harmful effects of pornography: data on use and impact on families and communities


Richard Harris
Richard Harris

Dear reader,

Pornography is one of the tools that is literally destroying the souls of the American people. It has become mainstreamed in the United States, and its effects on our nation are shocking.

We have compiled some of the best research on the topic from leading sources—including official agencies and nonprofit organizations—in a new report. I encourage you to get the facts by reading this report, complete with data, historical timeline, and biblical perspective.

Consider the following:

  • Pornography devalues women in men’s eyes and destroys relationships. Men who use porn are trained to see women as objects to be used for sexual gratification, rather than equal persons created by God.
  • Pornography ruins marriages. As satisfaction and intimacy are destroyed, marriages crumble. Viewing pornography increases the likelihood of seeking sex outside of marriage, which also increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and out-of-wedlock pregnancies.
  • Pornography endangers children. Statistics show that kids raised in a home where a parent uses pornography are at increased risk of experiencing unhealthy sexual behavior, marital conflict, and parental neglect.
  • Pornography is viewed by young people at alarming rates. While three quarters of parents deny their children have seen it, the data shows that by the time they reach 17, more than three quarters of teens have viewed pornography.

It is time for Christians to take a stand against pornography in their homes, communities, and nation. Addressing biblical truth on sexuality from the pulpit thoughtfully and graciously is the essential starting point. Christians must become equipped to be ministers of grace and truth in this vital area.

We must advocate for legislation that protects young people from internet pornography, keeps sexually oriented businesses out of neighborhoods, and gets sexualized materials out of public schools. We must support entertainment that affirms wholesome sexual values and oppose that which does not.

We must speak out and fight against this plague, and minister the healing wisdom of God’s Word to the world in need.

Research by: Drew Harris


“The word pornography, derived from the Greek porni (“prostitute”) and graphein (“to write”), was originally defined as any work of art or literature depicting the life of prostitutes”. [1] It has come to mean, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, “Sexually explicit writing, images, video, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal.” [2]


  • Pornography significantly distorts attitudes and perceptions about the nature of sexual intercourse in men and women from a young age. [3]
  • Pornography is highly addictive and neurologically damaging. [4]
  • Prolonged use of pornography produces habituation [5], boredom, and sexual dissatisfaction among female and male viewers. [6]
  • The pornography industry continually strengthens addiction with gradually more bizarre and radical imagery. [7]
  • Pornography use leads to a distortion of reality and arguable mental illness based on sexual matters. [8][9][10][11][12][13][14]


  • Pornography use leads to dissatisfaction with mates and monogamous relationships. [15][16]
  • Exposure to sexual material from the internet, magazines, and television is associated with stronger notions that women are sex objects or sexual commodities. [17][18]
  • Men exposed to pornography are more likely to describe women in overtly sexual terms, rather than by other personal attributes. [19]
  • Pornography use correlates to higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and out-of-wedlock pregnancies. [20][21][22]
  • People who grew up in stable nuclear families are less likely to view pornography. [23]


Children in a home that uses pornography often suffer in various ways:

  • They encounter pornographic material a parent has acquired.
  • They witness and experience stress in the home caused by online sexual activities.
  • There is an increased risk of the children becoming consumers of pornography themselves.
  • They witness parental conflict.
  • They are exposed to the commodification of human beings,
  • especially women, as “sex objects.”
  • Pornography users perform worse in the workplace [24], which leads to increased risk of parental job loss and financial strain.
  • There is increased risk of parental separation and divorce.
  • They experience decreased parental time and attention—both from the pornography-addicted parent and from the parent preoccupied with the addicted spouse. [25][26]


  • 50% of 11- to 13-year-olds, 65% of 14- to 15-year-olds, and 78% of 16- to 17-year-olds reported having seen pornography in some way (shown/sent by someone else or searched for/stumbled upon it).
  • 75% of parents believed their child would not have seen pornography online, but of those children 53% said they had in fact seen pornography.
  • Of the children who admitted to intentionally searching for pornography, nearly two-thirds of them (63%) said they had done so at one point or another specifically for one or more of four reasons:
    • To get ideas for new things to try sexually.
    • To learn about sex generally.
    • Learning how to get better at sex.
    • Learning what people expect from partners sexually.
  • Girls in particular mentioned using pornography to learn how to meet boys’ “expectations.”
  • 41% of children who were aware of pornography agreed “watching porn makes people less respectful of the opposite sex.” [27]


