How Birth Control Kicked Open the Porn Door

Birth-Control-Graphics1

Yesterday I read a pertinent article by Dr. Russell Moore (check it out here).  In it he addresses the emptiness of pornography, it’s destructive grasp, and the way in which our culture has degraded the image of God to mere pixels intended for sexual arousal.  In one portion of his article, he explains, “sex is about the covenant union of one man with one woman, a union that is intended to bring about flourishing, love, happiness, and, yes, sensual pleasure.”  However, he begins his next paragraph with this statement: “But it is also intended to bring about new life.”  The remainder of this article will deal with this last aspect, and how I believe our birth controlled culture ironically procreated a generation of utilitarian sexual non-relations.

Birth control rose to prominence at the turn of the 20th century, and it was promoted for that very purpose: birth control.  For instance, in England, scientists and much of the public feared that the large influx of quite fertile immigrants and minorities threatened to “mongrelize [their] English and Scotch stock” (Letter to Birth Control News, Nov, 1922).   So the intention of this movement was to use any means necessary to control the birth rate of these “low-caste foreigners” so as to prevent the degradation of the human race, specifically in England.

However, as the world saw the logical conclusion of the eugenics movement in Nazism, such overt speech was no longer publicly permissible, and the same principles continued to operate simply under a veil of guises and euphemistic jargon. Slowly birth control changed from perfunctory to voluntary.  No longer were scientists seeking to force it upon individuals, but individuals were actually choosing to use it of their own freewill.  They began to take control of their own fertility with a weapon meant to keep down populous huddled masses.

The question then becomes, where does birth control lead a society?  Where does birth control lead the Church?  Well, before that can be answered, let us state the obvious.  Voluntary birth control seeks to eliminate the procreative aspect of the individual sex act, whether inside or outside of marriage.  Its intentions are to place a barrier, whether physical or chemical, to prevent the effects of conjugal love.

So, where does that take a society?  Well, the wide acceptance of birth control changed the way we see the sex act.  It may still be participated in by two individuals who love one another, and it may still promote emotional and spiritual connection–by the best intentioned individuals.  However in a sinful culture, once procreation is removed from the equation, sex has a tendency to be viewed as no more than “body parts rubbing together” (Robert George).   Sex then becomes nothing more than the most utilitarian method of sexual release.

It is not difficult to see, then, how this leads to the rise of pornography.  In our birth controlled culture, sex is no longer about the recreative love of God bestowed upon humanity as part of His image.  The love of the Triune God is creative–haven’t you read Genesis 1 and 2?  Part of the one flesh mystery of marriage is the way in which  God designed the unity (marital love) of diversity (a husband and wife) to also create more life.  Once sex no longer has to mirror that facet of God, the physical pleasures of sexual desire are set free to fulfill themselves in whatever way possible.

Enter the porn business.  A culture that no longer sees a connection between procreation and sex no longer sees a need for partnership in the individual sex act–and voila!  An entire industry built on sexual self-centeredness is born at the cost of exploited teenagers, children, and people created in the image of God.

Now, is the purpose of this article to make others feel guilty about using birth control?  No.  However, it is important that we see the effects of some of the choices that we make as Christians.  Is birth control the only factor in the sexualization of our culture through porn?  Heck no.  The depravity of man has made myriads of contributions.  It was simply my intention to point out the fact that birth control contributed to a climate favorable for the rise of pornography.

On the other hand, I would encourage Christian husbands and wives, or those soon to be married, to have the difficult and touchy “why” discussion–as in “why should we, use birth control?”  Is that too much to ask?  Christian maturity asks not, “Can we?”, but, “Should we?”

(photo credit)

3 Replies to “How Birth Control Kicked Open the Porn Door”

  1. I usually greatly enjoy your thoughtful and thought provoking posts, but this one lost me in the 5th paragraphs jump from procreation to body parts rubbing against each other. The beauty of sex between committed partners is not just that a child may result, although that is miraculously beautiful. It’s in the intimacy, the joining as one, the bond shared by no other. Where does that fit in to your scheme? What about the example of a married Christian couple who does not want to have children because, say, they can’t afford it? Is that couple to refrain from sex? I think you are missing the enormous reflection of G-d’s love for us that is intimacy for itimacy’s sake.

    Like

    1. Beth,
      Thank you so much for being willing to enter this conversation with me! I appreciate your thoughtful criticism, and I welcome more of it. In paragraph 5, my point is not that Christians cannot still enjoy the intimacy, spiritual connection, and beauty of the one flesh union without the possibility of procreation. Say a couple is infertile; is their sex any less glorifying to God? Of course not.

      The point I was trying to make, perhaps clumsily, was that once birth control enters the picture, the idea that sex is “mere rubbing together of body parts” becomes viable. A well intentional Christian or other individual does not have to allow it to become so, but birth control opens the door for that kind of perspective.

      Again, I hope this helps, and I hope you will continue to engage with my blog! I want engaged readers, not passive listeners.

      Thanks so much, Beth!
      Chad

      Like

Comments are closed.