Friday, 1 February 2008

The link between pornography and prostitution

One argument used against the idea of censoring pornography is that this is not the business of government.

However it is the business of government, as far as Christians are concerned, to punish evil. As 1 Peter 2:14 says that governors are "sent by [God] to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good." Or as Romans 13:4 says of rulers, "But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer." A good government, whether secular or religious in nature, has a duty under God to make moral decisions and, insofar as it has power, to use the sword to enforce those moral decisions.

So it follows that governments have the right and duty, as they are able, to censor pornography. Whether they in fact do have the power (or even the willpower) to do this is another question. The sword that God has given to them may not reach quite as far as our internet connections, and some in a parliamentary democracy would see advantage in making sure that the sword remains short.

This is not a question that I've spent a lot of time thinking about, but I started thinking about it again because of the proposal currently before our local council to have a brothel built just round the corner from us. The particular question that has started to interest me is the link between pornography and prostitution (and perhaps further, the link between prostitution and human trafficking). Al Mohler's blog had an article about this subject in August 2005, where he mentions the work of Pamela Paul. And I also come across this quote in a 2006 article

The more often men purchased sex, the more they were to view sex as a commodity, and the more often they were to hold false information about prostitutes: most freely choose prostitution, they enjoy their work, they make lots of money, etc. Hughes suggested that if an education campaign debunked such beliefs and gave these men a more realistic view of the life of prostitution, they might be willing to change their behavior.25

Recently commentators in the United States have noted that pornography is becoming more culturally acceptable at the same time that it is becoming more violent and degrading toward women. This problem must be addressed in order to eliminate the demand for sexual trafficking, since researchers have found a link between pornography and prostitution, with men who solicit sex acts to be twice as likely to have viewed pornography as US men in general.

The same article reminds its readers that "Up to 800,000 people are trafficked internationally each year for sexual exploitation and forced labor, 80% of them women or girls."

I might do a bit more digging around on this subject. I found a pdf file of a 2004 article by Dr. Donna Hughes, Best Practices to Address the Demand Side of Sex Trafficking, you can download it here and it makes worthwhile reading.


CraigS said...

Gordo, you raise some good points and I've been giving them some thought to. Specifically on the issue of *how far* we should expect government to go in legislating a Christian morality.

I'd make the following points -

1. The governments Peter and Paul were writing under were pretty lax morally by modern standards. Vice was absolutely rampant in the ruling patrician class.

2. I see Peter and Paul admonishing Christians to avoid immorality. But I see no evidence of them petitioning government for it's outlawing.

3. There are potential separation of church and state issues here too. It's sinful to watch porn, so outlaw it. It's also sinful to reject God and not go to church. So outlaw non-attendance at church. (as you are aware, this has been done in the past).

4. Part of what you write revolves around a concern for prostitutes. Fair enough - some of them have miserable lives. But will outlawing prostitution make their lives easier?

If you've ever watched "Cops" you will see the police regularly arrests girls for prostitution (the clients as well). This seems to start a bit of a spiral downward for some of them, as they are now criminals, they have gone to jail, they become repeat offenders etc. It doesn't look like a better outcome.

Luke S. said...

Well, correlation != causation. Does any of the material you mention establish causation, or just a "link", ie correlation? Causation would be interesting, but correlation is hardly surprising really, is it?

Gordon Cheng said...

Dunno Luke. What do you think, and why?