Porn existed before the digital era, though it was rarely spoken of and was relatively scarce. In these days it primarily took the form of images printed in magazines stashed in (and stolen from) the forbidden top rack in convenience stores. It seems quaint now, but in those days porn was something we only looked at. [Look: “Perceive with attention; direct one’s gaze towards.”]
By the time we were in our twenties and thirties, porn had evolved. Liberated from print, it first made its way to Betamax and VHS before making the leap to the new digital formats. It rolled over the internet like a virtual Ghengis Khan and soon subjugated an entire generation (who, as it happens, found themselves only too eager to be conquered). Those silent static photographs of their parents’ younger years had been replaced by high-definition video. Porn was no longer something they looked at but something they watched. [Watch: “Look at or observe intently over a period of time.”]
Today, porn still exists, of course, and is just now leading the charge into the new and growing medium of virtual reality. To hear it from those who are blazing the trail and those who have already experienced it, this VR porn offers something far more immersive than flipping pages in a magazine or endlessly clicking videos on an x-rated site. Porn is no longer something we merely have to look at or watch, but something we can experience. [Experience: “Encounter or undergo and event or occurrence.”]
Tomorrow, porn will continue to exist, of course. Its future forms remain opaque for now, but will undoubtedly take advantage of the many new innovations that reduce the distance between technology and biology, that employ smart, responsive devices capable of delivering physical actions and sensations. Porn will be something we do and something that is done to us. It will be something in which we participate. [Participate: “Share in or be involved in an action or event.”]
Porn’s verbs have evolved of the years, but the sin that lies at its root has not. In its earliest and most basic forms, porn was a manifestation of rebellion against God and his law; in its final and most advanced forms, porn will still be a manifestation of rebellion against God and his law. The growing strength of the verbs simply displays the reality that sin is never content, but always longs to progress. Sin goes from thrilling to boring in an instant. Discontent to merely look at or watch what God forbids, we demand to also experience it and participate in it. Inevitably we will find ourselves dissatisfied, longing for new verbs that express deeper depravity.