How Should Churches Address Pornography Use Among Christians?

As pornography use is becoming more common and acceptable in today’s culture, many practicing Christians feel trapped in a shameful dependency they know is direct disobedience to the will of God.

With past surveys showing that as many as two-thirds of practicing Christian men reported looking at porn monthly or more often, professor Samuel L. Perry of the University of Oklahoma contends Christians are not being challenged by their churches to change their sinful behavior.

Perry, a professor of sociology and religious studies who comes from an evangelical background, authored the book Addicted to Lust: Pornography in the Lives of Conservative Protestants. The title was released this month, as May marks National Masturbation Month in some circles.

The book features interviews and survey data to help Perry present a balanced overview of how increasingly easier access to internet pornography is impacting conservative Protestants in different ways than porn users of lesser or no faiths might experience.

“I think conservative Christians are really at a difficult place. In the book, I’d like to say I end on a more positive note. I try to be optimistic. I try to give some counsel on what I feel like would be some helpful steps to take for the subculture generally,” Perry told The Christian Post. “And yet, I got to acknowledge that I think conservative Protestants really face a pickle.”

As a scholar of religion and families, Perry began researching more closely the topic of pornography around five years ago when he was curious about the link between pornography use and divorce. Today, around 20 of his over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles have focused on the issues of pornography, lust and masturbation.

With technological advancements over the years with the internet and smartphones, access to pornographic material is less restricted than ever.

Although conservative Christians are known for holding staunch beliefs when it comes to sexual sin, many conservative Christians also report being helplessly trapped in the grip of pornography dependence as technology is making it harder to avoid the temptation.

“This is a real challenge as the broader culture in the United States becomes more antithetical to a traditional Christian sexual ethic,” Perry explained.

Perry said one of the main points of the book is that among the negative consequences that conservative Protestant users of pornography face is the experience of “consistently, willfully, repeatedly violating their own moral convictions by looking at pornography.”

“[T]hey feel stuck, and they feel judged; they feel like they have to hide it, and lie about it,” he said. “It hurts their mental health when they have to kind of pretend they’re not doing this or they feel bad about themselves. It also certainly hurts their marriages and their intimate relationships because they definitely feel like they have to hide that.”

Perry added that data show conservative Protestant women are twice as likely to divorce their husbands over the issue of pornography use as compared to non-conservative Protestant women.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith