Top 10 Reasons for and Alternatives to Viewing Porn

Ray accountability, pornography, time management 31 Comments

Porn is a subject that irritates many members.  Some wish it didn’t have to be discussed as much as it is, while others think it doesn’t have to be discussed as much as it is.  (Maybe there are some who wish it was discussed more than it is, but that’s a completely separate issue.) 

I want to take a very different look at it by explaining the Top Ten Reasons I can think of to view it – and the Top Ten alternatives for me personally.  This post is not primarily a religious one; rather, it is a practical one.

First, I believe we don’t address the practical aspect of time prioritization nearly enough when we discuss things like what we watch.  If I were asked to give a General Conference talk on porn (as if that is even a remote possibility!), I would focus on the practical aspect of time management – and not deal at all with the “morality” question. 

I did some simple math, with which I won’t bore you here, and when I factor out sleep, work and my own direct, minimal, church-related commitments I am left with approximately 65 hours each week to accomplish all the things I want to do.  Roughly 30 of these hours are on Saturday and Sunday; roughly 35 of them are during the weekdays.  Therefore, I want to address viewing porn in the context of what I need to choose not to do in order to choose to view it during the time I am able to choose what I do. 

In that vein, I offer the following:

TOP TEN REASONS FOR ME TO VIEW PORN

1. To gain a better understanding of the technical aspects of sex.  (Granted, I also have been told that the vast majority of the billions of available hours of porn covers technical aspects of sex that could be covered very well in no more than an hour or two, but what better way is there, really?) 

2. To gain a better understanding of how to please my spouse.  (Although I’ve been told the vast majority of the billions of available hours of porn has nothing to do with sex with one’s spouse.)

3. To learn to appreciate impossibly large anatomy.  (I can’t add “God-given” to that reason, but I’m trying to make this a Top Ten list.) 

4. To show my support for agency and unfettered expression of personal moral choice.  (I’ve heard this one, so I’m passing it on.)

OK.  I give up.  The rest of you are going to have to fill in the final six spots. 

TOP TEN ALTERNATIVES TO VIEWING PORN

[In response to Ulysseus in comment #25, I am adding a very serious suggestion as an alternative at the top of this list: **Seek counseling and help with sexual issues, including the use of truly instructional materials.**]

1. Spend more time with my wife and children.  (This might affect #5, I realize – and I already spend quite a lot of time with them.) 

2. Spend more time in nature, even if it’s just walking around the small town in which I currently live.  (This might be a re-statement of #1, since I don’t like to walk alone just for relaxation.) 

3. Spend more time with friends and neighbors.  (I like interacting with others, but on a practical level I can be too much of a hermit on a day-to-day basis.)

4. Spend more time helping the helpless and lonely.  (I really should do this, regardless of how it affects #5.) 

5. Spend more time blogging.  (OK, increased blogging is a stretch for me – or at least it couldn’t have been on my list before last summer.) 

6. Spend more time learning through reading.  (There are many millions of good books I haven’t read.  Some of them have to be a better use of my time than porn.) 

7. Spend more time reading brain candy.  (ibid – and if it’s a choice between reading and porn, “The Work and the Glory” might be a better alternative.  Maybe.  I’ll have to think about it – but there are lots of other choices that aren’t so hard.) 

8. Learn a new skill.  (I really shouldn’t have to pay a mechanic to fix even the simplest things that go wrong with our vehicles and computers – especially since my dad and brothers are very good at doing both of these things.) 

9. Play more practical jokes on people.  (I am pretty good at this, but my practical joke muscles have atrophied a bit lately.  I really should practice more.)

10.  Clean my house on my own initiative.  (OK, this is limited by what my wife will allow me to do, but it is something to which I really should give a higher priority.) 

Some things I thought of including on the alternatives list:

1. Mow my lawn before it reaches 8″ in height.  That might cut down on the dirty looks my neighbors give me on a regular basis.  (“Dirty” as in “mad” – not “dirty” as in “pornographic”.  Just sayin’.)

2. Exercise.  If you know me, you’ll understand how good that would be as an alternative.   You’d also understand why the dirty looks I get are not pornographic.  Maybe I could combine #1 and #2.  Maybe that tendency to combine things is why I need to exercise more often.  

