By Jonathan Bremer

It is the year 2018, and the majority of society would assert that slavery is an abhorrent thing, morally and ethically wrong on all accounts. In fact, many people still carry the weight of America’s troubled history of slavery and the conscious infringement upon people’s basic human rights, and many more people throughout the world and even in the United States — often times, the people who make our shirts, pick our fruits, and construct our homes — are currently experiencing the horrors of slave labor. Despite its continuance, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who would disagree that slavery is objectively wrong. But, for many, this is still a reality.

Victims of sex trafficking are forced to live in atrocious power structures that make them slaves on demand. In fact, according to Fight the New Drug, 22% of modern-day slaves are held in sex slavery. While many would strongly oppose the idea of slavery, they may still support it through the consumption of pornographic content. Pornography consumption helps fuel the sex trafficking market and thus supports it — and sex trafficking is slavery. It may not be slavery in the sense that it was a few hundred years ago, but it is atrocious, and it is an inescapable truth for many around the world.

Porn isn’t a new thing. In fact, it is extremely common and has normalized through its portrayal in TV, cinema, and other cultural influences. While much of society accepts it as a healthy form of sexual self-expression, most Christians and other groups (religiously affiliated or otherwise) maintain that consumption of porn is morally or ethically wrong. Specifically, groups like Fight the New Drug or the cleverly-named NoFap have tried to push back on the acceptance of porn. Both of these secular and sex-positive organizations have created programs to help break the cycle of porn and sex addictions. Fight the New Drug’s program, Fortify, created a system with their donors that afforded teenagers and young adults under the age of eighteen free access to the Fortify program. The program includes a daily component that allows you to interact with a progress tracker, write journal entries, and add accountability partners if you are going through the program with someone that you trust.

The way pornography impacts the brain is quite damaging. It not only changes the way we see sex, but it also impacts those around us. It’s like a warped lens; through it, we begin to see sex as a means to achieve pleasure, not as a means of intimacy and holy union with another person. In fact, the focus is no longer about our partner at all. It becomes about ensuring the most pleasurable experience for ourselves. Consuming pornography warps the parts of our mind that allow us to enjoy the intimacy of a real partner. Each time a person uses pornography, they are using the person behind the screen as an object, not as a person, made in the image of God.

What people often don’t realize is the correlation between pornography and sex trafficking. Not all of the acts of physical degradation that one might find in pornographic photos or videos are consensual. In fact, it is safe to assume that a majority of the people are forced or coerced into performing these humiliating or harmful acts. Particularly with the rising popularity of ameteur porn, consumers can’t know for sure if the people pictured or recorded knew that the camera was running. Even if they did, maybe they didn’t consent to the distribution of the photos or videos. Maybe one or more of the participants consented to all of the above, but once the cameras starting rolling, their partners suddenly began something to which they did not consent. Maybe the participants are underage and therefore cannot consent. In all of these ways and more, they are the victims that cannot escape the industry.
Exploiting, objectifying, and lusting after others means that we sinfully destroy the image of God inherent in their being. As Christians and fellow human beings, it is important that we stand up for justice and defend the voiceless and the oppressed — and the trafficked. At a basic level, it is most important that we cut ties with a corrupt industry that traffics our own flesh and blood. These actors can’t always stand up for themselves, but we can. We have to stop supporting these cruel practices — and we can do that if we stop consuming pornography.

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