Try to name three recent movies that did not have a romance story in the plot. Could you do it? I couldn’t. The media feeds us the lie that we need a man to complete us. During seasons of isolation, watching rom coms do not help with our loneliness and actually, can cause us to watch more pornography.
When I was a college student, I struggled with pornography and loneliness in singleness. I can imagine those struggles would be harder for present-day college students to walk through because of the isolation in online classes, remote learning, and working from home. It’s exhausting and triggering.
As a sophomore, I broke up with my boyfriend and felt extremely lonely. I spent my nights binge-watching Netflix, looking at porn and habitually masturbating, and my days eating ice cream on the couch. None of my coping mechanisms helped with my negative thoughts and feelings. Fed up with my life, I decided to try giving up romantic comedies for a whole month. I quickly learned that not only romantic comedies, but most movies and TV shows, had a romance plotline. And almost all of those plots included sex scenes.
When I was s a fifth grader, my friend opened my laptop and introduced me to pornography. At the time, I didn’t know what pornography was, but I did know that it was something new and exciting. Years would go by before I rediscovered porn.
In college, after experiencing date rape (my first time having intercourse), I had many questions about sex. My curiosity led me to my reliable friend, Google. As I began typing in my questions about sex, I was intrigued. “So this is what sex is supposed to look like.” I truly believed that…
As someone who serves in ministry with my own history of struggling with pornography, women often pour out their stories to me with a sigh of relief. While sitting on my living room couch, Jessica shared her struggle with porn:
I was exposed to pornography as a first grader by a childhood friend. I had no idea the lasting effects it would have on me as I got older. While I didn’t understand what it was or why it was bad, I innately felt that it was wrong—that alone filled me with shame. Shame followed me through my life until, for the first time, I heard another woman share that she struggled with it too. That defeated the biggest lie I was believed: that I was in this alone.
There are many women in your church who have similar stories to Jessica. Some may sit next to you on a Sunday and others may be leading Bible studies—they all worry that someone will find out about their secret. I’ve had women from across the spectrum confess their struggle to me, from new believing college students to experienced church leaders. Sadly, the influence of porn in the church is almost as dominant as it is in the world.
I first saw porn in fifth grade. I remember the day like it was yesterday. My friend and I just got back from basketball camp and went up to my room to play. I had a small Dell laptop sitting on my desk and my friend said, “Let me show you something.” She pulled up images and at the time, I had no idea this was porn. I had never heard of pornography before. But in the moment, I felt weird.
I felt like we shouldn’t be looking at this. I remember making sure my bedroom door was shut so my parents wouldn’t know what we were doing. After this incident, I wouldn’t look at porn again until college, but I believe it awakened a part of my sexuality.
“Just don’t do it.”
Growing up, I went to church, but my memories of conversations about sex in a church setting are very minimal. As a middle schooler, my parents sent me to a weekend conference where I sat in a circle with other students and we repeated the words “penis” and “vagina.” Parents were encouraged to sit in on the groups and I remember my dad standing up and saying, “I can’t do this,” as he walked away.