Sexual pollution is a scientific—and destructive—fact

Our sexual environment is about as polluted as China’s air, and the harm caused by such pollution is just as scientifically demonstrable.


Is it possible to talk about the pollution of sexuality in the same way that we can talk about the pollution of the air with sulfur dioxide belched out of smoke stacks or pollution of the water through industrial waste dumped in rivers?

If we can befoul nature by violating its intrinsic order and beauty, can we do the same to human nature and, in particular, human sexuality? If intemperance and greed destroy the natural environment, do they also destroy the sexual environment? Can we measure that destruction, so that it is scientifically verifiable?

Yes. Our sexual environment is about as polluted as China’s air, and the harm caused by such pollution is just as scientifically demonstrable.

Readers will forgive me, I hope, if I have to treat some rather delicate topics in what follows. Talking about the evil effects of dumping raw sewage into our streams is much less embarrassing than examining the evils of dumping the parallel equivalent of raw sewage into our sexuality. But the seriousness of contemporary sexual pollution demands some candor on my part.

There is, quite literally, a world-wide epidemic of erectile dysfunction (ED) among young men, men less than 40 years old. While it is quite natural to have problems of this sort in men over 40 (although it has been made worse by increasing obesity and the diabetes that often comes with it), a significant rise in the number of young men with ED is historically unprecedented. In one study, one in four men seeking treatment for ED was under 40 years old—setting off an alarm for clinicians. In another, a third of young men were suffering from sexual dysfunction. A study (in Italy) uncovered a doubling of ED in teenagers in just eight years (2005-2013). A study in Canada found that over 50% of male teens reported some ED symptoms, with half of those being severe.

There are several causal factors, including increased obesity in the young, as well as the use of illegal drugs. But one cause stands out with great clarity: the world-wide epidemic of ED is made possible by the world-wide availability of internet porn coupled with obsessive masturbation. The internet is the pipeline that dumps the raw sexual sewage into our sexual environment at a level unprecedented historically.

Pause here to consider this epidemic in an illuminating way. What if the world-wide population of pigeons, white-tailed deer, or dolphins were suddenly exhibiting just this kind of sexual dysfunction, thereby severely harming its reproductive capacities? Wouldn’t that be considered a kind of environmental crisis? Wouldn’t we be looking for causes, and attempting to help the poor creatures from sexual self-destruction?

ED isn’t the only verifiable effect of sexual pollution. The super-normal, intense nature of porn causes actual addiction, just like cocaine or any opioid, causing what researchers Jennifer Riemersma and Michael Sytsma, call “a toxic cocktail of contemporary addiction.”

As scientists now understand, addiction of any kind, including sexual addiction, “hijacks” the brain’s natural reward system, primarily by overworking the “pleasure” neurotransmitter dopamine. When our pleasure center is continually overstimulated, it responds by “dulling down” by producing less dopamine or eliminating dopamine receptors. That makes the addict continually look for a stronger “fix,” spending ever more time chasing ever more unnatural sexual stimuli. This is all scientifically verifiable, as part of the larger research done into addiction of all kinds and its measurable, deleterious effects on the human brain.

This cycle of addiction leads to further destruction of our sexuality and sexual environment. The first kind of destruction is social, or rather, it strikes at the very heart of the social order: marriage. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the top 1600 lawyers dealing with divorce, report that 56% of divorces they deal with are the result of a spouse’s obsession with porn. If human marital love is the perfection of our sexual nature, then this is decidedly destructive and unnatural result. As sociologists and psychologist attest, destroyed families are a leading source of every kind of social disorder and pathology.

Again, step back and imagine an illuminating scenario, one based on actual scientific experiments. What if we found that the mating of adult male rhesus macaques in the wild was being significantly disrupted by prankster teenagers having hung pictures of female macaques’ hindquarters from the trees, which the titillated males soon preferred to the real thing? Wouldn’t we want to catch and punish the perpetrators and restore the macaques to sexual sanity?

