- A 2003 survey from Internet Filter Review reported that 47 percent of Christians admit pornography is a major problem in their homes.
- An internet survey conducted by Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in 2002 found 30 percent of 6,000 pastors had viewed internet porn in the last 30 days.
- A Christianity Today Leadership Survey in 2001 reported 37 percent of pastors have viewed internet porn.
- Family Safe Media reports 53 percent of men belonging to the Christian organization Promise Keepers visit porn sites every week.
- One in seven calls to Focus on the Family’s Pastoral Care Hotline is related to internet pornography.
- Today’s Christian Woman in 2003 found that one in six women, including Christians, struggles with pornography addiction.
According to a 2008 Christianity Today article, 50% of Christian men reported watching porn recently. One pastor thought the 50% was too high, so he decided to survey his church about their porn viewing habits. He found out that 60% of the men in his church had viewed porn in the last year, 25% within the past 30 days.
In a 2013 Christian Post article, Evangelical apologist Josh McDowell had this to say about pornography :
“This is destroying pastors, youth pastors and more Christians than anything by far in history. The number one demographic is 12- to 25-year-olds, there’s no difference in and out of the church.”
He added that 50 percent of fundamental, evangelical pastors watch porn while 80 percent of youth pastors have a problem with porn as well. McDowell pointed out that porn provides only a momentary satisfaction and porn addicts often seek other opportunities to satisfy their sexual desires.
“The average person starts with heterosexual sex then after a while, that no longer satisfies, then there’s anal, from anal there’s oral, from oral to homo, from homo to bestiality then to children. The sad thing is, after child pornography doesn’t satisfy, where do you go? Pornography is why sex-trafficking, sex abuse and rape are major issues, they (addicts) end up living it out, it becomes a reality.”
According to a 2011 Loyola University Chicago study titled An Examination of Internet Pornography Usage Among Male Students at Evangelical Christian Colleges:
Frequency of Internet pornography viewing was the next background question and was important in answering the first research question, “To what extent do undergraduate male students at Evangelical Christian colleges access Internet pornography?” Of the responses to this question, 79.3 percent acknowledged accessing Internet pornography at some time during the previous year with a slight plurality (29.3 percent) accessing it at least once a month. The responses to this question, overall, were evenly distributed with 20.7 percent reporting never accessing Internet pornography, 21.7 percent reporting accessing it at least once a year, and 25 percent reporting accessing it at least once a week. The outlier is the 3.3 percent of students who reported accessing it daily.
The data results for a background question asking about the frequency of the number of hours, on average, per week viewing Internet pornography were also important in addressing the first research question. A plurality of students, 46.2 percent, reported less than one hour of Internet pornography use each week and 38.9 percent reported zero hours on average of Internet pornography usage each week. However, 12.8 percent of students reported accessing Internet pornography between one and five hours each week and 1.4 percent reported accessing pornography between five and 10 hours each week while .7 percent reported more than 10 hours a week of access…
…The result of the descriptive statistics demonstrated that 79.3 percent of male undergraduate students at Evangelical colleges reported accessing Internet pornography at some point in the previous year and that 61.1 percent reported accessing Internet pornography at least some amount of time each week on average…
Every Sunday, Evangelical pastors stand in the pulpit and preach that faith in Jesus and his finished work on the cross gives the Christian victory over sin. Yet these same pastors spend an inordinate amount of time preaching about sexual sins like fornication, adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, masturbation, and pornography. Why all the preaching about sexual sin? Surely, according to the Bible, greater is he that is in the Evangelical than he that is in the world? Come to find out, Evangelicals aren’t much different from atheists or non-Christian religious people.
Just remember this the next time an Evangelical tries to take the high moral ground with you…they don’t practice what they preach. They talk a great line but behind closed doors they are having premarital sex, watching porn, and engaging in the very sexual activities they condemn the world for.
Bible literalism, coupled with a Puritanical/Victorian view of sex, causes untold guilt among the Evangelical faithful. We know from the above articles and studies that Evangelicals watch porn. Imagine the guilt people must feel when their pastor rages against porn. Imagine the guilt the pastor has over his own secret porn viewing habits. It’s the guilty preaching to the guilty and the result is more guilt.
According to a 2011 CNN Belief article, 80% of unmarried 18-29 year old Evangelical adults say they have had sex. In other words, despite all the preaching against premarital sex, the vast majority of Evangelical teens and young adults have sex before marriage. According to a 2012 The Daily Beast report, 30% of Evangelicals who unintentionally get pregnant have an abortion. (these articles mention several studies that are no longer available on the internet. It seems that Evangelicals got into quite a squabble over the results and many sites pulled their stories/blog posts) And, finally, a 2008 Center of Disease report on teenage (ages 15-19) pregnancy reveals that the states with higher or significantly higher teen birth rates are mostly in the South where Evangelical belief is the strongest.
