The dirty little secret behind gay marriage

by Kimberly Pennington |

((FILE) REUTERS/Steve Marcus)The Internet has helped "adult films" to grow from something hidden and shameful to such acceptance ( billion worldwide in 2014) that the industry even celebrates with its own award show similar to the Academy Awards. Here Mary Carey (L) and Sunny Lane (R) join Ron Jeremy in announcing winners during the 23rd annual Adult Video News Awards Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 7, 2006.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Christian Examiner) – Recent research suggests the biggest influence on the growing acceptance and support for same-sex marriage may be the exploding consumption of pornography that expanded exponentially with the proliferation of Internet use, and that it was especially impacting on the attitudes of millennials who have grown up with the rise of electronic access to explicit sexual content.

The Pew Research Center reports support for legal recognition of same-sex marriage rose above 50 percent for the first time in 2013 and this year reached an all-time high among young adults born after 1980.

Paul Wright of Indiana University and Ashley Randall of the University of Arizona conducted a study in which the results indicate that among heterosexual males, the demographic most likely to oppose same-sex marriage, pornography consumption is a predictor of support for same-sex marriage.

Wright said people develop attitudes toward sex in part from the media they consume, according to the Washington Examiner and, because pornography operates from a non-judgmental stance regarding all types of non-traditional sexual behavior, including homosexual sex, it is logical for consumers of pornography to view same-sex sex more favorably than non-consumers of pornography.

He also said the study revealed that lesbian pornography is popular among heterosexual males.

The connection between pornography consumption and support for same-sex marriage helps explain the record-breaking support for same-sex relationships among the millennial generation – people born between 1982-2002.

Unlike their parents and grandparents who had to leave their homes and travel to adult stores to purchase magazines and videos to view pornographic images, the millennial generation has had virtually unlimited access to pornography thanks to the World Wide Web.

Moreover, millennials readily admit to the influence of pornography on their lives and attitudes about relationships and sex.

Dr. Gary Strauss, professor emeritus of psychology at California's Rosemead School of Psychology whose research specialty is in the field of human sexuality, explained to Christian Examiner the attraction pornography holds.

Strauss said people are often introduced to it by parents or siblings who view it themselves and consider it to be harmless while others turn to pornography to engage in fantasies and behavior, often including self-stimulation, that provide some type of soothing for emotional wounds.

Commenting on the disconnection a person may experience when he or she becomes involved in pornography, Strauss noted the subsequent effect on their spiritual and moral life.

"An illustration that I find helpful is that of a fresh pizza that has been baked and cut into wedges. The slices can be removed, but the cheese is still soft enough to flow into the cuts, seeming to reconnect the slices," Strauss said. "The entire pizza represents [a person] and the individual slices represent the various facets of the individual's life including roles, mental/emotional states, and patterns of behavior.

"When a given individual finds himself or herself in a triggering situation, the thought of accessing pornography can enter the person's mind [in a way] that he or she may find particularly tempting at the moment," Strauss continued. "If the person does not have an effective strategy to reject the tempting thought and to become refocused on something positive and edifying, the thought may persist and the feeling of temptation becomes stronger."

Commenting on the disconnection a person may experience when he or she becomes involved in pornography, Strauss noted the subsequent effect on their spiritual and moral life.

"When a person has developed a pornography habit or addiction/compulsion, that 'slice' of the person's makeup typically becomes somewhat separated from the rest of the slices, even though others who know the person may not see or be aware of that disconnect in the person's life," Strauss said. "As the person continues to entertain the tempting impulse to look at porn, his or her mind ultimately 'steps across the gap and enters into the pornography' aspect of his or her life. When that step is taken, the maturity, the spiritual commitment, the positive aspects of the person's moral character lose their capacity to influence the present mindset of the person due to that disconnect I referred to above."

Strauss also stated that in his own clinical practice, he observed that emotional hunger, anger, loneliness, and fatigue are life conditions which tend to make people more vulnerable to the temptations of pornography.

Although pornography appears to have shifted attitudes toward support of same-sex unions, it does not mean the current trend toward redefining marriage is irreversible.

The Heritage Foundation's William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society, Ryan Anderson, himself a millennial, told an audience in January at the Heritage Foundation's 2015 Conservative Policy Summit in Washington, D.C. that just as the ongoing work of pro-life groups during the past 40 years has made his generation more pro-life than their parents, the same thing is possible on the issue of same-sex marriage.

"I could envision someone . . . 40 years ago right after the Roe v. Wade decision saying, 'Look at all the young people. They're turning against you on the right to life. The only people who are opposed to abortion are the elderly, and a generation from now there won't be a pro-life movement," he said. "That could have been a possibility, but instead, courageous pro-lifers really got to work. They started organizing.

"Right after the Roe v. Wade decision, we had the first March for Life. Forty-two years later . . . we'll have another March for Life, and when you look at this, you will see several hundred thousand people marching and the vast majority of them will be millennials . . . And what's amazing right now is when you look at the public opinion polling on abortion . . . my generation is more pro-life than my parents' generation . . . There's no reason why the same thing can't happen on the question about marriage," he said.

Strauss believes that addressing the problem of pornography is not an insurmountable task, and he has personally witnessed people succeed in facing the issue in their personal lives and marriages.

He said church groups can be of assistance by prayerfully seeking to develop ministries that will help people trapped in the "evil and destructive behavior" of pornography consumption, and, he encouraged church groups to pray for God's leading in how to develop such a ministry and to consult with local leaders and Christian professionals familiar with issues surrounding pornography and sexual addiction.

He also mentioned Focus on the Family's referral service as a resource.

Additionally, Strauss emphasized the importance of reading to become familiar with the problem and suggested resources written by Dr. Patrick Carnes, a pioneer in the treatment of sexual addictions, and "Five Steps to Breaking Free from Porn," by Joe Dallas.

Anderson underscored that his generation has not had to think through very critically why marriage is important to society.

"We've largely lived in a culture that has made a mess of marriage," he said. "So we come of age after the sexual revolution, after the introduction of no-fault divorce, where the majority of our contemporaries are born outside of marriage.

"It's not surprising that we're confused about what marriage is," he continued, "but that's no reason to give up on it. Serious work can be done making the case for what marriage is, and why it matters, and why we ought not re-define it, and why in those states where it has been redefined, why we ought to reclaim the truth about marriage.

"And it may take a decade. It may take four decades," he offered, "but that's the work that we have to do."