Porn Use: Not Immoral?

In a Barna Group study released at the beginning of this year, 58% of U.S. adults rated “overeating” as immoral while only 54% felt pornography use was. Only 37% felt that watching sexually explicit scenes on TV or in movies was immoral.

When looking at teens and young adults (up to age 24) the results become even more shocking. 56% say that “not recycling” is immoral but only 32% feel that viewing pornography falls in this category.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Of course this was an “across the board” study of secular society as well as Christians. However, with 64% of our Christian men using porn at least monthly (compared to 65% in secular society) I don’t think we can claim any type of moral superiority.

Moreover 77% of Christian men under 30 are using porn at least monthly… and over 30% say they use it daily. With increased use comes more cavalier attitudes about sex… and sexual immorality.

See No Evil

And if our young men have been caught in the trap of porn addiction, our young women are equally caught in porn’s lies. As one young Christian woman said after hearing me speak recently: “My line is just in a different place.” She was referring to her husband’s use of porn and her unwillingness to confront him on it.

Another young woman, whose husband is an “adult porn user” became very angry at me for communicating the connection between porn use and other forms of sexual addiction and sex offending. I truly wish there was no link, but those who work with sex offenders can tell you differently. The brain scientists, like Dr. Donald Hilton will tell you differently. Hilton, in a recent article wrote:

“Curiosities are thus fused into compulsions, and the need for a larger dopamine fix can drive the person from soft-core to hard-core to child pornography—and worse.”

And even if a man’s regular porn use never leads him to any illegal behaviours, or acting out with real people, it will, nevertheless, drive him to addiction. As Dr. Hilton states, “Pornography is a drug that produces an addictive neurochemical trap.”

So… Where's the Line?

In the latter half of Matthew chapter 5, Jesus addresses the idea, common in that day, that relationship with God is about staying on the right side of “the line.” He made it clear to the Pharisees that God’s standards – for sexual integrity and more – are higher than ours because He looks at what’s in our hearts.

Research tells us that pornography use causes men and boys to:

  • Objectify women
  • Find violence arousing
  • See intimacy with one woman as boring
  • Lie and keep secrets

Moreover, it changes a person’s character in destructive ways. Dr. Hilton quotes sex therapist Dr. Victor Cline as saying:

“A frequent side effect [of porn use] is that it also dramatically reduces their capacity to love (e.g., it results in a marked dissociation of sex from friendship, affection, caring, and other normal healthy emotions and traits which help marital relationships). Their sexual side becomes in a sense dehumanized. Many of them develop an “alien ego state” (or dark side), whose core is antisocial lust devoid of most values."

More than the acting out, I believe these changes in a man’s heart, is what damages him, and those around him.

Perhaps this is why Jesus told the Pharisees that they were falling into the sin of adultery when they looked lustfully at a woman. He was trying to point out that keeping on the right side of “the line” was never going to cut it. They needed a savior. So do we.

The Challenge

Fortunately, we have One. He has given everything to bring us out of sin and back into loving, connection – with God and others. When we excuse our husband’s issues as, “it’s just a little bit of porn”– we’re not working with Him, we’re working against Him.

I know that’s a challenging message for some. There was a day when it would have been a challenging message for me. However, I’ve been slowly learning how I can lean on Him and stand for right – even when it seems really scary.

For many of us, it begins with getting in touch with our true feelings about our husband’s porn use/infidelity. If you’ve not been able to do that, consider spending some time with God this week, asking Him to show you how He feels about it all. Ask Him at the same time how He feels about you — His precious little girl.


Kiwis: for more on this debate on porn, consider attending the IACSAS Auckland symposium this coming July.

Questions that Need Asking: by New Zealand artist Derek Lind.