Jonathon van Maren

From the front lines of the culture wars

The abortion of JFK’s children was evil – but it’s also a tragic loss

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
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Did you know that John F. Kennedy had more than four children? That writers Christopher and Peter Hitchens had two other siblings? That Marilyn Monroe actually had a large number of children?

I’m not particularly fond of the argument that I’ve heard many pro-lifers use: “Abortion is wrong because of all the amazing people we’ve aborted. One of them could have had the cure to cancer!” Abortion is fundamentally wrong because it ends the life of a developing human being, whether that human being would turn out to be a drug addict or the president of the United States. However, it is an interesting thought experiment—not least of all because so many people considered heroes by the Left have aborted their children or had their children aborted.

For example, I think of liberal icon President John F. Kennedy. The Kennedy Family is probably the closest thing America had to a royal family, although revelations over the last several decades have rather firmly repudiated the idea of an impossibly happy Camelot, as historians reveal anecdote after sordid anecdote of relentless philandering. Anecdotes of President Kennedy’s devastation at the 1963 death of his two-day old son, Patrick, are well-documented. The Kennedys also lost a daughter in 1956—Arabella, as her parents intended to name her, was stillborn.

Revolutions famously do not discriminate in their grim reaping of human life. The Sexual Revolution is no different.

But stories abound of JFK’s affairs ending in abortions. Mimi Alford, a White House intern that JFK had a relationship with for over a year, reported that when she told the president she believed she was pregnant, he “took the news in his stride.” Shortly afterward, she was contacted by a White House staffer named Dave Powers, often assigned to protect the president’s reputation.

“An hour later,” Alford recalls, “Dave called the dorm and told me to call a woman who could put me in touch with a doctor in New Jersey. The intermediary was a necessary precaution, because abortion was illegal. That was pure Dave Powers: he handled the problem immediately, and with brute practicality. There was no talk about what I wanted, or how I felt, or what the medical risks might be.”

Another of JFK’s famous mistresses, Judith Campbell Exner, reported having an abortion in 1963 after becoming pregnant by the president. Not all Kennedys, it seems, end up in Washington, D.C. Some of them end up in trash cans behind seedy clinics, victims of their parents’ sexual ideology.

Another icon of the Left that comes to mind when I think of the human cost of abortion is the late author and columnist Christopher Hitchens. Fans of the Hitch are fierce in their devotion, with his brother Peter, a well-known conservative author, noting that his brother’s fans often burn with fanatical hatred against him, furious that a conservative Christian (who wrote his brilliant book The Rage Against God partially in response to his brother’s philosophically feeble atheist tome God Is Not Great) could bear the same last name as their hero. Both brothers are extraordinary writers and journalists, having collectively written dozens of books and published essays and columns in the most prestigious publications.

What many people don’t realize is that there were originally four Hitchens siblings, not two. As Christopher relates in his Vanity Fair essay “Fetal Distraction”:

I was in my early teens when my mother told me that a predecessor fetus and a successor fetus had been surgically removed, thus making me an older brother rather than a forgotten whoosh.

Christopher noted further that at least two children of his own had their lives ended by abortion, recalling sombrely that, “at least once I found myself in a clinic while ‘products of conception’ were efficiently vacuumed away. I can distinctly remember thinking, on the last such occasion, that under no persuasion of any kind would I ever allow myself to be present at such a moment again.”

Perhaps this was because Christopher Hitchens allowed himself no illusion, writing that, “Anyone who has ever seen a sonogram or spent even an hour with a textbook on embryology knows that emotions are not the deciding factor. In order to terminate a pregnancy, you have to still a heartbeat, switch off a developing brain, and, whatever the method, break some bones and rupture some organs.”

Although to my knowledge Peter Hitchens has never addressed the fact of his aborted siblings in print, on abortion he has much to say. “Those who wonder what they would have done had they lived at the time of some terrible injustice now know the answer,” he has said. “We do live in such a time. And we do nothing.”

