Pornography. For decades, pornography has had a seedy connotation that conjures up images of back-alley shops and interstate superstores, the kind of locale that is known to exist but is not visited by any reputable person, only desperate sex addicts. In the 21st century, however, the Internet provides free, anonymous access to pornography 24/7. As a consequence, according to Covenant Eyes, 64-68% of young men and 18% of young women now use porn at least once a week, and many of them are at risk of a serious addiction to porn and sex. Our culture’s response to this increase in pornography usage has been split along two lines. One group has embraced porn as an acceptable form of entertainment and sexual expression, while another group has either refused to talk about pornography or is unaware of the extent to which it is an issue. Whether we ignore our increased porn usage or pretend it is harmless, we need to address the shame and despair that accompany a pornography habit as well as the delusions about sexual relationships that it has created for an entire generation.
To begin, pornography is not a wholesome industry. This is pretty self-evident, yet many who are consumed by it try not to think about the level of damage it inflicts upon them and upon those in the industry. Most members of the porn industry are either desperate for money or the victims of sex trafficking. In fact, many actors in porn films need to be heavily intoxicated by drugs and alcohol while filming, and the physical and emotional damage they incur can ruin their lives and even prevent them from forming intimate relationships after they escape the industry. Many viewers of pornography also know that porn is wrong and would like not to be controlled by it, adding layers of shame and regret to their vice; it can even prevent them from having healthy marriages later in life. Once we fully understand the harm caused by using porn, we cannot keep pretending that it is healthy, nor can we act like it is a victimless crime.
If our generation wants to have meaningful lives free from shame and to experience healthy relationships, then we need to confront our excessive usage of porn. I struggled with pornography for several years before admitting that I needed help and implementing controls to protect myself from harm. It was the most difficult and best decision I ever made. I encourage anyone who wants to take porn out of their life to confess to others and seek help from trusted figures. Only then will you learn the great freedom that follows escape from the web of pornography that entangles many people. It may be challenging, but a conscientious life can only be lived without pornography.