(Photo: Reuters/Ivan Alvarado)
White Ribbon Against Pornography Week kicks off Sunday, and with it comes a renewed push toward increasing awareness and providing solutions.
The website pornharms.com has an entire section devoted to WRAP Week, and will air a live webcast Sunday on Internet Safety 101. The site is also giving away copies of Truth Behind The Fantasy of Porn: The Greatest Illusion on Earth, by Shelley Lubben, a former pornography star.
It is widely known that pornography is a prevalent issue in today’s society, but its potential of addiction is not isolated to the secular world. Charles Swindoll calls it “the no. 1 secret problem in your church.”
“Without your knowing, it could be eating your church alive. And the scariest thing is . . . you may not realize the extensive damage it's causing,” Swindoll wrote on his website, Insight for Living. “It's ruining marriages, destroying relationships, harming youth, and hurting the body of Christ."
No longer is viewing pornographic material confirmed to boys and men sneaking a peak at a Playboy magazine. The Internet has created an instant and easy access to what is known as “hardcore” images and film.
"I’d say the overwhelming majority of users have almost no understanding of the consequences of pornography," said David R. Smith, author of Ministry by Teenagers, in an email to The Christian Post. "They do not understand that it’s not real. They mentally glaze over the reality that pornography is about two M's: money and masturbation. Of course, it also leads to the dehumanization of women (no matter what the adult industry may say)."
Pornography and sexual sin are becoming more and more pervasive. According to watchdog organization Covenant Eyes, the profit obtained from the pornography industry is more than the collective revenue of the top technology companies such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple, EarthLink and Netflix.
United Families International found that 40 million Americans regularly visit pornographic sites and 2.5 billion pornographic emails are sent each day. The same survey found that nearly 30,000 users are viewing porn each second.
According to a ChristiaNet survey, 50 percent of Christian men are addicted to pornography. And it’s not just a “guy-thing;” 20 percent of Christian women are addicted to pornography, and 60 percent of Christian women admitted to significantly struggling with lust.
And yes, pornography is in the pulpit, too. Christianity Today found that 37 percent of pastors admit that they struggle with Internet pornography, and 51 percent say it’s a source of temptation. And more than half the pastors surveyed (57 percent) said that addiction to pornography is the most sexually damaging issue in their church.
It breaks apart marriages – 56 percent of divorces involve one party having an obsessive interest in “pornographic websites,” according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. And pornography breaks up churches.
“You hardly need to be reminded that fallen pastors and priests did not ‘suddenly’ fall. More often than not, pornography played a role in their downward spiral,” Swindoll wrote.
But there is hope.
"Help exists," Smith said. "There are hundreds of reputable agencies and ministries that specialize in overcoming pornography addiction. Some of them are even free: www.XXXchurch.com being one of them. The greatest need any person struggling with pornography abuse has is accountability. That individual should seek a person of authority to whom he/she is accountable in this arena of their lives."
Several other ministries exist for Christians seeking help with pornography such as Pure Life, The Meadows and Pure Intimacy. There are abundant resources available on the Internet and in books, including www.blazinggrace.org, a website dedicated to the issues of pornography and sex addiction, and foreverfamilies.byu.edu.
“It’s not just an adolescent male thing that guys grow out of,” said Rusty Rohr, a recovering pornography addict in the Pure Life recovery program. “It’s a serious problem, a heart issue. … And men can find freedom, not just cleaned up behavior.”
Meanwhile, the annual WRAP Week is continuing to raise awareness about the pervasive problem and help those affected. Now in its 24th run, the WRAP Week campaign is collaborating with ex-porn stars, filtering companies, scholars, therapists and others in more than 20 national events.
Also, in conjunction with the Oct. 30-Nov. 6 WRAP Week, Morality in Media is launching its second Be Aware: PORN HARMS National Awareness Campaign.
“[Pornography] is destroying families and is the main contributor to the exploitation of women and children. Pornography is the gateway to the sex industry and the harm must end,” said Patrick Trueman, president of MIM, in a statement.
Editor's note: This is the first in a three-part series about pornography. Part two will tell the story of a wife whose marriage was affected by pornography; part three will focus on Pure Life ministry, a program designed to help Christian couples recover from pornography addiction.