Thursday, 5 July 2012

Pornography: the elephant in the pew

The internet has made access to porn much simpler: 25% of all search engine queries are related to pornography (that’s 68 million queries a day) and 12% of the websites (24.6 million) available online are pornographic. 

So what’s so wrong about it – I mean it’s not hurting anyone is it?

Well Shaun Parker disagrees. He works with XXX Church, a Christian organisation that aims to help those who struggle with pornography. I asked him why people might be struggling with it and what they can do if they are.

Why is pornography a problem?
Whenever I speak to people who consume pornography and don’t have a problem with it, their biggest excuse is that it’s not hurting anyone.

XXX Church goes to the [pornography] trade shows, and last year I was in Miami at one of the shows. All these porn stars were on the stage and they were having to paint this picture of ‘it’s an amazing industry, we have complete control, we can do whatever we want’. And then as the girls were coming off the stage, you could literally see them crying, because they knew that there would be women that, from hearing those words they were saying, would be interested in joining the industry.

So my first thing would be that if they are consuming porn and they think it’s not hurting anyone, it is hurting people. I receive emails every single day from people who have lost their family, their work, their lives really, as a result of their addiction and consuming pornography. Statistics show that so many people are hooked on it, and so many people have had their lives ruined because of their addiction to it.

What makes it so attractive?
Everywhere you look, sex sells. I think part of it is that advertising has helped sell that really over the years, and from the people I’ve spoken to, it really creates a false reality. We’ve been desensitised to it. We have this idea that sex is like how we see it in the magazines, and then people go to their partners and say “why aren’t you doing this?”

What impact can it have on a relationship?
When I hear about a lot of relationships broken up as a result of pornography, that tends to be the number one reason. It creates a false reality and the man (or the woman) is expecting something that they’re not receiving.

Scientists have proven that porn addiction is like a drug. The chemical you get from consuming pornography is the same as you get from cocaine, I believe.

There is an element of cheating, because obviously they’re being relieved in a way that isn’t from their partner. We get emails from people on the website saying they have a huge problem with guilt, especially when they’re married.

What can be done about it?
Even before I was with XXX Church I was a big believer in accountability software. Not just because it protects me, but also for in the future when I have kids we have a system where you can actually receive messages the instant that someone accesses a website they shouldn’t access.

Are churches in denial about porn?
In America, and I’m sure the statistics are very similar to the UK, half of the male population of the Church would be consuming or addicted to pornography. And then you’ve got women – a third of the women are visiting these websites on a regular basis. It’s one of those things that keeps coming up, but we don’t really want to talk about the elephant in the pew. I think as a church and as a society, we really need to be talking about this issue.

Is it possible for people to be ‘delivered’ of this addiction?
You can definitely be free. We have people working on the XXX Church team that have been free for 10-15 years. You can be free of any addiction, but you have to be aware that that’s always going to be there.

You hear stories of people who are completely delivered; they’ve had one of those moments with God where He just comes and their desire for alcohol or desire for whatever is no more. So I totally believe that can happen, but a lot of people that use our software are recovered addicts that just want to make sure that everything’s covered; that if I have a bad moment, someone will be on my case and can help me out.

I think accountability, in general, is the key for living life.

Read more about Shaun’s work with XXX Church in Sorted September-October.

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