3. Sleep more.  I really should do that, but I don’t see it happening any time soon. 

4. Get a tan.  Again, if you’ve seen me . . .

5. Play the piano more often.  This probably should be on my list, but I just thought of it.  I’ll make it a retroactive 1a. 

6. Become fluent in Japanese again.  I really should do this, as well. 

So, everyone, I am NOT asking anyone to comment on the morality of viewing porn.  What I am asking for are good reasons to view porn in light of what you are giving up to view it – and for more suggestions of things that are better alterntaives to porn for you personally. 

Have at it.

Comments

comments

Comments 31

  1. As a wife who has had pornography a 3rd wheel in my marriage, I would like to add a few.

    Spend time helping your wife and your children build confidence in themselves when they are already insecure with all the pressure from Hollywood and the porn industry.

    Teach your family about real beauty.

    Camping…..lots of camping!

  2. Reason to view porn:

    5. Titillate (or be titillated). For most, this is reason #1, I suspect. I’ll ask around the office and get back to you.

    Alternatives:

    You hit my top alternatives.

  3. You know… I’m old enough to remember actually not knowing what the missionaries were talking about when they mentioned pornography in the 6th or 7th discussion (the one which was after the baptism.) The odd thing about these discussions is that porn is an evil, and a evil that is particularly destructive to Christians because it drives the spirit away from us and our marriages. I think however its much more of an indicator of the problem than the problem. Its odd to me that we ignore the fact that roughly 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce and we are worrying about the indicators? I think we be much better off learning more about how to love each other in marriage to drive away this evil.

    In my mind its simple… Educate about the intimate aspects of love and marriage = Porn does not become appealing.

  4. I’m all for coming up with good reasons, but the problem with all 10 of your reasons is that they are all based on the same premise, so they are really just one reason, saving time for other things. The problem with arguments about time is that they can be used against anything, like reading fiction, watching any movie, or playing sports. You can’t come up with a convincing argument about saving time since there are always an infinite number of other things that you could be doing, like feeding the homeless instead of eating dinner with your family. Arguments from time saving in and of themselves are not effective.

  5. #1 Thing to Do to Avoid Watching Porn: Don’t marry a woman who has been raised in a religious culture where physical pleasure is condemned as sinful and where a young woman must train herself to become an asexual entity in order to maintain her religion’s rigid standards until marriage.

    #2 Thing to Do to Avoid Watching Porn: Don’t marry a woman whose religion requires her to wear the frumpiest underwear unknown to mankind (except by a select few) both day AND NIGHT.

    #3 Thing to Do to Avoid Watching Porn: Don’t marry a woman whose religion teaches her that her children are her #1 priority, that her appearance is of secondary importance at best (because being a mother comes first), and that it’s OK to treat her husband as an afterthought.

  6. I think education is probably the key, but usually when this is suggested it means to become more educated about “true” beauty, etc. I think a more compelling bit of education, but one that doesn’t sit well with the “let’s just talk about nice things” crowd, is to become more educated about the pornography industry and it’s global ties to sex trafficking. I am by no means an expert on this subject, but from what I understand, particularly due to the open channels of distribution via the internet, the vast majority of pornography comes from foreign entities. These are places like Asia, Eastern Europe, South America, etc. As such, many of the models who perform on these websites are literally forced to participate or compelled through drugs and/or poverty. By viewing pornography from those sources we are contributing to that kind of human trafficking, whether we inteded such a thing or not. Facts such as these go much further towards fostering a genuine distaste of pornography than does ideological hyperbole about so-called “true beauty”.

  7. Post
    Author

    I agree that education is the key to stopping porn (and the trafficking aspect Cowboy describes is a vital piece of the overall picture that most people miss completely) – but, ironically, TT highlighted the educational aspect I am addressing in the post with the entire comment. I say “ironic”, because a criticism of a post usually doesn’t echo the point of the post. 🙂

    I know my 10 reasons are really one reason – but, for me, it’s the most important reason. I want to become someone, and there are millions of things I can do to become that someone that don’t include porn. This post is not about being effective on a large scale, and it’s not about how to help hard-core addicts recover, and it’s not about the evils of porn. It’s about the idea that there simply are better uses of our time than porn – and that such a statement is so simplistic that it’s over-looked by nearly everyone.

