theaters and stores. Alongside the other elements of the cultural revolution, communist and Leftist forces felt that pornography and making it readily available was an important part of totally remaking American culture in their own image.
The way in which the cultural revolutionaries were able to advance their agenda began in the same place where child murdering abortionists and desegregationists won their fights, inside Federal courtrooms. Although the majority of Americans were in support of keeping obscenity laws on the books and enforced, Jewish backed law firms and lawyers began a campaign to take these laws to Federal court to have them overturned. This movement to promote pornography was almost an entirely Jewish funded and backed one, as writer Jay A. Gertzman wrote “Jews were prominent in the distribution of gallantiana [fiction on erotic themes and books of dirty jokes and ballads], avant-garde sexually explicit novels, sex pulps, sexology, and flagitious materials’.”
While ignoring the wishes of the States and of the people, court cases like American Booksellers v Hudnut and State v Henry overturned obscenity laws and statues against the sale and distribution of pornography. Under the banner of “freedom” it quickly became legal to sell pornography to the masses, regardless of the desires of the local community at large. The First Amendment was trotted out as overriding centuries long held views on the subject and the Christian view of sexuality in favor of embracing the Enlightenment era secular view on sexuality.
Once the floodgates had opened on pornography, primarily Jewish businessmen such as Reuben Sturman and Al Goldstein and began making large profits off the industry. As Jewish professor Dr Nathan Abrams told reporters “Though Jews make up only 2 percent of the American population, they dominate porn.”
Through using those in positions of academia and science such as Wilhelm Reich and Alfred Kinsey, so called “sexual liberation” was pushed on millions of American students at universities all around the country. Pornography alone could not undermine Christian civilization, the Jewish forces had to work to use academia and the mass media to promote ideas that sex outside of wedlock, abortion, homosexuality, and all other forms of sinful and degenerate behavior was now somehow normal and natural. Each brick on the wall of the secular and Leftist cultural revolution has put their to work to specifically break down European Christian society, with pornography being a spearhead of this movement.
One of the leading pornographers of the last several decades, Al Goldstein, made it clear that the promotion of pornography was not simply about profits; it was about attacking Christian values and society by inflaming the lustful passions of the majority Christian population. Goldstein publicly stated that “The only reason that Jews are in pornography is that we think that Christ sucks. Catholicism sucks. We don’t believe in authoritarianism.” There are plenty of ways to make a buck, but the purpose of pornography is to work to undermine and dismantle healthy sexuality and Christian morality. Through a combination of Jewish smut producers, Jewish lawyers and Jewish money, the pornography industry was able to use the courts and their business interests to make pornography easier to come across than almost any other form of media in the Western world.
The pornography industry has been insidious in also promoting the trafficking of human beings, especially young women and girls from Eastern Europe. Human Trafficking Search writes on its website that “Pornography undoubtedly perpetuates the commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls in America.” Many girls who have been trafficked are forced to participate in pornographic films, thus making money for the traffickers and working to break down the victim both emotionally and spiritually. Human Rights watchdogs have written that “Pornography drives the demand for sex trafficking” something that should be considered by anyone who is tempted to view pornography.
When viewing pornography it may appear that everyone is a willing participant, but as one recent Huffington Post article on the subject of Human Trafficking pointed out “Even if a porn explicitly states that all actors are over 18 and have consented to being filmed, that just may not be true, Yahoo News reported. The trafficked actresses may simply be trained to look and act older.” To continue to support the pornography industry we are also supporting the kidnapping and imprisonment of countless thousands of young women and men around the globe. Pornography not only harms the viewer, it harms many of those who participate in it as well.
Pornography is not simply a spiritual poison upon a nation, it also scientifically has been proven to hurt the individuals who view it. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute in Berlin “found that a part of the brain which activates when people feel motivated or rewarded, shrinks and works less efficiently” in those who view pornography. Pornography also rewires part of the viewers brain that distributes dopamine. This rewiring can lead to men especially to be unable to fully enjoy actual sexual intercourse, effectively creating a biological addiction to pornography to properly release sexual feelings.
Scientists have found that “As a frequent porn user’s brain acclimates to the new levels of dopamine flooding through it, regular activities that would normally set off a burst of dopamine and make the person feel happy aren’t strong enough to register much anymore, leaving the user feeling down or uneasy whenever they go for a while without looking at porn. That’s one reason why pornography can be so addictive.” Pornography quickly can undermine the mental health of those who view it while literally changing the viewer’s brain chemistry through the protein iFosB for the worse.
