In the last year, there were 45 million reported cases of child exploitation (child pornography). Some exploited children were only 3 of 4 years old. And these numbers represent only what was reported. There could be much more.
While many of us see pornography as a private vice, we need to bring this vice into the light from the darkness. We need to talk more about pornography because it fuels sex trafficking and because it exists in and around our churches. Let me explain.
Pornography fuels sex trafficking
And while we could wash our hands of this great evil, everyone who (whether frequently or infrequently) uses pornography contributes to sex trafficking. This is true for three reasons. First, pornography does not often satisfy; so users find deeper, worse, and often violent forms of pornography. Any use of pornography not only puts us in danger of desiring deep sin but also creates a market for more of it.
Second, pornography objectifies humans. We cease seeing performers as humans in God’s image but as people to consume. It creates darkness in us that closes our compassion and empathy to those whom God loves. For many, sex becomes a commodity to purchase. We see the performers as objects and not as humans who deserve respect and dignity. This creates a culture in which men, women, and children may be exploited for sexual perversion because we have de-humanized sex on a screen. It seems permissible to many people.
Third, some pornography (even in North America) uses enslaved men, women, and children. As a consequence, unless pornographic media can be known to be absolutely trustworthy, then we could be watching unwilling participants. We could, in this way, support sex trafficking.
For these three reasons, pornography use indirectly supports child exploitation by creating desires and a market for it, by dehumanizing the performers, and by unintentionally supporting sex trafficking. Of course, watching child pornography knowingly directly supports this great evil.
Pornography exists in and around the church
Given all of this, should we be worried? Should Christian leaders speak up? I would say yes for the following reasons.
First, many men and women in our churches use pornography. One group claims that 50% of religious men claim to be addicted to pornography. While individual churches may have a different number of users, any pastor knows (or should know) how common porn use is.
Second, sex trafficking happens in our home towns. In the Province where I reside, for example, human trafficking has taken hold. Statistics Canada claims “Two-thirds (66%) of human trafficking offences reported by police between 2009 and 2016 were reported in Ontario.” While perhaps not all human trafficking includes sexual exploitation, we can be sure that some of it does. If we want to protect our family and contribute to a just society, then we need to speak out against porn.
Pornography requires a prophetic voice
Christians need to have a prophetic voice in our world. The Gospel is good news because it delivers us from the bad news about our sin. Almost everyone born after 1980 has used or seen porn. And most people feel guilty about it. The rise of porn use is, therefore, a Gospel opportunity, an opportunity to preach liberation to those captive to sin. And also to those captive to captors.
If we can liberate those captive to sin by the captivating glory of the Gospel, then we not only will see liberation from sin but also the liberation of sex slaves. We can dry the industry up, we can highlight its evil from every hill and mountaintop, and we can stand in a long line of biblical prophets who boldly called evil for what it was: evil, sin.
Preaching the Gospel alongside salting the world can and must have real-world consequences. Christians, to borrow an ancient phrase, are the soul of the world. We give it life. We preserve goodness through being the salt. So we preach Christ to liberate souls from sin, and we preach against sin to destroy the strongholds of Satan.
Worry about pornography. And do something about it. Now is the time.