Watching Porn is Bad for Conservative Christians… Because They Feel More Shame May 4, 2019

Watching Porn is Bad for Conservative Christians… Because They Feel More Shame

Where do people watch the most porn? In the Bible Belt, of course.

We’ve known that for years. But what effect does that have on the viewers?

University of Oklahoma Professor Samuel L. Perry just published a book called Addicted to Lust: Pornography in the Lives of Conservative Protestants all about this topic.

In an interview with the New Yorker‘s Isaac Chotiner, he sheds some light on how this is actually very harmful for the people watching it.

It causes depression. It hurts their marriages. It leads to unhappiness. But not because porn is bad, per se, but rather because their faith-based guilt makes everything worse.

… what we find is that, more often, there’s a connection between viewing pornography and experiencing depression. But we found it’s really only for men who are violating their own moral beliefs when they’re viewing it. In other words, it’s not necessarily that porn makes you depressed. It’s watching porn when you’ve already said that that’s an immoral thing and you don’t want to do it. That can lead to guilt and shame that makes you feel crappy about yourself, that you are immoral, that you’re violating something that’s deeply held and sacred.

Online porn has also led to the end of relationships in those conservative marriages in part because it’s so taboo:

Conservative Protestant women are twice as likely to divorce their husband because of his pornography use. And it’s not because their husbands are looking at porn any more often than non-conservative Protestant husbands. It’s because they draw a hard line, and they consider pornography use not just analogous to but literally adultery, or a betrayal, or a perversion. And so the consequences of pornography use for their relationships are extreme compared to consequences for anybody else’s relationships.

I’m not surprised. When you grow up in a culture that prizes abstinence and treats masturbation as some kind of unforgivable sin, catching your spouse watching porn is considered as bad as catching them in bed with another person. It’s such an unhealthy way to live…

Maybe my favorite part of the interview is when Perry explains when masturbation is okay within those evangelical circles:

… You can imagine some situations where it wouldn’t necessarily be a wicked thing to do. One example might be that a Christian man and his wife are struggling with infertility, and he has to go to a facility clinic, and he has to masturbate into a cup. He does so to pictures of his wife, and he’s not looking at porn, and he’s trying to make Christian babies, with his Christian wife. Nobody would say, “Hey, that was sinful masturbation.”

It’s weird to think the height of conservative Christian sexual fantasy is imagining sex with someone you can regularly have sex with.

Perry also talks about how many of the Christians he spoke with had to make a choice between porn and their religious beliefs. They didn’t think watching porn was a big deal, and that meant they stopped being so dogmatic about their faith.

… oftentimes, when conservative Christians keep on struggling with this temptation in their lives, it’s just easier for them to say, “You know what? Maybe I don’t believe this so much. Maybe I could just keep doing this and not think the religious part of it is so important.” And so I would notice that the repeated violation of that sacred value led to them changing their beliefs a little bit to accommodate it.

They’re no doubt better off having come to that realization.

It’s a really interesting interview, and it looks like a fascinating book.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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