What you should know about women and pornography

September 20, 2018

Pornography is a growing epidemic with men our society, yet the women who battle pornogrophy are largely invisible. Regrettably, the silence from the church concerning this widespread problem has affected the dignity, intimacy, and community of many Christian women. With the desire to speak truth and raise awareness to this this relevant issue, here are a few things you should know:  

Statistics about women and pornography  

There are few comprehensive pornography studies on women, and very little research is solely on Christian women. Researchers studying pornography conclude that the numbers observed among women in statistics like those below are climbing higher.

The neurochemical effect of pornography

When a person uses pornography, two dominant chemicals are released: phenylethylamine (PEA) and adrenaline. Fused together, these two chemicals forge an intoxicating sensation which overpowers the pleasure of both oxytocin and endorphins. The neurochemical climax released during pornographic ecstasy mirrors the brain activity of a person on crack cocaine. In Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Initimacy, and the Longing of a Woman’s Heart, Juli Slattery and Dannah K. Gresh state, “The problem is that PEA and adrenaline will only reappear as sexual experiences continue to be new, exciting, and sometimes even dangerous.”  

A 2007 study out of Germany found that “sexual compulsion can cause physical, anatomic change in the brain, the hallmark of brain addiction.”[1] Over time, the “sex” filter created during pornography gradually alters the way a woman thinks and views her own sexuality. As William M. Struthers stated in Wired for Intimacy, “Pornography is the consumption of sexual poison that becomes part of the fabric of the mind.”  

Some of the reasons women are addicted to pornography  

The body and soul of a woman are interlaced. When the body suffers, the soul suffers.  Commonly women, particularly young women within the church, are taught that their bodies are a stumbling block. Lacking a holistic understanding of their sexuality, Christian women experience shame and are confused about how to spiritually process their sexual desires. Consequently, secular culture has been eagerly educating Christian women about sexuality, because church has not taken the opportunity to help women understand God’s design for sexuality. Silence about these issues allows women to plunge deeper into addiction. Sexual repression released through pornography becomes an outlet of emotional satisfaction and sexual gratification.

Pornography is particularly enticing for Christian women because it alleviates sexual urges which are commonly suppressed and unaddressed.

A myriad of reasons can lead to women watching pornography, such as curiosity, loneliness, boredom, rejection, stress, dissatisfaction, curiosity, comfort, connection, or to escape from reality. Pornography seduces with promises that call the longings of a woman’s heart. Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery in Pulling Back the Shades identify what they believe to be a “woman’s five longings” satisfied in fantasy and pornography: “to escape reality, to be cherished, to be protected, to rescue and to be sexually alive.”  

Sexual fulfillment through pornography for women can be a way to be understood, to seek pleasure, or to escape pain. Pornography is particularly enticing for Christian women because it alleviates sexual urges which are commonly suppressed and unaddressed. In her book, No Stones: Women Redeemed for Sexual Addiction, Marnie Ferree argues that “women often view porn featuring other women because they want to compare themselves to the images, not necessarily because they’re attracted to the same sex.”  

Pornography seduces with promises that call the longings of a woman’s heart. “Our hearts,” as James K. A. Smith put it in You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, “are designed to find their end in Him.”  

Pornography twists truth  

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis states that “there must be something good before it can be spoiled.” God intended sex to be pleasurable. Biblically, the purpose of sex is to serve your lover selflessly in marriage as Christ loved the church. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25).  Sex represents the spiritual, one-flesh union and God’s appointed means for procreation (Gen. 2:24).  

Pornography is a hollow imitation of the good. It strips a person of the fulfillment of true sex and a genuine relational bond. Pornography is alluring because it calls to natural passions and promises easy gratification. It’s easier to please oneself than serve another. Yet, beneath the surface of bliss are lethal lies. Just as the serpent in the Garden of Eden beckoned Eve, claiming God was withholding his best from her, Satan beckons through pornography with the lie that God wants to withhold pleasure.  

Pornography is Satan’s tool purposed to poison God’s covenant of intimacy and love with his beloved. In Confessions, Augustine states “. . . the soul defiles itself with unchaste love when it turns away from you and looks elsewhere for things which it cannot find pure and unsullied expect by returning to you. All who desert you and set themselves up against you merely copy you in a perverse way; but by this very act of imitation they only show that you are the Creator of all nature . . .”  

Personal and relational effects of pornography  

Pornography is a closet sin of Christian women which brings a downpour of shame. Women experience confusion about their sexual urges and wrestle with their identity when they become addicted to pornography. This confusion breeds crippling isolation because no one shares their struggle. Speaking out would mean being ostracized. Guilt suffocates a woman's confidence, attitude, motivation, and ultimately drives women to doubt their salvation. Tragically according to one recent study, women actually experience shame double the rate of men. This suppression of shame is causing the number of female pornography addicts to increase. As a woman develops a pornography addiction, pornography can become preferable to the act of sex itself.  

The church’s response  

For decades, lust has exclusively been a “man’s battle.” This myth has resulted in a lack of community for struggling women. While men often struggle with other brothers to reign in their sex drives through accountability groups, women struggle alone and are left without accountability. There is no safe haven to discuss “R” rated temptation, especially not masturbation. Women who do speak out on pornography are anomalies and “come out” of the Christian community closet.  

In his book, Desiring God, John Piper stated, “Sex is God's idea and his good gift to be properly stewarded within his design. . . . the church should be the most pro-sex group there is. We have a message of hope and redemption in the morass of sexual confusion.” By not addressing socially relevant, taboo subjects, such as lust, porn on social media, Netflix, masturbation, and lesbian attraction, the church has failed to teach truth tenaciously.  

The Christian community could effectively respond to this issue by becoming more educated on the subject and speaking truth boldly concerning sexuality. There is no easy solution yet we can create a culture of light, living out joy and giving hope. The risk at stake in pornography is incalculable. Years of silence have given pornography the upper hand in the spiritual chess game for the hearts and souls of women and men. It is our obligation to shatter the silence with truth.  

Join the ERLC in Dallas on October 11-13 for the Cross-Shaped Family. This conference is designed to equip families to see that all of our family stories are shaped by the ultimate story of our lives, the gospel. Speakers include Russell Moore, Jen Wilkin, Matt Chandler, Eric Mason, Ray Ortlund, Beth Moore, Jamie Ivey, and many more. Register to attend today!


  1. ^ Miner MH, Raymond N, Mueller BA, Lloyd M, Lim KO Psychiatry Res. 2009 Nov 30; 174(2):146-51.

Mikayla Simpson

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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