Published February 7, 2017
NASHVILLE — Tennessee and Virginia would become the latest states in the U.S. to declare pornography a public health hazard under resolutions introduced in the states’ legislatures.
Tennessee Senate Joint Resolution 35, which was filed in the state Senate (Jan. 24, urges the state to “recognize pornography as a public health hazard leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and societal harms.” The resolution acknowledges the need for “education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level in order to address the epidemic” harming the state and nation.
Republican Sen. Mae Beavers from Mt. Juliet reintroduced the bill after it passed the Senate in April 2016, but was not voted on in the House.
Her resolution follows a comparable measure introduced in December 2016 by Virginia Republican Del. Robert G. Marshall and assigned Jan. 17 to a Virginia House subcommittee, according to the state’s General Assembly website. Marshall’s measure urges “the need for education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level in order to address the pornography epidemic that is harming the people of the commonwealth and the nation.”
Last year, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a similar resolution.
In announcing the Tennessee measure, Beavers said what was previously considered hardcore pornography has now become main stream, and with technology, the average age of exposure to pornography is 11 to 12. She cited Washington State studies showing that as recently as 2004, 24.7 percent of convicted murderers in that state said pornography served as a trigger for their crimes.
Pornography is potentially biologically addictive, the resolution states, is detrimental to families, discourages young men from marriage and leads to marital dissatisfaction and infidelity.
Pornography treats women as “objects and commodities for the viewer’s use,” “normalizes violence and abuse of women and children,” “increases the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution, and ... child pornography,” and may cause emotional, mental and medical illnesses, Beavers’ resolution reads.
The Utah resolution, sponsored by Republican Todd Weiler, includes much of the same verbiage as Beavers’ and Marshall’s documents. Gov. Herbert signed it in March, 2016, about the same time Beavers first introduced the Tennessee measure.
“We are sounding a voice of warning,” Herbert said with his signature. “There are real health risks that are associated with viewing pornography.”
Utah’s actions were met with praise, including affirmations from Southern Baptist ethicist Russell D. Moore and Internet safety advocate Donna Rice Hughes.
Utah was “exactly right” to say pornography is creating a “public health crisis,” a crisis that exists inside, as well as outside, the church, said Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “It’s an epidemic not just in American culture but in evangelical churches too.”
Hughes, president of the Internet safety advocacy group Enough Is Enough (EIE), called the resolution “part of a concerted effort to begin framing the issue as not merely a ‘moral’ issue, but a social issue with enormous costs that negatively impacts individuals and societies,” Hughes said. “For over two decades, the Internet pornography industry has been able to succeed on the myth that pornography is just harmless fun.”
The Southern Baptist Convention has passed nearly 25 resolutions that address pornography either directly or indirectly, beginning as early as 1959 and recurring as recently as 2015. The latest resolution “On Pornography and Sexual Purity” recognizes pornography’s harm to men, women and children, and recommends several measures to end its proliferation. (BP)
Not a subscriber? Want to see more content like this article?
Please subscribe to the Western Recorder print or online edition.
Already a subscriber? Login here.