Home > Features > Removing discreet brown wrappers

Removing discreet brown wrappers

THE CONTEMPORARY church often quotes the experience of Jesus mixing with prostitutes and publicans.

Our denominational forebears directly engaged the personal moral debates of their day, yet churches today rarely discuss the impact of one of the fastest growing industries: pornography.

Uniting Church agencies hand out material on ethical investment at business seminars and on social welfare and justice at government and community conferences.

Imagine a church booth at the next sex industry ‘Sexpo’ in Brisbane?

Understanding Pornography in Australia was a three year research project that intended to produce factual information about pornography – how and by whom it is used in Australia.

The results indicated that consumption of pornography is widespread throughout the community.

This is not a men only issue. Women are increasing their use of pornography.

The research also indicated between 40 and 50 percent of church members’ households access or purchase pornography.

In July Journey the Queensland Moderator Rev Dr David Pitman commented on television’s impact on our values, attitudes and lifestyle.

What is the impact of the internet and the free availability of pornography?

It is almost impossible to ignore material that objectifies people, encourages lust, demeans sexual love and leaves thousands wracked by guilt and loneliness. Yet this subject is taboo in church.

The XXX Porn Church’s work began within the United States’ pornography industry, befriending many whose dreams of careers in television and the movies ended in an industry that now portrays itself as mainstream media.

Handing out Bibles labelled ‘Jesus Loves Porn Stars’ at the biggest pornography convention in America led to an invitation to attend a national award ceremony.

The XXX Porn Church grew to provide resources for churches prepared to discuss the impact of porn on individuals and relationships in congregations.

Founder Pastor Craig Gross describes addiction to pornography in the Church as our dirty little secret.

Speaking during a recent visit to Australia, Mr Gross told Journey, “A lot of people within this industry have become friends of ours. We don’t have to live or act like them but they’ve come to respect what we do.”

XXX Church has had its fair share of criticism mostly, according to one of its Pastors, JR Mahon, from denominational churches that either suspect its workers’ motives or prefer to rail against the porn industry from a distance.

“The adverse reactions came quick and came heavy, and to this day my inbox is filled with people that can’t stand us, that hate us, that wish us to go to hell,” Mr Mahon told ABC News last year.

“Our biggest critics are Christians.”

Mr Gross continues to get the XXX Church’s message to the church community.

“I get frustrated with groups in the United States that lobby and picket and send out letters saying, ‘Don’t visit these hotels because they sell pornography’.”

Mr Gross said some hotel chains make more money selling porn than they do by selling alcohol and food.

“Why not just tell our people not to buy it? If the church just stopped buying this stuff we’d put a huge dent in the business without pickets or protests.”

Mr Gross described the big-name magazines such as Penthouse and Playboy as ‘trainer-wheels porn’. Recent coverage of child pornography rings illustrate how widespread hard-core pornography has become.

“It’s always going to be available,” he said. “It’s going to be more available as years go by, but we have to decide that this isn’t what we want to put into our lives and stop consuming.

“It’s a problem that you can keep hidden for a long time. If you’re getting drunk or doing drugs, or you have a gambling problem and all the money’s gone there are visible signs.

“Porn addiction you can hide behind the pulpit, as an elder or a Sunday School teacher and think that nobody knows.

“But when this comes to the surface you’ve reached the end of Porn Boulevard and that can take years,” said Mr Gross.

“Take Ted Haggard, president of the Christian Evangelical Network in the United States. His problem came out last year.

"That’s the end, but it has stemmed from years of secrecy and addiction. Pastors and leaders are not immune to this.

“We’ve seen great things happen when you simply say that your church is a safe place to talk about this. The easy part is actually mentioning porn in a service.

“The hard part comes Monday when the phone calls come and you never thought that person was struggling with this.

“Even if you’re clueless about the Internet, we all ‘get’ this. We’ve all typed in a wrong address, checked our email and found porn. People understand what’s going on today.”

Pornography stats:

Authors of The Porn Report, Professor Alan McKee of QUT and UNSW’s Katherine Albury and Catharine Lumby interviewed more than 1000 consumers of pornography.

Since 1996 research shows the proportion of women pornography users has risen to 17%.

16 of the 50 top selling X-Rated DVDs were marketed to women or couples.

Only 17% of consumers of pornography felt it had a negative effect.

Queensland and Western Australia consume more pornography per head than any other state or territory.

The profile of a typical user is: Male, heterosexual, under 35, bringing home $40 000, suburban, religious – probably Christian and in a monogamous relationship.

More information about the XXX Porn Church’s work is available at www.journeyonline.com.au.
Since being uploaded to JourneyOnline in July 2006, the story ‘Christian XXX Web site targeting porn industry stirs controversy’ has had almost 7700 hits. The next most popular story on JourneyOnline has had 4600 hits.