The Connection Between the Use of Pornography and Support for Gay Marriage
This is serious, serious stuff folks, and well worth our reading and consideration. Of course, it is repugnant and abhorrent, but it is reality. There is an indisputable close connection between regular use of pornography and support for same-sex marriage. Facts are facts. As Christians, we know that the use of pornography is a grave problem for many Christians who, like everyone, can easily “flip a switch” on the Internet pipelines coming into their homes and mobile devices and, in effect, open up a channel for moral sewage to flow into their lives. It is no wonder then that those who are regular users of such materials are less likely to be able any longer to make any moral distinctions about human sexuality. This is something that must be addressed clearly and bluntly and specifically in the proclamation of the Law in our pulpits, youth groups and classrooms.
From Part One:
Data from the New Family Structures Study reveal that when young adult Americans (ages 23-39) are asked about their level of agreement with the statement “It should be legal for gays and lesbians to marry in America,” the gender difference emerges, just as expected: 42 percent of men agreed or strongly agreed, compared with 47 percent of women of the same age. More men than women disagreed or strongly disagreed (37 versus 30 percent), while comparable levels (21-23 percent) said they were “unsure.”
But of the men who view pornographic material “every day or almost every day,” 54 percent “strongly agreed” that gay and lesbian marriage should be legal, compared with around 13 percent of those whose porn-use patterns were either monthly or less often than that. Statistical tests confirmed that porn use is a (very) significant predictor of men’s support for same-sex marriage, even after controlling for other obvious factors that might influence one’s perspective, such as political affiliation, religiosity, marital status, age, education, and sexual orientation.
The same pattern emerges for the statement, “Gay and lesbian couples do just as good a job raising children as heterosexual couples.” Only 26 percent of the lightest porn users concurred, compared to 63 percent of the heaviest consumers. It’s a linear association for men: the more porn they consume, the more they affirm this statement. More rigorous statistical tests confirmed that this association too is a very robust one.
Theoretically, the same pattern should hold when considering support for marriage in general. And it does, though not quite as distinctively. The less time spent viewing porn, the less critical men are of the institution of marriage. Forty-nine (49) percent of the lightest porn users “strongly disagreed” with a statement suggesting that “marriage is an outdated institution” (and an additional 26 percent simply “disagreed” with it), compared with 14 percent of the heaviest porn users.
Of course, correlation doesn’t mean causation, and I’m not suggesting causation here. But I’m also pretty confident the “causal arrow” wouldn’t run in the other direction. (Why would supporting same-sex marriage encourage you to look at porn?) Still, we should consider alternative explanations. What might predict both porn use and support for new family forms? Religion? Politics? While religiosity indeed matters for perceiving marriage as outdated, it does little to alter the stable link between porn use and same-sex marriage support. The same is true of political affiliation. It matters. It just doesn’t weaken the association between porn use and supporting nontraditional family forms.
In the end, contrary to what we might wish to think, young adult men’s support for redefining marriage may not be entirely the product of ideals about expansive freedoms, rights, liberties, and a noble commitment to fairness. It may be, at least in part, a byproduct of regular exposure to diverse and graphic sex acts.
From Part Two:
Back in December I published a piece about the empirical connection between porn use and support for same-sex marriage among men, using the notorious-but-wonderfully-valid-and-versatile dataset called the New Family Structures Study.
It turns out I’m not the only one saying it, which is always nice. Scholars from Indiana University and the University of Arizona are reporting the same phenomenon in the General Social Survey, the granddaddy of datasets. The article itself is appearing soon in the journal Communications Research.
When asked to explain the connection, lead author Paul Wright remarked that “pornography adopts an individualistic, nonjudgmental stance on all kinds of nontraditional sexual behaviors…” and added that “since a portion of individuals’ sexual attitudes come from the media they consume, it makes sense that pornography viewers would have more positive attitudes towards same-sex marriage.”