Comedian Chris Rock has never been afraid to say the unexpected. Rock’s most famous moments—a bit on O.J. Simpson, confronting parts of black culture, discussing racism—have all veered from the status quo of the liberal comedy scene. And so it’s no surprise that in his most recent comedy tour Rock said something, well, surprising.
Rock discusses his divorce of his wife of 16 years at length, and owns the blame for its collapse. Explaining what went wrong, Rock references his three affairs, an inability to communicate and…an addiction to pornography.
In a review of Rock’s recent show, Inquisitr reported, “Rock joked about his porn addiction causing him to be 15 minutes late everywhere he went, and how the addiction to porn negatively affected him in other ways…Rock spoke about porn causing him to not be able to look people in the eye and making him miss social cues. With therapy, Rock said he overcame his porn addiction.”
It’s a dramatic departure from Rock’s previous material on pornography. In his 1999 “Bigger and Blacker” tour, Rock joked about how “every man has a porn stash” and why he always gets caught. Then, Rock’s act included the typical normalization and trivialization of pornography. But with the advent of the Internet came the explosive accessibility to porn—versus Rock’s references to magazine and VHS tapes in his 1999 sketch—and now everyone from secular researchers to entertainers are warning about the soul-altering power of pornography.
A little over a year ago, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” actor Terry Crews posted a series of videos detailing his own addiction to porn and discussing the steps you can take to find freedom. Former Playboy model Pamela Anderson is now a public voice against the harm of pornography. Google “TED talk pornography” and you’ll find over a dozen videos discussing the same subject.
Hollywood has caught on as well, with movies about sex addiction—from Shame to Sleeping With Other People to Don Jon—becoming increasingly common. The latter is particularly informative as it precisely (and graphically) dissects all the problems with pornography and what it does to the male mind; however, the only religious person on hand is an uncaring, legalistic priest, and so the movie ultimately has no moral mooring. Don Jon says “porn is probably not a good idea” but then signs off on casual sex and “classic” pornographic magazines.
While it is extremely encouraging that society is recognizing the problem of pornography, it’s worth remembering that the true problem is spiritual. Porn—more than just a biological response to sexual images—takes advantage of the soul’s hunger for intimacy and acceptance and twists it into near-oblivion. What the world needs then is not just more information on how to kick the porn habit, but a relationship with the God who created them for something more and gave us sexual desire in the first place.
Maybe then it’s no coincidence that in the same comedy set where Rock talks about porn, he always describes how he’s “looking for religion.” Rock quickly clarifies “not a lot, only a little” but also says repeatedly “I want to find God before God finds me.”
What Rock may not understand is that he has always been searching for God, and that God is far closer to finding him than he might think.