03-01-2019 07:36:35 PM -0800
02-28-2019 01:12:07 PM -0800
02-28-2019 08:28:27 AM -0800
02-27-2019 10:35:18 AM -0800
02-27-2019 08:26:44 AM -0800
It looks like you've previously blocked notifications. If you'd like to receive them, please update your browser permissions.
Desktop Notifications are  | 
Get instant alerts on your desktop.
Turn on desktop notifications?
Remind me later.
PJ Media encourages you to read our updated PRIVACY POLICY and COOKIE POLICY.
X


Barna Study: Shocking Number of Pastors Struggle With Porn

A new study from Barna Research Group about the state of pastors in America revealed that about one in five pastors struggles with addiction, and the most common form of addiction they struggle with is porn.

In "The State of Pastors: How Today's Faith Leaders Are Navigating Life and Leadership in an Age of Complexity," released Thursday, the Barna Group reported that 19 percent of pastors admitted to struggling with some form of addiction. Of those, 61 percent identified their addiction as "porn / sexual addiction."

But the problem gets worse. According to "The Porn Phenomenon," conducted by the Barna Research Group and commissioned by Josh McDowell Ministry, more than half of pastors (57 percent) and youth pastors (64 percent) admitted they have struggled with porn, either currently or in the past.

More than one in five youth pastors (21 percent) and more than one in eight pastors overall (14 percent) said that they currently struggle with porn. Twelve percent of youth pastors and 5 percent of pastors overall admitted they are addicted to porn. More than half (53 percent) of pastors said they know someone else in ministry who is struggling with porn use.

Most pastors who use porn (55 percent) said they live in constant fear of being discovered, and 87 percent said they feel a great sense of shame about it.

Among those who reported an addiction, 18 percent said they have not sought treatment or recovery. The majority (82 percent) have sought help, either from an accountability partner or group (60 percent), through adopting spiritual disciplines (51 percent), or through counseling (25 percent). Only 7 percent have used a 12-step program, and only 6 percent have used Celebrate Recovery.

Worse, the vast majority of faith leaders who struggle with porn say this has significantly affected their ministry in a negative manner — and youth pastors are twice as likely as pastors to report this kind of impact.

Interestingly, while addiction did not appear to be more common among those who rate high on Barna's metric of "burnout risk" (in the "State of Pastors" study), fear of disclosure did. The recent study said "there is a small but significant subset of pastors whose high stress levels are likely compounded by their isolated struggle with addiction."

While only 8 percent of pastors think a pastor should resign if he or she is struggling with porn, 41 percent of adult Christians overall think pastors found using porn should be fired or asked to resign. Pastors think church leaders struggling with pornography should use counseling or accountability. Young Christians are more likely than their elder counterparts to take a grace-focused approach to porn use among pastors.

The vast majority of the faith community (both pastors and laity) said pornography is a bigger problem in the church than it was two decades ago. More than half of youth pastors reported having at least one teen come to them for help in dealing with porn in the last 12 months. While most teens seeking help are boys, there is a significant amount of teen girls also approaching pastors about the issue.

Men of all ages, but especially married men, have come to pastors for help with struggles with porn. Unfortunately, however, most churches do not have programs to assist those struggling with this issue.

Barna reported that pornography is a struggle endemic in the church and in the broader culture. Men use porn more frequently than women, and twice as many male teens and young adults (67 percent) use it than female teens and young adults (33 percent). While practicing Christians (13 percent) are more than three times less likely to use porn than other teens and adults (42 percent) on a frequent basis, a surprisingly large number of Christians still use porn.

One major difference between Christians and non-Christians who use porn is that Christians are more likely to feel guilty about it. Practicing Christians (29 percent) were more likely than non-practicing Christians (12 percent) to feel guilty about using porn. Interestingly, racial minorities (24 percent) were more likely than whites (11 percent) to feel guilt, and conservatives (25 percent) were also more likely than liberals (13 percent) to do so.

This may seem like a small consolation, but the wider culture has become so lax on the issue that Christians are actually far ahead of the curve. Perhaps most shockingly, teens and young adults ranked "not recycling" as more morally wrong (56 percent) than viewing pornographic images (32 percent). Young people also viewed thinking negatively about someone with a different point of view (55 percent), overeating (48 percent), and significant consumption of electricity or water (38 percent) as more morally heinous than pornography.

Practicing Christians who seek out porn are twice as likely to say they'd like to stop (40 percent) than to say they'd like to use it less (21 percent). Among the general population of teens and young adults who seek out pornography, only 14 percent said they want to use porn less, while 18 percent would rather not use it at all.

Nevertheless, only 9 percent of the general population reported having tried and failed to stop using porn, while 16 percent of Christians said they also tried and failed. Another 9 percent said they are currently trying to stop using it, compared to 19 percent of practicing Christians.

While many pastors struggle with pornography, the recent Barna study found that pastors were much more satisfied with their marriages than American adults in general. Nearly three quarters of pastors (70 percent) reported an "excellent" marital relationship, compared to only 46 percent of adults. Only 3 percent of pastors described their relationship with spouses as "average," and only 1 percent described it as "poor," while 12 percent of American adults said they had an "average" marriage and 7 percent said their relationship was "below average" or "poor."

Pornography is an endemic problem in American society, and far too many Christians and pastors struggle with it as well. This research should prompt churches and religious leaders to develop programs to help parishioners — and Americans in general — in their quest to kick the habit.

But members of the church are not blameless. Whether or not we struggle with the issue ourselves, we should pray for our leaders, our fellow Christians, and our fellow Americans, that God will give us all the strength and conviction to stop using porn, and to speak out against it.