The Effects of Pornography

Ed Stetzer points readers to a new study by Patrick F. Fagan examining the effects of pornography:

A new study done by Patrick F. Fagan examines the effects of pornography on individuals, marriage, family and community. Fagan is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Research on Marriage and Religion at the Family Research Council. He specializes in examining the relationships among family, marriage, religion, community, and America’s social problems. This study is important for everyone to read as it demonstrates that it has damaging effects on individuals and families. In the summary Fagan explains,

Pornography is a visual representation of sexuality which distorts an individual’s concept of the nature of conjugal relations. This, in turn, alters both sexual attitudes and behavior. It is a major threat to marriage, to family, to children and to individual happiness. In undermining marriage it is one of the factors in undermining social stability.Social scientists, clinical psychologists, and biologists have begun to clarify some of the social and psychological effects, and neurologists are beginning to delineate the biological mechanisms through which pornography produces its powerful negative effects.

Some of the findings inside the study include:

  • Pornography is addictive, and neuroscientists are beginning to map the biological substrate of this addiction.
  • Users tend to become desensitized to the type of pornography they use, become bored with it, and then seek more perverse forms of pornography.
  • Married men who are involved in pornography feel less satisfied with their conjugal relations and less emotionally attached to their wives. Wives notice and are upset by the difference.
  • Pornography use is a pathway to infidelity and divorce, and is frequently a major factor in these family disasters.
  • Among couples affected by one spouse’s addiction, two-thirds experience a loss of interest in sexual intercourse.
  • Many adolescents who view pornography initially feel shame, diminished self-confidence, and sexual uncertainty, but these feelings quickly shift to unadulterated enjoyment with regular viewing.
  • The main defenses against pornography are close family life, a good marriage and good relations between parents and children, coupled with deliberate parental monitoring of Internet use. Traditionally, government has kept a tight lid on sexual traffic and businesses, but in matters of pornography that has waned almost completely, except where child pornography is concerned. Given the massive, deleterious individual, marital, family, and social effects of pornography, it is time for citizens, communities, and government to reconsider their laissez-faire approach.

The study is extremely thorough and well worth reading. You can download the study here.

A couple of things jumped out to me:

First, while reading, I was reminded of how frequently Paul and the other New Testament writers warned of the dangers of sexual immorality. Eleven times in Paul’s epistles (five times in 1 Corinthians alone), he reminds us that “the body is not meant for sexual immorality;” that it’s a great temptation, but not something to be indulged in; not because sex is bad, but because it’s a worship issue. Paul’s point every time he talks about this sin is that we don’t worship sex, we worship Jesus. And this is a message that is more important than ever to be discussed in our churches and families.

The second thing that jumped out was a point from the conclusion:

Healthy relationships yield additional positive sexual outcomes. Some research indicates that married couples have the most frequent, and Conservative Protestant women have the most enjoyable, sexual relations. The supreme and tragic irony is that, while the desire for the highest levels of sexual fulfillment are likely the motive for many adolescents’ first peek into pornography, the attainment of that universal longing is most likely to be had through monogamy and regular participation in religious worship.

Monogamy and regular participation in religious worship lead to greater sexual fulfillment.

Chances are we’re not going to hear that on the news any time soon.

Anyway, read the study for yourself and let me know what you think. How do you think our churches, small groups and families should discuss this issue? Do you think we should at all?

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books including the Big Truths Bible Storybook, Epic Devotions, Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, the New Creation, and the End of Poverty, and Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World. His next book, published by Lexham Press, will release in Spring 2023.