In addition to the social harm of addiction to porn, we have a second kind of destruction that strikes at the naturalness of sexuality itself. If biologists look at any other creature in nature that reproduces through male and female sexual union, they will assure you that—amazingly!—sexuality is naturally designed for sexual procreation. By contrast, the cycle of sexual addiction drives human sexuality to the far limits of the unnatural, seeking a libidinous “fix” in anything but heterosexual intercourse.

Every sexual combination or variation is now available on the web, both creating and responding to the demands of the addicted: sex with any gender combination, including transgender; oral, anal, and masturbatory sex; sex with objects; sex with animals; sex involving participants wearing diapers; sex involving feces or urine; amputee sex; sex involving choking and vomiting; brutal sadism, torture, rape, and even murder; cartoon pornography and child pornography; sex with sexbots; and finally, computer generated virtual sex of any and every unnatural, and previously unimaginable kind.

Now think about this parallel as well. If any other animal exhibited this bizarre array of entirely unnatural sexual behaviors, every sane scientist would be looking for some destructive cause in the environment, some major haywiring of its DNA. But when it comes to human nature, somehow this scientific understanding of “natural” is dismissed without explanation.

We can map the downslide into the evermore unnatural in porn itself. As sociologist and researcher Dr. Natalie Purcell has shown in depressing, nauseating detail, porn movies over the last forty years have become increasingly violent and misogynist, with women being choked, suffocated, dragged by the hair, gang raped, slapped, punched, gagged through oral sex to the point of vomiting, and humiliated in other ways that I have not the courage or the stomach to report (much of it dealing with hideously disgusting variations of anal intercourse). The women either pretend to love it, the more abusive the better, or the women are shown actually suffering in their painful humiliation as real rape victims, both of which are meant to “turn on” porn addicts seeking new highs, both of which form the brains of porn viewers to associate their own sexual satisfaction with brutal and unnatural violations of women.

All of this, we now understand, “re-wires” the brain’s pleasure system in regard to sexual desire, literally twisting natural sexual desire into ever-more unnatural and self-destructive addictions. For the sexually malformed, only the unnatural is desirable. That’s the result of what addiction scientists call “tolerance,” the above-mentioned dulling down of the brain’s pleasure circuits, and the consequent need for ever greater stimulation.

That brings us to a third, related kind of destruction: moral destruction. The “tolerance” caused by dulling down the brain’s pleasure circuits causes ever-widening sexual “tolerance” in society. As the increasingly unnatural porn spreads throughout society, affecting more and more men and women, the sexually unnatural is normalized socially, as in radically redefining the sexual desires and hence the sexual morality of society. With anal sex the new “high” among, and the porn-addicted getting ever younger, is it a really a shock that young teenage girls now routinely complain of being forced to “perform” accordingly? With rape as the new turn-on, is it any wonder that young men increasingly associate sex with violence?

Perhaps adding a fourth kind of destruction might tip the scales: psychological and physical destruction. The number of porn addicted is so large, that the afflicted have started therapeutic chat sites for those trying to shake the addiction. And no wonder. Listen to the list of deleterious symptoms: along with ED, they experience irritability, fatigue, sleeplessness, trembling, inability to focus or concentrate, depression, completely deadened sexual desire for an actual person of the opposite sex, completely dead libido period, significant social awkwardness, loss of job or flunking in school, development of ever-more alarming sexual tastes, panic attacks, memory impairment, and thoughts of suicide. As the conversation among recovering porn addicts makes clear, they realized that the symptoms were porn-caused because the ill effects went away after they quit.

Now which of these symptoms doesn’t count as a scientifically, medically verifiable bad effect of porn addiction? If some other cause were bringing about such awful effects, we’d declare societal “war” on the causes. But you can’t declare war on malformed sexuality without calling into question the assumption of the sexual revolution that there is no such thing as malformed sexuality.

Given all that I’ve offered in the way of obvious, demonstrable ill effects on human nature, how could anyone deny that there is such a thing as sexual pollution? How much more destruction is needed? How much more harm can we sustain without social collapse? And finally, at what point will the sexual revolution admit defeat, and confess that the Catholic Church was right all along about sex.