When considering the lives and careers of the Hitchens brothers we know, we cannot help but wonder what the lives of the two that we do not would have been like.

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The list of politicians, writers, and cultural figures who have discarded their own children are myriad. Comedian Chelsea Handler has talked openly about having an abortion. Sharon Osbourne calls having an abortion at seventeen the mistake of her life. According to author Norman Mailer, the tragic Marilyn Monroe had twelve abortions by her late-twenties. Whoopi Goldberg of The View, Lucille Ball of I Love Lucy, Judy Garland of The Wizard of Oz all aborted children. Ava Gardner reportedly aborted two of Frank Sinatra’s children, while the smut-peddling rapper ‘Lil Kim aborted the Notorious B.I.G’s child, which they conceived during an affair. Famed singer Sinead O’Connor had an abortion while on tour in Minneapolis.

It’s especially bizarre, I think, when those on the Left turn out to enthusiastically celebrate any new revelation of a cultural figure having an abortion. The more they admire the person, it seems the happier they are at the “courage” of said person having had an abortion. A bit unintentionally insulting, don’t you think? I admire you so much! I’m so glad you terminated a child that might have had your talent or been a lot like you!

Revolutions, however, famously do not discriminate in their grim reaping of human life. The Sexual Revolution is no different, even though we’ve replaced guillotines with Planned Parenthood clinics. The crowds cheered both, and the similarity between a howling mob and a pro-choice rally is striking to say the least. Perhaps it is Peter Hitchens who has the best explanation: “I think that abortion is much beloved by revolutionaries,” he noted gravely, “because they always like the mob to get their hands in blood and commit some sort of crime of their own.”

Abortion is evil because it violently destroys a human being. But one of the reasons abortion is tragic is that it has robbed us of so many who might have given so much to humanity.

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If science shows why abortion is wrong, why is the pro-life movement so Christian?

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

“Are you guys religious?” It’s a question every pro-life activist doing educational outreach has heard. The question is always leveled suspiciously, as if the truth of our abortion victim photography is contingent on whether or not pro-life activists believe in God.

The response to this question is simple: Abortion is wrong because it is an act of violence that destroys a human being developing in the womb. On this everyone from the late atheist Christopher Hitchens to the pope can agree. Yes, many of us are Christian, both Protestant and Catholic. But a basic overview of embryology textbooks used in medical schools across Canada and the United States should suffice when trying to determine whether or not the child growing in the womb is, in fact, a human being, and therefore deserves the right to life.

But I’m tired of this question. The secular left, glutted with victory, seems to think that asserting someone’s Christian faith disqualifies them as credible human rights activists. While their contempt and hatred for Christians—excepting those religious quislings who make the right compromises—is well known, the opposite is actually the case. While the secularists would like to try and revise history to claim that the great social reformers of the past were acting based on deeply-held liberal values, the fact is that these heroes virtually always acted because of their Christian faith.

If you want to know why we live in a culture today that has purged itself of many great societal evils, from slavery to segregation, the answer is because of Christianity. There is, in fact, no tradition that has such a rich and beautiful history of defending the poor and the afflicted as the Christian tradition.

William Wilberforce, the great British parliamentarian and abolitionist, was a conservative evangelical who spent his whole life tirelessly working to end the slave trade as well as slavery itself. He focused on dozens of other issues as well, from rooting out political corruption, alleviating poverty, promoting education, and even beginning a society to prevent the cruel treatment of animals. And why? For the honor and glory of his Creator.

“Is it not the great end of religion,” Wilberforce noted, “and, in particular, the glory of Christianity, to extinguish the malignant passions; to curb the violence, to control the appetites, and to smooth the asperities of man; to make us compassionate and kind, and forgiving one to another; to make us good husbands, good fathers, good friends; and to render us active and useful in the discharge of the relative social and civil duties?”

Or, as he famously wrote: “God Almighty has set before me two Great Objects: the suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners.”

