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Alarming Epidemic: 'Porn the Greatest Threat to the Cause of Christ'

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The digital age has made pornography more pervasive and available than ever before. People access porn on their smartphones and other devices at an alarming rate.

Research company Barna Group, released a landmark study this week, The Porn Phenomenon, on the views of pornography and its use by Americans. Josh McDowell Ministry commissioned the study. 

Christian author, evangelist and speaker Josh McDowell says the Church in America has a porn problem.

McDowell and some of the nation's top specialists are addressing the pervasive problem of Internet pornography in a four-day conference called the Set Free Summit in Greensboro, North Carolina, April 4-7.

CBN's Mark Martin spoke with McDowell by Skype to find out how the summit is going and what he hopes to accomplish. Click play to watch the interview. 

"I would personally say from all my knowledge now that pornography's probably the greatest threat to the cause of Christ in the history of the world," McDowell told CBN News. "It's that serious. While we're out trying to win the world through Christ -- pastors preaching to the community -- pornography is coming right in the back door."

McDowell said the Barna study showed the pornography epidemic is far worse than originally thought. Barna interviewed thousands of American teens, young adults and older adults and found the research showed a number of trends.

First, a moral ambiguity exists toward porn, especially among younger Americans. 

"Perhaps the most sobering finding from the study is the reality of how accepted viewing porn has become in our culture today, particularly among teens and young adults," Barna reported.

Fifty-four percent of adults 25 and older believe viewing porn is wrong. Only 32 percent of teens and young adults (13-24) say looking at porn is wrong. In addition, according to Barna, only one in 10 teens and one in 20 young adults say they talk with their friends about porn "in a disapproving way."

The second trend is that varied opinions exist as far as what is considered porn. The top five indicators for people "that something has crossed the line into porn" are:

  • It's sexually explicit (17 percent)
  • Displays sexual intercourse (16 percent)
  • Displays sexual acts (16 percent)
  • Is intended for arousal of viewer (15 percent)
  • Contains full nudity (11 percent)

The third disturbing trend Barna discovered is "one in three Americans seek out porn at least once a month."

The fourth trend -- "Age, gender and faith practice are the three biggest factors in frequent porn use." For example, two times as many male teenagers and young adults use pornography than female teens and young adults (67 percent compared to 33 percent).

Four times as many male adults 25 and older use porn than female adults in the same age category (47 percent to 12 percent). 

In addition, according to Barna, "practicing Christians are more than three times less likely to use porn than other teens and adults (13 percent compared to 42 percent)."

The fifth trend that the study discovered is "young adults use more porn -- and are less likely to say it's bad for society."

  • People aged 18-24 use porn most frequently.
  • 57 percent use porn either daily, weekly or monthly.
  • 37 percent of teens fall into that category, and
  • 29 percent of adults 25 and older use porn either daily, weekly or monthly. 

Young adults "are also the least likely to say that porn is very bad for society (14 percent)."  Twenty-four percent of Gen-Xers believe porn is very bad for society, and 37 percent of Baby Boomers believe that.

To learn more about the sobering trends related to porn in the digital age, click here.

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