Pornography’s Child Victims
Covid. Lockdowns. Layoffs. Depression. Riots. Lawlessness. Fraud. How can you summarize 2020 without being negative? And I’m about to show you something that will bring you to tears.
But I will also show you how and why, in spite of this, you can and should be filled with hope!
First, the really, really bad news. As locked-down people have been spending more time online, what websites are they using? Three of the top 10 in the world are pornography.
One of these sites enables users to upload videos, like YouTube. And that they do—at a rate of 6.8 million new videos each year. The company says it tries to screen out illegal videos. Still, of all the sick content it streams to users at thousands of gigabytes per minute, a sizable amount depicts nonconsensual violence.
And that includes loads of explicit videos of children.
“After a 15-year-old girl went missing in Florida, her mother found her on [this website]—in 58 sex videos,” the New York Times reported on December 6. “Sexual assaults on a 14-year-old California girl were posted [there] and were reported to the authorities not by the company but by a classmate who saw the videos. In each case, offenders were arrested for the assaults, but [this company] escaped responsibility for sharing the videos and profiting from them” (emphasis added throughout).
The Times author, Nicholas Kristof, wrote about the company’s understaffed screening department. (“The job in itself is soul-destroying,” said one moderator.) He pointed out, “Because it’s impossible to be sure whether a youth in a video is 14 or 18, neither [the company] nor anyone else has a clear idea of how much content is illegal.”
And notice this: “Unlike YouTube, [this site] allows these videos to be downloaded directly from its website. So even if a rape video is removed at the request of the authorities, it may already be too late: The video lives on as it is shared with others or uploaded again and again.”
One woman told the author that “she was adopted in the United States from China and then trafficked by her adoptive family and forced to appear in … videos beginning when she was 9. Some videos of her being abused ended up on [the site] and regularly reappear there, she said.”
Nine years old!
Kristof wrote that high school girls and junior high girls are getting pressured to send sexual videos to their boyfriends, then discover that they’ve been uploaded to this website and shared everywhere. Some of these exploited girls turn to drug addiction and become suicidal. Yet the company still amasses its fortune from nearly 3 billion ad impressions a day, serving 3.5 billion visits a month.
One of these girls told Kristof, “They’re making money off the worst moment in my life, off my body.”
This website is enormously influential. Kristof cited a recent study by a digital marketing company finding it to be “the technology company with the third greatest-impact on society in the 21st century, after Facebook and Google but ahead of Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.”
People want to explain away this evil. This porn company basically wants to just evade prosecution or censure from credit card companies. Users want to say, It’s not that bad, or, It’s none of your business. People who call themselves progressive say this site’s content is actually liberating.
But the truth staring us in the face is that this is sin! This is a sickening look at the appalling and deadly effects of sin.
Here is a refreshing, pure, true explanation, from Jesus Christ: “[W]hosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Pornography of any kind is sin. Whatever people may believe, this is the truth. Pornography breaks the Ten Commandments, the law of God.
“And if thy right eye offend thee,” Jesus exhorted, “pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (verse 29). The wages of sin is death! And before you die from it, you experience a slew of curses and evils. The ruin this one company is causing in people’s lives is an agonizing example.
Yet the problem goes far beyond one website. Children are being abused, videoed and viewed not just on countless other pornography sites, but even on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. This article adds that “Google supports the business models of companies that thrive on child molestation.”
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children gave Kristof the statistics on “the number of images, videos and other content related to child sexual exploitation reported to it each year. In 2015, it received reports of 6.5 million videos or other files; in 2017, 20.6 million; and in 2019, 69.2 million.” In just five years, the number grew more then 10 times—from 6.5 million to 69.2 million! The demand for deranged child sexual content is exploding!
That is because it is addictive—and people are becoming enslaved by it.
Those who defend pornography, who say shutting it down would limit our “freedom,” disagree with Christ. He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34; New King James Version). That’s the truth. “[W]hatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved” (2 Peter 2:19; Revised Standard Version). Viewers of pornography are spiritually enslaved.
But beyond that: They are also funding the literal enslavement of women and children by human traffickers!