The other abolitionists, too, were Christian. Granville Sharp, one of Wilberforce’s staunchest allies and England’s most dedicated anti-slavery campaigners, was not only a devout Christian but a biblical scholar. Working almost his entire life to free the slaves, when he heard the news on March 25, 1807 that the Act of Abolition had passed, his response was to drop to his knees and thank God for the end of the horrific slave trade. Thomas Clarkson, the tireless abolitionist activist, was an ordained deacon. Every member of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade was, without exception, religious.

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From the fiercely religious William Lloyd Garrison, to the renowned “President of the Underground Railroad” Levi Coffin, the American abolitionists also acted out of a deep sense that slavery offended God. Revisionist historians of late have tried to claim that Abraham Lincoln, because he never committed to a denomination, was not a Christian and that his religious beliefs had no impact on his views of slavery. Those historians can only hold such a position by steadfastly ignoring virtually every speech Lincoln gave. My personal favorite is his Second Inaugural Address, when Lincoln noted that both the North and the South prayed to the same God:

It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether."

Secular historians, and today’s “social justice” activists, simply cannot understand such language and such concepts. And so, they attempt to write the very faith that drove these men to do such wonderful things out of the history books.

The best example of this is the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Because of some of his left-leaning political views, borne out of his raw experiences with impoverished African American communities and systemized injustice, the secular left today hold Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as a hero who would have been on their side—a “progressive” that would have embraced the excesses of the Sexual Revolution and all the carnage that has resulted from it.

Again, I think they may simply be ignoring virtually everything King wrote, and every speech King delivered. King demanded justice on the basis that all men were created equal in the eyes of God. Hymns, spiritual songs, and Scripture permeated virtually every one of his calls for the end of segregation, from his “I Have A Dream” speech to his beautiful and soaring “I Have Been To The Mountaintop” address. It was always the Christians, Rev. King wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, who sought to change society for the better:

There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."…By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests

So when people want to know if pro-life activists are Christian, the answer is yes, most of them—although certainly not all of them—are. In fact, if you want to know why we live in a culture today that has purged itself of many great societal evils, from slavery to segregation, the answer is because of Christianity. Christianity shaped the West, and Christians spent two centuries rooting out injustices that lingered. There is, in fact, no tradition that has such a rich and beautiful history of defending the poor and the afflicted as the Christian tradition.

And what we see today is simply an example of what the great William Wilberforce noted of pre-Victorian England so many years ago. “Christianity has been successfully attacked and marginalized,” he wrote, “because those who professed belief were unable to defend the faith from attack, even though its attackers’ arguments were deeply flawed.”

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"Someone who doesn’t flinch at the dismemberment of babies is not going to flinch at the dismemberment of some evangelical baker’s conscience."

Pro-lifers are winning. So now they’re coming for our cupcakes?

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

As I travel across Canada (and at times the United States) speaking on abortion and various facets of the Culture of Death, one of the things I hear often is a hopelessness, a despair that the West is being flattened by the juggernaut of the Sexual Revolution. There is a feeling among many people that the restriction of religious liberty, the continued legality of abortion, and the redefinition of marriage are inevitable.

This is, of course, one of the most prominent and successful strategies of the Sexual Revolutionaries—create an aura of inevitability while concurrently demonizing all those who oppose their new and mangled “progress” as Neanderthals on the cusp of being left behind by History. That inevitability becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because many people don’t realize that the various battles in the Sexual Revolution actually all correlate to one another—that what we are seeing now is the end game of an incredibly vast and well-planned cultural project.

It is because we miss many of these connections that we often cannot see, with clarity, how the culture wars are actually unfolding. I read with great interest a recent column by Rev. Douglas Wilson, eloquently titled “With stirrups raised to Molech.”

“We are now much occupied with the issues swirling around same sex mirage,” he writes, “but we need to take great care not to get distracted. Why have the homosexual activists gone all in on this issue? Why is their prosecutorial zeal so adamant? We went, in just a matter of months, from ‘let’s let individual states’ decide on this, to federal judges striking down state statutes, followed up hard by official harassment of florists, bakers, and photographers. Why the anger, and why the savage over-reach? And do they really think we couldn’t remember all the things they were assuring us of this time last year?”

