"The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith."

Pornography is a global, escalating epidemic—one of the major health and social crises of our day.

When it affects people who also have strong spiritual beliefs, the resulting struggle is often very painful. Understanding the crisis and realizing that no one is immune from its effects brings hope and frees people to seek solutions:

… Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 213.

Internet pornography is a phenomenon that has grown over the past two decades, and has quietly infiltrated into homes and minds around the world. Over time, people have become desensitized to the growing intensity and influence of porn. Consequently, behaviors commonly seen in porn are now glamorized in art, music, television, movies, games, books, magazines, comedy, beauty and fashion styles, and other forms of expression.

While many people promote and support pornography as positive and even harmless, others are awakening to the wide-spread harmful effects of this global epidemic. Countless individuals are living with the torment of addiction and isolation, marriages and families are falling apart as a direct result of pornography, and young people are struggling to engage in healthy dating and mating.

Porn is having a large impact on our younger generations. Research is beginning to raise serious concerns. Children and teens are viewing staggeringly high numbers of electronic pornographic images, and their developing brains are highly susceptible to addiction. North American children as young as 8 have been identified as “problem users.” Exposure throughout adolescence is harmful to sexual development and functioning, as well as the understanding of healthy relationships. Of particular concern is how porn affects adolescent brain development during puberty.

There is growing scientific data about the effects that high speed pornography has on the brain. Most simply put, the brain’s neurons “fire together and wire together.” Regular porn use over time rewires the arousal pathways in the brain. It triggers the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that gives us a feeling of exciting pleasure. The more often one watches porn and gets the dopamine hit, along with sexual arousal, the more that activity becomes wired into the brain.

There is a growing trend of erectile problems, in men of all ages, as the brain wires sexual arousal and connects it to porn and masturbation rather than to a live sexual partner. In addition, porn-informed sexual attitudes and preferences tend to cause disunity in the bedroom. These powerful effects of pornography are profoundly impacting the sexual well-being and relationships of men and the women they partner with.

While acceptance of porn may begin with a level of innocence (“It’s just a guy-thing” or “What can be so bad about spicing things up in the bedroom?”), frequent porn users can find themselves eventually watching images that were previously upsetting or disturbing. This is due to a developing “tolerance,” which means that more of a given stimulant (more intense, hard-core and violent porn) is needed to release the same amount of dopamine. The wider social effect is a demand for porn that is increasingly violent, degrading, or socially unacceptable, due to the intensified chemical response that is produced and needed.  

Pornography use is often viewed as a personal moral failure. Anger, contempt, and disdain are often directed at the one who has been “caught,” and the user experiences deeper shaming. It is far more helpful instead to understand and appreciate that countless people have been emotionally lured and sexually wounded by the powerful world of internet porn. Recognizing its high-impact, addiction-causing nature allows both users and non-users to take a compassionate approach in addressing it.

A first step towards healthier sexuality is to begin by having non-judgmental, honest, and curious conversations about how pornography is shaping our culture and the effect on people of all ages.  

If you, or someone you care about is grappling with the effects of pornography, here are some ideas and steps to take:

  • Know that you are not alone in having sexual challenges and struggles
  • Realize that recovery from the effects of pornography is possible, including healing of the brain
  • Recognize that everyone has been impacted, to some degree, by unhealthy sexual messaging
  • Make a personal decision to discover what sexual well-being means for you
  • Begin sharing honestly with a trusted person (this could be a family member, friend, or professional)
  • Educate yourself about the effects of porn (see: fightthenewdrug.org)
  • Have compassionate conversations in your family about healthy sexuality and relationships and the challenges that we face
  • Don’t be alone with this issue if you are struggling; Do find help and support.

We are going through a profound social upheaval and shift towards sexual equality, and a rapidly declining tolerance for abuse. This crisis is creating a golden opportunity for us to move into a new era of sexual healing and maturity, as well as personal spiritual freedom.   

It is the souls that are in pain who will be motivated to make change. It is the ones who are yearning to be free from distorted and addictive sexuality who will seek out help for healing. Couples who are fed up with the emotional and physical disconnect in their marriage will learn to turn towards each other to create authentic emotional and sexual connection. Youth who see the truth about porn will stand for sexual equality and respectful love.  

When we consider that humanity is spiritually and socially progressing towards maturity, we can see that our collective sexual maturation is a vitally important aspect of this process. The many examples of sexual violence, pain, and suffering that exist today are areas of darkness that light has not yet reached. Looking with a spiritual eye, we are encouraged to face these difficult and complex issues with hope and determination.

Addressing the effects of Internet porn is crucial at this time. Beginning with ourselves, Baha’u’llah calls on us to discern:

… man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty … – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 35.

He speaks to us of our true nature and destiny:

O Son of Spirit! Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 9.

Abdu’l-Baha promised that: “Thy generous Lord will … forgive thy sins and transform them into goodly deeds.”Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 164.

59 Comments

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  • William Bender
    Mar 19, 2018
    This article is wonderful and healing! Such educated and kind approaches to social problems such as this are powerful. i am grateful for this article.
  • Mark James
    Feb 15, 2018
    Please I need help in dealing with porn too. Everyday I feel pained about what I am doing, but keep going back, even after crying to God for forgiveness. mark4reak89@yahoo.com
  • Lukman Michelangelo Whiteman
    Feb 15, 2018
    I really need help, am so much in love with pornographic videos. Please i want God Almighty to arrest my soul to show me the right thing to do. This is my ricksonkadia@gmail.com
  • Ed Eguaikhide
    Feb 13, 2018
    I need help too please....this is my email: eguaikhidee@gmail.com
  • Aliyu Maidume
    Feb 11, 2018
    May Allah guide us on right path, amin
  • Fiks Fiks
    Feb 11, 2018
    How do one get help...
  • Leslie K Ahmed Nawurah
    Feb 11, 2018
    I'm addicted to porn and I am struggling to overcome this evil situation, anytime I take my phone something tells me to porn site. Please I really need your help and I can tell for a fact that I know many young people who are also addicted to it. I am ready to forgo this bad behaviour and also help others to overcome this menace. Please waiting to hear from you soon.
    • Charllypraiz Chebe
      Feb 14, 2018
      2cor 5:17 this will help,I was a victim before but now I'm a victor.You need to take charge of your mind, renew it and don't be alone at all time.God bless you bro
    • Briton MrGodsent Marrett
      Feb 12, 2018
      Hey bro, I was too and I realized that only God could've help me. I realized that I needed to let this bad habit go and I cried unto Jesus Christ and He sent me to Romans 6, the Bible. I'm not indoctrination you nor am I imposing my belief on you, but that was the way I got over my unhealthy habit. Even to this day I am trying to maintain sexual purity, it's a challenge owing to the fact that in this world my flesh is being fed daily and so I know that I have to feed ...myself with more positive and Godly scriptures. God bless you, I will be praying for you man.
      Read more...
  • Zaria Nathan
    Feb 10, 2018
    Am happy that others are feeling the same way I am feeling. Me and my team at Abstainers' League have been doing our best. It will be an honor working with you. Ride on.
  • Davin S Umar
    Feb 09, 2018
    I need a serious advice pliz that's my Email ssempewodavinumar@gmail.com hope to hear from you soon
  • Kayode Hungbo
    Feb 07, 2018
    This is so true.. God help us all