Nine months ago I sat with a father, listening to a story of the destructive consequences of porn addiction. What made this moment different from any other conversation I’d had, was it wasn’t the father we were talking about. It was his daughter that was sitting next to him, weeping while she recounted the journey of her first encounter and subsequent enslavement to a force that was destroying her life.
It broke my heart.
It seems that historically, when we speak about porn addiction we have primarily framed it as “just a male problem”. While has never been “just a male problem”, in ways perhaps like never before it is now an “everyone problem”. Porn is so prevalent that one wonders if purity really is possible.
According to the Covenant Eyes website,
- Nine out of 10 boys were exposed to pornography before the age of 18.
- The first exposure to pornography among men is 12 years old.
- 71% of teens hide online behavior from their parents.
- 28% of 16-17 year olds have been unintentionally exposed to porn online.
- 20% of 16-year-olds have received a sext and 30% of 17-year-olds have received a sext.
- Six out of 10 girls were exposed to pornography before the age of 18.
- 15% of boys and 9% of girls have seen child pornography.
- 32% of boys and 18% of girls have seen bestiality online.
- 39% of boys and 23% of girls have seen sexual bondage online.
- 83% of boys and 57% of girls have seen group sex online.
Perhaps more shocking than the statistics on exposure to what many people describe as pornography, is the normalization of a hard core pornographic ethic, in mainstream popular culture. Take for instance the song Blurred Lines (careful, lyrics are offensive), which last summer sat at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for 12 consecutive weeks, becoming the longest running number one single of 2013 and of the 2010’s decade.
I’ll give you something big enough to tear your a– in two
Swag on, even when you dress casual
I mean it’s almost unbearable
In a hundred years not dare, would I
Pull a Pharside let you pass me by
Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you
He don’t smack that a– and pull your hair like that
In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, Paul says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God.”
According to Paul, purity is taking our sexual desires and functioning with a high regard for the holiness of God, (submitting to His good plan for sex, and imaging forth purity and faithfulness with our desires and actions towards others), and a passion for the honour of others (not objectifying others, but rather sacrificially protecting and caring for their physical, social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing).
This is the antithesis of a pornographic worldview.
So the question becomes, how should we respond? (and we must respond) I would suggest that if you do not wish to deal with the issue of pornography, if you do not wish to respond, perhaps ministry is not your calling. As we’ve already shown, there are few issues more prevalent in culture than pornography.
A few weeks ago I unexpectedly ran into the young lady I had met the previous summer. She was a completely different person. Instead of tears of sadness and shame, there was joy and freedom. Her journey was far from over, but instead of despair she now had hope. It was amazing. It gave me hope that the Kingdom value of purity really is possible. I am praying God would allow us to be a part of more and more stories like that.
Sid Koop is Director and Founder of Truth Matters Ministries and is actively involved in youth ministry across Canada.