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The Worst Take of the Recent Pornography Debate

I like Austin Petersen. The former libertarian candidate for president, and also Republican candidate for the Missouri Senate seat that was eventually won by Josh Hawley, is right on many issues. I had a conversation with him back several years ago when I was doing my radio show – he’s passionate about liberty, he’s a thinker, and unlike too many other self-proclaimed atheists, he doesn’t seem to harbor a great deal of animosity towards Christianity.

But (and you knew there was going to be a but), when he’s wrong, he’s really, really wrong. And for my money, I don’t know that anyone got the recent pornography debate any more wrong than he did.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, four Republican representatives – including a personal friend of mine, Jim Banks of Indiana – wrote a letter to Attorney General William Barr. In it, they requested that Barr begin enforcing obscenity laws as a way to reduce the dissemination of hard-core pornography, particularly the kind that involves children. The letter was applauded by social conservatives and people of conscience, but quickly became the scourge of others, including Petersen.

Bizarrely, libertarians joined hands with leftists to decry the government policing or banning of pornography. Though these same people seem to have adjusted nicely to the government banning various forms of speech like false advertising, slander, libel, fraud, and perjury, the thought of them doing the same to speech that shows despicable dehumanization of women and children in violent porn was just too much. Just so you know, it will require the use of star charts to even attempt following their logic on that one.

Though this debate has just recently resurfaced, I was writing about the need for a serious legal crackdown on porn two years ago. Nevertheless, porn defenders are adamant about keeping this libelous defamation of the integrity of our fellow human beings legal. And they’ll resort to the most absurd and foolish arguments in their efforts. If you think I’m kidding, check out this gem from Petersen:

I don’t pretend to know precisely what Austin was thinking when he wrote this, but here’s my best guess: Churches seek to evangelize the world, and then teach Biblical sexual morality –which pornography unquestionably violates – to all those they’ve evangelized. Since pornography still exists, churches have failed.

To expose the rather galling sophistry here, simply put any other moral issue in the place of pornography:

  • “Calls by conservatives to ban pedophilia is a tacit admission that their churches have failed.”
  • “Calls by conservatives to ban theft is a tacit admission that their churches have failed.”
  • “Calls by conservatives to ban abortion is a tacit admission that their churches have failed.”
  • “Calls by conservatives to ban rape is a tacit admission that their churches have failed.”
  • “Calls by conservatives to ban murder is a tacit admission that their churches have failed.”

For those unfamiliar with the church of Jesus, Christianity teaches against all of those immoral activities. So, would it be Petersen’s view that conservatives should not seek criminal laws protecting innocent people from those actions as well? Would doing so imply that churches have failed?

Or could it be that Christians properly recognize the following:

  1. The heart of all mankind’s problems is sinful rebellion to God’s moral order.
  2. The only cure for that rebellion is reconciliation to God in Christ.
  3. While Christ offers the eternal cure, conversion does not bring freedom from sin’s temporal consequences.
  4. God has ordained civil government for the protection of the innocent from those temporal consequences, and for the punishment of evil on earth.

Simply put, seeking to legislate against speech that falsely represents the human form, disparages the character of its victims, deforms the minds and attitudes of its viewers, exploits and enslaves its participants, and breeds pathological dehumanization of nearly half the population is not a tacit admission of the failure of the church.

In fact, it’s precisely what the righteous will do – point all men to the freedom from sinful bondage found in Jesus, and pursue an earthly justice that protects the innocent from exploitation. If you find that objectionable, it says far more about you than it does Christ’s church.

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