How is Porn Affecting the Church?

Chastity, abstinence, and modesty are strong themes within many religious traditions. Believers are expected to treat their bodies as metaphorical temples of God, and be faithful spouses. Many see adultery as both antithetical to a successful marriage and a betrayal of God. As such, how are Christians handling the murky waters of pornography?

Given porn’s ubiquity and accessibility in the digital age, many Christians are ambivalent about whether it is a harmless way to blow off steam, a sin, or somewhere in between. Recently, the Barna Group conducted an extensive survey revealing the confusion, shame, and difficulties many congregants AND laity experience due to porn usage. Christians are having trouble reconciling their porn consumption with their Godly devotion.

While Christians are three times less likely to use pornography as compared to their secular counterparts, they are more likely to experience guilt about it. In fact, practicing Christians are twice as likely to express a desire to stop viewing adult content. And 19% of practicing Christians are actively trying to kick their porn habit, which is much higher than the general population.

Church congregants aren’t the only ones conflicted about viewing XXX material. Pastors, too, consume adult content, and most of them say they live in “constant fear” of getting caught. A whopping 57% of pastors surveyed acknowledged a struggle with pornography (in the past or presently), and 87% of them feel shame about it.

Christian purity culture was in its a heyday in the 80s with chastity rings, best-selling books (I Kissed Dating Goodbye), and the Love Can Wait movement, but it seems nothing could have prepared them for the challenge of digital content.

Even ten years ago (with the Internet in its relative infancy), Christian leaders were wringing their hands wondering how to handle this new temptation among their flocks (and themselves!). Since this time, many churches began adding counseling services and support groups to address the issue among their congregations.

Some people see porn as a safe and healthy alternative to risky sexual behavior, cheating, or divorce. Others believe it is a slippery slope, and disloyal to one’s spouse. Some men are even reporting an inability to perform sexually due to overconsumption of porn, so much so that doctors now have a term for it: Pornography Induced Erectile Dysfunction. Clearly, this is not just an issue amongst believers, but Christians are more likely to grapple with the doctrinal implications and eternal (!) consequences of their behavior.

Check out the Barna Group study for more interesting stats and insight on porn in the church.

 

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