    Finally, if the attempt at humor wasn’t obvious enough, I tried to approach this in a way that would let people have a little fun with it. That’s hard to do with this topic, and I will edit the post to make that more clear, but please . . .

    Have at it.

  8. Ray-
    Yeah, I caught the humor. I liked it! And like, you I just have too much to do and that’s reason enough to not be involved.

    Here’s my alternative:
    1. I wanna become a renaissance man (yeah like that’s possible) and as a result there’s not time for porn!

  9. How about best alternative – having actual sex (?). Too obvious? Then you still get the titillation, and assuming you are with your spouse, no downside! But if that’s not a viable option, I suggest you head to the gym.

  10. Hawkgrrrl, having actual sex isn’t always the obvious alternative. I hesitate to add to Ray’s top 10 reasons to view porn, but here goes. I think it is a pretty well-established fact that some men view porn precisely because their wives lose interest in sex. After having our third child, my wife visited the doctor for a routine checkup and the doctor asked her “how’s your libido?” She said “what’s that?” Needless to say, my wife’s question actually answered the doctor’s question…

    There’s a scene in the movie Forget Paris with Billy Crystal and Debra Winger. After they can’t conceive, they go to a fertility specialist, and Billy is asked for a sperm sample. To assist him with his specimen, they offer porn to get him in the mood. (He makes some funny jokes about it, but declines if I remember correctly.) So, I guess there’s another one to add to Ray’s list.

    I believe the church policy on artificial insemination is basically neutral; I know a few LDS couples that have been to fertility clinics. I’m not sure the church would approve of Billy Crystal’s (attempted) method for a sperm sample (viewing porn), but I guess there’s another good reason to view porn–albeit for a small sample of married couples. I’m not sure the church’s position on sperm donations (or egg donations for that matter), but I suspect they’re not fond of the practice of donating either, unless it is for your prospective children.

  11. Ray – Well done dude. I like the fact you went on the practical side not the spiritual side. I would love to see much more of this in everything the church does.

    For some people they get tired of piling on the guilt and leave. Where your post has made it practical- a far better approach in my opinion.

  12. I think I would have put: “having a clear conscience” and “being able to feel the spirit” at the top of the alternative reasons list.

  13. Being a convert to the Church, I wasn’t raised inside of the protective bubble of an LDS family so I was introduced to sexual immorality at a very young age. And the fact that I’m still single at 27 with every bit of the desire that I had before I joined doesn’t help any. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a catch 22 situation, I can’t have sex because I’m not married, I can’t view porn or relieve myself, and I can’t get married because LDS women want to know about my past before they’ll marry me! I feel tempted to do what my dad did and lie myself into the arms of a woman, it certainly seemed to work for him! I’ve resisted great temptations, but at the end of the day, I’m not even sure if marriage and family are even what God has planned for me, and I wonder why He would inspire me to join the Church to live an unfulfilled life. Yes, this post has a lot to do with porn!

  14. idwtr – That slogan crossed my mind, as well. Not usually what I associate with porn, but . . . 🙂

    Hawk, how did I miss that one?! Our youngest of six is now seven-years-old – so there aren’t any sudden interruptions. One in particular was memorable, given what our two-year-old son said from the foot of the bed, but I’m not sharing it here.

    MH, I haven’t thought of “Forget Paris” in a long time. Very funny movie, but not one my mom would appreciate.

    James, guilt has its proper place – but it isn’t where it often is piled.

    Christine – I agree, in theory, but the alternatives were activities, not reasons.

    Stephen – Sometimes it’s good to be a High Priest.

    JD – Your situation is hard. Fwiw, relieving yourself probably is the best alternative of those you listed. 😉

  15. Meh, my wife got dressed up and put a porn on last night so, here is a good reason…It makes sex crazy hot…Just my 2 cents as she still manages to be a spiritual person while occasionally enjoying porn within our relationship.

    Just about nything can be “insidious” if you let it dominate you life…people just dont get “moderation”….

