Today’s Epidemic of Artificial Sex: Pornography, Sexting, Cyber Sex

Let’s call the problem “artificial sex,” or “techno sex.” Today’s technology is facilitating sexual experience in ways that make real personal connection irrelevant. Usually, the problem is simply identified as “pornography,” but the problem also includes sexting and various forms of cyber-sex (such as chat rooms or video game environments).

Here are some statistics from 2019, from Barna Research Group and Covenant Eyes:

  • 68% of church-going men and over 50% of pastors view porn on a regular basis.
  • Of young Christian adults 18-24 years old, 76% actively search for porn.
  • 55% of married men and 25% of married women say they watch porn at least once a month.
  • 57% of pastors say porn addiction is the most damaging issue in their congregation.
  • The Barna Group discovered there is virtually no difference in the monthly porn use of non-Christian men (65 percent) versus Christian men (64 percent).
  • Sexting has become common for young people today. Estimates by researchers start at a low of 20 percent of teens and reach higher than 60 percent in some studies. Teenagers, however, believe that about 90 percent of their peers are sexting. This is an indicator that among teens, the behavior is considered normal, which has led to an increase in sexting behavior among this age group.
  • In 2019, the Freedom Fight conducted a survey of more than 1,300 Practicing Christian college students from over thirty different campuses across the country. The men and women we surveyed were involved in a campus ministry, and they considered their faith in Christ to be very important to them. 89% of the Christian men surveyed watch porn at least occasionally. 61% view it at least weekly and 24% percent watch porn daily or multiple times a day. 51% of these men said they were “addicted to porn.”

What about now, in 2021? What’s happening with these problems in the midst of the pandemic and shut-downs? I’m not sharing statistics about this yet, because estimates are all over the map, and I don’t trust that there’s reliable research yet. (If you know of any, please share it with me!) What everyone agrees on, however, is sobering: as bad as the problem with artificial sex was before the pandemic, it’s now gotten worse. And many people think it’s gotten much worse.

I’m also including cyber sex here, even though it may not be a huge issue … yet. Virtual reality games and environments are here, they’re getting more immersive all the time, and their popularity is growing. When you add the improvement of these  experiences, and combine that with high-tech sex toys,  it won’t be long before there are breakthrough “adult games” or “adult virtual meeting places” that take today’s web cam sites to a new level.

Why is artificial sex so bad?

Artificial sex is much more damaging than people realize. It fundamentally pulls us in the wrong direction. Lust kills love. Love pulls people together … lust is about fulfilling the needs of the self, devoid of personal connection. The spiritual design of sex is about bringing us together … artificial sex facilitates getting our sexual needs met in ways that keep us apart.

Sex is designed by God to create life and facilitate deep intimacy between people in a marriage relationship. It’s about union … uniting two people as deeply and intimately as humanly possible. In the Bible it is described as “the two becoming one flesh (body).” This union is so powerful and spiritual that it is used to describe the union of Christ and the Church, and the union of God in us through the Holy Spirit.

Far from facilitating intimacy, pornography and other forms of artificial sex do the exact opposite — they train people to engage their sexuality in ways that have nothing to do with actual intimacy. In fact, the practice of artificial sex actually keeps people FROM actual, real, in-person intimacy.

For years I’ve been saying that pornography doesn’t make people want real sex with a real person. It just makes them want more pornography. The research is pretty clear — and damning — about this. Porn doesn’t lead to more sex … it leads to less sex, and decreasing intimacy. I’ll be talking more about this in future articles.

Rather than bringing couples together, pornography becomes a screen (of fantasy and imagery) that gets between them. Pornography trains people to be turned on by watching sex, rather than actually having sex. Over time this has extremely destructive consequences for pornography users and their partners. In fact, in the ultimate manifestation of porn’s destructive tendency, excessive porn use leads to a syndrome known as porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED). Heavy porn users not only find themselves less interested in actual sex, they can also find themselves unable to do it.

Here’s an article about this phenomenon. In an effort to try to be fair, and not be dismissed as hysterical, the article points out that not all experts think this is a “thing.” For example, PIED is not included in the American Psychiatric Association’s Bible of disorders – the DSM 5. But don’t let that fool you: there’s been a long history of politics and legal issues preventing any form of sexual addiction being recognized in the DSM. Every year, PIED gets more attention — and recognition — from experts.

Two Helpful Articles About Pornography

Could it be That “Pornography Struggles” are Mainly The Result of Religious Expectations?

I’ve spoken to groups of therapists about sexual struggles, pornography use, and addiction — and sometimes a certain bias comes out in the questions. They’ll ask: Isn’t the real issue with “pornography addiction” just the fact that people have sex-negative religious views? In other words, if people had less puritanical religious views about sex, they wouldn’t be so concerned about pornography being a problem … right?

I’m hearing this argument less and less these days. Primarily because much of the explosive “anti-porn” movement in the last few years has been fueled by sources with a decidedly non-religious — and in some cases even an anti-religious — focus. In other words, it’s not just Christians who are concerned about this problem!

The articles I’m linking to here are examples of this. They come from the “fight the new drug” website, which is devoted to helping people overcome pornography, and is decidedly NOT religious.

3 Ideas Our Culture Believes About Porn That Aren’t Backed By Research

If you want to see how current research backs up the commitment to do away with pornography use, check out this article (also from “fight the new drug”). Here are the three myths that are debunked in the article:
1. “Porn can’t negatively impact consumers, and it isn’t addictive.”
2. “Porn can improve your relationships.”
3. “Porn and sex trafficking are separate industries.”

Want Help in Your Struggle with Compulsive Sexual Behavior?

Reach out to me, using the contact form on this website. I have a home study program you can engage in, as well as a weekly virtual support group. This is a big — and growing problem — but it doesn’t have to consume your life.

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