Due to the nature of pornography rewiring the brain of those who view it, it easily can become an addiction in the viewer. Almost every Christian man, and many women, who I know and have spoken to about this issue, myself included, have at some point and time had run ins with pornography or sexually explicit images. Especially among teenagers and other young viewers who find pornography the possibility of them becoming addicted is much higher than in adults. “a teen brain’s reward pathway has a response two to four times more powerful than an adult brain—which means teen brains release even higher levels of dopamine. Teen brains also produce higher levels of iFosB, leaving them extra vulnerable to addiction.” The possibility to become addicted to pornography and run the risk of forever damaging ones brain is very high, especially given that the industry promotes its “products” mostly to a young audience.
A porn addiction can spell doom for being able to have healthy sexual relations in one’s life. The study Macrostructural Alterations of Subcortical Grey Matter in Psychogenic Erectile Dysfunction found that “Due to their lowered sexual response and altered brain pathways, many porn users find they just can’t get excited enough to maintain an erection without porn; and for many users, over time, even porn isn’t enough.” This harms marriages and relationships while causing stress and medical issues for the male viewer. Pornography is not a harmless distraction, it has real danger to the health and long term happiness of those who are caught up in its web.
The spread of pornography has been unlike any form of media in human history. When scientists attempted to do a comparison study between young men who had viewed porn and those who hadn’t, they found it nearly impossible to find any young man of the current generation who had not been exposed to pornographic images either through internet pornography or sex scenes in mainstream Hollywood productions. Hollywood and the porn industry have worked hand in hand to promote pornography as being something we should view as harmless and normal, but to those who view it it is damaging mentally, physically and spiritually.
On a spiritual level we can find that pornography truly is the iconography of the Devil by its insidious nature. Scientific studies published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that as viewers become accustomed to certain types of pornography, the brain begins to release less dopamine into the viewer’s system. This creates a need for new and often more violent and graphic forms of pornography needing to be viewed because “the user can’t feel the dopamine’s effects as much—and suddenly the porn that used to excite starts seeming boring” so the viewer must chase a new high, often leading to more graphic types of pornography. Pornography addiction completely short circuits God’s plan for healthy Christian sexuality.
Scripture is very clear that falling into sexual lust is dangerous for ones soul and risks eternal damnation. 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 states that we as Christians must “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” To participate in viewing pornography hurts us in mind, body and soul, alienating us from the love of God and the Christian community around us.
Christ Himself told us in Matthew 5:8 that “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” To view pornography is to commit the sin of adultery without even leaving ones own home. We risk our very salvation by viewing pornography for 1 Corinthians 6:9 tells believers that “wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men.” The pornography industry and Hollywood have placed snares for Christians to drive us from the path of righteousness and catch us up in a life of sexual sin, something that eventually could lead to our own damnation.
Christians must wage a war against pornography and sexual sin in our own lives and in the society around us. We must not give up hope, even in the midst of a culture that promotes pornography and sexual sin. St. Mary of Egypt, St. Pelagia and St. Anthony are just a few examples of Saints who struggled with the passion of lust and were able to overcome it through prayer, fasting and totally giving themselves over to Christ.
Saint John of the Ladder wrote that “I have seen impure souls crazed for physical love; but when these same souls have made this grounds for repentance, as a result of their experience of sexual love they have transferred the same eros to the Lord, They have immediately gone beyond all fear and been spurred to insatiable love for God. This is why the Lord said to the chaste harlot not that she had feared, but that she had loved much, and was readily able to repel eros through eros.” We must use the passion of hatred to turn us away from the sin of lust and refocus our lust towards healthy and Godly outlets, such as our spouse or to give that energy towards living a spiritually healthy life.
The stand against pornography will not be won in the courtrooms or on the street, it will be won by waging the Inner Crusade to align ourselves properly with Christ and His plan for our lives. If we stop consuming pornography, the Jewish pornographers will be forced to close down. We must not hate those who have been trapped into working in the industry either, we should spiritually minister to the souls who have fallen into the industry and work to help get them out of this physically and spiritually dangerous line of work.
Through prayer, frequent Confession, participation in the Eucharist, and a growth in our own spirituality, we can all work to overcome our own lustful desires and the widespread acceptance of pornography and sexual sin among our communities. As Saint John Cassian wrote “The struggle with a spirit of lust is a fierce struggle, longer than others, a daily struggle, and only a small number of people come to total victory. This struggle begins with the first ripe growth and does not finish until all the other passions have been mastered.” We all must work to take steps daily to live Godly lives and turn away from the iconography of the Devil, and instead place our attention and meditation on the iconography of God.