My first exposure to pornography was in 1996. In my innocence, I picked up a magazine wrapped in plastic that was hidden behind a shelf at my local small town bookstore. I quickly put it back when I realized what it was. Back then, pornography was "only" an $8 billion industry according to the US News &World Report. Today, with the expansion of the internet, the pornography industry is banking nearly $100 billion....yes B.I.L.L.I.O.N, per year worldwide says the Internet Filter Review. About 8% of Americans (40 million) are viewing pornography on a regular basis. And, with 12% of internet websites being pornographic, many of them free, it is understandably easy to be sucked into this devastating form of "entertainment". Playboy magazines are becoming old fashioned and a thing of the past as porn is now so easily accessed on computers, smart phones, and television these days. Nearly 30,000 internet users are viewing porn and an average of $3000 is spent every second on pornography.
Chances are, you know someone who is openly viewing pornography or suspect someone you are living with has a porn addiction in secret. Seventy percent of men aged 18-24 visit pornography sites in a typical month. However, this is not a one sided addiction. About 17% of women also struggle with some form of porn addiction according to the Internet Filter Review.
Sex sells and the entertainment industry knows this very well. They cram it in our faces every chance they get. The sooner they can rope us in, the better it is for them. It is all about the money and zero about integrity and preserving intact, righteous, stable home environments. Companies like GM, Time Warner, and Marriot make millions selling erotica. We can't even stay overnight at a hotel or go to a movie that our money isn't somehow contributing to in this ever growing industry. Rated R movies can show full nudity and even some G movies contain sexual innuendo these days.
I recently had our television cut off. You can read about that here. My then 19 month old had his first exposure to softcore porn, seeing a lingerie commercial during daytime viewing to which he pointed to the t.v. exclaiming "bra!" Our children are not completely safe watching t.v., movies, or using the internet. Alarmingly, the average age that a child is exposed to pornography online is age 11. "Sex" and "porn" are among the top five search terms for children under 18 years old. We might want to think again before giving our children televisions and internet access in their bedrooms.
Pornography is not a harmless form or entertainment. It can turn to a very devastating addiction and affect the mind for years. Husbands and wives are dealing with this every day. And, because often times there is so much shame and guilt involved, it is not widely spoken about in our circle of friends. Pornography invites other people into the marriage, essentially creating disengagement in the unity you have with your spouse. Your husband (or wife) is not just thinking about and having images of you, but his (or her) thoughts of sex and intimacy involve multiple people. Pornography is committing adultery and people are often suffering in silence as they pick of the pieces of what it has done to their marriage and family.
What are some of the signs that pornography may have invaded your home?
Sudden disinterest in activities once enjoyed
Failing grades or difficulty keeping a job
Mood swings or sudden onsets of anger
Lack of sex drive
Conflict and arguments
Late nights or secretive about using the computer
How do we protect our family?
Become informed. Pray for your spouse and children every day. Don't be ignorant about what is happening in today's culture. Pornography is everywhere. Softcore porn is becoming prevalent on daytime t.v., PG movies, department store catalogs, and billboards. Sex is being used sell anything from food to clothes and alcohol these days. Create an open dialogue with your children about the benefits and dangers of the internet and smartphones. Don't be afraid to ask your children and your husband (or wife) what they are doing online and who they are chatting with. There are many sites out there to help us safely surf the web and mobile phones and block access to inappropriate and pornographic sites. Consider installing a product like Safe Eyes on your devices that helps you limit what is seen in your home. Products like these also provide daily reports so that you can know exactly what is viewed on every computer and phone in your home.
This isn't a hopeless epidemic in my mind. But, we have to begin by becoming aware of the problem and by not allowing it to further in our own homes or in our families.
Here are some helpful resources:
Shattered Vows: Hope and Healing for Women Who Have Been Sexually Betrayed by Debra Laaser
Wired for Intamcy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain by William M. Struthers
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