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Recently at bedtime, I made a mistake.  Reaching for my iPhone, I thought I’d take one last glance at the day’s headlines. My eyes landed on an article from the New York Times:  “What Teenagers are Learning from Online Porn”.

Wow! The content was a sleep-robber!

With kids discovering porn at earlier ages, the effects have been eye-popping.

There’s been a deadening of sensibilities, resulting in a dramatic difference in attitudes toward porn among age groups. Teens don’t see much problem with it, actually.

One survey had young people age 25 and younger rank a list of immoral behaviors. Overeating, not recycling, and using too much water and electricity were viewed as more egregious than viewing pornography.[1]

One kid quipped, “Where else are we going to learn about this stuff?”

Likely it is not difficult for you to imagine what they are learning in such a classroom. Boys are buying into the notion that being forceful shows confidence and is sexy. The dominance of men over women is the norm in porn videos.

Some young boys who were interviewed weren’t sure they wanted to imitate what they saw, but they had become convinced this is what it means to be sexy and alluring. Slapping, mild choking, pushing partners to do more than they feel comfortable with—this is sold to them as the way to truly please a woman.

They are having incredibly misogynistic behaviors modelled for them as “normal.” Ejaculating on women’s faces is called a “facial.” Anal sex is taught as safe and pleasurable sex. “Safe” because you can’t get pregnant. “Pleasurable” because the women acting in the videos moan in ecstasy.

As you can imagine, when young women discuss this among themselves, they find these things painful, demeaning and unpleasant. But it is believed that if you don’t do what you see in the videos, boys won’t like you. So they consent. As one girl put it, if you want guys to like you, then “you gotta do what you gotta do.”  And if you don’t, some other girl will.

Is anyone doing anything about this?

Emily Rothman of Boston University has taken the lead in addressing the mess by developing a pilot program called Porn Literacy. Two hours weekly for five weeks, senior high students of a few selected schools have been gaining a new perspective on what they are viewing. Instead of warning them about the ill effects of porn, they help them understand the myths and deceit promoted by the porn industry.

One key set of persuasive details is the take home pay for porn stars. The going rates for the different sex acts are given: anal, oral, facial, etc. The more demeaning and painful the act, the higher the pay. Men are paid much less, but they tend to last longer in this line of work—go figure. Women can only take the abuse so long and then they drop out.

This highlights for the kids that all they are seeing is simply a cheap peepshow, with the women taking the cash and eventually hobbling off stage.

Rothman’s model, no matter how effective, is not likely to gain traction in many schools. Most teachers and administrators don’t want to advocate any curriculum that might be interpreted as promoting porn.

Seems to me, however, this is an opportunity for the Church to step in and show a better way. Not only does pornography portray a distorted and misogynistic view of sex, it is completely devoid of any mention of relationship and connection—the chief aim of God’s design for our sexuality.

Is anyone else going to lose sleep over this?

If you want to read the article, here’s the link.  (Although I suggest you not read it right before bed time!)

How do we help our kids? Leave a comment on how the Church can intervene.



[1]The Porn Phenomenon: The Impact of Pornography in the Digital Age. (Ventura, CA: Barna Group/Josh McDowell Ministry) p. 85.

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