In a 2012 blog post, Evangelical Matthew Lee Anderson,a sexually active married man, vociferously opposed Evangelicals who support unmarried Evangelicals using contraceptives:
There is a strong pragmatic streak that runs through evangelicalism, an ideology that postures as a rejection or marginalization of ideas and theology..
…contraception as a pragmatic concession actually contributes to the conditions where Christians can sin without consequences for themselves or their community. Paris suggests that “abstinence absolutism” simply has not worked. Which is to say, unmarried Christians are still having sex and sex (surprise!) still makes babies. The implication is that the proclamation of abstinence in our churches has been tried and found wanting, when in fact it has not yet been properly tried at all, either from our pulpits or throughout our communal structures.
In short, the problem is both our failure to proclaim the ideal beautifully and our failure to cultivate communities that can uphold it with grace and truth. Which means the failure of chastity in our churches is an occasion for everyone to repent, not only the unmarrieds. For it is a symptom of a community disease, a disease that contraception simply cannot solve and will almost certainly make worse…
…At its best, then, an unmarried who uses contraception has failed to grasp the nature of the goods of sexuality—and a church that encourages him to use it has doubtlessly done the same.
It is well known, or at least frequently stated, that evangelicalism’s public witness has been frequently undermined by our lack of integrity and our hypocrisy, especially on sexual issues. I fail to see how more contraception for our unmarrieds will do anything except deepen such a culture of hypocrisy by making it more comfortable and convenient to sin sexually while remaining in unbroken communion in our churches.
At the heart of this discussion is a question about whether the church will pursue integrity as a body or whether it will not merely accommodate sin among its members, but encourage the conditions for it. Like advocating, for instance, risky investments that have minimal negative consequences that would appeal to people’s greed…
…This is, for me, a hill that is worth dying on. And I am not prepared to die quietly…
Anderson sees the church approving of the use of contraceptives by unmarried Evangelicals as pragmatically endorsing behavior the Bible calls sin. While his theology is correct, the Bible does call premarital sex a sin, his unwillingness to be pragmatic in light of the overwhelming evidence about Evangelical sexuality is the real issue. The hill Anderson is dying on is called Denial Hill. Instead of embracing reality, Anderson continues to advocate for teaching and preaching that clearly does not work. (ironically, Anderson is anti-abortion, yet his view on contraceptives and his just say no approach to premarital sex directly results in more abortions)
Evangelicals have a huge dilemma on their hands. Bible literalism has forced them into a corner on matters of human sexuality. They can’t admit the Bible is wrong about sex,nor can they come out in support of contraception and responsible sexual activity. Doing so would cause a furor among older Evangelicals who are the money backbone of Evangelical churches. We can’t have the unmarried teens and young adults of the church “sinning,” right? Never mind the fact that older married Evangelicals were sexually active themselves when they were young. Never mind the fact that older married Evangelicals have affairs, get divorced, watch porn, etc just like the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. The only difference is that the Evangelical gets to go to heaven despite their sexual “sins” but the non-Christian is banished to hell because of theirs.
This would be a great comedy show if it weren’t for the fact that countless unmarried Evangelicals are mentally and emotionally harmed by the moralizing and sexual strictures of Evangelical churches, pastors, and para church leaders. On Saturday night they are out with their girlfriend and one thing leads to another and they engage in sex. Their biology and their hormones tell them that they want and desire to have sex. But, they aren’t prepared to have sex because their church and pastor refused to preach and teach any other message but Just Say No! They are discouraged from using contraceptives because Evangelical churches and pastors naïvely think that no contraceptives=no sex. Contraceptives or not, biology and hormones usually win, and if the young Evangelical girl is lucky she won’t end up pregnant. And if she ends up pregnant? No morning after drugs, no abortion. Either she gives her baby away or she begins her new life as an unmarried mother. The boy will probably be pressured to “do the right thing.” (my years in the ministry taught me that the only thing worse than a teenage pregnancy is a teenage marriage. It is a recipe for failure and is rarely a good idea)
Is it any wonder that many Evangelicals live lives filled with guilt and desperation? Instead of being human and responsibly acting upon normal, healthy sexual desires, the Evangelical is forced to live a lie. As many of the former Evangelicals who read The Way Forward can testify, the guilt over “secret” sins can be overwhelming, driving some people to thoughts of suicide.
As long as THE BIBLE SAYS is the sexual standard for Evangelicals, the lies, guilt, and mental/emotional damage will continue. Healthy, mentally and emotionally well-adjusted church members should be the goal, and the first step in reaching this goal is admitting that the Bible is wrong about human sexuality. The second step is teaching unmarried Evangelical teenagers and young adults how to have safe, responsible sex. The third step is making sure that Evangelical teenagers and young adults have access to contraceptives. (and this means Evangelicals need to stop their wrongheaded opposition to The Affordable Care Act’s required contraceptive coverage)