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The Pope is right about porn

The Pope is right about porn. Internet pornography is a huge problem for adolescents – here is why.

On Friday, Pope Francis announced to a “congress of ‘Child Dignity in the Digital World’” that the proliferation of “extreme pornography” on the Internet is concerning and needs to be addressed through better protections for children.

While much of the address focused on preventing the spread of child abuse, Pope Francis also went on to discuss society’s use of Internet pornography: “We would be seriously deluding ourselves were we to think that a society where an abnormal consumption of Internet sex is rampant among adults could be capable of effectively protecting minors.”

This clarifies his viewpoint that pornography is indeed a sexual health crisis of the digital age. Predictably, thousands of people are commenting on journalists’ articles by quickly discounting the Pope’s declaration as theocracy or moral policing, often utilizing personal attacks or red herring-style diversions, instead of critically examining the issue and the evidence-based arguments available that support that Internet pornography consumption can lead to negative effects.

Less predictably, thousands of secular young men find themselves agreeing with Pope Francis on the porn issue.

Obviously, pornography is an issue that many religions care about and approach through moral arguments, theology, and scripture. However, pornography is something that can be discussed through anecdotal evidence, brain studies, and social research. And thousands of both secular and religious young men, raised with access to Internet pornography, are beginning to do just that. Forums exist (including NoFap® and Your Brain Rebalanced™) where 10,000s of these young people are making a decision to leave porn in the past, independent from religion but instead in pursuit of better lives and interpersonal relationships.

The argument of porn addiction’s existence and the unexpected side effects resulting from porn consumption are overwhelmingly supported by fact-based evidence. A 2016 Australian Study from the Burnet Institute found that the median age of first porn exposure is 13 years old for males (16 for females), which is when children should be playing sports, socializing, pursuing hobbies and education, and dabbling in dating, not excessively masturbating to hardcore pornography online.

The Pope isn’t the only person interested in porn skepticism – already 10,000s, religious and non-religious, have begun to declare their autonomy from the porn production companies.

There are already hundreds of studies verifying that pornography is often associated with unexpected side effects in its consumers’ lives, which was reflected in Pope Francis’ remarks: “We encounter extremely troubling things on the net, including the spread of ever more extreme pornography, since habitual use raises the threshold of stimulation.”

The Pope is correct here, different studies on porn users are showing associations with escalation to more extreme material, sexual dysfunction, increased stress, less motivation, relationship problems, decreased sexual satisfaction, and other life-altering detriments.

Arguably as a result of the widespread consumption of Internet pornography, erectile dysfunction is at an all-time high.

In 1948, before the Internet, the Kinsey Report revealed an occurrence of less than 1% ED in men under 30. Today, we have an epidemic of erectile dysfunction sweeping the planet. Some studies, such as a 2012 Swiss study of young men, a US military study, and a longitudinal Canadian study are finding that the rates of ED are above 30%. You might say that correlation doesn’t equal causation – and you would be correct. However, there are now multiple case studies documenting a variable change – ceasing using pornography – to the reversal of sexual side effects, such as a 2016 review of clinical reports published by the Journal of Behavioral Science.

Furthermore, the best proof is in the overwhelming anecdotal evidence which is abundantly available online as millions of young people, for the first time in human history, are growing up and going through puberty while using Internet pornography. They often are wiring their brains to pixels on a screen, rather than human beings, before they even have their first kiss.

Adolescents are often gaining access to hardcore porn before they’ve been on a date or had a first kiss.

Many thousands of people, most often young men in their teens and twenties, but increasingly people of all ages and even women too, are gathering in Internet comments sections, social media groups, and websites, all over the world, to remove one thing from their lives – using porn – and are going on to reduce or reverse their sexual dysfunctions such as ED, improve their relationships, and live more productive and fulfilling lives. Most of these people aren’t quitting porn for some sort of moral or religious reason, but they’re simply in pursuit of self improvement and better lives.

