Porn: The battle women face

 
Helen Thorne | March 1st 2013

It's a subject that's taboo. A reality that many find shocking. A fact that some would prefer to deny. But the truth is out there: women use porn too.

Accurate statistics are difficult to source but a quick trawl of the web seems to suggest that about a quarter of those who visit internet pornography sites are female. Some pages suggest that up to 60% of women have used porn at some point in their lives. And while we might prefer to think otherwise, it's fairly safe to assume that some of those surfing such sites will be Christians who are confused, ashamed, addicted or desperate. Indeed over the last decade I've had quite a few Christian sisters confide in me - each convinced that they are the only one. Far from being a solely male pastoral issue, porn is something that affects women too and those involved in women's ministry need to be addressing the subject proactively.

Why do women use porn? A host of reasons spring to mind. There are those who are lonely and longing for sexual intimacy; those whose marriage is on the rocks and who are desperately searching for something to reignite the long-dormant attraction; those who are young or inexperienced and are keen to learn what sex is all about but who are failing to get satisfactory answers from the adults responsible for their care and then there are those struggling with same-sex attraction who choose quietly to indulge their fantasies alone rather than risk the condemnation that potentially could arise if they're open. For all, true intimacy feels unobtainable and so cyberspace becomes a substitute. A pleasure-inducing idol. A dirty, nasty, guilt-inducing secret but one that's seemingly better than the alternatives: loneliness, rejection, ignorance and shame.

But there is a better way. A free way. A path full of intimacy that does not induce guilt.

The good news of the gospel is that there is freedom from past sins; liberation from addictions in the here and now and - as our minds are renewed and the Holy Spirit works in our hearts - the real possibility of living increasingly pure lives, with wonderfully deep and fulfilling relationships, until the day Jesus returns. A full life, a joyful life is not an unobtainable goal no matter what our current struggles. Our relationship with Jesus changes us in ways that exceed our wildest imaginations and that transformation can reach even the darkest parts of our lives. Life without porn is possible ... and it's better. That message needs to be proclaimed loud and clear to women who are using porn on a monthly, weekly or daily basis.

So, if you are a Christian woman struggling with a secret indulgence in porn, then please hear 3 important truths:

  • You are not alone and do not need to struggle alone. Your heavenly Father knows everything you have done and still adores you. Jesus' death on the cross is powerful enough to forgive you. And your church family is there to support you. There will be someone in your congregation - probably a wise and mature Christian lady - to who you can turn with confidence. She will not be shocked. She will love you.
  • You are being called to change. There is no doubt about it. This aspect of your life is not honouring to God as you use his precious gift of sex in ways that fall outside his design. This way of life is hurting you as it distracts you from the life of purity to which you are called and to the depth of relationship that is possible with other human beings. You are not experiencing the fullness of life that comes from putting Jesus first in all things. There is a better way.
  • Change comes through repentance and relationships. Saying sorry is the first step. Asking our perfect God to change your heart as you get to know him better is the second. And being accountable to some people in your congregation is a great third - be willing to let trusted sisters ask you tough questions about how you've been using your time, your eyes, your laptop. Change will take time but it is achievable. And it's important to remember that becoming pure is not just about giving stuff up, it's about re-orientating your life so you wholeheartedly pursue becoming like Jesus. And that's an exciting journey with innumerable benefits.

And if you are a Christian leader, please make sure those truths ring out loud and clear in your sermons, bible studies, your pastoral chats and even your notices so this issue is no longer hidden. And together let's encourage Christian women to move away from the snare of porn to the freedom of purity - for their sake, for the church's sake and for God's glory.

"offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." Romans 6:13b-14

Helen Thorne

11:02 AM GMT on March 1st
And on the same day, Tim Chester blogs about some alarming statistics in porn use. You can see his post here: http://timchester.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/porn-statistics-2/

Aled Seago

6:08 PM GMT on March 1st
Thanks for that - really helpful stuff. Great to highlight the fact it's really just not men who struggle with this. Helpful article for girls and guys to read and think on

Richard Zuelch

6:12 AM GMT on March 4th
I think many people are surprised, as I was, to learn that women watch pornography, too. This is because we're always told that women are not as "visually oriented" as men are, that is, that women are not as prone to become sexually aroused by visual images as men are. So, as I say, this is surprising.
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Helen Thorne

Helen Thorne is Director of Training and Mentoring at London City Mission and an experienced counselor. She has a passion for biblical counselling, edited The Good Book College's course in a Women's Ministry and is a trustee of Capital Youthworks (the charity behind Sorted and Sorted Nano). She attends Dundonald Church in Raynes Park, London.