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It’s a compelling question, and one that I’ve heard many Christians puzzling over recently. Why do the advocates of the Sexual Revolution despise those who disagree with them so viciously? It is partly because their cultural project does not, as they claim, consist of “living and let live.” It is about compulsory acceptance of any and all sexual behaviors, with tax-payer funding for the rubbers and pills they need to ensure all such behaviors remain sterile, and extermination crews to suction, poison, and dismember any inconvenient fetuses that may come into being as the result of casual coitus.

The ancient mantra “the State has no business in the bedrooms of the nation” has long been abandoned—the emboldened Sexual Revolutionaries now demand that politicians show up at their exhibitionist parades of public indecency, force schools to impose their so-called “morally neutral” view of sexuality on children, and force into silence those who still hold to traditional values.

Rev. Wilson, however, thinks that this loud and vicious war on conscience may be about even more than that. The pro-life cause, he notes, has been very successful in the Unites States. The abortion rate is the lowest it has been since 1973. Hundreds of pro-life laws are passing on the state level. The abortion industry has been successfully stigmatized. True, the successes are, for pro-lifers, often too feeble and not nearly adequate enough in the face of such unrestrained bloodshed. Nevertheless, the momentum has turned against the Sexual Revolutionaries who have championed abortion for decades—their shock and anger at the strength of the pro-life movement evident in pro-abortion signs at rallies that read, “I can’t believe I still have to protest this s**t.”

It is because of the pro-life movement’s success, Wilson muses, that the Sexual Revolutionaries may be coming at us with such fury. “If a nation has slaughtered 50 million infants,” he writes, “they are not going to suddenly get a sense of decency over you and your cupcakes. Now this explains their lack of proportion, and their refusal to acknowledge the rights of florists. Someone who doesn’t flinch at the dismemberment of babies is not going to flinch at the dismemberment of some evangelical baker’s conscience. This reveals their distorted priorities, of course, but it also might be revealing a strategy. Is the homosexual lobby doing this because they are freaking out over their losses on the pro-life front? And are they doing so in a way intended to distract us away from an issue where we are slowly, gradually, inexorably, winning?”

It’s a fascinating perspective. It’s true—and has always been true historically—that when one group of human beings is classified as nonhuman by a society as nonhuman and subsequently butchered, the whole of society is degraded. No nation and no culture can collectively and systematically kill so many human beings without a correlating hardening of the conscience. But on the pro-life front, there has been decades of fierce resistance, hundreds of incremental victories, and a renewed energy among the upcoming generation of activists. For the Sexual Revolutionaries who thought the battle was over when Roe v. Wade was announced in 1973, this must be a bitter pill to swallow indeed.

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ShelleyLubben.com

This former porn star is exposing porn’s secrets: and it should make you very, very uncomfortable

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

“If porn is as bad as you say it is, why does anyone still work in porn?”

This is a common response to anti-porn advocates who argue that pornography is sexually violent, the visual celebration of rape and a perverse glorification of the degradation of women and girls.

There are, of course, many answers to this question: Some women are desperate for money; many, if not most, have been sexually abused; still others have been deceived into thinking that the porn business is a glamorous and sexy business (the mainstreaming of Playboy and the increasing crossover of porn stars into other entertainment industries has certainly contributed to that).

But to find out what women experience inside the porn industry firsthand, I decided to call someone who’d been through it herself: Shelley Lubben.

"I can’t tell you how many porn addicts have lost their families and jobs. It’s really sad. And they’re contributing to children being raped. I’m like—for a better reason not to click on porn, [think about] child porn. Just think, right now as I’ve been talking to you, there are little children that are being drugged and raped. How could anyone click on porn knowing that?”

Shelley Lubben was a porn star in the 1990s, having entered the industry as a prostitute at a very young age. The “sexual exploitation industries,” as Dr. Mary Anne Layden refers to the various aspects of the sex business, soon began to take their toll.

