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If you've heard the word porn in church recently, in a small group or from the pulpit, chances are you hardly blinked. Thanks to ministries like Promise Keepers and Operation Integrity, the research of sex addiction expert Patrick Carnes and neuroscientist William Struthers, and individuals courageous enough to admit they have a problem, American churches have squarely faced porn's destructive and tragic effects. We know porn is highly addictive, and we have more tools than ever to break its stranglehold. Praise God.

If you are a man, that is. On the whole, U.S. churches have been slower to see how pornography—a multibillion-dollar industry that dominates the Internet and becomes more violent by the minute—hurts more than the men addicted to it. Pastors, counselors, and Christian families should realize and begin addressing how porn hurts women in particular. Three sets of women come to mind.

Women Who Use Porn: Precise numbers are hard to come by (Carnes estimates 3 percent of American women are sex addicts, which includes porn addiction), but it's clear that porn is no longer solely a men's issue. Nor are the shame and cycles of secrecy, though men and women often turn to it for different reasons. Says Marnie Ferree, a Christian clinical therapist and author of No Stones, "No woman can recover alone. I hear a lot of women saying, 'I thought I was the only one.' When they believe they are uniquely perverted, it's hard for them to talk."

With this in mind, churches can make the tools that are effective in helping Christian men escape porn more available to women. Referrals to outside counselors might list someone uniquely trained to help female addicts. Church leaders might establish accountability groups for women ...

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In the Magazine

September 2010

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