A new study on the effects of pornography indicates that it erodes the family, corrupts men’s sense of normal sexuality and is frequently a major factor in most divorces. The author of the study characterized pornography as “a quiet family killer.”
The study, titled “The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family and Community,” was authored by Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D, who is a trained psychologist and a former Deputy Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary. He is also Director of the Center for Research on Marriage and Religion at the Family Research Council (FRC), which produced the study.
The study reports that men who regularly view pornography have a higher tolerance for abnormal sexuality, including rape, sexual aggression and sexual promiscuity.
Married men involved in pornography report feeling less satisfied with their marital relations and less emotionally attached to their wives, the study says. It also notes that men who regularly use pornography or women who engage in “cybersex” show increased infidelity.
Researcher Steven Stack of Wayne State University led a study which indicated pornography use more than triples the rate of marital infidelity.
The FRC study says pornography users “increasingly see the institution of marriage as sexually confining, have diminished belief in the importance of marital faithfulness, and have increasing doubts about the value of marriage as an essential social institution and further doubts about its future viability.
“All this naturally diminishes the importance for them of having good family relations in their own families.”
According to the study, a survey of divorce lawyers found that 68 percent of divorce cases involved one party meeting a new paramour over the internet while 56 percent involved one party having an “obsessive interest” in pornographic websites.
Pornography encourages greater sexual permissiveness, leading to a greater risk of out-of-wedlock births and sexually transmitted diseases, the study says. Severe clinical depression was also reported twice as frequently among internet pornography users compared to non-users.
Pornography on the internet also has major affects on adolescents. A reported 70 percent of youth aged 15-17 have come across pornography accidentally while online. The youth did not disclose such incidents to anyone almost half the time. Those who accidentally encountered such images were more than 2.5 times more likely to intentionally seek it out than those never exposed.
While adolescents initially experience shame, embarrassment and disgust at pornography, these feelings recede with repeated exposure.
Teens are more likely to view pornography if they have high levels of computer use, fast internet connections, personal dissatisfaction, younger friends or a sensation-seeking personality.
Adolescents who watch the most explicit sexual content available on television doubled the likelihood that they would initiate sexual intercourse, an action with long-lasting consequences. Studies indicate that marital stability in later life decreases as the number of pre-marital sexual partners increases.
Dr. Fagan discussed the study in an FRC statement announcing its release.
“This is a ground-breaking review of what pornography costs families trying to create a life together. Men, women and sometimes even children are saturated by sexual content, and more significantly, are told that it has no real effect. It's just a little amusement,” Fagan said.
"Pornography corrodes the conscience, promotes distrust between husbands and wives and debases untold thousands of young women. It is not harmless escapism but relational and emotional poison.”
Fagan said that although the steady drop in marriage rates is well known, the impact of pornography on marriage has been little discussed.
“The data show that as pornography sales increase, the marriage rate drops,” he reported.
The decline in the family especially affects children without married parents. These children have much higher poverty rates, poorer health and other socio-economic problems.
“And underlying the social trends is the impact of pornography on family formation. It's a quiet family killer," Fagan wrote.