the shape of leadership

Record 43 Percent of Americans Find Pornography Morally Acceptable

Growing approval among young men and unmarried adults

A record 43 percent of U.S. adults say pornography is morally acceptable, according to a recent Gallup poll.

This represents a 7 percentage point increase from last year’s figure (36 percent) and the highest share since Gallup started conducting annual polling on the question in 2011.

Additionally, acceptance of pornography has increased more than any of the other 16 moral issues Gallup has tracked since 2011. (These 16 issues range from gay relations and sex outside of marriage to gambling and abortion.)

Attitudes among unmarried adults regarding pornography have changed significantly over the past 12 months, with 50 percent now calling pornography morally acceptable, compared to 35 percent in 2017. There was also a 14-point rise in pornography acceptance among males aged 18 to 49 — from 53 in 2017 to 67 percent today.

Overall, male acceptance of pornography grew by 8 points (from 45 in 2017 to 53 percent in 2018), while female approval rose by 5 points (from 27 in 2017 to 32 percent in 2018).

Among respondents aged 18 to 34, pornography acceptance increased from just under half of the young adult population (48 percent) in 2017 to about 6 in 10 (59 percent) during 2018.

Among the 16 moral issues Gallup has tracked since 2011, acceptance of pornography has increased the most.

While those who say religion is very important are the least likely to find pornography morally acceptable, even that demographic migrated 6 points — with 22 percent now accepting pornography, compared to 16 percent one year ago.

For the first time on record, more than half of all Democrats (53 percent) now find pornography morally acceptable — a figure that has grown by 21 points since 2011 and 11 points since 2017. Meanwhile, 27 percent of Republicans say pornography is morally acceptable, compared to 16 in 2011 and 25 percent in 2017.

Sandra Morgan, director of the Global Center for Women and Justice at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California, says this is a troubling trend, especially considering the insidious and exploitative nature of the sex industry.

“As our society normalizes sexual exploitation through pornography, it will drive demand for more sex trafficking as well as increase domestic violence and sexual abuse of children,” Morgan says. “Demand will increase for newer and more explicit content.

“The production of pornography exploits very young victims who are recruited to fulfill the demand for more youthfulness, with the promise of becoming stars. Normalizing pornographic narratives brings the violence and degradation into the bedroom and changes what passes as morally acceptable.”

Church leaders must address this issue, warning people of pornography’s dangers and offering help for those who are struggling with porn addictions.

Like Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount, the Church must clearly articulate the gravity of this sin: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:27-29).


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