“It’s a vicious circle [being] a sex worker, because you’re stripping, taxi dancing, and you just get burned out in prostitution,” Lubben told me. “After prostitution I got burned out, and I was lied to that I would be safe from STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and I would make all this money. I was a single parent, so what the heck, might as well do sex on camera. But it was completely and utterly the worst, darkest thing I’ve ever been involved in.”

For starters, Lubben had assumed that unlike in prostitution, where many of the johns didn’t want to use condoms, the porn industry would at least keep her safe from STDs. It didn’t—and that’s because, as Lubben tells it, the entire porn industry to rife with them.

“We didn’t use condoms in porn,” she said bluntly. “There’s no condoms allowed, so we’re forced to do unprotected sex—and I can’t tell you how many people alter their tests. Just last year, they had 4 HIV cases, a high bunch out of a very small group of people…we know that most of the porn stars have had an STD at one time or another, and they estimate between 66% to 99% have herpes. They don’t test for herpes, so all these people are involved with rampant STDs.

“Even the LA Public Health Department shows they’ve been monitoring and they came up with thousands and thousands [of cases] of chlamydia and gonorrhea. They’re the highest group in California to have that many STDs. So when people click [on porn], they’re contributing to sex trafficking, they’re contributing to STDs, they’re contributing to people who are mostly alcohol to drug addicts. Now I’m speaking of the majority. Not every porn star’s a drug addict, but the majority of them are. And I can’t tell you, when I went through recovery, I had PTSD. I had all kinds of disorders, serious traumas.”

It’s a story I have read time and time again in my research on the porn industry, so I had to ask: why did she get involved in the sexual exploitation industries in the first place?

“Well I’d been sexually abused at nine years old by a teenage boy and his sister,” Shelley Lubben replied. “So I experienced very shocking heterosexual and homosexual activity at a very young age, and at the same time I was raised by the television - I was allowed to watch R-rated movies, horror movies, movies with sexual content, so I learned about love and sex from abuse and from basically parental neglect, because they would just allow us to watch these things.

“And then as I got older, I was rebelling because my dad was not very involved in my life, and I began to look for sex with boys because the boys would say they loved me. So it was this cycle that I felt in my head that I’m loved if I have sex with a person. My dad kicked me out on the street for being rebellious, and I ended up in San Fernando, LA, which is Porn Valley, and a pimp lured me in, and I was very naïve. No, I was rebellious, I was not naïve. He lured me in for 35 dollars, and then he… you know, I had to escape from him physically, because he became very abusive, and then a Madame found me, and it just spiraled on.”

Once she was embedded, Lubben felt trapped in a cycle of degradation and destruction.

“I would hate prostitution, feel guilty, then I would do stripping to survive,” she said. “I had no education - most of these girls that enter porn do not really have an education, there’s gonna be maybe a few that say they have degrees, although I have yet to see one - but most of the girls don’t come from, like, healthy families, where they have a healthy self-esteem. I haven’t really met porn stars with really healthy families. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but maybe they exist in their mind because of course different girls are gonna wanna say they’re empowered by their sex work, because what you can’t beat, you’re gonna join. You don’t want people to think you’re weak when you’re in porn; you wanna act like you love it and you love rough stuff, and you love being violated, and called degrading names. It’s all just a pack of lies. People do porn because they need the money, and most of them don’t have other options or education.”

The porn industry is dark, evil, and incredibly violent—and it has been that way for a very long time. I read Lubben some of Dr. Gail Dines’ research on how pornography is becoming more violent, and then asked her if that reflected her experience.

