- The Washington Times - Monday, November 3, 2003

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

—James 1:14-15

There are an estimated 300,000 pornography sites on the Internet. As many as 2 million Americans are addicted to cyber-porn, according to the National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity. Two years ago, Forbes magazine estimated the revenues of the porn industry as at least $2.6 billion a year, including hundreds of millions of dollars from cable pay-per-view.

Porn stars are now celebrities — one was recently a candidate for governor of California, as was porn publisher Larry Flynt. Teenage girls wear T-shirts with “Porn Star” emblazoned in glittering letters.

In a sex-saturated culture, Joshua Harris says he believes “lust may be the defining struggle for this generation.”

Wearing a sweater and jeans, the youthful 29-year-old could easily pass for a college student. But he is already a best-selling author, married father of two, and executive pastor of the 3,000-member Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg.

In his latest book, “Not Even a Hint: Guarding Your Heart Against Lust,” Mr. Harris says there are good reasons to resist temptation.

“It’s not just, say no [to sex], but say yes — to sexual pleasure within marriage. The security of sex with one’s spouse gives comfort of faithfulness,” he said in an interview in his church office.

Lust, he says, is to “want what you don’t have and weren’t meant to have … go[ing] outside God’s guidelines to find satisfaction.”

Advertisers have long used sex to sell their products, Mr. Harris says, which explains why it so permeates popular culture. “What used to be exciting and titillating is not enough now,” he said.

Other cultural critics see the same trend.

“Everything we know about pornography and sexualization of advertising and sitcoms, we can see how they play into lust,” said Jan LaRue, chief counsel for Concerned Women for America, a conservative policy organization. “Lust is the antithesis of true love. Lust is all about me.”

Nor are conservatives and Christians the only ones worried about the long-term effects of pornography. Feminist author Naomi Wolf, an adviser to Democrat Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, says porn has become so ubiquitous that now “real naked women are just bad porn.”

To men accustomed to watching the extreme action of porn stars, ordinary sex may “barely register on the thrill scale,” Ms. Wolf wrote in New York magazine last month. And pornography creates new expectations of beauty for women, she says. “Being naked is not enough; you have to be buff, be tan with no tan lines, have the surgically hoisted breasts and the Brazilian bikini wax — just like porn stars. … Pornography is addictive; the baseline gets ratcheted up.”

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