  • Various forms of sexual behaviors outside of a committed monogamous relationship are directly linked to pornography use in the United States. [28]
  • Significant percentages of sex offenders used hard-core pornography in adolescence and continued use in adulthood. [29]
  • About a third of sex offenders reported using pornography as a deliberate stimulus to commit their sexual offenses. [30]
  • Convicted internet sexual offenders spent 11 or more hours a week watching pornographic images of children on the internet. [31]
  • Physical aggression is present in a substantial amount of pornographic material and is linked to increased aggression among users and calloused attitudes about sexual violence. [32][33]
  • The moral acceptability of rape increases after prolonged exposure to pornography. [34]
  • Pornography increases the demand and rate of human trafficking. [35][36]



  • Neighborhoods with sex-based businesses see more crime than non- sexually oriented nightclubs and bars. [37][38]
  • A study in Adams County, Colorado found that 83 percent of crimes in a neighborhood featuring two adult businesses were connected to those Sexually oriented businesses. [39]
  • Number of sex offenses was 506 percent greater in a neighborhood containing a Sexually oriented business. [40]
  • The closer a property is to a sex-based businesses, the more its value depreciates. [41]
  • The close proximity of sex-based businesses to neighborhoods leads to a greater exposure of children to pornographic material. [42]


1727 - Rex v. Curl held that publication of an obscene libel was punishable as a common law libel as being "against the peace in tending to weaken the bonds of civil society, virtue, and morality.”
1815 - Commonwealth v. Sharpless found that selling of an obscene painting of a man and a woman in an ‘‘indecent posture’’ threatened the peace and dignity of all residents of Pennsylvania, and had the potential to corrupt and subvert its youth.
1821 - Commonwealth v. Holmes. ("Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure") The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that "an obscene libel was a common law offense and punishable as a crime."
1957 - Roth v. United States. Pornography, but not "obscene" material, is "speech" protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
1964 - Jacobellis v. Ohio. What counts as "obscenity" is measured by community standards.
1968 - Ginsberg v. State of New York. The law can distinguish between adults and minors using pornography. [43]
1969 - Stanley v. Georgia, holding a Georgia law to be unconstitutional which prohibited the possession of pornography. [43]
1973 - Miller v. California, holding that to be obscene, sexual material must be "patently offensive" and lack any "serious scientific, literary, artistic, or political value."
1982 - New York v. Ferber. Child pornography has no free speech protection.
1986 - Renton v. Playtime Theatres, addressed zoning for X-rated theaters.
1996 - Denver Telecommunications v. FCC, addressed X-rated cable television.
1997 - Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, addressed internet porn.
2002 - Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition. Child pornography restrictions loosened.


Pornography attacks the dignity of men and women who are created in the image of God, also distorting God’s gift of sex which should be shared only within the bounds of marriage. The Bible condemns acts of sexual exposure, adultery, bestiality, homosexuality, incest, and prostitution.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:24-25

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Matthew 19:4-6

Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee. Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.

Proverbs 5:15-19

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

Hebrews 13:4

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.

Genesis 4:1

Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

1 Corinthians 6:13-18

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication.

1 Thessalonians 4:3

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness.

Galatians 5:19

Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

1 Corinthians 7:2-3

And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.

Genesis 9:21-23

Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her.

Leviticus 18:20

Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.

Leviticus 18:23

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

Leviticus 18:22

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Leviticus 20:13

None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the Lord. The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness. The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover. The nakedness of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness. The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s sister: she is thy father’s near kinswoman. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister: for she is thy mother’s near kinswoman. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son’s wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son’s daughter, or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness. Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.

Leviticus 18:6-18

There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel. Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the Lord thy God.

