Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council released on Wednesday a new study detailing the effects of pornography on marriages, children and individuals.
"This is a ground-breaking review of what pornography costs families trying to create a life together," said Dr. Pat Fagan, who authored the study and serves as FRC's senior fellow and director of the Center for Research on Marriage and Religion. "Men, women and sometimes even children are saturated by sexual content, and more significantly, are told that it has no real effect. It's just a little amusement."
But through the study, Fagan affirmed that "pornography corrodes the conscience, promotes distrust between husbands and wives and debases untold thousands of young women."
"It is not harmless escapism but relational and emotional poison," he commented.
Pornography was defined in the study as "a visual representation of sexuality which distorts an individual's concept of the nature of conjugal relations."
The report showed that in families, pornography use leads to marital dissatisfaction, infidelity, separation and divorce.
Citing the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the report pointed out that 68 percent of divorce cases involved one party meeting a new paramour over the Internet, 56 percent involved "one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites," 47 percent involved "spending excessive time on the computer," and 33 percent involved spending excessive time in chat rooms.
Fagan commented, "The fact that marriage rates are dropping steadily is well known. But the impact of pornography use and its correlation to fractured families has been little discussed. The data show that as pornography sales increase, the marriage rate drops."
The FRC study revealed that among couples affected by one spouse's addiction, two-thirds experience a loss of interest in sexual intercourse; both spouses perceive pornography viewing as tantamount to infidelity; and pornography viewing leads to a loss of interest in good family relations.
Pornography use, Fagan says, is "a quiet family killer."
Men are more than six times as likely to view pornography as females and more likely to spend more time viewing it.
Men who habitually look at pornography have a higher tolerance for abnormal sexual behaviors, sexual aggression, promiscuity, and even rape. Moreover, men begin to view women and even children as "sex objects."
Additionally, addictive pornography use leads to lower self-esteem and a weakened ability to carry out a meaningful social and work life.
Among teens, those who watch pornography more frequently tend to be high sensation seekers, less satisfied with their lives, have a fast Internet connection, and have friends who are younger. Viewing such material at their age hinders the development of a healthy sexuality.
The study points out that with the growth of digital media and the Internet, social sanctions from parents, mentors and the community are operating in fewer and fewer quarters.
Fagan warns, "Habitual consumption of pornography can break down the relational substrates of human life and interaction – family, friends and society.
"As such, reinforcing these relationships is the surest guard against such destructive sexual tendencies."
The key to protecting against the effects of pornography, he says, is to foster relationships of affection and attachment, especially between the father and the mother and between parents and children. Deliberate parental monitoring of Internet use is an additional key defense. Fagan also calls on the government to "reassess its laissez-faire attitude towards the proliferation of pornography, especially on the Internet."
Family Research Council is a Christian organization dedicated to the promotion of marriage and family and the sanctity of human life in national policy.