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Porn: The New Tobacco



"Americans rent upwards of 800 million pornographic videos and DVDs (about 1 in 5 of all rented movies is porn), and the 11,000 porn films shot each year far outpaces Hollywood's yearly slate of 400. $4 billion a year is spent on video pornography in the United States, more than on football, baseball, and basketball. One in four Internet users look at a pornography website in any given month. Men look at pornography online more than they look at any other subject. And 66% of 18 to 34-year-old men visit a pornographic site each month." (Time journalist, Pamela Paul, "How Porn Became The Norm," in Stoner and Hughers, Social Costs of Pornography)

Pornography has become completely mainstream, whether considering prime time television and the acceptance of 'soft-porn', or the slow shift of what is considered PG, PG-13, R, or to the more obvious hard-core porn, sexuality in the Western culture has changed dramatically in the past 50 years (for a great short read tracking this shift in America, see "How America Lost Her Innocence"). This of course traces its roots back to the sexual revolution of the 1960s for our culture, but ultimately traces itself back to the roots of Genesis 3:7 and the centrality of man and woman's sexuality in the Fall (the recourse of knowing the difference between good and evil resulted in "their eyes being opened and realizing they were naked").

"Despite our culture's easy acceptance of pornography, The growing tide of researchers, counselors, neuroscientists, pastors, and other professionals are ringing alarm bells on the basis of the devastating effects of pornography they see in their clinics, churches, and research studies. Some describe it as the 'new tobacco.' Just as most people considered smoking benign before the mid 1960s, there is a similar disconnect between scientific research and popular perspectives regarding the influence of pornography." (Jonathan Grant, Divine Sex pg. 105)

"The strong stigma of shame attached to pornography means that we will only see it if we are deeply involved in the confessional lives of others. The sad truth is that whether we see it or not, pornography has become a major issue for many people within the church." (Jonathan Grant, Divine Sex pg. 105)

The statistics of pornography use is staggering (see recent Barna research about use amongst the youth), but what is most alarming is that the statistics really are about the same both in and out of the church. Christians are using pornography just about as much as everyone else. I know I can attest to this from my own experience personally, and because I am deeply involved in the confessional lives of others throughout the church. And don't think that pornography is just for men. Statistics show that female use of pornography is steadily rising, and the social acceptance of pornography amongst women is becoming more mainstream as well.

Just as The Truth Project set out to show a younger generation the truth about the damaging effects of tobacco and cigarette smoke, we now must take up the mantle in showing the truth about the damaging effects of pornography. This of course is damaging to the Christian's spiritual life (and is forbidden as sin in the bible - c.f. Mat 5:27-28), but it is also damaging physically, something that the secular authorities are now finding out conclusively through research. They are finding that porn effects the brain in very similar ways as cocaine and other hard drugs, creating addictions for users in the same ways as other drugs (for more information on the negative effects of pornography, see Fight The New Drug).

In my opinion, modern technology, the innovation of the internet, and smart phones have introduced the largest chasm between co-existing generations than any previous one. This is perhaps no where seen more clearly than the general naivety from parents about what their children are being exposed to, partaking in, and becoming addicted to, and the ages at which this is happening (most research shows that the average age of exposure to porn is now 8-11 years old).

Christians, our enemy is real, and he is cunning. It is time for us to wake up.

#sex #pornography #relationships #culture