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  • Deepak Reju

Women Struggle with Porn Too

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

By: Deepak Reju

Charlotte squirmed in the pew as she listened. Her pastor declared, “Men, I challenge you to fight your lust, to turn away from pornography, and to honor God with your bodies.” Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? It’s all true. Christian men should stay away from illicit material and be careful stewards of their bodies. Why, then, was Charlotte squirming? Because she felt like a freak. “My pastor didn’t say anything about young women like me…” Truth be told, Charlotte is addicted to pornography. She’s deeply ashamed of her sin. And everywhere she turns, porn is labeled as a man’s problem.



Lie: Only Men Get Addicted to Porn; Women Don’t Struggle like Men


Unknowingly, Charlotte’s pastor perpetuated this lie. For far too long, porn addiction has been talked about and treated as a man’s problem. But when anyone says only men are addicted, they’re perpetuating an astronomical lie. Women battle lust and can get hooked on porn, and sadly, this is happening in ever-increasing numbers.


REALITY CHECK: Women struggle with porn, just like men


In their e-book Porn Statistics, Covenant Eyes points to a variety of statistics that tell us women make up about 20–30% of all porn users.[1] These numbers don’t lie, and because of the way shame prevents women from coming forward, the actual numbers are probably higher. Sexual addiction among women is a growing and significant problem.


But a few statistics can’t tell the whole story. There is a generational gap among women. Blogger, author, and former addict Jessica Harris asserts, “Older Millennials have less frequent use than Younger Millennials who have less frequent use than Generation Z.”[2] The internet became common in the mid-1990s, and the iPhone showed up in 2007. We’d expect Gen Z (born in 1997 or after) to be the most affected generation.


With the internet and technology so readily available, porn habits are changing among today’s young women. Porn use is prevalent and readily accepted in today’s teen and college-age women’s cultures. Jessica Harris states,

“The attitude among Christian girls in Generation Z . . . is very much ‘what’s the big deal? Every girl watches pornography.’ I heard that from a twelve-year-old girl in a church where I spoke. Some youth groups have reached out because anonymous surveys of their youth groups showed 100% of the girls struggled with pornography. And they had no idea it was that bad.”[3]

There is a tidal wave of young women who will soon arrive on our shores, and they’ll need our help.


REALITY CHECK: Addicted women struggle with a double dose of shame


Shame is a massive problem. Addicted men and women struggle with shame, but a woman’s shame is twice as much as a man’s. The question is: Why? Why do young ladies like Charlotte experience so much shame?


Charlotte was left to sort through her sexuality on her own. When she was growing up, Charlotte’s parents didn’t address sexuality, so she muddled through it, curious yet overwhelmed by the oversexualized culture that surrounded her. She learned more about sex from her friends and the internet than anywhere else. Sadly, her church only made things worse. All she heard from her pastor was warnings to men about lust and exhortations to women to dress modestly to not entice the men. Men lusted. Men were visual. Men had sexual addiction problems. And women? Parents and pastors acted as if women were asexual.


There isn’t openness and honesty about sexuality and sexual sin. In addition to what comes from the pulpit, some churches are more superficial than transparent, more rules-based than loving. In this kind of church culture, the shameful won’t come out and be honest. Charlotte will hide and run away. There is no safe place in her church to talk about her porn struggles.


Charting a Rescue Plan


What can we do to come alongside women who are addicted? Let me offer a few suggestions.


Help for women who are looking at or watching illicit material:

  • There is a lot that can be done. But you must address your shame. Don’t let shame set the tempo for your life. Don’t hide. Christ addresses our shame. He invites you to step into the light.

  • Find a solid, gospel-preaching, Christ-exalting church, throw yourself into their community, and be consistent in sitting under the public preaching of God’s Word.

  • Find a godly, gracious, and loving older woman in your church and ask her to help you. Be brutally honest about your sin and trust the Lord to work.

  • Find a godly counselor who loves Jesus and God’s Word and who is competent in caring for people. Entrust yourself to her care, both in the practical aspects, like cutting off access to illicit material, and in understanding the deeper heart issues that motivate the addiction.