Today’s Internet pornography is nothing like what we’ve ever seen before in human history. What was once a somewhat limited resource – access to sex – is now available in abundance. You used to need to put in actual work to have a partnered orgasm – at the very least some form of courtship. Now pseudo-partnered orgasms are available with your hand and limitless pixelated performers on your screen. We can see more naked human beings and sex acts in one long porn binge session than many of our ancestors would see in their entire lifetimes. Today’s Internet pornography is unlike the pornography of our ancestors. Pope Francis heralds this “The spread of printed pornography in the past was a relatively small phenomenon compared to the proliferation of pornography on the net.” Today, digital pornography is available anywhere, at any time, and in unlimited amounts, and is far more graphic and stimulating to the brain than any printed porn could ever be.

Unlike the late Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine empire, today’s porn is often available for free and you don’t need to stash your collection underneath your bed. Through the lens of millions of years of human evolution, this is an unprecedented and drastic change to our sexual lifestyles, and it makes sense to take pause and consider how this is impacting us.

The science on pornography is very clear. This doesn’t need to be an argument about morality, but a discussion about how porn is negatively impacting sex, relationships, and lives around the world. There are now over 35 neurological studies demonstrating that Internet pornography consumption is a real problem. Some of them even show brain changes, such as hypofrontality or sensitization, consistent with the addiction model. For example, Cambridge University brain scan studies found that heavy porn users are sensitized to porn cues similarly to how drug addicts are sensitized to drug cues. Additionally, there are reviews of the literature that confirm these findings as well as thoroughly debunking the minority of studies critical to the existence of porn-related problems. There are currently over 50 published studies that link porn use to decreased sexual satisfaction, relationship issues, and an array of negative effects that impact romantic relationships.

Furthermore, those quitting porn are not prudish or sex-negative – many people who quit porn do so to have better sex and more of it. Quitting porn is sex-positive. And it’s hard to be more sex-negative than wiring a preference for pixels on a screen instead of having sex with a human being.

Many people and organizations skeptical of pornography do not want it to be regulated or banned but they simply want people to be able to make an educated decision about how they choose to utilize their genitals during their free time.

We want to raise awareness about the porn addiction issue and provide parents with resources to educate their children about healthy sexuality. This is something we can agree on with Pope Francis. No matter your religious perspective or lack thereof, the public health and personal harms of pornography are something we must begin to take seriously as a society.

Is NoFap® religious?

While many websites in the field approach the issue from a religious perspective, NoFap® is a secular organization whose majority of users identify as agnostic and atheist, although the sexual health platform hosts users from a diverse array of backgrounds, beliefs, nationalities, political ideologies, and sexual orientations.

Comments

  1. Bravehart says:

    True. Very true.
    The easy availability of porn on the Internet is the main reason why many teenagers fall for PMO.I was also one of the teenagers. I still remember how I became a victim of porn and masturbation addiction.
    I was just casually surfing the web, searching of an article I needed for my homework, when a link/ad redirected me to an adult website. The teenager me was shocked over the things I was seeing. It seems so good, appealing to me. I clicked one of the videos. Soon, I was masturbating.
    After I came, I suddenly realized that whatever I was doing was wrong. I closed the page, cleared history, switched off the PC, and went back to studies.
    The next day, I felt an urge within me; the urge to masturbate. I started fantasizing about all the dirty stuff I saw the previous day.
    I opened my PC, googled ‘porns’, opened one of the website and then started another PMO session.
    The numbers of the sessions gradually kept on increasing. It started affecting my studies. My brain started preferring those momentary, fake pleasures over literally anything.
    It was then, I realised that I had become an addict.

    My point is, porn shouldn’t be so easily available on the Internet. Right now, all you have to do is google ‘porns’ to access porn. That’s it! Actually, you don’t even need to Google anything. This cancer is so contagious and readily available on the Internet that despite not even searching porns on the Internet, there are high chances that one day you’ll come across pornographic material on the Internet. And once a teenager comes across such things, it is not long before he/she becomes an addict.

    We all need to raise our voices against these things.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I started fapping at age of 11 and half year. It took me 2 years to get away from porn and masturbation when I started doing nofap at age of 15 and half years. Now I’m 17 and half years.
    Porn ruined my life. After a lot of relapses and motivating videos. Now I’m successful in nofap. I screwed my brain badly. All day brain fog. At the start of fapping I use to see porn whole day after school and fap atleast 15-20 times a day.
    If this community can remove porn from internet then all our addicted brothers and sisters will really live their life to fullest.
    Best of luck to all who are trying to remove porn from internet.

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