Speakers address‘casualties of porn’

Widespread usage of porn raises concern over social, psychological and spiritual effects.

Raya Zimmerman

Before Grant Buse  was ordained as a pastor in 1999, his scripture was not the Bible, but porn.
âÄúIt made me think women were objects,âÄù he said.
Only when he started school at the University of Minnesota in 1995 did he confront what he viewed as an issue and change himself.
âÄúThe conflict in my heart was there were women that I had been really good friends with in my life and I felt like it was dishonoring to them,âÄù he said.
âÄúWhen I became a Christian, almost immediately that was the first thing that came to my mind I needed to deal with.âÄù
As an associate pastor at Maranatha Christian Church  in Prospect Park, Buse has seen an increase in people coming to him for help.
âÄúMy experience with God has completely set me free from these sorts of things so that I donâÄôt have to go back to that pile of vomit, so to speak,âÄù Buse said.
On Tuesday night, Maranatha Christian Fellowship, a student group affiliated with the Maranatha church, hosted a discussion at Coffman Union on the âÄúcasualties of porn.âÄù They tackled spiritual implications as well as the nonreligious social and psychological effects.
On the social side, Internet porn in the U.S. draws in $2.84 billion per year, which accounts for about half the worth of the porn industry worldwide, according to BuseâÄôs research from Online MBA.
The statistics also show that 40 million Americans are regular visitors to porn sites, with 35 percent of all search engine requests being pornographic.
For the spiritual side, associate pastor Parnell Mahoney, also from Maranatha Christian Church, addressed the issue of lust that he defined as âÄúfilthy thinking plus a greedy passion for more.âÄù
Both Buse and Mahoney offered spiritual healing as a solution to porn as a widespread phenomenon.
But Peter Grant, a Minneapolis-based licensed psychologist, offered a different perspective.
He said perceiving addiction to porn as a problem is âÄúmissing the point.âÄù
The use of porn represents an avoidance of certain issues, both internally and externally, rather than a problem itself, he said.
âÄúUltimately itâÄôs a search for contact that is doomed because there isnâÄôt any contact to be made when youâÄôre looking at pictures,âÄù he said.
He said porn addicts are usually depressed, frightened, isolated and unsatisfied in their personal relationships.
âÄúTheyâÄôre frustrated and they donâÄôt know what theyâÄôre looking for, so porn beckons.âÄù
He distinguished porn addicts as those who should seek help if they are losing control over their lives. However, he said, for people who view porn but arenâÄôt addicted, itâÄôs âÄúnot very detrimental.âÄù
âÄúEach individual uses their own stimulants: drugs, sex or even rock âÄônâÄô roll, as we used to say in my day, in a variety of ways depending on what they are looking for,âÄù he said.
Grant suggested taking a psychoanalytic or psychotherapeutic approach to addressing the cause of a porn addiction.
âÄúIts roots are in the past, but we have to grapple with it in the present,âÄù he said. âÄúYou donâÄôt spend time rummaging in the childhood âÄî you spend time working on the problems that bug you now.âÄù
Jason Saffer , a licensed marriage and family therapist in Berkeley, Calif., said there has been an explosion in explicitness in porn over the last 10 to 15 years as the Internet has increased accessibility and the social norm has become more accepting of sexual exploitation.
âÄúWhen I was a kid, there would be a romantic scene with a man and a woman kissing and the camera would go off in sunset,âÄù he said. âÄúNow the camera zooms in on the sex scene in detail. In the last five years, nudity has been more commonplace âÄî itâÄôs almost more expected.âÄù
Sex scenes in movies pressure couples to become sexual quickly so that it becomes commonplace, he said.
Several of SafferâÄôs clients have expressed concern that after theyâÄôve become sexual with their partner too quickly, it results in disappointment and letdown and interferes with getting to know a partner fully when trying to date them, he said.
âÄúPorn promotes this so what we see and what seems to be all right in the world makes it seem like it wonâÄôt hurt you,âÄù he said. âÄúBut it presents a skewed view.âÄù
One audience member Tuesday night begged to differ.
âÄúSex-positive porn, whether partaking in it alone or with any number of partners of any gender or orientation, constitutes legitimate exploration of human sexuality,âÄù Brendan Murphy, an officer of Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists, said.
Observing how humans express themselves sexually can tell us more about ourselves, he said.
Another audience member, Mike Zambrana, a University graduate student whoâÄôs also a member of the student group, thought both Buse and Parnell did âÄúan excellent job.âÄù
âÄúThey knew who they were talking to âÄî young students and male,âÄù he said. âÄúThey were speaking from a point of view of which they personally understand. It was a really good learning experience.âÄù