In November of 2017 we launched our John Helpline to address the demand side of prostitution. Our helpline fields calls from men purchasing sex online (Johns) that want help with their sexual addiction. Our male volunteers speak with Johns in a caring and considerate way to help them find resources and accountability.
Caring for Men Who Have Fueled the Demand of Sexual Exploitation
A teen runs away and is enticed to enter the world of pornography. In one year she has been filmed in 135 adult scenes. And in her own words says, “I remember being on-set and bleeding and people saying ‘cut, clean up the blood,’ then they kept going. ‘Stop for 30 seconds, wipe off the blood, go.’”
- 88.2% of porn scenes show physical aggression against women (rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, aggressive sexual behavior). Only 10% of scenes show healthy, loving interactions such as hugging and kissing.
- 83% of college age men who used “mainstream” pornography expressed greater intent to commit rape should they be assured they wouldn’t get caught.
- 80% of women in prostitution report that their customers showed them pornography to illustrate the kinds of sexual acts they wanted performed.
- 41% of Christian males ages 13-24 actively seek porn monthly.
- 23% of Christian males ages 25 or older actively seek porn monthly.
- 54% of youth pastors who currently struggle “live in constant fear of being discovered.”
- And 6 out of 10 Christians say porn use is OK.
This is the reality of the world we live in. My intention in writing this blog was not to add more shame to those struggling with a porn addiction, but to illustrate a silent epidemic ravaging the hearts and minds of men within the church and driving the demand of sexual exploitation.
For nine years I have led and served with a faith-based ministry that reaches out to women who have been sexually exploited and trafficked. The women I’ve had the honor of walking alongside on their journey out of prostitution, were sexually abused as children, and over 90% were trafficked as children. These amazing women—and trust me, they are amazing—are many times the vulnerable and marginalized in our communities. And some of the men who purchase their services also profess Christianity:
“I’ve been stopped by preachers, Bible in their hand, who after they’re done preaching their sermon, will ask me for a sexual act” (Undercover Officer, Cook County, Illinois PD).
My brothers in Christ who struggle with sexual addiction probably had no idea how their first experience with pornography would lead them on a drastic downward trajectory. Society teaches our young men that pornography is a rite of passage into manhood and therefore it’s okay, but I believe pornography is men’s rehearsal for purchasing women in prostitution. The normalization of it helps support a thriving sex industry that victimizes men and women and promotes an unrealistic view of true intimacy and healthy relationships.
One man who used pornography said, “I am a firm believer that all women … are prostitutes at one time or another.”
I believe Christians are sympathetic to men struggling with an alcohol or drug addiction. But what about a sexual addiction? How do you think most Christians would respond if approached by a man in their congregation asking for prayer and resources for his porn addiction? How would you respond? What if the first statistic I quoted instead read “41% of Christian males ages 13-24 smoke crack monthly”? Do you think the church would be alarmed?
The intensity of a porn addiction can completely overwhelm a person and their desire or craving to view porn can be double to 10 times higher than the intensity for a crack fix. (Michael Ramsden, “God of Love, God of Judgment?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUazX6wJPgo).
Chances are some of you reading this blog may be struggling with a sexual addiction and would never consider asking for prayer or resources because of shame, fear of judgment, and the repercussions exposing your addiction would have on your family, your spouse, and your position within your church and community. I have great compassion for you and all who struggle. There is help. And you are not alone.
In November of 2017 the organization I serve with launched our John Helpline to address the demand side of prostitution. Our helpline fields calls from men purchasing sex online who want help with their addiction. Our male volunteers speak with the caller in a caring and considerate way to help them find resources and accountability. We have been able to point several men to resources in the Chicagoland area. They are included at the bottom of this article.
I wanted to share my thoughts on this subject; however, I am not an expert on sexual addictions. I’m not a counselor. I don’t have a porn addiction. But I do see the effects this addiction is having on the women we reach out to, our culture, my friends and my Christian community. My desire is that there would be more dialogue at the local church level about how to bring the dangers of pornography to light and how to provide care and accountability for those in our churches struggling with sexual addiction.
By Anne Polencheck
General information and Treatment for sexual compulsion and addiction:
Information on Pornography and Cybersex:
Online Support Group, Information, and Treatment Referrals:
Sexaholics Anonymous – www.chicagosa.org
Sex Addicts Anonymous – www.saa-recovery.org
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous – www.slaachicago.org
Christian Recovery Groups (Chicago area)
www.willowcreek.org – RECOVER ministry
www.wheatonbible.org – Compass for Men
Internet Filtering and Accountability