Watching porn is making you more religious

Forgive me father for I have sinned

There are many reasons to find porn problematic. Some people object to the objectification, or the exploitation; others think it’s just a bit seedy. And those who are religious often think it is sinful.

Strangely, though, a new study finds that watching a lot of porn can make people more religious. Researchers at the University of Oklahoma have written a paper titled “does Viewing Pornography Diminish Religiosity Over Time?” The team surveyed 1,314 people in 2006 and 2012 and found that while people who watched pornography were less religious than those who had never watched any, it also found that those who watched it regularly (at least once a week) tended to become more religious in that time than those who watched it less frequently (monthly, or less than that).

porn

It’s probably something to do with (not necessarily Catholic) guilt. Samuel Perry, the author of the report, argues that people who are “very religious, especially evangelical Christian men, often feel at war with themselves over their porn use,” which can lead them to “overestimate its effect on their own lives.” In other words, they may worry overly, and therefore look to religion more to assuage their guilt.

Other findings include the fact that subjects’ doubts about religion tended to increase when they watched porn more often, up until the point of watching a few times a week: at this point, the religious doubts declined. Again, Perry thinks this is about “guilt and shame”.

“We want to be the embodiment of the things we say we believe,” Perry told Broadly. “When we’re confronted with cognitive dissonance, we basically have one of two options to resolve the dissonance. We can change our behaviour, or we can change our beliefs and values. When it comes to pornography and religion, some religious porn users are successful at changing their behaviour, and they either use it less often or not at all. Others, however, rather than change their pornography use, just adjust their religious beliefs and values to be more consistent with what they’re living out.”

But those who watched porn the most at first, tended to end up praying more often and attending church more regularly than those who view pornography less regularly.  Perry thinks this is about “repentance”: trying to show that they are ‘sorry’ for what they’re doing.

More
The Tab