commentary: America's Number One Addiction
Right in the Home
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Given 11-Feb-12; Sermon #1087c; 9 minutes
America is addicted to pornography, an addiction claiming twenty-two million Americans (with surprisingly one-sixth of addicts being female). These pornography enterprises generate an estimated revenue of fourteen billion dollars a year, eclipsing the revenue produced by all athletic activities combined. Worldwide pornographic sales take in ninety-six billion dollars of revenue annually. Major hotels such as the Sheraton and the Hilton freely offer pornographic movies which are eagerly devoured by "respectable guests." Pornography destroys intimacy and objectifies the sexual partner. Pornography turns sex into an animalistic, mechanical, self-gratifying act, destroying real, wholesome love.
I'd like to begin in Jeremiah 2 and read a few verses:
Jeremiah 2:21-24 Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. How then have you turned before Me into the degenerate plant of an alien vine? For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before Me,” says the Lord GOD. “How can you say, ‘I am not polluted, I have not gone after the Baals’? See your way in the valley; know what you have done: You are a swift dromedary breaking loose in her ways, a wild donkey used to the wilderness, that sniffs at the wind in her desire; in her time of mating, who can turn her away? All those who seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they will find her.
I wonder if you know what America's most socially- and financially-costly, number one addiction is. Whatever it is, it wreaks social havoc by destroying family life as surely as a cancer does unseen within its victim. Is it alcohol? How about the much-talked-about cocaine, heroin, meth or marijuana addictions? These are addictions we hear of virtually every day, but none of them qualify. How about shopping, going to the movies, or drinking coffee or tea? It is none of them, either.
I'll give you a clue that might help. It is something that one does not even have to leave one's home to participate in. Another clue is that those who delve into this addiction say that it has suffered a small decline in the USA last year or so. But they say the decline may be a bit misleading because the purveying of this product may simply be spread among more sellers and is thus more difficult to track.
The addiction is to pornography. How many people are addicted to it is difficult to estimate, but the book Porn Nation, by Michael Leahy, says that around 22 million Americans are truly addicted, and that one of six of those addicts are women. However, every third person accessing a porn site is female.
The money trail is easier to track in total, and if money spent on it is any indication, it has earned the reputation as America's number one addiction. We seemingly spend money on it by the barrels full.
These statistics are very revealing in terms of the rapid worsening of our immorality in these past 40 years, and most especially in the past 10 years. In 1970, a federal study estimated that the total retail value of hard core pornography in the USA was $10 million. The advent of the Internet, though, has been devastating because it brought porn right into the home in a major way because people could indulge their lust in it secretly, out of the public eye. However, pornographic sales shot up, revealing what was going on behind closed doors.
In 1998—28 years later—Forrester Research published a report on the online adult content industry, estimating $750 million to $1 billion in annual revenue. That same Forrester study speculated that on an industry-wide aggregate, the figure was $8-10 billion. By 2006, that speculation was pretty much confirmed because researchers figured out how to count the financial impact. In 2006, the revenues of the sex and porn industry had reached $13.3 billion.
Recently, a WorldNetDaily commentary stated that pornography is today a $14 billion a year industry. More money is spent on pornography in the United States that on the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and all of Major League Baseball combined. Playboy and Penthouse magazines outsell Time and Newsweek. One final item from yet another website devoted to the economic issues in the United States says that, by 2006, a new pornographic video was created in America every 30 minutes.
Worldwide, the economic figures are mind boggling. Worldwide sex industry sales for 2006 are reported as $97 billion. That's greater revenues than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple, Netflix, and EarthLink combined. China is the largest consumer of pornography, with $27.4 billion in sales; South Korea: $25.7 billion; Japan: $20 billion; America (in this particular report): $13.3 billion.
There are 100,000 websites devoted to pornography. Every second in the United States, $3075 is spent on it. Every second in America, 28,258 Internet users view one of these sites, and 372 Internet users type adult search terms into search engines. Child pornography alone generates $3 billion of that $13-14 billion per year total sales in America.
A CBS News report in 2003 broadcast that Comcast, which at the time was the nation's largest cable company, accounted for $50 million of its income from adult programming. That same report stated that the big hotel chains like Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, Sheraton, and Holiday Inn all offer adult films in-room service, and that the adult film service is used by 50% of its guests. This income accounts for a whopping 70% of room profits.
Matthew 5:28 (This is Jesus speaking in His sermon on the mount) But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
It doesn't matter whether is a real woman or one in a film. The feeding of the lust intensifies the person's self-centeredness. The amount of social damage is more difficult to get a statistical handle on, but there is no doubt that it is huge. Men, especially, tend to think it is nothing because, they say, nobody is hurt by it, but they are lying to themselves.
How can the spouse of one with this addiction trust the other who is almost constantly fantasizing? How secure can they regard the affections of their mate? Pornography destroys intimacy with one's spouse and causes the addict to objectify women as only for use as sexual pleasure. Sex is not love. God gave sex to be an expression of love, if it is rightly understood and given. But by itself, pornography turns sex into nothing more than an animalistic, self-gratifying act. The psychological damage is difficult to measure, but it is huge, and it's affecting our entire society.