How Christians can engage in the fight against pornography

December 28, 2020

This year, more than any in recent memory, has seemed like one steady stream of bad news. We’ve been pummeled, day after day, by a year that refuses to relent long enough to let us come up for one measly gulp of air. Along with the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine, there was another burst of good news that hit the wires recently. 

On Dec. 4, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof helped expose how Pornhub, one of the world’s largest pornography websites, hosted countless user-generated videos of sexual assault, rape, and other criminal acts. In response to this reporting, major credit card companies including Discover, Visa, and Mastercard announced they were cutting ties with Pornhub and would no longer provide credit card processing for the site because of the illegal content. This move prompted Pornhub to remove “unverified uploads,” a move that effectively flags and eliminates upward of two-thirds of its content which amounted to the removal of over 10 million pornographic videos from the site’s library. In the fight against sexual assult, rape, abuse, and other criminal acts, this is a positive development and one that significantly cuts down on the amount of pornographic content online.

And yet, it seems there remains an endless amount of work yet to be done in the fight against pornography. For Christians, how are we to respond to this encouraging development and, moreover, how are we to engage in the broader battle against the scourge of pornography?


There is a lot that can be done to stymie the advance of pornography and its increasing cultural ubiquity, and it all begins with awareness. And, while awareness in no way means apprising oneself of actual pornographic content, it does require educating yourself on its widespread use (even among Christians) and the detriment that pornography imposes on its actors, its users, its users’ relationships, and entire societies—morally, psychologically, and physically. 

Practically speaking, this looks like developing a relative fluency around the prevalence of pornography and its use (resources like Finally Free by Heath Lambert and this article by Justin Holcomb are good places to start) and, prayerfully, acquiring a sensitivity to it through these exposures. Though pornography is often spun as a liberty to be enjoyed by the masses, it is a menacing and ruinous captor, enslaving its users in nearly every conceivable way, down to the neurological level. So, before we jump into this monumental fight, we must first know what we’re up against and, just as important, for whom we’re fighting. 


Becoming more aware of pornography’s scope and influence inevitably keys you in on the reality that it isn’t merely a habit or an act in which one chooses to participate. It is, rather, a sort of worldview with its own attending “metaphysical and ethical implications” that projects its own “specific vision of the world” and of other persons, as Carl Trueman argues in his new book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self

For this reason and others, building on the momentum that seems to have accrued in this most recent fight against illegal content on Pornhub will require doing battle not just in view of reforming the habits of our collective society—and our churches—but by piercing what Charles Taylor calls our culture’s social imaginary. In other words, it is a battle not just of will but of worldview. So, as you consider planting your feet on the field of battle against pornography, these are the three primary categories where you can engage. 

1. Broad engagement: To fight the fight against pornography in the broad sense is the least costly measure to take. In fact, it will cost you almost nothing. In a lot of ways, this broad level of engagement is somewhat synonymous with simply making yourself and others aware of the epidemic affect of pornography. More than anything, it is an effort to join your voice with the chorus of others who are decrying the normativity of this debasing worldview that prizes sexuality as its sacred indicative. 

It is here, winsomely and patiently, where the church can begin to pierce our pornified culture’s social imaginary with a new narrative. And though it may involve advocating for more stringent legislative action and supporting investigations and reporting like Kristof’s, it’s not yet likely to chafe against your relationships or against your own carnal impulses at this level. Broad engagement is needed, and yields broad impact, but the church must go further. We must intentionally narrow our scope of engagement.

2. Focused engagement: The level of narrow engagement introduces us to some of the real consequences of our own involvement in this fight. Here, in our immediate spheres of influence, we have conversations with spouses, children, parents, extended family members, friends, and those we’re discipling. It’s also where vulnerabilities are spilled. 

If the statistic that more than 28,000 users are watching pornography every second is accurate—not  excluding church members (64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women say they watch porn at least once a month)—then we have an unseemly amount of brothers and sisters being held captive to the woes of our culture’s pornographic worldview. Our focus here involves aspirations toward personal victories among those closest to us, either preemptively (ideally) or in waging war against an ongoing struggle. Focused engagement is the willingness to fight, tooth and nail, for the heart of a brother or sister.

3. Personal engagement: Finally, our scope of engagement should ultimately narrow to the extent that the crosshairs of our battle weapons rest squarely upon ourselves. Pornography use is plaguing church pews across America and the developed world, and to assume immunity for oneself is either the height of naivete or willful negligence. Personal engagement, then, is a call—a scriptural command—to engage in a battle for your soul and to disengage from the world of pornography in all its forms. 

This means that we abstain from sexual immorality  (1 Thess. 4:3), even in our internet browsing, streaming subscriptions, and other comparable activities. It also means that our discipleship should not neglect to address the issue of pornography directly, even if we don’t deem it a threat. Personal engagement on this matter is a Spirit-driven fight to resist, even “to the point of shedding blood” (Heb. 12:4), the pornographic pull so endemic in our day.

We are God’s set-apart people, called by the Spirit to engage in a to-the-death duel against our flesh and its deeds (Rom. 8:13-14). Scripture is clear: there is only one left standing once the dust from this fight settles. Either we align ourselves with the Spirit and live or we yield to the carnal whims of the flesh and perish. The stakes could not be higher, for our souls and for the dignity of those entrenched in the pornography industry. We would do well to act like it.

Fight the good fight

By all credible estimates, the pornography industry is a multibillion dollar operation, a figure that doesn’t even account for the forms and content not considered explicit enough to “earn” a pornographic rating. We live in a sexualized culture becoming more pornified by the day. But developments like we’ve witnessed in the case against Pornhub provide strategic jolts of hope that should spur us on to continue the good fight against this Goliath-like foe. The call for Christians, then, is to join this cosmic, spiritual battle, loading our metaphoric sling with stones and flinging them until the pornographic giant is finally felled. And, because we know that a life lived according to the flesh is an enslaved life leading to death, this battle is nothing less than a mission to set captives free, to introduce God’s image-bearers to life—abundant life. The stakes are high, but “the battle is the Lord’s” (1 Sam. 17:47).

Jordan Wootten

Jordan Wootten serves as a News and Culture Channel Editor at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and a writer/editor at RightNow Media. He's a board member at The LoveX2 Project, an organization seeking to make the world a better place for moms and babies. Jordan is a graduate of … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24