Deuteronomy 23:17-18


Figure [45]


Figure [46]


  1. “Pornography,” Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/pornography
  2. “Pornography,” American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, https://ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=pornography
  3. “Effects of Pornography: Effect on the Mind,” Marripedia, http://marripedia.org/effects_of_pornography
  4. John J. Ratey and Eric Hagerman, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (New York: Little Brown and Company, 2008); Mary Anne Layden, Center for Cognitive Therapy, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, (Testimony for U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Nov. 18, 2004); Judith A. Reisman, “The Brain Science Behind Pornography Addiction and the Effects of Addiction on Families and Communities,” The Institute for Media Education, (Testimony before the United States Senate, Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Nov. 18, 2004), 1; Marie-Elaine M. Corbeil and Stuart J. McKelvie, “Pornography Use and Recall of Sexual and Neutral Words,” North American Journal of Psychology 10, (2008): 363-84, 380; Scott Aylwin, John R. Reddon, and Andrew R. Burke, “Sexual Fantasies of Adolescent Male Sex Offenders in Residential Treatment: A Descriptive Study,” Archives of Sexual Behavior 34, (2005): 231-39, 233-3
  5. Dolf Zillman, Indiana University, Paper prepared for the Surgeon General’s Workshop on Pornography and Public Health, Arlington VA, 1986, at https://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/spotlight/nn/catalog/nlm:nlmuid- 101584932X603-doc.
  6. James B. Weaver III, “The Effects of Pornography Addiction on Families and Communities,” presented before the Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Washington, D.C. (Nov. 18, 2004), 2, 4.
  7. Judith A. Reisman, “The Psychopharmacology of Pictorial Pornography Restructuring Brain, Mind & Memory & Subverting Freedom of Speech” 26, (2007).
  8. Dolf Zillmann, “Influence of Unrestrained Access to Erotica on Adolescents’ and Young Adults’ Dispositions toward Sexuality,” Journal of Adolescent Health 27S, (2000)
  9. Layden.
  10. L. Monique Ward, “Does Television Exposure Affect Emerging Adults’ Attitudes and Assumptions about Sexual Relationships? Correlational and Experimental Confirmation,” Journal of Youth and Adolescence 31, (2002): 1-15 (12).
  11. Sylvain C. Boies, “University Students’ Uses of and Reactions to Online Sexual Information and Entertainment: Links to Online and Offline Sexual Behavior,” The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality 11, (2002): 77-89 (86).
  12. Al Cooper, Nathan Galbreath, and Michael A. Becker, “Sex on the Internet: Furthering our Understanding of Men with Online Sexual Problems,” Psychology of Addictive Behavior 18, (2004): 226.
  13. Nicole Daluga, A Content Analysis of Sexual Risk and Protective Behaviors and Messages in Sexually Explicit Web Pages Viewed by a National Probability Sample of U.S. Adolescents (Atlanta, Georgia: Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, 2002), 255-279, 19; K.A. Cameron, L.F. Salazar, J.M. Bernhardt, N. Burgess-Whitman, G.M. Wingood, and R.J. DiClemente, “Adolescents’ Experience with Sex on the Web: Results from Online Focus Groups,” Journal of Adolescence 28, (2005): 535-40 (537).
  14. Laramie D. Taylor, “Effects of Visual and Verbal Sexual Television Content and Perceived Realism on Attitudes and Beliefs,” The Journal of Sex Research 42, (2005): 130-37 (135).
  15. Dolf Zillmann and Jennings Bryant, “Pornography’s Impact on Sexual Satisfaction,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 18, (1988): 439, 448, 450.
  16. Ven-hwei Lo and Ran Wei, “Exposure to Internet Pornography and Taiwanese Adolescents’ Sexual Attitudes and Behavior,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 49, (2005): 221-37 (233).
  17. “Prosecuting Obscenity: An Overview Of Past Pornography Rulings By The U.S. Supreme Court,” FRONTLINE: American Porn, PBS.
  18. Peter Jochen and Patti M. Valkenburg, “Adolescents’ Exposure to a Sexualized Media Environment and Their Notions of Women as Sex Objects,” Sex Roles 56, (2007): 381-395, 390.
  19. Deborah E.S. Frable, Anne E Johnson, and Hildy Kellman, “Seeing Masculine Men, Sexy Women, and Gender Differences: Exposure to Pornography and Cognitive Constructions of Gender,” Journal of Personality 65, (1997): 311- 355, 333.
