First, a disgression. I know it’s been a long time since I posted something substantial here. This is because of my busy life, and in part… because of the success of the forum. You see, I come here with the best intention of writing something, and then I have to face with something like 2000+ comments waiting for moderation. When I finish clicking through all of them (now in batches of 25 instead of 100, courtesy of the newer WordPress), I am not only tired and barely able to think of something; the fact is that I also am left with no time for writing; the rat race of clicking ate all of it. Sigh… Now, with 554 comments pending, let me put a little rant.
The sidenote. Yesterday I was watching a talk show on a Christian TV network who shall go unnamed. The interviewer asked a young Christian lawyer about the “dangers” of the Internet, with a strong implication on pornography and eroticism. The lawyer began to ramble on and on about how “dangerous” it is, especially for children. He also noted that most “Web safety” (i.e., censoring spyware) installed on home computers can be circumvented; and how even if it is not, people can bypass the restrictions by browsing with their mobile devices. He went on to suggest parents to register their child’s phones with mobile carriers as a children-owned phone so its Web access could be filtered. Well, you get the idea: Control, control, and more control. Big brother is watching you so you’d better behave.
For the record, let me make it clear that I support the efforts of parents who wish to know the whereabouts –real and virtual– of their children. That’s only natural, and it’s the way of parenting. I am not going to tell parents what to do. My bone of contention is different.
What I saw in the program, and in the outlook of most Christian “answers” (????) to pornography and related sins of lust and the flesh, is how misguided they are. They think that the answer is control, and more control.
If the Church thinks that the problem of the sins related to lust, such as pornography, are going to go away because of more control, perhaps she must think again. More control, and the sensation of being constantly watched is deleterious to true Christian spirituality, which needs of a closed, very private and personal space for its adequate development (see, for example, Matthew 6:6).
Moreover, the “more control” approach mistakenly conceives the “pornography problem” as a problem of willpower, when it’s not. Most sins of the flesh, and especially pornography, are sins of the heart highly related to idolatry. Sinful habits are just an effect of this. Therefore, with the “control” approach, you are just attacking the effects, leaving the real causes untouched. You cannot fight hunger just by glueing the lips of the hungry.
Until we stop fighting pornography with pseudo-ascetic, hyper-controlling approaches and we begin focusing on it as what it really is, i.e., idolatry, we are doomed to fail. Let’s hope we realize our mistake sooner than later.