Jonathon van Maren

From the front lines of the culture wars

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He had every reason to stay away from porn—and in spite of all of that, the acidic tentacles of Internet pornography constantly pulled him in, over and over again.

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Middle-aged. Happily married. Christian. And he sobbed as he told me of his porn addiction.

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I remember that afternoon vividly. I was sitting in a truck after one of my pro-life presentations. The sobbing middle-aged husband and father in the driver’s seat was telling me that he had been addicted to porn for over ten years—and that no matter what he tried, he couldn’t kick the habit.

It was the first time I realized just how pervasive the porn plague is. Here was a successful businessman, a thoughtful Christian, a husband of a wonderful woman and a father of beautiful girls. He had every reason to stay away from porn—and in spite of all of that, the acidic tentacles of Internet pornography constantly pulled him in, over and over again.

Pornography isn’t just destroying marriages and relationships. It’s rewiring our brains to create hypersexual people incapable of enjoying many of the simple joys in family life. 

The realization made me feel sick. How many fathers feel distant from their children because they are watching girls the same age as their daughters do horrifying and degrading things and have those things done to them? How many husbands feel disconnected from their wives because they’ve watched thousands of air-brushed, naked women pass before their eyes from the screen of their computer?

Worse, I wondered, how must these women feel when they discover what their significant others are doing? How must a wife feel when her husband confesses his addiction to her? As feminist writer Naomi Wolf noted, “Here is what young women tell me on college campuses when the subject comes up: They can’t compete, and they know it…Today, real naked women are just bad porn.”

That encounter was one of the many reasons I got involved in the fight against pornography.

And that is why, when a friend emailed me an article showing how pornography has contributed enormously to the collapse of marriages, I wasn’t surprised.  According to the research, in 56% of divorces one of the parties has an obsessive interest in Internet pornography.

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It just makes sense: I know that women these days are supposed to pretend that they are enlightened enough to accept the presence of thousands of other nude women in their relationships. Otherwise they might be considered “prudish.” But as porn researchers such as Pamela Paul (author of “Pornified: How Pornography Is Damaging Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families”) have found, the presence of porn inevitably leads to jealousy, insecurity, and a damaged relationship.

The bottom line is this: Christians have been fiercely debating how to protect marriage and the family for decades now. And in 2015, the answer to that question is that we have to fight pornography with everything we have.

Pornography isn’t just destroying marriages and relationships. It’s rewiring our brains to create hypersexual people incapable of enjoying many of the simple joys in family life. For example, one of the things I like to do after a long week at work is to go to my parents’ place and hang out with my family. My youngest sister is eleven, and we snuggle on the couch and she tells me all about her day, and what she’s doing in school, and about her cats, and other things eleven-year-old girls think about. It’s a special time, and one of the best parts of my weekend.

Which is why one email I got from a young man, who is thankfully now free of pornography, was so painful for me to read:

How did porn impact my life? I became extremely callous. I now do not feel how I think I should feel. I am not empathetic. I wasted two years of my life trying to find ways to get more pornography without anyone knowing. I committed adultery in my heart with more women than I care to count. That leaves scar tissue.

A big problem is with physical affection. I have trouble not sexualizing everything out of the ordinary (a greeting hug vs. a random hug). It has been noted that I am more physically affectionate with my friends than my sisters. That is because I feel no attraction to men whatsoever, so it isn't sexual to me.

I am more sexually knowledgeable and aware than I think I have any right to be.

It isn’t just a marriage that can be destroyed by pornography. Pornography is a poison that can seep through a whole family. Another young man emailed me some time ago, writing:

I was exposed to hard-core porn around 11 years old; it was my father's (who was/is a pastor) and was hidden in my basement. My older brother showed it to me and warned me that I couldn't share any of this with our parents because it could lead to them breaking up.

I find these emails difficult to read. I was blessed with a happy home and a happy childhood. I spent my time reading books or playing outdoors, hiding in a culvert catching frogs, playing with our family dog, making half-finished tree forts, or hatching elaborate scenarios to play out with my siblings. My childhood wasn’t scarred by images too searing and too perverse to comprehend or compute. I was allowed to experience innocence. And that’s because our home was porn-free.

It is the childhood I was blessed with. But the experiences others share with me drive me to make what may seem like a bold and sweeping statement: To protect marriages, to protect families, to protect innocence and innocents, we must fight and root out pornography with a vengeance. It is a poison so toxic it has the power to destroy compassion, beauty, and joy. And a culture without those things is a barren one indeed.

It is that knowledge that has spurred the creation of a new anti-porn organization here in Canada, which we have called Strength to Fight. Porn has established a rapidly growing beachhead in our culture, but there is far too much on the line for us to ignore this problem. I invite you to get educated on this issue, to discover what the experts have been saying about pornography, and to learn how to fight it in your home and in your life. To protect marriages, families, and children, it’s a small price to pay—and one that you will never regret.

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Jonathon van Maren

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.