Pornography: No Longer a Dirty Little Secret
- Friday, October 10, 2003
Pornography, once a dirty little secret, has become an epidemic. Droves of men and women, youth and seniors, public servants and Christian leaders are admitting they struggle personally with pornography. Consider the following:
- Over 50 percent of evangelical pastors report they viewed pornography last year.
- 34 percent of female readers of Today's Christian Woman's online newsletter admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn in a recent poll.
- Pornography is a $10 billion business - bigger than the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball combined.
- 50 percent of Promise Keepers attendees viewed porn within a week before the event.
- One of 10 respondents to a recent MSNBC.com poll said they are "sexually addicted" to Internet pornography.
- 20 percent of the Internet consists of pornographic content.
- 300,000,000 x-rated videos were distributed in the US-more than the entire US population - and that was 13 years ago.
- Hollywood releases 11,000 adult movies per year - more than 20 times mainstream movie production.
- One in five children (age 10-17) have received unwanted sexual solicitations online
- 1800 percent - pornography growth over the last five years.
No longer simply someone else's problem, pornography has invaded the hearts and homes of your family and friends, and most likely your church. The good news is the battle isn't over! But overcoming it requires that you understand it and take action.
Playing with Fire
Those struggling with pornography, whether occasionally or daily, deal with the issue in one of two ways. Some live life telling themselves, "...I can stop anytime I choose". Rather than confront the demon proactively, they treat it with silence and a bold determination that next time they're tempted, they'll win. But experience and statistics are not on their side.
Others have given up the fight by rationalizing their involvement. After all, what's the harm in looking at a few pictures, or in renting an explicit video on occasion? They've tossed aside scriptural teaching focusing on the importance of moral purity, just as some denominations have rationalized their position on homosexuality.
But regardless of their response, playing with porn is playing with fire. Consider the findings of the LAPD Sexually Exploited Child (SEC) Unit. The LAPD-SEC examined the relationship between extra-familial child abuse and pornography in their cases over a ten-year period, dating from 1980-1989. Their findings are startling.
Pornography was directly involved in 62 percent of the cases they reviewed and actually recovered in 55 percent of their cases. The study's author concludes: "Clearly, pornography, whether it be adult or child pornography, is an insidious tool in the hands of the pedophilic population... The study merely confirms what detectives have long known: that pornography is a strong factor in the sexual victimization of children."
The New Crack Cocaine
Dr. James Dobson has called Internet pornography the new "Crack Cocaine." Indeed, the similarities between pornography and drug use are significant. Science reveals that the brain releases endorphins while watching pornography creating an intense feeling of euphoria, and making subsequent use much more tempting ... and highly likely.
As with drugs, continued use drives the need for stronger, more elicit forms of stimulation. What began with a picture has the potential to grow into an encounter with a prostitute. Of course, not all porn users lose their homes and families and become pedophiles. But of those that do, none believed that was a possibility when they first began.
But unlike drugs, pornography is available 24X7, and isn't constrained by cost or even the stigma attached to entering an adult bookstore. Today, anyone with access to the Internet has an x-rated shop in his or her home. Two clicks of a mouse and you are open for business, complete with images limited only by one's imagination.
Taking Action Begins with YOU
Ask yourself some basic questions: What am I doing to stop using pornography? How am I protecting myself from getting started? How is my church dealing with this issue? Most importantly, as pop psychologist Dr. Phil asks his clients on Oprah Winfrey's television show: "How's that workin' for ya'?" If we're honest, we have to admit what we're doing isn't working.
We need a new approach.
When we are sick, we see a doctor. When we suffer emotionally, we seek a counselor. But when the problem is porn, we battle in silence and darkness. Well, how's that workin' for ya?
If you are ready to get serious about a serious problem, here are three very tangible things you can do today:
1. Find a friend. It is as simple as saying to someone you trust, "I won't go it alone any longer. I want you to ask me the tough questions. I commit to tell you the truth, but I need your support and encouragement. Will you be my accountability partner?"
God has placed people in our lives as His agents of encouragement and support, choosing to do His work through others. Our prayers for help are often answered in the form of a friend.
Rock climbers partner because two on a mountain are safer than one. My friend, even if porn isn't your problem, you are living on a precipice. What will it take before you find a partner-someone in whom you can completely trust?
We have compiled accountability questions, even worksheets you can use as part of an accountability relationship. But a partnership can only begin by asking someone to come alongside you. Ask someone today.
If you don't know who to turn to, call NetAccountability at 1-888-580-PURE. Press "3" and then "1" to talk live with someone, 24 hours a day. Help is only a phone call away.
2. Use accountability software. Your accountability relationship deserves complete honesty, especially with regard to Internet activity. NetAccountability (see www.NetAccountability.com) has developed an inexpensive, simple tool that logs every site you go to on the web, and highlights sites that are questionable or explicit in nature. You and your accountability partner should sign up and guarantee that, when it comes to online activity, no stone is left unturned.
You may not feel your accountability partnership needs this kind of support. Use it anyway - not because you have to, but because too much is at stake to leave anything to chance.
3. Pass it on. You are not alone.Choosing accountability over pornography takes courage, the kind of courage our churches need more than ever if we have any hope of overcoming porn's insidious impact. But don't simply attend to your own needs. Talk to your friends and gain their commitment to take these same three steps. Encourage your pastor and church leaders to talk about this issue.
NetAccountability has posted on their website an "Open Letter to the Church" penned by Chuck Swindoll. You are invited to co-sign the letter with him. They have also posted a number of white papers, books, seminars and workshop information, and an array of other resources available for those who are ready to take pornography as seriously as those who create and distribute it.
Regardless of your situation, Christ offers freedom, hope, joy, love, and grace. But you must take the first step. Stop settling for as much victory as you can muster on your own. Start acting as though your very life is at stake.
Your future may well depend on it.
Scott Covington is CEO & Executive Director of NetAccountability, a ministry providing research, reach and resources for a revolution toward sexual purity. Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Curt Swindoll is CEO of Cool Strategies and an Advisory Board Member of NetAccountability. Cool Strategies is a consultancy which works with mission-minded organizations in the areas of strategic planning, business development, organizational leadership, and marketing. Curt can be reached at email@example.com.
Copyright (c) 2003 Covington and NetAccountability
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