A recent study from Case Western Reserve University sheds some light on this subject. Researchers concluded that there is a strong relationship between religious belief and the perception that personal porn use is an “addiction.”
To be clear, the study did not see any relationship between religiosity to the actual use of porn. Christians don’t use porn any more or less than non-Christians (according to this study). Rather, a Christian who watches porn at a certain frequency is far more likely to say he or she is “addicted” than the non-religious person who uses porn at the same frequency.
Joshua Grubbs, the author of the study, commented, “We were surprised that the amount of viewing did not impact the perception of addiction, but strong moral beliefs did.”
The Church Needs to Speak Clearly to a Sexually Confused Culture
As far as critics are concerned, the answer is a relatively simple one: “What’s causing all the commotion about porn is not its use or misuse, but the rigid, prudish moral standard the dominates the Christian’s conscience. Loosen the moral standard and the perceived problem goes away.”
The first problem with this solution is that it is factually inaccurate. Whole online communities have cropped up in recent years (such as Reddit’s NoFap and PornFree groups), founded by and filled with ardently secular people who are experiencing porn-induced erectile dysfunction and talking about porn addiction as as serious problem.
The second problem with this solution is that this is unsustainable for the Christian. The church’s sexual ethic is not based on ever-changing psychological models and trends. It is based on revelation from the Living God, “with whom there is no variation or shadow of change” (James 1:17).
Still, the church needs to be ready with an answer before the watching world. How should we use the label of “addiction” when it comes to pornography—or should we use it at all? The need to address this question has never been greater because porn use is at an all-time high.
- One in eight searches online is for erotic content.
- More than a third of teenage boys say they’ve seen porn “more times than I can count.”
- More than two thirds of college age men and a fifth of college age women go online for sexual purposes every week.
If the church wishes to have dialogue with a pornified world, then the terms we use to talk about porn should be clear and honest.