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Tom Wolfe: pornography and birth rates

posted by David Kuo

In an interview earlier this year with Rolling Stone, famed author Tom Wolfe opined on the tragedy of religion’s fall from societal graces. A snippet of the audio interview can be found here.
At the end of that audio clip he says this:

“The bigger pornography gets the lower the birth rate becomes.”

I don’t know if that is true or not, but it is a rather astonishing thing to say. But knowing Wolfe’s work, he tends to know of what he speaks.
It was the continuation of a broader argument about the necessary sexual morality of religion.
I’m going to try and find the rest of the interview.

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posted August 1, 2007 at 12:21 pm

You speak in one post of the results of a loss of intimacy with God and in the next the results of the loss of intimacy between men and women. They are part of the same isolation. We watch young people declare that they have found their “soul mate”, publicly arrange dramatic proposals, and arrange for weddings that can only be described as escalating consumerism. Children have few opportunities to experience intimacy in friendship. Too darn many activities and you gotta make striaght A’s so your parents will be proud. Intimacy in praayer requires time and silence – both things we avoid like the plague.
Now having sounded a bit like a Luddite – I believe thaat God seeks us constantly and aids us all in finding new ways of achieving intimate friendships. Being without a computer for 3 weeks was interesting. My attention deficit issues sort of disappeared. I had time for conversations with God and with my husband and children. At the same time I missed the intellectual an d spiritual stimulus and friendship with several people I communicate with online.
It is said that well over 40% of all pastors – yes – pastors – have issues with pornography. (I’ll find the study and post it) – this is not about being Protestant or Catholic or Jewish – it is about a failure of intimacy. Pornography seems a quick fix for this missing piece. It merely isolates people further. A young friend who attends an evangelical seminary admits that the single biggest moral issue among students is the temptation of pornography. Young women I know begin to plan weddings similar to coronations and once again – the desires of perfection without intimacy – become the idols prior to such weddings. This too is a sort of pornography.

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Glen Asbury

posted August 1, 2007 at 12:26 pm

Hey Thinker,
Can you explain this comment you made:
Young women I know begin to plan weddings similar to coronations and once again – the desires of perfection without intimacy – become the idols prior to such weddings. This too is a sort of pornography.
As a young father of two very young daughters who will, probably, want a nice wedding some day, I am very intrigued by your opinion on this, especially the final sentence.

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posted August 1, 2007 at 1:03 pm

The issues that come with pornography will only get worse as more and people go online. Finding pornography on the Internet takes only 10 seconds. It may be that within the next ten years, the number one most pressing issue with Christian men will be pornography (it’s already in the top 5)as addiction to porn grows as an even larger issue.
Whether or not this correlates with birthrates is dubious. Larger societal trends would have to have a greater impact on birthrates, such as increased use of birth control, people being far more selective with who they marry and women waiting longer to have children.

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Larry Parker

posted August 1, 2007 at 1:08 pm

Do you think it is wrong for married couples to choose NOT to have children, for whatever reason?
(Hopefully not because the husband is on the Internet on a sex site at 3 a.m. every night, of course …)

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posted August 1, 2007 at 1:13 pm

Sure, weddings should be celebrations of intimacy – of a friendship relationship raised to a level of physical, spiritual intimacy. The wedding is the point where such intimacy is celebrated before God and all those who love the couple. I have watched weddings being planned where the very reason becomes lost in a sort of theatrical illusion. I have also been to grand weddings where the emphasis is always about the relationship of the couple and their families – dedicated to being part of God’s plan. The symbols and rituals ae authentic. I suppose, the kinds of illusions that pornography respresents sexually – keep genuine intimacy from happening. Same thing can happen with a wedding. Who cares about the scripture readings, the prayers – as long as the cake is the biggest one, the dress the most glamorous, the number of parties and gifts are the biggest and best. The wedding gets lost in the illusion. Is that any more clear?

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posted August 1, 2007 at 8:15 pm

Considering the population of the planet maybe we should be celebrating porn instead of putting it down.
Let’s flood china and India with it. Export it to Africa as an AIDS prevention method.
Let the few people who really cherish intimacy have and raise kids.
PORN the solution to all the planets problems

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posted August 2, 2007 at 12:00 am

I’m sorry David, but that audio clip is a reactionary raving and insult to even moderate intelligence.
He’s writer and should better than to say “religion” when he means “traditionalist religion”. As for his birthrate notions, they sound as if they were taken straight out of a Samuel Huntington or Pat Buchanan book. Having seen him interviewed before, they probably are.
As for that final comment…it’s also true that since everyone started watching TV, barroom brawling has diminished. The connection between the two is real but the explanation is not magical, immediate, or due to human idiocy overriding reason. It is that barroom brawling’s time has passed. Likewise with agrarian age birthrates. Tom Wolfe has lost touch with where and what we are in history.

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Chuck Cosimano

posted August 2, 2007 at 11:19 am

And everyone who has had to suffer the presence of a child on an airplane or in the next booth at a restaurant shouts with one voice–MORE PORN!

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posted August 2, 2007 at 2:02 pm

It’s a shame you have to “suffer the presence” of children at restaurants, in airplanes, and so on. It must be doubly vexing to spend time in close proximity to a child who (like my own daughter) has developmental disabilities.
Re-read Mark 10:13-16, and lighten up a little!!

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posted August 3, 2007 at 12:21 pm

Wolfe seems to mistaking correlation with causality. There are far, far more credible explanations for declining birth rates among industrialized nations. When those causes are examined, it becomes more credible to direct the correlation from low birth rates to higher use of pornography than the other way around.

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