The most grotesque perversions of human sexuality, once relegated to the darkened side streets of our cities, now can be accessed with only a few keyboard clicks. However, those individuals who believe they can travel undercover to online dens of sexual depravity to view and download pornography are not as anonymous as they might believe.
While it has long been known that some such sites have the ability to hack into a visitor's computer, there are now reports that at least one Internet purveyor of porn has the means to disable a computer with a flood of pop-up ads if the potential customer doesn't provide payment for a subscription that automatically follows a "free trial" of the site's disgusting offerings.
According to foxnews.com , those who sign up do get their three days of "free access," but immediately thereafter they are the victims of a daily barrage of pop-up windows that cannot be closed—whether or not the computer is connected to the Internet—unless they pay up.
As much as I dislike strong-armed business tactics, I don't have any sympathy for someone who views pornography—on the Internet or otherwise—and whose computer is held hostage in this manner for a payment. Pornography is an ugly corruption of that which God created for good. It perverts and distorts all of the God-given purposes for sexual intimacy.
Yet these severely misguided individuals who are caught up in seeking after these addictive and dangerous temptations of the flesh become victims of their own deviancy, as this entry at McAfee Avert Labs blog suggests:
"What it appears they are doing is, in my humble opinion, a form of extortion based on the (usually correct) assumption that a person's computer will be key to many other activities in their daily life. Also, possibly with inadvertent/passive blackmail as a bonus: someone not wanting other family members or a spouse to realize they've been surfing for pornography, or perhaps even more dire, someone to see it on a computer at their workplace, and becoming desperate to silence the persistent billing pop-ups."
This business decision by this Web site owner demonstrates—in a unique way—the physical, emotional, and spiritual snare of pornography. As any fisherman would know, without a barb on the fishhook, most fish would escape the line before being hauled into the boat.
The satanic siren call of pornography does not let people—once caught—off the hook so easily (Romans 7:21-25); for once they have purposely viewed pornography, they are changed individuals, with disturbing, often violent, images burned onto their psychological "hard drives."
They are changed in their view of women, their view of procreation, and their view of the world. Pornography reinforces the lie that "it's all about me." And pornography on the Internet—a digital river of toxic slime—is far more violent, deviant, and perverse than what is available elsewhere.
Of all the moral and ethical issues facing families in the twenty-first century, pornography is perhaps among the most pernicious. The homes of Christian families are not immune from the dangers posed by the polluted floodwaters spewed forth from this electrified stream of pagan sexuality.
Keeping you and your children protected from this heathen onslaught takes some work, particularly with the rapid technical advancements in media and communication.
Pornography and other sexually explicit material are now readily available on any wireless mobile device with Internet capabilities.
Entertainment devices have become venues for such content, particularly digital video content. In addition to the personal computer, wireless handheld devices such as new generation video cell phones, iPods, iPhones, PDAs, and the newest in video game consoles, including PlayStation 3 , are now conduits for all the pornography available on the Internet.
Tamper-proof Internet filters or monitoring systems are readily available for computers, but few families take advantage of the protection they afford. In fact, Rick Schatz, with the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families , estimates that far less than ten percent of the computers in Christian households are outfitted with such a filter.
The latest generation of cellular telephones offer users expanded capabilities, including the ability to download explicit content from the Internet onto the phone. While the five largest wireless companies, T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, Alltel, and Verizon are committed to developing filtering technology for their telephones, none have blocking mechanisms available yet.
Parents give many reasons for not protecting their family from the dangers of the Internet: concerns about degraded service, too many safe sites being blocked, filters that are too porous, or a feeling of helplessness in face of the technology. Yet there is every reason to do everything possible to ensure than neither you nor your children are snagged by the polluted hook of pornography.
Dr. Richard Land is president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention's official entity assigned to address social, moral, and ethical concerns, with particular attention to their impact on American families and their faith.