  16. A useful post,Ray,and a point well made.

    I’m hoping not to tread on too many toes,but feel passionately about this.I’ve seen so many marriages falter at this challenge.

    I don’t accept that a lack of libido on the part of a partner as a reason to use porn.I think lack of libido is generally a signal that there are issues in our lives that affect our relationships that need to be addressed,other,of course,than health reasons.

    I think that sex is kind of like a fire in the hearth of a home,when it stays in the right place we are all warmed by it’s presence.When it goes out,something is missing,and that absence is felt by all family members and leads to imbalance in the collective life of the family.We often underestimate it’s importance in a balanced life.Since,as has been pointed out, porn generally involves those who are coerced in one way or another,when we use it we become complicit in their abuse.

    It concerns me that we underestimate the healing and refining power of our sexuality,so much growth comes from the huge challenge that this task confronts us with.Many of us turn away from this challenge,in one way or another.It’s so much easier not to do this stuff.We have to ask ourselves why we might turn away from giving each other the greatest comfort and sustenance that’s available to two adults.

    I don’t see this primarily in terms of functionality,but in terms of relationship.Which means,that seeing a sex therapist for behavioural interventions may well not be enough-although it’s a start.Our sexuality reflects all that has happened in our lives and relationships,it’s not just an appetite.It’s something we do together,love is something we make together.

    It’s a great adventure,an amazing project to work on together.A work in progress.

    I think this could be the real story.

    We don’t talk about this stuff half enough,and so we’re left with all sorts of fantasies about how it is for others.Porn exploits that insecurity.

  17. Reasons to view porn:
    stress relief and other demonstrated health benefits?
    deprogramming one’s ingrained Puritan sexual ethics?
    assuaging insecurities about sexual orientation?
    finding out that sex is an X-rated letdown, before you sacrifice your bachelorhood for the right to have it?

  18. I don’t have much time tonight, and I would like to respond to everyone, but in the spirit of the original post I just have to say thanks to Christopher and SofaBCR. I didn’t think anyone would top Hawk’s comment – but #22 cracked me up.

  19. I personally find what most people call pornography distasteful. I’m not turned on by men or women in painful-looking poses, or with grossly-exaggerated anatomies. I’m repulsed by the idea of intimacy with most of the soulless models I’ve seen. I would probably be traumatized by a pornographic film. And when I found photos I did enjoy, I couldn’t help but feel guilty about it — and that was before I discussed them with my girlfriend, and found out that she was uncomfortable with them.

    What we did find out she’s okay with are drawings of fictional characters, and stories about them. Whether looking at and reading them, or creating them myself. The ones I enjoy tend to have much more artistic merit — especially the ones where the characters aren’t fully unclothed — and they tend to portray people as having real feelings and self-confidence, and not just existing for another’s gratification. Besides that, she’s not worried that I’m going to run off with a cartoon.

    She encourages me to enjoy my sexuality, after years of what she called abuse. Because I found it extremely hard to live by the whole law of chastity, and spent most of my life believing I was going to be separated from my family for all of eternity, for something that I could barely control. I read and believed Boyd K. Packer’s “little factory” speech, and hated myself for having so much trouble abiding by its counsel, when it seemed like everyone else could. I never went on a mission or to the temple, and was told I was damned, and even threatened with church discipline once just for relieving myself. I now wonder how many others were lying or being excused in their interviews.

    My girlfriend and I are both playing an online game now with very attractive male and female character models, and we talk openly about what we like and dislike about them. We both think some of them are sexist and disrespectful, but we both think others are cute, and we’re both having a lot of fun with the game. I feel closer to her now than I ever have, and her kindness and acceptance of my sexuality are some of the biggest things I enjoy about it.

  20. #16 Ray, when addressing someone’s sexual frustration, please refrain from the adjective, “hard.”

    I think you’ve all missed the most pressing problem with porn — some have hinted at it, but the bottom line is that the biggest problem with porn is the attitude towards porn.

    For the Porn is bad and you’d be better off spending your time doing something, I mean anything, else camp — you negate the individual’s subjective arousal to the pictures or images, imbue them with shame and guilt and there is a cognitive disconnect in the porn user’s mind — this feels awfully wonderful and it is awfully bad. The brain short circuits and one of two things happens — the porn user completely rebels or becomes a Puritan and both versions possess a messed up sexuality.

