Two Christian psychologists call internet sex addiction a "global epidemic" in a new book.
In Behind Closed Doors, Robert. J. Baird and Ronald Vanderbeck look at Christians addicted to internet pornography, but the two authors fail to fully discern the difference between addictive behavior and moderate use, whether it's web porn, alcohol or simply occasional overindulgence in eating.
Both have advised a number of churches and community groups on sex-related issues, taking a clear anti-porn stance overall, which is hardly surprising. A good part of the book is based on stories that have come out of the pair's various counseling sessions with ministers and their flocks. Other topics are also addressed, such as the cycle of sexual abuse and protecting children from internet predators. But the main thrust is addiction to web porn.
“We see this as a global epidemic that is not going to go away,” Baird told ChristianPost.com. “We are trying to rally the faith community across denominational lines to work together and combat this dark side of things with useful and real information."
"We live in a highly sexualized culture and are conditioned to believe that sexual potency should be a primary function of our lifestyle,” Vanderbeck told the website. “Sex on the internet is like a drug. It is a very seductive process and people can become enslaved by it.”
Baird did quote a revealing statistic: More than 35 percent of the Protestant pastors he was able to include in a study for his Ph.D. thesis on the topic said they have used internet pornography.
Other surveys mentioned included a 2002 report by Pastors.com, in which 54 percent of pastors interviewed admitted they viewed porn within the past year, and a 2000 survey by Christianity Today, in which 35 percent of pastors said avoiding pornography is a "current personal struggle."
"They are not immune and are particularly at risk, since they often work on their computers and are unaccountable for their time,” Baird said.
To their credit, Baird and Vanderbeck do address the fact that everything for a family begins in the home, not in church.
"Often out of a strong sense of shame, parents aren’t willing or able to talk openly and lovingly and in a kind way about this problem to their children.," Vanderbeck said. "Partly what we are doing is trying to open up a dialogue between parents and children.