Fight the New Drug and Religious Expectations: Are Religious Expectations the Problem?

Fight the New Drug
5 min readNov 17, 2020

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Although we have presented to Catholic, LDS, and other religious audiences, Fight the New Drug is not an LDS (Mormon) or Catholic organization, nor are we affiliated with any religion. We are strictly non-religious, and our organization does not associate with any faith or belief system. We take great care to ensure our presentations, content, messaging, and resources do not come from a religious or even moral perspective.

Critics of anti-pornography organizations sometimes say that so-called “porn problems” are not real, only perceived through the lens of a religious upbringing. They sometimes claim that porn itself is harmless, and the only reason consumers feel shame or guilt about viewing it is because they’ve been taught that doing so is morally wrong. In other words, from their perspective, it’s all about shame. If that were true, it could be assumed that people who identify as struggling with or addicted to porn aren’t really struggling or addicted. It must be all in their heads, solely because they are not meeting “religious” expectations. This is not true.

Though this is not true, even claims circulating on social media have supported this false notion, citing a couple of recent studies making the same claim — that porn addiction isn’t real, only perceived. Or that religiously devout people know porn goes against their values or belief system, so viewing it must be “bad.”

What’s Really Going On with Pornography Struggles and Religious Beliefs?

If the root of harmful effects resulting from consuming pornography comes from religious beliefs that give moral disapproval, then people without a religious affiliation (including agnostics and atheists) would be free from the struggles with porn. Right?

Wrong. It turns out that many types of people frequently experience unwanted compulsive patterns with their porn use. This even includes those who:

  • Do not proclaim any religious doctrinal beliefs
  • Did not have any sort of religious upbringing
  • Have no moral objections to porn

Take NoFap, for example. The NoFap online porn recovery community reports that of their international community:

  • 17% attend a religious service at least once a week
  • 8% have attended religious services less than once per year
  • 52% have never attended religious services
  • 20% are agnostic or apathetic when it comes to religion
  • 42% identify as atheist

This shows that anyone, regardless of religious affiliation, can struggle with compulsive porn issues. [1]

The Research about Compulsive Porn Use

Researchers have recently attempted to measure compulsive porn use by using questionnaires that evaluate the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional sides of addiction. [2]

The questions assess these three elements:

  1. Perceived Compulsivity: How much someone feels like they can’t stop viewing online pornography.
  2. Access Efforts: How much someone puts off more important priorities in order to continue consuming porn.
  3. Emotional Distress: How emotionally upset someone feels during/after they consume pornography.

What the Results Prove about Porn Struggles and Religion

Using the results from the questionnaires, researchers are now doing studies on the factors that predict a potential compulsive problem with porn (and which ones don’t, such as religiosity and moral disapproval).

The two main discoveries from the research show that:

  1. People who morally disapprove of pornography report higher emotional distress when using it. This isn’t surprising, as it goes against their value system (as does participating in anything else that goes against their beliefs).
  2. Moral disapproval has little impact on having a compulsive pornography habit someone has and wants to stop. In other words, having a religious background has very little to do with porn addiction because all groups (religious, less religious, non-religious) report having trouble stopping their porn habit.

No matter how you look at it, for the people who are most addicted to porn, their addiction has nothing to do with their level of religiosity. [3]

The claim that pornography addiction is just a religious problem is presented by the researcher Dr. Joshua Grubbs at Bowling Green State University. But his most recent findings contradict his prior findings.

Dr. Grubbs appraised his new data when he stated:

“In contrast to this prior work and to our pre-registered hypotheses, the present work consistently found that male gender and average daily use were the best predictors of self-identification as a pornography addict…among those who actually self-identify as addicted to pornography, pornography use was indeed quite elevated.” [4]

What’s the Bottom Line Between Porn, Fight the New Drug, and Religious Expectations?

Really, what it comes down to is that while moral disapproval (belief values) of pornography is connected to the emotional factor of its consumption, there simply isn’t a strong connection between the cognitive and behavioral factors of compulsively consuming it.

Fight the New Drug wants to point out that religious expectations — whether they be Catholic, Mormon, or any other religion’s expectations — or otherwise moral expectations do not simply explain how porn negatively impacts people’s lives. Speaking to this, Fight the New Drug does not use words like “bad” or “wrong” in resources that educate about the harmful effects of porn on individuals, relationships, and society, opting instead for language such as “healthy” and “unhealthy,” which is more clear and supported by scientific language. Even our well-known slogan, “porn kills love,” is not intended to shame anyone who is currently or has struggled with pornography.

Yes, all the cultures, contexts, and expectations we are surrounded by every day do play a substantial role in how we think about and conduct our lives. Just remember, the harmful effects of pornography do not discriminate against consumers who are religious, and people from all backgrounds are speaking out about how porn is negatively impacting their lives.

Fight the New Drug is not affiliated with any religious organizations. The harms of pornography can impact anyone regardless of their religious beliefs, so we seek to educate everyone regardless of any diversifying factor. The fact is decades of quality research studies from respected academic institutions have shown how pornography can harm our society and diminish the quality of consumers’ lives and their relationships.

It doesn’t matter who you are, religious or not—anyone can recognize that porn kills love. We invite you to consider these facts before consuming, regardless of your religious background.

Citations

[1] NoFap. (2012). The community. Retrieved from https://www.nofap.com/about/community/

[2] See Grubbs, J. B., Sessions, J., Wheeler, D. M., Volk, F. (2010). The Cyber-Pornography Use Inventory: The Development of a New Assessment Instrument. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 17, 106–126.

[3] See Fernandez, D. P., Tee, E. Y. J., & Fernandez, E. F. (2017). Do Cyber Pornography Use Inventory-9 Scores Reflect Actual Compulsivity in Internet Pornography Use? Exploring the Role of Abstinence Effort. Sexual Addiction, & Compulsivity, 24 (3), 156–179, DOI: 10.1080/10720162.2017.1344166

[4] Grubbs, J., Engelman, J., & Grant, J. T. (2017, December 8). Who’s a Porn Addict? Examining the Roles of Pornography Use, Religiousness, and Moral Incongruence. https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/S6JZF

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Fight the New Drug

Fight the New Drug exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects.