Studies Show That Conservative Christians Have a Porn Problem … But Not the One You Think

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including “The Prayer Wheel” (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and “The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church” (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.


Conservative Christians in the United States have a pornography problem, though it may not be the problem you think.

It’s not that they’re all secretly using porn, at higher rates than average. According to a recent sociological study published by Oxford University Press, conservative Christians—the catch-all name that author Samuel L. Perry uses to describe evangelicals with certain key theological beliefs—don’t actually use porn as often as other Americans do.

Yes, their porn use has risen over time, and that increase has caused significant hand-wringing in the church. (More on that in a moment.) But according to several decades of General Social Survey data, conservative Christian men’s porn consumption has risen at almost exactly the same rate as other American men over the same time period. And since Christians’ porn usage was lower to start with, it’s still lower.

What’s more, the most committed Christian men — the ones who say they have had a born-again experience or have tried to convert someone else to the faith – have even lower rates than conservative Christians as a whole, and these super-Christians’ consumption does not seem to be increasing over time.

As Prof. Perry puts it in Addicted to Lust: Pornography in the Lives of Conservative Protestants, “This suggests that, unlike those who simply affiliate with a fundamentalist or an evangelical denomination, conservative Protestant men for whom their faith is more meaningful and authoritative seem to be resisting the growing trend among American men to view porn, even in the midst of the internet revolution.” (And no, it’s not from underreporting due to a social desirability bias, as the book takes pains to explain.)

So, that’s the good news, which happens in the first 30 pages or so of Perry’s well-written, accessible and meticulously researched book.

So . . . what’s the problem?

There are several. Drawing on numerous studies, Perry finds that:

Click here to read more.
Source: Religion News Service