It didn't surprise me to see this quote in the last issue of our sister publication Leadership: "With old porn, once you view it, you've consumed it. This can't be done on the Net. The gum never runs out of flavor. A new piece of flesh waits behind every old one, and expectation bids you to go further. Much further."
What surprised me was its attribution: Men's Health, a magazine hardly known for its high sexual ethics. Indeed, the unique enticements of Internet porn are felt all over the culture.
Porn's pervasiveness on the Internet has, for example, normalized it for many. Playboy and Penthouse now seem downright wholesome in comparison. Cable companies like AT&T offer premium porn channels as if they were just another ESPN. (See our editorial, "Ma Bell, Madam," p. 39.)
Internet porn, of course, is more than a cultural problem. It's a personal problem for many men, and as recent research suggests, for a growing number of women. It's also a problem for Christians. The ability to instantly and privately call up images that exploit women and incite lust and adultery has proven just too much of a temptation for even Christian leaders.
But how bad is it, particularly for Christian leaders? CT, as well as Leadership, decided to find out; we each commissioned similar surveys of our readers. The studies, which focus on pastors' responses, make no claim to be comprehensive, but they do give a snapshot of the problem.
In addition, at CT we put reporter Christine J. Gardner on the story to see what she could find out by talking with pastors and counselors. Christine, a former CT assistant news editor, went one better: she found a pastor who was willing to talk about his struggle with pornography. That story begins on page 42.
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