The Best Thing You’ll Hear This Week: Christians Resisting Porn

The Best Thing You’ll Hear This Week: Christians Resisting Porn July 6, 2019

Christians Resisting Porn

Who nailed it for this week? As we continue on our roll with controversial subjects, this week’s topic has been making the rounds in Christian circles lately thanks to some pretty troubling claims made in a recent book about… did you guess it? …pornography! Turns out the claims aren’t exactly accurate, according to one man who crunched the data a little more thoroughly. It’s actually fairly good news on the subject for a change.

I’m Joel Fieri, Executive Producer of Christian Podcast Central. And this is “The Best Thing You’ll Hear This Week”

In his latest book “Addicted to Lust: Pornography in the Lives of Conservative Protestants” Samuel Perry claims Protestant Evangelical men are having a big problem with pornography. They’re only slightly less likely to view porn than secular men or men of other religions. Apparently

Pornography shapes the lives of conservative Protestants in ways that are uniquely damaging to their mental health, spiritual lives, and intimate relationships… (they) are often overwhelmed with shame and discouragement, sometimes to the point of depression or withdrawal from faith altogether.

In response to these claims, Lyman Stone of the Institute For Family Studies writes in a recent blog post that Samuel Perry didn’t dig deep enough into the data. If he had, he would have discovered that while it’s true that nominally committed Protestant Evangelical men view only slightly less porn than others, more committed ones view significantly less. In other words, church attendance and other factors that show a strong commitment to their faith enables and motivates Christian men to resist the online lure of pornography (this is true of other faiths also). There are other factors, including a very interesting assertion he makes about the shared expectations (of any kind) of couples, and how failure to meet these expectations by one spouse can damage the marriage, while another marriage that didn’t have the same expectation would be undamaged by the same behavior. The article is posted here. It’s a little heavy on the data and analysis, but if you have the time it’s definitely worth unpacking.
First off, full disclosure – I haven’t read Samuel Perry’s book. I’m going off of the review we’ve linked and the interpretation given in Lyman Stones blog post. I’m trusting that they have a reasonable understanding of his arguments and that they are honest in their representation. But that doesn’t really matter for our purposes because what I take away from this (and what I see Lyman Stone reacting to) is the perception reinforced by the reaction to the book. Namely, that Christian men (and some women) are no more pious or righteous in the area of porn addiction than non-Christians, and maybe as Christians we should be more open and less judgemental about viewing porn.

I think this is part of a wider trend that I’ve been seeing for years in Christian circles as we try to cope with the ever intensifying pressure from our secularizing culture, and the loss of influence that’s come with it. The more unpopular our ideas and standards become, the more unpopular we as Christians become for upholding outdated and unpopular moral standards and values. This can be dismaying to people who care about their society and culture like we do (and as we’re commanded to). That concern can come off as judgemental and mean, not to mention stodgy and prudish. Our culture doesn’t like that, and it’s never easy to be disliked by the “cool kids”. So we try to find ways of mitigating our perceived self-righteousness so as to be seen as more like-able and relatable. Or worse, we search for self-disqualifying stories that justify totally disengaging from our culture on difficult issues. The claim that Christians are nearly as addicted to porn as the rest of the world would serve these purposes nicely. After all, if our side is really not that different from the heathens, then well, who are we to say anything at all. We might as well be silent or even absorb a little of the worlds salt on this subject. And the world is only too eager to reinforce these deceptions. I’ve seen this happen with statistics on divorce rates claim, refute, and even abortion rates, claim, refute among others. We’ve linked to some examples of such claims, and effective rebuttals.

In these studies, as in our walks with God and our witness to the world, the key factor that determines the validity of our message to the world is the strength of our commitment to our faith. People who nominally or casually claim the title of “Christian”, or who are lazily labeled as such, are not that different from the world., But those who attend church on a regular weekly basis are not at all similar to the world. They’re distinct. They stand out. Their lives and habits tend to hamper the efforts of those who seek the approval of the “cool kids” of our culture.

More and more evidence is emerging that those of us who are committed to the Gospel of Christ, who do take obedience to the commands of the Bible and the title “Christian”seriously, really do bear evidence of how powerful and merciful our God truly is in our lives and marriages. We can confidently and, as I keep saying, boldly stand for his cause in our culture. We really can! Thanks to diligent seekers of truth like Lyman Stone and the Institute For Family Studies, we’ve been given just a little more encouragement to do so. And that is The Best Thing You’ll Hear this Week!

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