We had to pass it every time we drove into Rutland. There was really no way around it, unless you wanted to drive miles out of the way. It was our town’s only (as far as I know) adult video store. I remember the day I drove by and they had several large poster board signs taped to the front announcing that the DVD’s were buy one get one half off. I thought of the men and women who might be tempted by such an offer. I wondered if any of my church folks ever wandered into that store. I hoped it would one day disappear.
And then one day it did. A few weeks ago, the poster board signs announced a going out of business sale. And then the big sign on top was taken down, racy underthings removed from the window displays, and the shop closed. For good, I hope.
And yet, I am not overly pleased the store has closed. Not because I think our community ought to have an adult bookstore. I am glad this particular access to pornography is no longer available. But thinking logically, I understand that this is a hollow “win” because the store likely closed because people are no longer willing to buy in a store what they can get online for free. A few years ago, the news announced that Playboy Magazine enterprises had suffered record losses. This, despite making forays into reality television and the fashion world. Many Christians celebrated. Not me. I knew Playboy was doing worse these days not because people have lost a taste for pornography but because Playboy’s offerings are seen as quaint, ineffective. People’s tastes have gotten coarser, awfuller. People won’t pay big money to see nude women when they can see explicit videos of sex acts on their computer for free.
So my hunch is that the local adult bookstore didn’t close because the community lost its interest in pornography, but because their interest has gotten worse and more demanding.
Of course we should be glad when any purveyor of smut shuts down or suffers a setback. But we should not delude ourselves. The culture of porn is financially rich and dangerously addictive. And it is not flesh and blood we must fight this war against but the powers of darkness, the forces of wickedness, the principalities and the prince of the power of the air. No amount of letter writing and picketing and photo-shaming or Internet blocking — which might shut down some providers — can do what the gospel can with the sinful human heart. The Spirit has the power to shut down the flesh. Let’s preach the gospel always and help people change. As long as there is demand, there will be supply. And while we can and should curtail supply, the real win is Christ’s cure of the demand.