Virtual Reality Porn and the Worship of Self

Future trends and tips for responding to pornography

One of the largest Internet porn sites, Pornhub (with 60 million daily users), just launched a new section devoted to virtual reality pornography. This takes pornography to a whole new level. It creates a virtual body for the user—moving the viewer from spectator to participant.

In the article from Fast Company, Some Said it Couldn’t Be Done But Free VR Porn Is On It’s Way, the site’s owner said, “Now, our users are not only able to view our content, but be protagonists in the experience and interact with their favorite porn stars,” and thereby revolutionizing the addictive, damaging impact of porn on our children.

Porn addiction is already unique from other addictions. Gary Wilson identifies a number of reasons why, including: (1) Internet porn offers extreme novelty; (2) Unlike food and drugs, there are almost no physical limitations to Internet porn consumption; (3) With Internet porn, one can escalate both with more novel “partners” and by viewing new and unusual genres; (4) Unlike drugs and food, Internet porn doesn’t eventually activate the brain’s natural aversion system; and (5) The age users start watching porn.

A teen’s brain is at its peak of dopamine production and neuroplasticity, making it highly vulnerable to addiction and rewiring. VR porn will only compound these realities.

Heading toward self worship

In reading the article and watching the reactions of men and women alike to taking the VR porn for a test run, I find myself pondering several things:

  1. The article’s title reads as if a company finally solved a major problem in our world. It is as if we are to stand up and applaud a breakthrough.
  2. I remember watching a TED talk by Philip Zimardo a few years back who stated that sexual addiction is different than food, work or drug addition. With those sorts of addictions, the user wants more. More is needed to satisfy. But in arousal addiction, it is not more that is needed, but different. VR porn is definitely different. But it will also provide a new arena to try the different. What happens when virtual children are placed in the VR Porn world? It’s not hurting anyone, right? You can try it in this virtual world. No doubt, many will suggest this gives people a virtual playground—a safe place to indulge any twisted fantasy one’s fallen mind can conjure up. But, life online eventually moves offline.
  3. Pornography is about worship. It’s about worshiping sex. It is about exchanging the glory of the Creator for created things (Romans 1:25), where a human, an interaction, or a virtual experience is worshiped. But, it is also about being worshiped. During the demonstration videos, one young man testing the VR porn exclaims, “Wow! She’s really into me!” This is the heart of pornography. The user slides into a fantasy world where they are worshiped. Everyone in that world exists for their pleasure. Everyone in that world calls out to them to please and satisfy them. Everyone in that fake, hellish place exists for them. Therefore, pornography is about worship—the worship of self. Pornography exposes the true heart of mankind that considers equality with God something to be grasped, taking the very nature of a rebel. As Alex Berson states in his post, The Scourge of Virtual Reality Porn,“This is a long way from love, to say nothing of the sort of love thatJesus commanded. And I take the need for it to be commanded as an implication that loving people isn’t easy. Love teaches us to put others first and ourselves second, sometimes last. Love humbles us and refines us into the kind of people God wants in His kingdom. And this sort of love extends to sexual intimacy. As John Piper says, ‘happy and fulfilling sexual relations in marriage depend on each partner aiming to give satisfaction to the other.’”
  4. VR allows man, in a sense, to become Creator. Programmers become gods. The world created by the programmers of Pornhub is one in which neither God, nor his good boundaries, exist. What we get is a world where sex, a gift given by God to unite male and female into lifelong and life-creating intimacy, becomes filled with self-centered lust rather than self-giving love.

How should we respond?

  1. Give your young people a more robust biblical vision for sexuality that goes beyond “wait for marriage.” This series of articles from Focus on the Family may prove helpful.
  2. Help your children and youth to see Christ and desire Him and see the little god of pornography as weak, insufficient and cheap.Listen to how D.A. Carson suggests overcoming temptation by gazing on Christ.
  3. Talk with your children and students (male AND female) about how porn leads to lifelong changes to the brain and negatively impacts future sex in marriage.
  4. I once heard Kara Powell, of Fuller Youth Institute, say that conversations about sex with our children identify the deep end of the conversational pool with children. If you can talk about sex and sexuality, then you can talk about anything. Create safe, authentic places for conversations about sex to be normal rather than taboo.

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