Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Trending. . . Pornography. . .

One reality that keeps rearing it's ugly head as I complete research for our Digital Kids Initiative is the pervasive presence of pornography in today's world. It's a growing issue for men, women, and children. Way back in 1996, the U.S. Department of Justice issued this statement: "Never before in the history of telecommunications media in the United States has so much indecent (and obscene) material been so easily accessible by so many minors in so many American homes with so few restrictions." That was 15 years ago. The Internet has grown. Access to computers has increased. And sadly, the online pornography industry has either kept or set the pace.

Statistics are hard to nail down. What we did know back in 2006 was this. . . every second there were 30,000 Internet users viewing pornography. Seems a bit low. There were 4.2 million pornographic websites, or 12% of all Internet content was pornographic. Again, sounds low. And every day, there were 68 million search engine requests for some type of pornography. Probably a bit low compared to what will happen today. Experts say that pornography addiction is driven by three factors: it is accessible, it is anonymous, and it is affordable. Sadly, the average age of first exposure to pornography is 11. I'm guessing that as the years advance, that number will go down.

A youth worker friend recently told me that he no longer looks at his middle school boys and asks them if they are struggling with pornography. Rather, he looks at them and tells them that he KNOWS they are struggling with pornography. Never has a kid challenged his assumption.

As I've continued on in my work in the area of youth culture and digital kids, I'm increasingly convinced that 1) this problem is only increasing, and 2) we need to be aggressive and proactive in shaping responses that are prophetic, preventive, and redemptive. The immediate and long-term fallout is going to be beyond anything we can dream or imagine.

If you are a youth worker, parent, pastor, teacher. . . or just someone who realizes how vulnerable both you and the kids you know are to this stuff, let me point you to three of the best resources I know. Consider this a starting point. . .

First, I want to encourage you to visit, bookmark, and favorite the website for HarvestUSA. Please check out the HarvestUSA website now. There are some great resources for you to access, use, and pass on.

Second, I want to recommend with urgency that you pick up a copy of Tim Chester's book, Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn Free. We are so excited about this book that it is our featured resource this month at CPYU. If you choose to secure your copy through us, you will be supporting our ministry.

And third, I want to invite any of you who live in our Central PA neighborhood to join us on November 8 for a one-day training seminar for youth workers, pastors, parents, and pregnancy center workers: "Life Up Close - How To Challenge Teens to Embrace Sexual Integrity." During the day, Jason Soucinek will train you in how to talk to children and teens about sexuality. You can learn more and register here.


Rob said...

such an important topic. i remember having a similar turning point working with middle schoolers years ago.

Stephanie said...

Everyone, keep in mind that the perfectly beautiful physical human body that God created before the apple was eaten, remained almost the EXACT same perfectly beautiful physical human body after the apple was eaten. The little it did change did not detract from its visual beauty (see Ralph Ortega’s 2nd comment on the Sept. 22 post).

No one has ever been able to define “the problem” with viewing the beautiful photos in a Playgirl or Playboy magazine. Jesus never once condemned viewing the naked human body. If it is such an important issue and so egregiously wrong, don’t you think that in all His instructions and commandments that He would have included it, just once?

I’m so tired of the Church trying to make me feel guilty and depraved for such an innocent, non-harming, and natural desire. There are so many real biblically founded important issues to be addressing, aren’t there?

Caleb B said...

Thank you for this great article!

Will the messages from the training seminar be available for the rest of us who don't live in your neighborhood? I hope so, it sounds like it will be very helpful in dealing with this issue.

Anonymous said...

Another great safeguard is Covenant Eyes. Very affordable (less than $10) and very simple to use. We started using it a year and a half ago and I don't have to worry about what my husband may see online b/c Cov. Eyes sends me an email letting me know (it also sends an email to our assoc. pastor who is his accountability partner). --Anna

Walt Mueller said...

Stephanie. . . yes. . . the human body has remained beautiful. But read Genesis again. . . "naked and ashamed" . . . then read the rest of the way through the Scriptures to understand how sin has corrupted our hearts, minds, and thoughts. Pornography is a deeply flawed and fallen expression of something God made good, that has been marred and polluted by sin, and is now abused in so many horrible and exploitive ways by broken humanity. The problem is not the body. It's what the sinful human heart does with it.

Stephanie said...

"The problem is not the body. It's what the sinful human heart does with it."

That helps somewhat Walt, not entirely, but since every little bit helps, thanks.

Jim and Diane Ruehling said...


“I don't have to worry about what my husband may see online b/c Cov. Eyes sends me an email letting me know (it also sends an email to our assoc. pastor who is his accountability partner). –Anna”

I’m sorry, but something just doesn’t sound right about that. All that may be doing is forcing him into a very destructive cat and mouse game. You may be forcing him to connive devious schemes to go undetected, such as purchasing a wireless laptop to be used privately, hiring a techie to bypass Covenant Eyes (it can be done), viewing it at work, seeking out a friend who is willing to share private access, viewing it in a 3-hour motel room, frequenting seedy XXX video sex stores, and who knows what else.

The guilt he would incur could be overwhelming.

Granted, an “addiction” of any kind is not healthy and carries enormous consequences. Do you have any information on the success rate of using this combination of Covenant Eyes and an “accountability partner”? Is any type of professional behavior therapy being included in this effort? There absolutely must be more than just trying to “catch” him when he fails. This would be so unfair and destructive to your husband.

Andrea said...

Stephanie -- A few more thoughts that might help. 1) As Christians, we really should be concerned about the lives of the people behind pornography. While viewing it may seem "harmless," what went into its creation? The world of pornography is a dark place, full of people enslaved to its creation -- often in very unglamorous ways. Do we partake in that and support it?

2) The more advanced our science gets, especially with brain scans and imaging, the more we ARE able to tell a difference in the different ways we view the naked human form. This lends credence to Walt's point that it is not the body that is the problem, but what our hearts (and minds) do with it. There is a very noticable difference in how a brain reacts to the naked form of a sleeping infant, the naked form of a spouse, and the naked form of an individual alluringly posed. What we look at and how we cultivate our responses matters in how it affects developments in our brains.

Stephanie said...

Andrea, thank you so much for offering this very different slant on it. It is so important for me to OBJECTIVELY look at ALL different aspects of a new point of view, even when they run totally contrary to my present beliefs. You and Walt have definitely supplied some.