  20. Nicole Daluga, A Content Analysis of Sexual Risk and Protective Behaviors and Messages in Sexually Explicit Web Pages Viewed by a National Probability Sample of U.S. Adolescents (Atlanta, Georgia: Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, 2002), 255-279.
  21. Gina M. Wingood, Ralph J. DiClemente, Kathy Harrington, Suzy Davies, Edward W. Hook, and M. Kim Oh, “Exposure to X-rated Movies and Adolescents’ Sexual and Contraceptive-related Attitudes and Behaviors,” Pediatrics 107, (2001): 1116-19.
  22. Kristian Daneback, Michael W. Ross, and Sven-Axel Månsson, “Characteristics and Behaviors of Sexual Compulsives Who Use the Internet for Sexual Purposes,” Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 13, (2006): 53-67 (59-60).
  23. General Social Survey, 1972-2006.
  24. Reginald Bell, Dibyendu Choudhury, Wally Guyot, and Robert Meier, “Impulse Control and Internet Addiction Disorder Among Business Professionals. Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications & Conflict 22, (2016).
  25. Jennifer P. Schneider, “Effects of Cybersex Addiction on the Family: Results of a Survey,” Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 7, (2000): 31-58
  26. M. Deborah Corley and Jennifer P. Schneider, “Sex Addiction Disclosure to Children: The Parents’ Perspective,” Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 10, (2003): 291-324.
  27. Young People, Pornography, and Age Verification, British Board of Film Classification, at https://www.revealingreality.co.uk/wp- content/uploads/2020/01/BBFC-Young-people-and-pornography-Final- report-2401.pdf
  28. Debby Herbenick, Tsung-Chieh Fu, Paul Wright, Bryant Paul, Ronna Gradus, Jill Bauer, and Rashida Jones, “Diverse Sexual Behaviors and Pornography Use: Findings From a Nationally Representative Probability Survey of Americans Aged 18 to 60 Years,” Journal of Sexual Medicine 17(4), (2020), at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32081698/
  29. W.L. Marshall, “The Use of Sexually Explicit Stimuli by Rapists, Child Molesters, and Nonoffenders,” The Journal of Sex Research 25, (1988): 267- 288, 279.
  30. Marshall, 267-288, 279.
  31. Sarah Laulik, Jane Allam, and Lorraine Sheridan, “An Investigation into Maladaptive Personality Functioning in Internet Sex Offenders,” Psychology, Crime & Law 13, (2007): 523-35, 527.
  32. Vanessa Vega and Neil M. Malamuth, “Predicting Sexual Aggression: The Role of Pornography in the Context of General and Specific Risk Factors,” Aggressive Behavior 33, (2007): 104-17 (109).
  33. Dolf Zillmann, “Influence of Unrestrained Access to Erotica on Adolescents’ and Young Adults’ Dispositions toward Sexuality,” Journal of Adolescent Health 27S, (2000).
  34. Weaver, 3.
  35. Demand: A Comparative Examination of Sex Tourism and Trafficking in Jamaica, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States, Shared Hope, at http://sharedhope.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/DEMAND.pdf
  36. Demand Dynamics: The Forces of Demand in Global Sex Trafficking, at https://web.archive.org/web/20100611115617/http://www.law.depaul.edu/ce nters_institutes/ihrli/downloads/demand_dynamics.pdf
  37. Valerie Jenness, Richard McCleary, and James W. Meeker, “Crime-Related Secondary Effects of Sexually-Oriented Businesses Report to the County Attorney Palm Beach County, Florida,” (Executive Summary, Aug. 15, 2007), 3.
  38. Protecting Communities from Sexually Oriented Businesses, 2nd ed. (Scottsdale, AZ: Alliance Defense Fund, Nov. 2002), 153, at http://www.communitydefense.org/cdcdocs/pcsob/pcsob2ed.pdf.
  39. Protecting Communities from Sexually Oriented Businesses.
  40. Protecting Communities from Sexually Oriented Businesses.
  41. Peter Malin, An Analysis of the Effects of [Sexually-Oriented Businesses] on the Surrounding Neighborhoods in Dallas, Texas, (Dallas, TX: The Malin Group, April 29, 1997), 8-9.
  42. Protecting Communities from Sexually Oriented Businesses, 2nd ed. (Scottsdale, AZ: Alliance Defense Fund, November 2002), 11
  43. “Historic Supreme Court Decisions,” Legal Information Institute, at https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/cases/name.htm
  44. FRONTLINE: American Porn, PBS.
  45. General Social Survey, 1972-2006.
  46. “Do you think pornography is morally acceptable or morally wrong?,” at https://www.statista.com/statistics/225972/americans-moral-stance- towards-pornography/