How bad is the porn problem? Maybe this blog is really just a place for the few of us that struggle with pornography. That would be a great relief to everyone else. They can let us go quietly off by ourselves and try not to think about us.
If only it were that simple.
Unfortunately, pornography is uncomfortable AND prevalent. Today I will explore just how common it really is. All of the statistics I have used today were gathered from a very helpful document that Covenant Eyes has assembled called Pornography Statistics 2013. It is available as a free download from Covenant Eyes after you fill out the request form. All of the quotes below are directly from that document.
Teenagers and College Students
In 2008, more than 560 college student responded to an online survey:
- 93% of boys and 62% of girls were exposed to pornography before 18.
- 14% of boys and 9% of girls were exposed to pornography before 13.
- 69% of boys and 23% of girls have spent at least 30 consecutive minutes viewing Internet pornography on at least one occasion. 63% of boys have done so more than once, and 35% of boys have done so on more than 10 occasions.
- 83% of boys and 57% of girls have seen group sex online.
- 69% of boys and 55% of girls have seen same-sex intercourse online.
- 39% of boys and 23% of girls have seen sexual bondage online.
- 32% of boys and 18% of girls have seen bestiality online.
- 18% of boys and 10% of girls have seen rape or sexual violence online.
- 15% of boys and 9% of girls have seen child pornography.
Take a look at that top statistic: 9 out of 10 boys and 2/3 of girls admitted to being exposed to pornography before age 18. 14% of boys and 9% of girls were first introduced before they were 13. Take into account that the error in this sample would most likely be under reporting of porn exposure. Why would you lie and say you had seen it when you hadn’t? So most likely these statistics are the floor of the real numbers.
In 2009, Michael Leahy released results of a survey of 29,000 individuals at North American universities.
- 51% of male students and 32% of female students first viewed pornography before their teenage years (12 and younger).
- 35% of all students’ first exposure was Internet or computer-based (compared to 32% from magazines, 13% from VHS or DVD, and 18% from Cable or pay-per-view).
- 64% of college men and 18% of college women spend time online for Internet sex every week.
- 42% of male students and 20% of women said they regularly read romance novels, sexually explicit magazines, or regularly visited sexually explicit websites or chat rooms.
This study is even more frightening with 51% of men reporting their first exposure before they were 13. Also, notice that 2/3 of studied men and 1/5 of studied women (who are current college students) report looking at porn at least weekly.
But, of course this is only a problem of young people. When they grow up and go to church, they will stop looking at porn, right?
According to data taken from Internet users who took part in the General Social Survey for the year 2000, regular church attenders are 26% less likely to look at porn than non-attenders, but those self-identified as “fundamentalists” are 91% more likely to look at porn.
In 2003, 34% of female readers of Today’s Christian Woman’s online newsletter admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn.
In August 2006, a survey reported 50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography. 60% of the women who answered the survey admitted to having significant struggles with lust; 40% admitted to being involved in sexual sin in the past year.
Now I have nothing against a good fundamentalist, but if you are marching against homosexuality and looking at porn, I think you more strongly resemble a Pharisee than a disciple. We need to be first interested in out own sin, not other peoples. Hypocrisy Alert: I am certainly guilty of focusing on other people’s sin while ignoring my own.
The other very notable number was that 50% of Christian men and 20% of Christian women surveyed could be described as “addicted to porn.” Now please don’t think to yourself, “Well, yes, but this is all of those other evil churches. Not mine.” Even if your church is better than average, that is still very large numbers of men and women in your church. Take this threat seriously, your denial only ignores a very real problem.
But at least the pastors are safe, right?
In 2002, of 1,351 pastors surveyed, 54% said they had viewed Internet pornography within the last year, and 30% of these had visited within the last 30 days.
Porn is ravaging our pastors as well. If you think about it, pastors would actually be a vulnerable group. They are under tremendous pressure to perform and to keep up appearances but are sinners just like us. They generally are too “good” to go out an have an affair, but they might slip and give into porn.
Take a breath for a moment and think about the fact the 30% of pastors admitted looking at porn in the last 30 days. Remember that this is a 2002 survey, do you think it has gotten better in the last 11 years. I think not. So consider that at least one in three pastors have looked at porn recently.
I don’t say this to denigrate pastors. In fact, I am confident that there are pastors who will read these words and, I hope, pursue getting their own pornography problem addressed. I say this because I believe the church is eager to ignore this serious and widespread problem. I want the church to wake up. Stop hiding and smiling our way past each other on Sunday morning. This issue needs to be addressed publicly and directly.
So What Do We Do?
It is time that we stopped pretending that pornography use is an isolated problem. It is very common and very destructive. The Church needs to remove the stigma that prevents sexual sins from being addressed from the pulpit. Dads and moms need to address this issue directly with their kids. Like drugs and strangers, there is a threat out there that is too common to ignore anymore.
The question really isn’t what are we going to do. It is what are you going to do?