Author’s Note: This guest post is written by Mark Denison, a former minister who left the pastorate due to a sexual addiction. He and his wife Beth founded THERE’S STILL HOPE, a ministry that helps men and their wives find recovery and restoration from sexual sin. Meet Mark and Beth and hear their story by clicking here.
WE COULD FIX THE PORN PROBLEM IN 30 DAYS
Okay, that might be a bit of an overreach. But I’m on the right track. While we can never wipe out 100% of pornography, we can eliminate 90% of it in 30 days. “How can we do that?” you ask.
Simple answer – make pornography illegal.
Before you start screaming, “That’s impossible!” or “Prohibition didn’t work!” hear me out.
Playboy magazine debuted in 1953, with a picture of Marilyn Monroe on the first cover. At its peak, Playboy boasted a readership of 7.2 million people (1972). By 2020, its circulation had declined by 97%, and on March 17, 2020, the most successful pornographic magazine of all time printed its final edition.
In a word, the Internet.
If you skip over the following data, just let this one statistic sink in. Every 90 minutes, more people go to just one porn site than the entire Playboy circulation on its best year.
Pornography is everywhere
From Fight the New Drug:
- One site has 80,032 visits per minute (4.8 million per hour).
- The average person in the world visits this site 7 times per year.
- In 2017, one porn site had 28.5 billion visits; in 2022 that number was 42 billion.
- In 2018, this same site had 109,012,068,000 videos downloaded, up 110% in 2 years.
- Every minute, 2.4 million people are on the top three porn sites.
From Barna Institute and Covenant Eyes
- There are 42 million porn sites.
- These sites contain 370 million pages of porn.
- Porn industry annual revenue tops the NFL, NBA, and MLB combined.
- Porn industry annual revenue tops CBS, NBC, and ABC combined.
- 64% of American men view porn weekly; 62% of Christian men view porn weekly.
- 37% of pastors view porn regularly.
Let me state the problem another way. For every person who read Playboy on its most popular year, 210,000 people went to just one of the 42 million porn sites.
In other words, porn is no longer discovered in Dad’s closet. The problem is the Internet. That leads me to two basic premises of this article.
- If we make it harder to get porn, fewer people will use porn.
- If we eliminate Internet porn, it will be harder to get porn.
Three Reasons Porn Should Be Banned
Porn is a form of prostitution.
Prostitution is legal in just one U.S. state. Pornography is legal in all 50. Here’s the difference. If a man pays a woman for sex in the privacy of his home or business, he has broken the law. But if a man pays a woman for sex in front of a camera, then uploads it to be viewed by one million porn users, it is completely legal. Hence, prostitution is made legal by the use of a camera. Which should be illegal? The only logical responses are (a) either, or (b) neither. They should both be legal (bad idea) or they should both be illegal (good idea).
Porn leads to violence.
Not all porn users are sex offenders, but all sex offenders are porn users. Because sexual addiction is progressive, no one ever stops at “a little porn.” It escalates. That is why 60 percent of heterosexual sex addicts eventually cross the gender line. And that is why millions of “normal” porn users move into child porn, violent porn, and other deviant types of pornography. In a 2022 article, Fight the New Drug cites five separate studies that confirm the link from porn use to violent sexual activity. They summarize, “Porn normalizes violence against women by packaging it as entertainment. Porn has been shown to eroticize the very acts of violence women have been victimized by.”
Porn victimizes children.
Our most recent research confirms that, on average, children begin viewing porn at the age of 11. Their brains are not equipped to process pornographic images. In my practice, I have found that this is the single most common traumatic event in the background of sex addicts. Among addicts, early age porn exposure is more common than parental neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse. The psychological effects of porn on a child are devastating. And as long as Internet porn is legal, this problem will only get worse.
Would Prohibition of Porn Really Work?
The short answer is, “Yes!” Our governments ban things all the time. And while it is true that “underground” pornography will always be a threat, by making it less mainstream and legally available, we can mitigate the damage.
I saw a study that said 2 a.m. is the most common hour to view porn. Why is this? Guy goes to bed at 10 pm. Guy goes to sleep at 10:30. Guy wakes up at 2 am, tosses and turns, then grabs his phone. Two minutes later, he’s looking at porn. Why? Because it is (a) accessible, and (b) easy.
Let me make my case another way. Five out of eight men in church on any given Sunday viewed porn in the previous seven days. How many of those same guys would have looked up porn if they knew it was illegal? If it was not so easily accessible? Not as many.
There is already a proven case for making Internet porn use illegal. Child porn use is illegal, and it is monitored by authorities. I know several men who are in federal prison today because they viewed child porn in the privacy of their homes. According to the United States Sentencing Commission, 99.1 percent of those caught with child porn were sentenced to prison, for an average length of 105 months (8.75 years). As a result, while porn use is exploding, the number of convicted child porn uses has actually declined since 2014.
By banning pornography from the Internet, accompanied with huge fines and prison sentences for those who continue to post pornographic material, porn use will only go down.
Those of us living in America have seen the government ban a lot of things in our lifetimes. In some places, it is illegal to fish while driving across a bridge. In other places you can’t ride a skateboard without a license, fall asleep under a hair dryer, or break more than three dishes per day. It is illegal to kill Bigfoot. In California, you can’t eat a frog that died during a long-jumping contest. Since 1990, it has been illegal to harm a northern spotted owl.
Summary – One would think that the greatest nation on earth would values her children more than her spotted owls.
Arguments Against Banning Porn
We can’t impose our morality on others.
We hear this a lot. And I actually agree with the premise. We can’t impose our morality on others. But this doesn’t apply here, because the Internet porn pandemic is much more than a moral issue. It is a safety issue. Where do you think porn sites get their images? While some images are now manufactured, millions of images feature the bodies of children. Millions of other images are those of young women who are the victims of sex trafficking. The issue is one of safety, not just morality.
Porn laws are unenforceable.
Tell that to my friend who is serving 15 years in federal prison, because he downloaded child porn images one time. Tell that to the 27-year-old man whose mother called me. He will be in prison until the age of 85. The same authorities who monitor and enforce child porn laws (with positive results) can do the same with adult porn.
Porn is protected by the First Amendment.
It’s not. Miller v. California (1973) ruled that obscenity is not protected speech, and that it can be censored. Federal law already prohibits the distribution of obscene material, but this is rarely enforced. Just as you can’t scream “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater, the distribution of porn is not a protected expression.
We can’t eliminate porn.
But we can limit its spread.
Can we hope to completely eradicate Internet pornography? Maybe not. I get that. Speed limit laws have not eliminated speeding, and drug laws have not eliminated all drugs. But if the government actually took this horrific plight seriously, they could go a long way toward protecting the next generation from the dangers of pornography. We could make a huge difference in just 30 days. The fact that this hasn’t already been tried, in a civilized society, is beyond explanation.