At an anti-trafficking summit, a man named Carl* came to my table. He shared with me that he grew up in a Christian household, with his mother, father and two sisters. He told me that he molested his younger sisters when he was a teenager. I asked him if he was into pornography. He replied yes; that he found VHS tapes in his parents’ bedroom and they were filled with porn. He not only watched those but also programs on HBO; all of which his parents had no idea. His story brought me to my own personal story which sounds almost the same as Carl’s. My older brother molested me and my sister for several years when he was a teenager. When I confronted him as an adult, he told me that he had been looking at porn magazines during that time.
Carl’s story also made me think of my girlfriend’s father. A few years back Cindy’s* father had a nervous breakdown and had to be hospitalized. The root cause was that he had been addicted to pornography for the entire 30 years that he was in ministry. He was an elder is his church. One day he had a melt down when he questioned how God could love him or use him to minister to others when he had engaged in this secret sin. Like Carl, Ted Bundy also grew up in a Christian home with both parents. Bundy is the infamous serial killer who raped and murdered young women and girls in the 1970’s. In an interview with Dr. James Dobson, Bundy admitted to viewing pornography as a teenager. He also said that many fellow rapists in the prison did the same.
Pornography personally affected me as a child, which I’ve already shared, and also as an adult. When my son was 12 years old I had let him borrow my new lap top. I had a parental program on the home desk-top computer, but not my lap top. My son had been viewing sites linked to football and clicked on a pop-up window that had been blinking on the right side of the screen. It led him to pornography videos (unbeknownst to me). Later when I viewed the history, I was assaulted and horrified at videos of live footage with titles such as “Mother and Son,” and “Gang Rape.” There is a very good chance that these were not actors, but that of true, real-life people. There is also a very good chance that the women/girls (and boy) were actually sex slaves, who were forced or coerced (and most likely drugged) into these pornography acts. After I viewed these videos which were literally for only seconds, I had those images in my mind for at least 2 weeks afterwards. As each unwelcomed memory flashed before my mind, I became sickened with the thought that my 12 year old son was also seeing them in his mind’s eye.
In addition, while facilitating a healing workshop for survivors of sexual abuse, I came to learn of a story from a woman whose father not only viewed pornography, but also produced it with his daughters as his subjects. All of these are evidence that pornography is not harmless. It is not a tool for fathers to help their sons become men. It is not a tool to enhance the romance in a marriage relationship. Pornography is like a drug. Dr. Daniel Amen, a renowned neurologist has done studies on the brain that prove that pornography affects the brain in very much the same way as drugs, such as heroin. Like drugs, pornography is addictive and destroys lives. Pornography is known to lead to sex acts such as rape, molestation, incest, and buying sex. Pornography objectifies women and girls (or boys). Pornography desensitizes.
It is my desire to raise awareness on this issue, which includes within the walls of the Christian church. A study in 2014 by Barna Group concluded that 95% of born-again Christian men admitted to viewing porn and 54% admitted to viewing porn monthly. With these stats in mind, we must realize that we have men/teens in our churches/groups who have a problem with pornography but are most likely afraid to talk about it. As long as it is kept secret the enemy uses it as a stronghold. Consequently, other strongholds are erected such as guilt, shame, depression, and self-hatred. It is my hope that we bring this topic out in the open and deal with it instead of letting it stay hidden in the darkness.
If you or someone you know would like help with overcoming a sexual addiction, please consider contacting Nathan Project. Founder Rick Kardos and his team train leaders to facilitate FMO “For Men Only” groups in churches/men’s groups. Nathan Project also offers FWO “For Women Only” support groups for spouses. Nathan Project is located in New Hampshire, but their support groups are located throughout the US. You may have a group in your area. If not, you can get one started with their help. I also encourage pastors and ministry leaders to offer books and/or curricula on this topic. I recommend a book called Pure Desire by Ted Roberts.
*Names have been changed