The Pull of Porn: Three Key Predictors

Mixed Media
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Pornography use is exceedingly widespread, both within and outside of the church. Scientists at the University of Montreal launched a search for men who had never looked at pornography; they couldn’t find any. Additionally, 50 percent of pastors are either currently using or have used pornography. Women now make up over 30 percent of porn users.

A glut of data tells us pornography is a problem. As an ordained Christian Reformed minister and licensed mental health counselor, I wanted to understand the “why” behind our collective use of pornography. To do that, I completed research on over 3,600 men and women wanting to quit using porn. What my data showed was that the use of pornography and the specific videos or pictures people pursued were not random or capricious.

So why do we watch porn?

1. A lack of purpose. Men who struggled with a lack of purpose were seven times more likely to increase their use of pornography. The more confused or stuck a man felt in life, the more porn he watched.

2. Shame. It might sound obvious, but shame, not pleasure, fuels the use of pornography. Men were 300 times more likely to pursue pornography for each “unit” of shame they experienced. Women were 546 times more likely. Shame convinces us that we are unwanted, and we pursue behaviors that confirm it.

3. Sexual Abuse. The heaviest porn users had sexual abuse scores that were 24 percent higher than those who had not been abused. Victims of abuse often pursue pornography later in life because it recreates some of the original sexual experiences they underwent: secrecy, arousal, and shame.

If you want to find freedom from porn, identify the unique reasons that bring you to it. The use of pornography exposes our sin, but it also reveals the stories that await love. God is neither surprised nor ashamed of our sexual behaviors, but understands them to be the very stage through which the work of redemption can play out in our lives.

Note: If you would like to know more about Jay Stringer’s research, his book, Unwanted: How Sexual Brokenness Reveals Our Way to Healing (NavPress), will be available September 4.

About the Author

Jay Stringer

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