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About Benjamin Wiker 15 Articles
Benjamin Wiker, Ph.D. is Professor of Political Science and Senior Fellow of the Veritas Center at Franciscan University. His newest book is In Defense of Nature: the Catholic Unity of Environmental, Economic, and Moral Ecology . His website is


  1. Whole heartily agree here. Porn does so much damage in so many ways and now anyone has access to it anytime they want. Couple that with all the soft core variety and here we are.

    Those ED commercials also reinforce this porn mentality when they refer to sex as a “performance”. While I understand some need to be discreet in discussing and using terms such as sexual intercourse, using that specific word denotes pornography rather than love making or sex.

    Pornography has destroyed intimacy, has become a daily “need” like other addictions rather than a spontaneous expression of commitment and closeness.

    One aspect of porn as well that is not discussed here is what it has done to women. This is not simply about women partaking or initiating sex, or the violence porn has produced, but the new trend to have your lady parts augmented, places you can’s see without a mirror bleached, surgically altered anatomy to look like those women found in porn, or because after child birth your “not as before”.

    Yup, sex has been destroyed and those looking for husband/wife should consider not just asking about their sexual history, but if they have viewed porn and how much as a a screening method.

  2. Justice Robert Bork’s Slouching Toward Gomorrah cited Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness in the Declaration as catalysts. His thesis is true if Catholic moral doctrine is extracted. As author B Wiker ably demonstrates. When evidence is unimpeachable our account is not a thesis but a demonstration. The disgusting acts graphically illustrated are the insane Pursuit of Happiness. Evil. The insanity [though this insanity is irrational it bears responsibility] is the depth of deviate behavior in which perpetrator as well as even victim find pleasure. FBI agent John Douglas in Journey into Darkness found the most prolific sadistic rapist murderers Ted Bundy, Richard Ramirez and many others were incited thru pornography. They acted it out. Many who are not so equipped to actively engage turn to Satan’s passive option virtual reality. In the myriad technologies that make porn available and lionize masturbation. Black Swan has Natalie Portman masturbating in several scenes. Portrayed as entre to enhanced artistic performance. The Movie is highly acclaimed. If it will fare worse for Chorozain and Bethsaida than Sodom and Gomorrah at Judgment how will it fare for us? The Catholic Church has the truth and the means to save Mankind. It is failing that mission. The beauty of purity exemplified in the Blessed Virgin remains available thru faith and practice of the virtues. The Creator gave us the capacity to become imbued with transforming grace. With it a profound sense of the tender loveliness of God’s presence within. It can only be understood by experience. It’s the goodness I perceive in the eyes of young couples approaching communion holding their infants. When in silent prayer. When repeating Christ’ words over the bread and wine. At this stage of cultural moral demolition we’re called to be stars as it were glistening in the Darkness.

  3. It all began with the Church being too timid, too afraid of alienating worldly Catholics, to come down hard on the side of God’s plan for human sexuality when “the pill” was introduced. If it had boldly proclaimed the truth and taken its losses for doing so back then – and many would indeed have left the Church – by now there would be a real contrast between happy, well adjusted Catholics and the sad state of the rest of the world that would be loudly speaking volumes about the truth of the matter. As it is, I suspect that those who will tell you they are Catholic suffer the maladies described by Mr. Wiker at pretty much the same rate as the entirely secular.

    The price to be paid for proclaiming the truth just gets higher and higher the longer the Church puts it off. The cost of proclaiming the truth immediately and consistently, while it may seem high at the time, is always a bargain that shouldn’t be passed up.

    As it is, the silence and timidity of the Church may go down in history as one of the primary factors in the collapse of Western civilization. But maybe not. Maybe it doesn’t have to end that way. Boldly and repeatedly proclaiming God’s plan for human sexuality from Catholic pulpits may seem suicidal now, but so did proclaiming Christ crucified to a world that had no interest whatsoever in learning about the teachings of some guy who ended up getting himself crucified; in fact, that was the last thing they wanted to know. Yet when we finally do God’s will – no matter how absurd human wisdom judges it to be – we find that His power and wisdom comes along with His plan, and are irresistible. God’s weakness overwhelms the strong of this world, and His folly is infinitely wiser than the wisdom of the world.

