Religion
Religion

Priests Who Look At Porn Should Not Be Forced To Resign

| by Nicholas Roberts

A new study commissioned by Josh McDowell Industries on the American population's use of pornography has been hailed as the most comprehensive survey on the subject to date.

The study, titled "The Porn Phenomenon," which was conducted by the Barna Group, sought the responses of 3,000 Americans including teenagers and pastors, among others. One eye-opening finding was that 21 percent of youth ministers and 14 percent of pastors interviewed admitted to struggling with pornography, LifeSiteNews reports.

Subsets within those two groups -- 12 percent of youth ministers and 5 percent of pastors -- admitted they were addicted to Internet porn.

The same study shows 41 percent of adult Christians believe that pastors who view porn should resign from their post or be fired, Christian Post reports.  29 percent of those who were interviewed said pastors who admitted having a porn habit should take a leave of absence to deal with the issue.

There are many reasons a regular person may take an issue with their pastor viewing porn.  For one, a recent survey from Christianity Today showed that at least 50 percent of adult male Christians view pornography, LifeSiteNews reports.

Simultaneously, however, pornography is seen fairly unambiguously as a negative influence, especially among older Christians.

It would follow that Christians who engage in a porn habit, but seek to curtail it, may look to a pastor for guidance.  And it is understandable they may be upset to find their pastor is struggling with the same problem, given their position of authority.  And of course, there are those older Christians who do not and would never view porn, and who would logically call for a pastor who has done so to resign.

But the cumulative findings of the study show there is a larger issue at hand, and that forcing priests to resign for looking at porn is not a solution to that issue.

The issue is the fact that younger Americans are becoming much more accepting of pornography in general, and that pornography is ubiquitous on the Internet.  

The Christian Post reports the study found 89 percent of teenagers and 95 percent of young adults speaking about pornography in an either "neutral, accepting, or encouraging way."

Josh McDowell, founder of Josh McDowell Ministries, said of the development:

"You cannot understand pornography if you don't understand neurology. And 95 percent of pastors don't understand neurology. You've got to understand the brain, I don't care who you are, and — the greatest pastor in America — you cannot come up with an answer to pornography if you do not understand the brain. It is a different animal than the Church has ever tried to fix."
 
The conclusions drawn from "The Porn Phenomenon" show that the usage of pornography is widespread across the population, with a sharp break in attitudes between older and younger Americans.  
 
Given this sociocultural landscape, it is difficult to say that forcing priests to resign for viewing porn is anything other than a form of denial about the broader problems with the growth and proliferation of Internet porn.  Those broader problems need to be addressed before the individual personal failings of any priest who admits to viewing porn.