A study, The Effects of Pornography published last month by the Family Research Council claims that pornography “is a major threat to marriage, to family, to children and to individual happiness.” Studies like this often claim pornography is addictive and the cause of failed relationships but rarely does it mention that treating addiction to would curb ones abuse of pornography. I don’t doubt that if someone spends long periods of time away from their family watching pornography it will have a negative impact on relationships. But the mere existence of pornography doesn’t explain why relationships fall apart. Relationships also deteriorate if someone is addicted to drugs, alcohol, shopping, work, gambling, and food. Should we ban these things from society? Addictions are tricky, elusive and not easily defined. It is puzzling why one person can have a glass a wine and someone else needs to drink an entire bottle. Or why some can recreationally or therapeutically use pornography without a problem and others can not. The degrees of addiction are still being discovered. A person’s inability to have insight about their problems or access to appropriate treatment services here in lies our greatest challenge.
Addiction is a serious undertreated problem in this country. Addiction to drugs alone afflicts more that 25 million people . Although free self-help groups are a critical resources to help people with addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, overeating and pornography, access to professional treatment for addictions is difficult for the under insured and uninsured. These services are also chronically underfunded.
So instead of blaming the destruction of marriage and relationships on the existence of pornography we should take a harder look at the addiction aspect of this debate. Let’s raise awareness and not stigmatize those who seek help, assist people to get access to treatment and stop blaming the “IT” and start recognizing the totality of the problem in failed and unhealthy relationships.