    The Church needs to boldly and repeatedly proclaim the truth of God’s plan for human sexuality from the pulpit – and trust that the Holy Spirit will honor that with many conversions, as He did with Paul proclaiming Christ crucified, even though for Paul doing so seemed to be “unto the Jews indeed a stumbling-block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness,” but the Holy Spirit turned Paul’s preaching into “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” The Holy Spirit has not run out of gas. He can do that again, if the Church will just boldly proclaim the truth without counting the cost. Deus Vult!

  4. When we discuss porn we need remember Comprehensive Sexual Education brings porn into classrooms. It confuses kids and grooms them with arguably the end goal.loss of fertility. No doubt God has His lines in the sand where coruption is so devastating t blinds reason itself. Christian Civilisation is running on empty and the only cavalry is out of this world- yhe good Lord. Please God, He will come back and claim His flock soon.

  5. Let’s talk about the Church’s failure to promote marriage among the young by defending the right of men to gainful employment that can support a family and by tempering women’s expectations about marriage and husbands. Yes, porn is a problem, but this inability of Catholic intellectuals to look at what else is contributing to the use of porn is a problem and just makes them irrelevant to the Culture War.

    • You are exactly right SOL. Porn is just a tiny peace of a huge problem, yet it seems to be the only thing Catholic intellectuals as you put it are focused on.

      There is currently no evidence that that porn use increases ED in men. In fact it is known that testosterone levels and sperm counts for men in the western world are plummeting. Some thing this is caused by estrogen, like that found in birth control, leaking into the environment and messing with men’s hormones. If this is true it is much more serious than just porn.

  6. The argument that we are somehow “waiting for a collapse,” is an error. Society has collapsed and very few, like the good professor and the remnant of the Faithful, are clinging to a proverbial “echo-of-right-order.” Like the air waiting to collapse after a lightning bolt, society has collapsed, we’re merely waiting on the thunderclap. This is a manifest result of the Roman Rite’s headlong plunge into Pentecostalism. Perhaps the Light of the East or at the very least, the other 21-Catholic Rites might stave-off destruction, but it is doubtful. The destruction of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the homosexualizing of the presbyterate and the episcopate, marital chaos, porn, drugs, politics – all well said to be pollution. Thanks professor for the great article.

  7. “The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg” – The man who’s name is a number – and he is encouraging the overdose of consumption of information technology in the name of hubris. An ancient god and old tempter who convinces the individual that it is possible to possess all things like a king or a god and all in privacy of a chair and a screen and pure anonymity. So human history repeats itself again, maybe for the last time this time with a digital tree of Knowledge in the middle of the garden with its luscious tempting fruits for all to consume. All good Christians eat from the tree wisdom and its nourishing fruit which is the Eucharist. We may not be able to stop the hedonistic feasting, “marrying” and giving in to marriage as in the days of Noah which is overwhelming our society but we can try to help our friends and family and any stranger who might listen to The Way.

  8. Great piece and one that needs much greater attention. The analogies spot on. Yes, though we are beyond the crossroads of danger – now is the time to work and reverse the damage. I agree the reasons we find ourselves at this point are vast and connected. The pornification of society is a massive contributor. Technology uberizing its influence. The feminization of society, birth control, and the gay influence have all impacted us. Clergy scandals, of which were in part driven by the same actions … have crippled our voices and weakened our will. But alas, out of the darkness … light shines. Time to raise the lamp high.

  9. Unfortunately the Catholic Church has been WRONG about sex for nine hundred years (give or take a few hundred years) because it has ignored the words and intentions of Jesus when he said that a man should leave his mother and father and cling to his wife and the two become “one flesh”.
    The purpose of a man is to love a woman and the purpose of a woman is to love a man (from an old hippie song)
    Jesus wants us to live as one flesh in loving families.
    The celibacy requirement has placed perverts in power. The Vatican is infested with the lavender mafia (“gays”).
    The only solution to this horror is for the Church to be taken back by the real Catholics, married men and women, who follow the teachings of Christ.
    The modern world was invented to destroy the human person and to subvert Christianity. It’s time that the Church left the modern world, dumped its celebrity-fawning pope and returned to its origins.

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