Just a short while ago, I sat in a packed room to watch the documentary Over 18. The film was made by Jared and Michelle Brock of the anti-human sex-trafficking organization Hope for the Sold. In the film, they attempt to educate Canadians on the rampant reality of pornography and bring awareness to their fight for meaningful age verification on pornographic websites in Canada. As a guy who loves films, I found it not only informative and compelling, but plainly well done.
You Think You’ve Been Shocked Already
As I reflect on the documentary, I can’t help but remember how shocking it was. Not in rudeness or content (there was no pornography in it), but in what was revealed.
Think for a second about just how accessible pornography is right now. Whether you are a curious child or an addict trying not to relapse, you are made vulnerable by having unlimited and unrestricted access through devices from laptops to smartphones – quite literally in the palm of your hand!
With this scary reality in mind, Jared and Michelle hope to see “meaningful age verification” required for all pornographic websites in Canada. In a similar way to gambling sites, users would be required to submit a real credit card in order to access the site.
In other words, this isn’t the nonsensical “You must be 18 to access this site” button that some websites now have. You would legitimately have to input a credit card into the system before gaining access. Presumably, this could significantly hamper accessibility to strong pornographic online content, since children can’t have a credit card until they are of age. It may not completely stop those who really want to find it, but as a minimum it would prevent them from stumbling onto sites containing pornography. A few sites have already said they would be more than happy to comply if a meaningful age verification law passes in Canada.
This is a Spiritual Issue
Even though there were some new shocks to me, most of what I saw in Over 18 was old news. It’s old because porn has been around for years and years, ruined marriages, addicted so many, and changed the sexual culture of our world for the worse. People have been predicting these outcomes and trying to fight pornography for a long time, many of them Christians who take seriously God’s call to sexual purity: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor” (1 Thess. 4:3).
Importantly, I’m reminded that before this is a practical or mental issue, it is first a spiritual one.
Admittedly, I have been disappointed by the local churches I’ve been a part of and their lack of openness and discussion about sex-related issues. But instead of complaining (which I’m really good at), I’m now trying to help create a culture in my own church where these issues are talked about more openly and a biblical view and practice of sexuality is sought after. It’s not something that will happen overnight, nor is it something that everyone will be open to. But I firmly believe it is necessary in order for we, the Church, to pursue purity together!
Perhaps an exercise will be helpful for you as you think about how you can make an impact for the better. Imagine the transformative possibilities as we have discussion about pornography and sexuality not only in our churches but in our campus ministries. We could educate ourselves and others and prepare for adult life and parenthood knowing the dangers and ease of access of pornography. We could prepare one another and our peers for online accountability, create helpful software, programs or content, and be ready for fighting the good fight of faith in a concrete way. We could also raise awareness of the issues pornography has brought with it, have opportunities to share about the sacredness of sexuality in the gospel, and all the while transform our world with the fulcrum that is the University!
And most important of all, we could leverage our new awareness with specific and Spirit-dependent prayer, knowing that if any real, good, and lasting change is going to happen, it is going to happen because of God.
This Is Relevant To You
We have all been affected by pornography, either directly or indirectly. Addiction is even rampant among young kids, whether we see it or not. One of the shocking points in the film is when we find out that the nine year old boy we had been following had been viewing pornography just across the room from his mother on a laptop!
The testimonies of several men in the film were quite compelling, and give us hope. One guy was very vulnerable about a certain point in his life. He shared how after years of porn use he couldn’t even have real sex with a woman. His use of pornography had trained him to be aroused through images on a screen – not in the real way with a woman.
Perhaps you see yourself in some of these stories, either as someone who has hurt or been hurt. You may have fallen into temptation through this ease of access. Perhaps you even stumbled upon pornography by accident – and you wish it had never been so easy to be hooked for so long. Imagine if we could safeguard others from that same ease of access? Imagine if we could help keep even a few lives from early exposure – what change and impact could that have?
We all have responsibility, knowing what we know now and seeing the growing evidence for the problems that pornography is bringing. What exactly your part to play in it might be, I’m not sure. For now, I encourage you to check out Over 18. Even if you don’t have the opportunity to view the film, it would be wise to inform yourself in other ways, such as with the free resources that Covenant Eyes or the Over 18 Project site has. If you find yourself in support of meaningful age verification, communicating this to your MP could go a long way over the next little while!
Finally, I hope you feel the need to pray for our world and for our government and for our youth. The porn epidemic is very real, and we know that it is ultimately a spiritual battle we will be fighting. By God’s grace, then, would we and those we influence be holy… as our Father in heaven is holy.
Written by Corey Sleep