I've always had a special problem with pornography. My problem is that I love it so much. I'm an artist and, like most artists, I have a visual mind and a very active imagination. I can see a picture and years later bring it back to my mind in glorious technicolor. I can have an affair with every model whose picture appears in Playboy.
But I hate pornography, because I believe it is bad for me. The images it produces in my mind result in tremendous feelings of guilt. They affect my relationships with those around me, especially with those I love…my wife, my family, my Lord.
My first response to this problem with pornography was to suffer under a delusion of adequacy. "I can handle this," I thought, "through sheer force of my own will power."
But I was wrong. Just as an alcoholic may be unable to handle strong drink because of a special weakness from within, so did I find that I was not strong enough to resist the pull of pornography.
So I concluded that I needed help from a power greater than myself. But there I made my second mistake by going to a higher power who has an addiction of a different nature. I went to government, knowing full well that governments of men have a natural addiction to power.
The first time I connected all of these things was when I penned this cartoon. This cartoon speaks of my own release from bondage.
I know that many people see the group to which I belong, the Christian Right, as a threat to freedom of speech and of the press. They're probably right—but I'm convinced the threat comes from our hypocrisy, not from our Lord.
The Bible says we don't wrestle with flesh and blood but with powers and principalities of the air. My Christian brothers and sisters who wish to save people from the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes by removing the external temptations of Satan—the porn, the booze, the false idols—have missed the battle.
I don't see any evidence that Jesus Christ went to the government authorities and asked them to legislate against Satan's power. Instead, I see hypocrisy in my own circles when we try to use the government to manipulate what we think is right and what we think is wrong.
But hypocrisy isn't confined to the Christian Right. I see it in newspaper headlines like "Fundamentalist Christians Quietly Running for School Board Seats." The implication: "Watch out for these backward zealots." But that article contained no indication of secret meetings and conspiracy schemes. It merely pointed out candidates who went to fundamentalist churches. I imagine the editor would have seen a hint of bigotry if the headline had read, "Jews Quietly Running for School Board," or "Catholics Quietly Running for School Board." Is there anything in the Constitution that excludes fundamentalist Christians from seeking public office?
I see hypocrisy when the ACLU fights so hard to open our schools—and I think rightly so—to the ideas of human sexuality promulgated by children's writer Judy Blume and then fights with the same zeal to keep out the ideas of the apostle Paul on the same subject.
I see hypocrisy when we, as members of the press, support this nation's withdrawal from UNESCO because of that organization's absurd idea that reporters should be licensed to cover the news in foreign lands. But were any of these same journalists upset when Christians were sent to jail in Nebraska because a teacher in a church school refused to be licensed by the state?
I see hypocrisy when I find myself, alone in the newsroom, perceiving a threat to the First Amendment when a judge rules that a preacher can't hold church in his home because it isn't zoned "church." Is the church a building or an idea?
When we let judges zone out ideas, when we ask our governments to license our freedoms, when we insist that any of us has the understanding to draw a distinct line between the holy and the profane, we delude ourselves. Our freedom will be short-lived, and our republic will not long endure.
Chuck Asay is the editorial cartoonist for the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph. He received a 1987 Mencken Award from the Free Press Association for the cartoon above. This article is adapted from his acceptance speech.