I don’t write this post as an authoritarian expert on the ins and outs of addiction or sex trafficking. Nor do I pose as some sort of holy man descended from the mountain with a word from the divine.
I write as a porn addict.
I’ve sat in the basements of downtown cathedrals with the other perverts and sex offenders, confessing my week and my shortcomings. Some of the other men at the Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings have a legal mandate to declare that they are registered for their addiction. They’ve done illicit things with children or the helpless elderly and been caught. In our imaginations, we tend to paint these men as wicked and sinister, endlessly plotting out when they will pounce on their next victim.
But that’s not what I see in the basement of the church. I see remorseful men, apologetic for their actions, and trying to break free from the desires which enslave them. The scariest part of attending S-meetings is the realization that I could be on the same path. These men did not wake up one day and decide to molest the innocent. Nearly every case began with a pornography addiction.
But sin has a bottomless stomach. It will eventually tire of digital images and want to move on to more tangible outlets.
The irony of me—a 25-year-old virgin—sitting in an S meeting is that I haven’t even come close to this sort of offense. My thorough Christian upbringing hasn’t even let me get past first base with a woman. So what was it that led me to attend my first SAA meeting all those months ago?
A big part of it was the realization that my addiction no longer affected just me.
Before I dive in, I want to address something: If you struggle with pornography but refuse to label yourself as an ‘addict,’ you are most likely wrong. For the majority of my life, I raged against the notion that I am actually an addict. The term seemed so dirty and helpless. You’re only an addict if it ruins your life, I thought, totally neglecting the fact that every alcoholic is an addict well before their life is ruined. Imagine how grateful a drug addict would be if they were able to kick their habit before it destroyed their life. So when it comes to pornography addiction, why do we assume that someday the problem will magically flutter away as a butterfly leaves a branch? Sin is hungry. Get help before it gets worse because it will not go away on its own.
Not only does a pornography addiction affect your friends, family, self worth, romance, and practically every relationship in our lives, but it fuels global sex trafficking.
As a professional blogger, my money comes from people visiting my website. The more clicks I get in a given month, the more money slides into my bank account. Advertisers pay for that precious space between the content, and they’re willing to pay more the more visitors per month a site has. The same is true for every website on the internet. The more visitors they get in a month, the more money they receive even if those visitors are not paying to be on their site.
So when it comes to pornography sites, they make money from all the men and women visiting their site, even if they don’t spend a dime. And as these porn sites earn more money, they are able to bring in more ‘talent,’ or actors and actresses to star in their videos. And while many of these actors are consenting adults, many are not. In fact, 49% of women who are rescued from sex trafficking say that at one point, pornography was made of them against their will. Additionally, about 90% of American porn websites buy their content rather than making it themselves. What this means is that, as much as they promise that their products are above board, they really have little to no way to verify the actual age and consent of the people featured in their videos.
What this means for us is that we do not have to spend a penny to help fund human sex trafficking. It breaks me down to think that I have unwittingly contributed to the trafficking of real human beings in other parts of the globe simply by spending time on certain websites. In essence, we who look at porn are no better than the men in the S meetings who lay their hands on children and force them to do unspeakable things. Our rampant desires have continued the trade of videos which subject people to dehumanizing actions and terrible conditions. There really is no way around it. We cannot pick and choose which pornography sites are ‘ethical’ because the waters are so muddied.
However, the point of this post is not to point fingers and bring shame upon your head just because you have watched pornography. This post is an encouragement to people in the same position as me: Get help. Fight your addiction. Tell a friend, pastor, or spouse and begin to make efforts against pornography addiction, and by extension, human trafficking.
I have reached places which felt absolutely hopeless. I have felt like there was absolutely no good outcome for me, my future marriage is already doomed, and slavery to my desires is eternal. But this is not the case. I have come to realize that there are few things Jesus loves more than taking broken and twisted situations and making beautiful things out of them.
Nothing and no one is beyond redemption.
And you can help take a stand against this today. If you are also a porn addict, get help. Go to SAA meetings. Download filters and accountability software. And if you know someone in the throes of a pornography addiction, offer them help as well. Do not pile up shame and guilt, because that is the most counterproductive way to go about helping an addict of any kind.
Together we can take steps to combat the behemoth of sex trafficking, and it can begin by realizing that our ‘harmless porn habit’ is actually taking a toll on other people’s lives.