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“Absolutely,” she replied. “It was even violent back in my day, but I got involved in hardcore porn just because I was still filled with rage from my parents. But yeah, in my day I would have never let anyone rip my mouth or put some weird gadget in my mouth or do something where they’re causing a rectum prolapse, I wouldn’t have done that. I would’ve walked away. Nowadays, girls have to end up doing that stuff, ‘cause that’s what sells. So it’s really sad this is a lot of our society that, but you know, everyone’s so desensitized to vanilla sex now. They want it harder, and grosser and darker, and you know, I can’t imagine what our society will be like in 20 years from now. I can’t, I don’t think I… I’ll have to like move to the mountains or something, because I doubt any normal girl could walk the street at that point.”

It’s shocking in some ways that the porn industry is so mainstream and so popular, considering that at the same time there had been a chorus of voices speaking out against sex trafficking. Doesn’t the porn industry, I asked Lubben, feed into sex trafficking?

“A lot of people think that pornography fuels sex trafficking and it does,” Lubben said firmly. “But it does that because it is sex trafficking. It’s called [a] cutthroat business because it’s trafficking; all of us have been coerced into doing a scene we didn’t wanna do. We went to fraudulent doctors or fraudulent clinics they sent us to. In fact, their clinics - the main porn star clinic closed down a couple years ago, because a lot of us were standing against it - but we had a former porn actress who has a PhD in sexology, and she would put on a white lab coat and tell the girls, ‘Call me Dr. Sharon Mitchell.’ So all these girls think that she’s a medical doctor, and they would go there for her medical advice and for STD treatment and testing. So that’s just one way they’re fraudulent.

“Another way [is that] pornographers make false promises: ‘If you do this scene I promise that you’re going to get this money, or you’re going to get the box cover’ or, ‘You won’t have to do this kind of scene anymore.’ It’s all based on lies. And so you’ve gotta be tough to be in that business.

“You know, most of these films are made in private locations, and private mansions, or hotel rooms where’s there’s no government access. So it’s like two young girls, 18, 19, 20-year-old girls on a mostly older male set. The producer’s male, the crew’s male…so of course, we’re intimidated into doing scenes we don’t wanna do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve showed up and they said, ‘You need to do this scene,’ [and] I said, ‘No, that’s not what my agent said,’ or ‘That’s not what I was told to do,’ and they’re like, ‘Well, you’re gonna do it or we’re not gonna pay you, we’re going to sue you.’ And now with the Internet they tell the girls, ‘If you don’t do this scene, we’re going to send your porn to your family members, we’re gonna ruin your reputation, you’re never gonna work again, we’re gonna take away your finances, we’re gonna physically hurt you,’ or they threaten to sue them. This is sex trafficking. Every porn star has been trafficked at least at one time or another in the porn industry.”

It is because of this that Shelley Lubben, after eight years, finally left the porn industry after meeting a pastor, who later married her, sticking with her through ten long, painful years of recovery. In 2007, she started the Pink Cross Foundation, which works to bring porn actresses and porn actors out of the porn industry, offering them hope and healing, and warning young people enamored with the industry of the darkness and pain that awaits them within.

Before I hung up the phone, I asked Shelley Lubben one final question: “If you could say one thing to someone who’s looking at pornography, what would you say?”

She barely had to pause. “You’re contributing to your demise,” she answered. “And to your family’s demise, and your wife’s. I can’t tell you how many porn addicts have lost their families and jobs. It’s really sad. And they’re contributing to children being raped. I’m like—for a better reason not to click on porn, [think about] child porn. Just think, right now as I’ve been talking to you, there are little children that are being drugged and raped. How could anyone click on porn knowing that?”

And indeed, after hearing Shelley’s story, many, many people have come to just that conclusion: Porn is a destructive force. Porn has ruined many lives. For the good of our families, our society, and ourselves—it’s time to count the cost, and cut porn out for good.

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.

Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Jonathon van Maren

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Jonathon Van Maren is a writer and pro-life speaker who has given presentations across North America on abortion and pro-life strategy.

Jonathon first got involved in the pro-life movement after viewing a graphic abortion video in 2007, which convicted him to get active. He ran Simon Fraser University Students for Life as president from 2009-2010, while speaking in both the United States and Canada on pro-life issues.

Jonathon graduated from Simon Fraser University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History. He is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

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