Help for a local church, its pastor, and its members:

  • Establish a church culture where you are committed to talking honestly about sex and sexual sin. If love, grace, forgiveness, honesty, and transparency are valued, then the shameful are more inclined to come out of hiding and seek help. Why? Because the helpers will be Christ-like and hopeful, not harsh and condemning.

  • Pastors should think of porn addictions as a universal problem. When a pastor speaks about sexual sin, he shouldn’t just address the men. He should communicate to both men and women.

  • Instead of saying, “Men want sex,” try, “Both men and women desire sex.”[4]

  • Don’t say, “Women have emotional needs, and men have sexual needs.” Instead, try, “Both spouses have sexual and emotional needs, even if they feel one to a greater degree.”

  • Statistics show that a lot of men and women struggle with porn addictions. By God’s grace, many will get help and overcome their addictions. But in this mess, a clear sense of God’s beautiful plan for sex in marriage can be lost. Porn addictions distort a young man’s and woman’s perspectives on sex. Pastors can step into the gap. Preachers should not shy away from the subject of sex but rather preach books like Song of Songs in order to show what God intends. Pastors should preach the whole counsel of God, including teaching the beauty of God’s wonderful plan for intimacy and sex in marriage.

  • Baby Boomers and Older Millennial women must initiate with younger women. The older generations are less inclined to struggle with porn compared to younger generations (like Gen Z and Alpha, who were raised on technology). This generational gap shouldn’t prevent women from initiating. Rather, the older generations need to get equipped on these issues and disciple younger women. Silence and inaction are not options if we’re going to rescue a younger generation from the plight of porn.

  • The reverse is also true: the younger generations should reach out to older women and ask for help. The temptation is to spend time with women around the same age and not to burden older sisters in the faith. The Bible tells us that older women are supposed to mentor younger women (Titus 2), so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

One important caveat needs to be made: men and women have similarities in their struggles (like battles with guilt and shame), but there are notable distinctions. One example: Men will often look at illicit material, and because their body is aroused, they’ll finish off by masturbating. For many women, there’s a struggle with masturbation, but it’s not attached to porn use. When men and women struggle with masturbation, it can look very different.


We should allow for differences and not make assumptions. When we listen carefully, we care for a specific person with specific heart struggles in a specific situation. We love well when we patiently get to know the sinner and sufferer who sits in front of us.


The gospel is the good news that Jesus died for the lost and the shameful, like you and me. Christ’s love transforms our rebellious hearts, giving us supernatural strength to fight our carnal flesh and helping us to no longer live for ourselves (2 Cor. 5:14-15; Eph. 3:16-17).


In the Kingdom of God, porn addictions don’t get the final word. Christ does. Glory be to God.


Questions for Reflection

  • For older women: If a young woman asked you for help, would you know what to do? If not, what can you do to get better equipped?[5]

  • For a pastor: Look at your last sermon where you preached on sex or sexual sin. Take note of your word choices. Did you address just men? Did you talk to both men and women? How can you adjust your language to factor in the kinds of struggles that occur in your church?

  • For anyone: How do you address shame in your own life? Do you see how Christ helps you with your shame? If you learn to receive the grace and forgiveness of Christ for your shame, you’ll be in a much better position to minister to those who are addicted to porn.

[1] Covenant Eyes’ e-book Porn Statistics: 250+ facts, quotes and statistics about pornography use (2018

edition). It’s available at https://www.covenanteyes.com/pornstats/.


[2] Jessica Harris, “Christian Women and Pornography: What Statistics Might Not Tell You,” Beggars Daughter, May 12, 2018, https://beggarsdaughter.com/christian-women-and-pornography-what-the-statistics-might-nottell-you/. Accessed April 22, 2021.


[3] Harris, personal correspondence.


[4] Thank you to pastor Mark Redfern for providing me with this example (and the next) of how to speak about sex and sexual sin in the pulpit.


[5] Jonathan Holmes and I wrote a two-book set about fighting porn addictions (Rescue Plan and Rescue Skills, P&R Publishers, 2021). The goal of these books is to equip older Christian men to come alongside younger men and older Christian women to come alongside younger women to find freedom in Christ from addictions.

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