In our February 2014 Trumpet issue, we reported these facts:
About 2.8 million U.S. children run away from home each year. Within 48 hours, one third of them are picked up by traffickers and pimps. 100,000 to 300,000 U.S. children are enslaved in sex trafficking every year. The average age of entry to prostitution in the U.S. is 12 to 14 years.
Think of a 13-year-old in your life. Now imagine that child on the street making money through sex.
An estimated 30 percent of all data transferred across the Web is pornography. And an estimated 20 percent of all Internet porn involves trafficked children.
As you read this, children are being enslaved, trafficked and forced into sexual acts so that slaveowners and pornographers can make money, and someone with a credit card somewhere can watch.
What is the solution? Kristof’s article advocated that credit card companies stop accepting payments to this one website. Axios later reported, “Nick Kristof gets results. Credit card giants Visa and Mastercard said they’re reviewing their relationship with [this company].” The next day, the company announced what Kristof called “huge changes”: It says it will now allow uploads only from verified users, no longer permit downloads, and improve moderation.
This is a thin reed of progress in a broad, toxic swamp of sin.
Tweaks like this do nothing to address the foundational crisis. People are destroying themselves and destroying others because of their addiction to sin. This is one company among untold hundreds or thousands, serving up poisonous content to millions upon millions of people, corrupting minds of men and women and children, destroying marriages and families and lives. And the best hope the world offers is a possibility that porn customers will be inconvenienced.
This world has no solutions. Such exploitation of people, of children, has stained all human history. It has merely been propagated and intensified by technology; participating is now exceedingly easy. But never have efforts to stamp out such evil had lasting success. They are too feeble, and human nature is too tough, too tenacious, too pernicious and evil.
The International Labor Organization estimates that 45.8 million people in 167 countries are currently enslaved—more than triple the total number of Africans who were shipped to the Americas during the entire 360-year history of the New World slave trade. It estimates annual profits from forced labor to be $150 billion. That’s bigger than Google.
The nightmares afflicting the lives of the handful of young people who appeared in this New York Times story are haunting and terrorizing millions of lives in various forms.
And people are too addicted to sin to even care.
There is someone, however, who has seen it all, who cares, and who possesses the power to stop it!
“O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself. Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth …” (Psalm 94:1-2). Seeing unchecked evil in this world motivates such a plea for divine judgment and justice.
“Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? … They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. Yet they say, The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it” (verses 3, 6-7). All around us, wicked men are exploiting helpless people. They think God doesn’t see. But He sees it all! And He is about to rise and act!
“Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? … The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. … And he shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the Lord our God shall cut them off” (verses 8-11, 23).
This is not wishful thinking. It is advance news of a new world about to supplant the doomed world we inhabit—and it is sure.
When Jesus Christ walked the Earth, He witnessed appalling human suffering, and did what He could to alleviate it. He was moved with compassion, seeing the people as sheep lacking a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).
Christ’s gospel message was the news that God will establish a literal government to destroy and replace our corrupt human governments and establish a new society. At that time, “He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor” (Psalm 72:4).
Christ continually directed His disciples to seek that coming kingdom, to press toward it, to set their heart on preparing for it. He instructed, “After this manner therefore pray ye: … Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10).
To this day, Christ’s disciples keep these words on our lips. When we see immorality, enslavement, unmentionable evil, when we know that minds and bodies of helpless children are even now being abused, we pray: “Thy Kingdom come.”
In his masterful booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like, Herbert W. Armstrong expounded on the Bible’s many inspiring descriptions of the utopian world God will create. It is utterly refreshing to read, a sweet song amid the din and clamor of this world. (Just ask and we’ll send you a free copy.)
“Feast your eyes for a while on the picture of the World Tomorrow which God’s government will produce—as we shall now do,” he wrote, “and when you take your eyes from this book, and look again on this drab, ugly, sin-sick world of corruption, violence and suffering—it will make you sick at heart.
“But doesn’t it make you want to shout for joy, to realize what a civilization—what a world—is actually coming?
“Doesn’t it make you want to really put your heart into your prayers, praying earnestly, ‘Oh God! Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done on Earth, as it is in heaven!’”
That it does.