    From the Porn is bad because it subjugates women/women in third world countries camp — how do you explain gay male porn. Whoops. Exploitation does not have to equate to porn, it is a common logical fallacy.

    From the porn is great as a sexual appetizer camp, at least you recognize that porn can arouse and by definition fondle your prurient interests, but then what do you do with the relationship damage that it causes?

    The most striking thing of the post and comments is the pain that an inadequate sex life can cause in men and women — does anyone think that the wives described by the husbands in the comments are happy campers? This alleged discussion of porn (which isn’t really much of a discussion, but a regurgitation of calcified ideas about porn — as boring as porn itself can be at times) is a symptom of that pain, where because of cultural morays and constraints and historical baggage (polygamy and multiple wives in heaven) Mormons can rarely talk about sex with any clarity or rationality.

    The number one reason to vote yes for Mormon Porn is to create an environment where sex can be discussed without guilt and shame, the exquisite physical pleasure can be acknowledged and the pain and despair that accompanies the poor sex lives of so many can be acknowledged as a hard task and sympathetically stroked towards bliss.

  21. “The number one reason to vote yes for Mormon Porn is to create an environment where sex can be discussed without guilt and shame, the exquisite physical pleasure can be acknowledged and the pain and despair that accompanies the poor sex lives of so many can be acknowledged as a hard task and sympathetically stroked towards bliss.”

    Ulysseus, I agree with everything in that paragraph except that it should lead to a vote for porn. I wish everyone were much more comfortable with frank discussions of sex – including sexual counseling and instructional materials (including video materials). In that light, I will add one more alternative to porn to my list – both here and in the post:

    **Seek counseling and help with sexual issues, including the use of instructional materials.

  22. “From the Porn is bad because it subjugates women/women in third world countries camp — how do you explain gay male porn. Whoops. Exploitation does not have to equate to porn, it is a common logical fallacy.”

    Or, how about Playboy where the models are generally well paid, treated as celebrities, and where posing for the magazine is major step forward in achieving professional success in other endeavors? Just to be clear, I am the person who proposed the porn is bad because of how it exploits women in third world countries. I recognize that the exploitation argument does not apply to every sector in the industry. At the same time I don’t see how counter examples such as gay porn diminish the reality that in terms of volume, exploitative pornography has serious market share – particularly on the internet. That should be a serious wake up call to many porn addicts (usually the ones who spend hours on the internet), many of whom in spite of their addictions would never be party to the actual abuses that occur for their “entertainment” were they to have a broader understanding of the big picture.

  23. Also, I should make it crystal clear that I do not equate or even associate all depictions of nudity and/or sexual activity with “porn”. I think that was obvious in my last comment, but just in case anyone missed it . . .

  24.  Im a Mormon, and I hate porn and despise it, but sometimes I get aroused and I cant bottle it up 

    But now the Holy Ghost has left me, im racked up with sins that need repenting and im back to phase 1

    not to mention all the blessings iv lost and consequences to come

    My brothers and sisters please avoid it, imagine you were living in the early 90’s and late 80’s what would u be doing otherwise, definately not watching porn

    And im so saddened that Girls are watching it too, I am so embarrassed and sometimes i feel ashames of myself

  25. Ray,

    Reading your post makes me wonder if you understand why people get involved with porn. If you truly do not, good for you. I guess the only reason I know why is because of the fact that I myself am involved/addicted to it. First, I know of no one (and I do know a few) who uses porn without masturbation. So I will assume that they go hand in hand. I don’t think I have ten reasons, but here are a few…

    1. The feeling – arousal which leads to orgasm is one of the most amazing feelings in the world; a high like no other. The fact that this is not anywhere on your list is surprising to me. Very surprising.

    2. Stress relief – again, orgasms are proven to release dopamine and other chemicals which not only make us feel great in the moment, but also provide some long-term stress reduction.

    3. Frequent use makes it habitual

    4. To “get back” at a loved one

    5. To hurt one’s self

  26. Nice you have this here as an alternative to watching porn.  The feeling to have avoided the porn sure beats the feeling of having watched it.  

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