Welcoming the New Year with Hopeful Anticipation
Kayla Sullivan • Dec 12 2020
Following years of child abuse and sex trafficking allegations, one of the world’s largest pornography websites is suffering major consequences.
Over the past couple of years, Pornhub has repeatedly made headlines. First, there was the case of the 15-year-old girl who was rescued after nearly sixty videos of her sexual abuse was uploaded to Pornhub. Then there was the discovery of videos featuring a 14-year-old who had been brutally kidnapped, raped, and stabbed. And in another incident, a 27-year-old uploaded pornographic content featuring a 16-year-old. While they appear to be isolated incidents, they’re not. Story after story has emerged outlining the depravity found on Pornhub. Finally, legislators and entire companies are taking action.
PayPal cut ties with Pornhub in 2019. A petition began circulating on the internet in February 2020, calling for Pornhub to be shut down. Furthermore, the petition seeks to hold executives accountable for their role in human trafficking. And in March 2020, Republican Senator Ben Sasses of Nebraska took action. He called upon the U.S. Department of Justice to formally open an investigation of Pornhub. In his letter, he stated,
“Pornhub’s incredible reach has a much darker side than the image of harmless fun that it tries to project. In several notable incidents over the past year, Pornhub made content available worldwide showing women and girls that were victims of trafficking being raped and exploited.”
At the time, Pornhub merely shrugged their shoulders at the allegations. They continued to allow users, including unverified users, to upload millions of pornographic videos and images. In light of COVID-19, they even prided themselves on ease of access to those stuck in quarantine. But as Jesus cautioned in Luke 8:17,
“There is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”
On December 4, the New York Times published an article accusing Pornhub of hosting videos that featured child abuse and non-consensual sexual behavior. Pornhub is refuting the allegations. In fact, despite the number of news headlines in recent years, Pornhub claims to have a zero-tolerance of child sexual abuse material. Though citing no wrongdoing, Pornhub did remove more than 75% of their content. It wasn’t enough. Following the publication of the New York Times article, several companies still chose to take action.
Mastercard immediately opened an investigation. Within days, they determined that the accusations were substantial. As a result, they issued the following statement: “The use of our cards at Pornhub is being terminated. Our investigation over the past several days has confirmed violations of our standards prohibiting unlawful content on their site. As a result, and in accordance with our policies, we instructed the financial institutions that connect the site to our network to terminate acceptance.”
Both Visa and Discover also decided to take action.
Discover made the decision to cut ties with Pornhub, citing the prohibition of activities that violate their operating standards. They released this statement, “When Discover determines merchants are offering prohibited activity, we promptly terminate card acceptance through the offending merchant’s financial institution.”
Visa’s investigation is ongoing, but they have suspended the use of their cards at this time. In a statement made to CNN Business, Visa shared, “Given the allegations of illegal activity, Visa is suspending Pornhub’s acceptance privileges pending the completion of our ongoing investigation. We are instructing the financial institutions who serve MindGeek [the parent company to Pornhub] to suspend processing of payments through the Visa network.”
Advocates seeking to end sexual exploitation, such as the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), have been putting pressure on these companies to cut ties with Pornhub for quite some time. On February 6, 2020, Visa was added to NCOSE’s Dirty Dozen List for 2020.
This list, released annually since 2013, calls out the top companies who are either profiting from or facilitating sexual exploitation. The goal is to raise awareness of these actions, empowering individuals to raise their voices. By collaborating together, individuals and NCOSE have been successful in encouraging major companies to implement policy improvements.
Following the decisions made by Mastercard, Visa, and Discover, NCOSE shared that this was “the right decision to finally cut ties with a profiteer of rape.”
Though acceptance of pornography is increasing in today’s society, the truth remains that the majority of the content accessible features abuse, degradation, and humiliation of countless individuals. Often, the content is the product of sex trafficking, is non-consensual, or features underage victims. Even those who appeared to have lucrative careers in the adult entertainment industry in the past have admitted to the dark side of the porn industry. Many have reported battling drug or alcohol addictions in an attempt to numb the pain. Others endured a lifetime of abuse which led them to the pornography industry.
But performers aside, consumers need to understand the devastating effects of pornography.
From the first glimpse, the brain begins to form new pathways in the mind that craves more. Eventually, the consumer begins to spiral out of control. They find themselves in a place that they never would have imagined. As Ravi Zacharias states,
“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”
Living life in the fantasy world of porn gives way to dissatisfaction within physical relationships. As a result, many marriages begin to dissolve. In 2004, Dr. Jill Manning testified to the U.S. Senate that 56% of divorce cases cited pornography as a major contributing factor.
When a marriage fails, children often pay the price. Focus on the Family reports that children from divorced homes not only suffer academically, but may have an increased risk of experimenting with drugs or alcohol, and can be up to five times more likely to live in poverty.
Looking ahead into 2021 is the perfect time to consider taking action in your own life.
With the exposure of the dark side of pornography in the news lately, now is the time to reevaluate where you and your church stand on such topics. Will you continue to ignore the problem? Or are you ready to take action – fighting for yourself, your marriage, your family, and your community?
The Conquer Series, a powerful 10-week course that combines science and Scripture to tackle pornography addiction, is a great place to start. Available digitally at SoulRefiner.com, individuals and small groups can get started immediately. You’ll learn more about pornography’s effect on the brain. Plus, you will learn the importance of healing from a broken past. This can empower you to discover your identity in Christ, which helps you become a godly spouse, parent, and leader.
And pastors, please don’t turn a blind eye to this issue. In a study conducted by Pure Desire Ministries, 68% of church-going men acknowledged an ongoing struggle with porn. Thanks to Soul Refiner, online groups are possible. With a Church License, you can create groups, invite members, and plan to host a virtual-based time of group discussion each week. At their convenience, individuals will watch the weekly lesson – released one week prior to the scheduled meeting. They will complete the assignments in their study guide, reach out to the members of their group throughout the week, and come to the meeting prepared to discuss what they have learned.
If you’re skeptical about running an online group, check out what Sean Brennan of Burke Community Church had to share.
“I thought that the Conquer Series could only bring results in person so I was concerned that meeting over Zoom using the Soul Refiner platform would be awkward. I’m excited to say that it works extremely well online. I feel close to the men in my group and we are getting results. Men are being set free. I actually think the online format is superior to the paper form now that I have experienced it. Our class time is also more efficient and effective now that the group members watch the video prior to class. Also, now that we don’t have to drive to class, attendance is more consistent and the group members are more punctual.”
Don’t put it off any longer. Head on over to SoulRefiner.com for more information. You’ll be glad you did!
The Conquer Series is a powerful cinematic series which is helping over 1 million men conquer porn and walk in freedom.
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