COVID-19 has changed everything in our world, so it will come as no surprise that there has been an effect on the world’s porn usage.

It has thrown up profound social and welfare questions that must be addressed not just by the Government but in the Church. In fact, I believe that the Church must get its act together on this in order to speak meaningfully to government on it. .

As social distancing and self-isolating gets underway, we are told that “Global internet traffic is tipped to rise by 40 per cent”. Sadly porn giant ‘Pornhub’ has offered its premium services to the entire world in an  “effort to encourage the importance of staying home and practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic”, this has had an immediate effect, as data from the site showed that a free trial offered to Europe had spurred a 57% spike in traffic from Italy, the worst hit European country for coronavirus, a 38% increase in France and 61% in Spain.1 Porn sites already get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined.2

The effects of this increase will last long after the end of the present crisis. As a criminal lawyer for nearly 20 years, I have seen firsthand the corrosive result of porn on society. At the far end, the fastest growing sectors of the prison population is for sex offenders, sex offending continues to exponentially increase.3 But porn’s effect is not just on the old bearded white men wearing grey mackintoshes on the street corners, it affects everyone. It affects the young woman who play out the fantasies that their men have seen, it affects the children who are exploited in the child sexual abuse industry, it affects the young men who will suffer with loneliness and depression from excessive viewing, and it affects the attractive young women who themselves becoming sex offenders.4 It should be borne in mind that women are likely to be further adversely affected by the crisis due to the believed increase in domestic violence.5 Porn isn’t just ‘a problem for men’, it is everyone’s problem.

And the church has a duty to do something. The church has always stood up to the idols of the day, think of Paul and his run in with the silversmiths in Corinth or William Booth and his fight against the distilleries. Porn is killing society and our churches. In this time of lock down why don’t we the  church take some time and work out what we are going to do about it? How are we going to get rid of porn and the guilt it holds so many in, in our congregations? How are we going to keep our children safe and pure?

Why not take a look at the resources produced at our recent conference on this issue.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if the church could and would call the Government to block all porn online?  If YouTube, Apple, Amazon, and Netflix have agreed to the demand during Coronavirus that they reduce their streaming quality to accommodate network demand, why is it not possible to ask the UK  government to block porn sites to ensure the most vulnerable in our society can continue to access essential goods and services.6

The Government said it would bring in age verification on porn use from 15 July 2019 for pornography, however in practice there has been no real effect on porn users’ ability to access porn.7 It would genuinely serve the good of society and some of the most vulnerable and addicted men, women and children in our midst  if the church were to call for a robust implementation of this policy and fines for companies that don’t adhere.

In this time of Coronavirus lockdown when the internet is being used for the speaking of the gospel let us also use the time to understand how it is used so powerfully for porn and the devastating consequences this has . Porn robs many Christians of their power by rendering them guilty and silent. It is a time to get free.

It is a time to call upon Government to direct internet service providers not to permit increase of pornography but to encourage blocking it. As the stories of loneliness and mental health begin to emerge porn is not the answer; it adds to the desperation. The Gospel in the answer. Let’s work to Gospel content being the number one pull on the internet.

Author: Michael Phillips

Republished by permission of Christian Concern.

Footnotes

  1. https://nationalpost.com/news/world/porn-sites-free-viewing-offer-during-covid-19-pandemic-renews-accusations-of-exploitation
  2. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/internet-porn-stats_n_3187682?ri18n=true&guccounter=1
  3. http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/WhatWeDo/Projectsresearch/Olderpeopleinprison – strictly speaking the fastest growing sector is for older prisoners 45% of whom are sex offenders. https://rapecrisis.org.uk/news/latest-news/latest-crime-figures-show-14-increase-in-sexual-offences-reported-to-police/
  4. https://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/crime-court/new-data-shows-gold-coasts-domestic-violence-crisis-being-fuelled-by-links-to-pornography/news-story/7127cbfea7cf71af12ef0193886f605c?nk=b3add008b6cc001dbee83211925c5e62-1585306545

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/experimentations/201803/4-ways-porn-use-causes-problems

    https://www.silive.com/news/2014/10/former_moore_catholic_gym_team.html and https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2800800/teacher-24-admitted-having-sex-male-cheerleader-confronted-naked-photo-sent.html

  5. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/mar/26/warning-over-rise-in-uk-domestic-abuse-cases-linked-to-coronavirus
  6. https://www.techradar.com/au/news/disney-apple-and-amazon-join-netflix-and-youtube-in-reducing-streaming-quality
  7. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/age-verification-for-online-pornography-to-begin-in-july
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