Does your faith community have a porn problem?

One of the biggest struggles for faith communities is dealing with the messiness that is life. Faith communities hold onto ideals that we promote and live towards which are there for the benefit and blessing of the adherents. We may refer to them as commandments, laws, morals, values, or standards. We recognize people as adherents to their faith by how they act and what they do. But what happens when adherents of a particular faith are battling with a personal struggle that conflicts with their faith? Who do they speak to? What will happen to them if they admit their struggle?

I have attended both faith based and non-religious support groups for people struggling with pornography. Regardless of their professed faith, Christian, Jewish or Islamic (these have been the predominant religions represented in the groups), the reluctance of admitting their struggle to religious community leaders was common. The reasons for this were also common and include:

  1. The fear of being shamed by their community.
  2. The sense of guilt and disappointment from letting others down.
  3. The sense of guilt from the conflict between the confession of faith and the confession of failure.
  4. Being ejected from the community.
  5. Public exposure of a private matter.
  6. Being told to just stop without receiving proper care and assistance.
  7. In some cases, loss of employment.

and more…

What is evident is that most faith-based communities deny that a problem exists until it surfaces through someone being caught out, a divorce, affair or when a sexual scandal is exposed. Most communities don’t want to acknowledge or carry the shame that the problem exists because it is then seen as a blot on their public image. When someone is exposed, the public humiliation and general insensitivity results in others who do have a problem from coming forward for help in fear of receiving the same treatment.

What is the reality and what can be done?

While the good news is that faith-based communities show a lower prevalence of pornography use and people who hold onto a strong faith are more likely to recognize a problem, they are less likely to speak out about it or to seek help for it within their community.

Faith-based community leaders need to be aware that despite the standards, morals and values that their faith aspires to promotes and upholds, the people in their community, including the leadership may be struggling in various areas.

 

A Christian perspective

Research done by Covenant Eyes:

Porn in Church communities

1 in 5 Youth Pastors and 1 in 7 Senior Pastors in the USA regularly use pornography.

43% of Senior and Youth Pastors have admitted to previously having struggled with pornography.

64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women say that they watch porn at least once per month.

Only 7% of pastors admit that their church has a ministry program for people struggling with porn.

Teens and porn
Nearly 27% of teens admit to receiving sexts.

Around 15% admit to sending them.

51% of male students and 32% of female students first viewed porn in their teen years.

71% of teens hide online behaviour from their parents.

The Most Up-to-Date Pornography Statistics (covenanteyes.com)

 

Research done by the Barna Group:

Online research of 3000 participants (adults, teenagers, pastors, and youth pastors).

432 pastors and 338 youth pastors.

57% of pastors and 64% of youth pastors admit to previously or currently struggling with porn.

21% of youth pastors and 14% of youth pastors admit to currently struggling with porn.

12% of youth pastors and 5% of pastors said they are addicted.

Here’s How 770 Pastors Describe Their Struggle with Porn…… | News & Reporting | Christianity Today

 

A Jewish perspective

Guard Your Eyes – Maintaining Moral Purity in Today’s World is an organisation for Jewish believers struggling with pornography and endorsed by a host of orthodox Rabbis.

Their membership includes 32 636 people from English, Hebrew and Yiddish communities.

“By nature we know we’re created with a very powerful desire for these things. No one is immune to the pull of these things. It makes no difference if you’re religious or not religious.” Yaakov Nadel founder of Guard Your Eyes.

This struggle is also brilliantly addressed in the podcast The Shame Around Porn Addiction – Rabbi YY Jacobson (buzzsprout.com).

 

*There is research being done in Islamic communities to assist with Muslims struggling with porn addiction. I was unable to find studies revealing the proclivity of the situation.

 

Faith communities are neither exempt nor immune to the battle against pornography. It can affect anybody from any faith. 


What can be done?

  1. Firstly, acknowledge that the problem exists and is affecting many people in your community.
  2. Acknowledge that this is a problem that needs to be addressed not ignored. By speaking about it, you open the opportunity for individuals to reach out for healing.
  3. Recognize that the person struggling with porn is a person who needs help and is already stuck in cycles of shame and inner conflict.
  4. Shame is one of the strongest chains that keep people in bondage to addiction. A person admitting to their struggle needs to hear about hope and not judgement.
  5. A community that is a safe place for healing and hope means that your community public image may not be squeaky clean, but it will be honest, real, and relevant. It means that the authenticity of your faith will then be tested and strengthened.
  6. Your religious tenets/doctrine of what is right and wrong, or acceptable and not acceptable may be firm and true but that only helps a person acknowledge a conviction, not bring healing.
  7. You may be an expert in your faith/theology or doctrine, but you may not be an expert in journeying through addiction recovery with someone.
  8. In most cases, the addiction to pornography is far deeper than sexual sin. It finds it’s root in other pain and trauma whereby the pornography is an agent to numb the pain of the other trauma or to escape the pain of an existing situation. If you help heal the original pain, you will have a far greater chance of breaking the addiction cycle.
  9. A person in addiction recovery needs community. Ejecting, rejecting, or excommunicating them will only send them into further addiction through greater pain and trauma.
  10. A person struggling with porn addiction needs recovery not just repentance. Repentance is part of recovery but there is a greater journey to be embarked on.
  11. Draw on professionals and experts in the field of recovery to offer services where help can be found outside of your community, but a journey can be walked in partnership.

Faith-based communities should be places of hope and healing. TechBear.Online together with other strategic partners can assist you in providing the support your community needs.

We offer educational presentations with practical training and solutions that can both help prevent potential porn addiction as well as offer recovery tools for those already struggling.

Click here to discuss a tailored presentation for your community.

 

 

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