Porn and the Lonely Pastor: Are Clergy More Susceptible to Porn?

Does loneliness drive people to pornography? Does pornography make people more lonely? This is the topic of a study by Dr. Vincent Yoder, Internet Pornography and Loneliness: An Association? We recently interviewed Dr. Yoder about his research.

Pastors Can Be Lonely People

A survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors found that 55% of pastors would agree or strongly agree with the statement, “Pastoral ministry makes me feel lonely at times.” The younger the pastor is and the larger the church they oversee, the more likely they are to agree with this.

Interestingly, in Dr. Yoder’s research, clergy who are looking at porn rate the highest of any vocation when it comes to loneliness.

Reasons for pastoral loneliness can be varied.

  • In some churches there is a professional distance clergy feel from the laity (and vice versa).
  • In some church cultures, the pastor is running a lone-ranger ministry with no ministry peers.
  • In other churches, clergy are open to more criticism and attack from church members.
  • In some churches, expectations on clergy and a lack of boundaries can lead to a lot of time away from family.
  • In other churches, pastors are frightened about being vulnerable with others because they don’t want to give people reason to doubt their authority in the ministry.

Escaping the Loneliness Trap

In Internet Pornography: A Ministry Leader’s Handbook, Mark Brower writes about the danger of being on the pastoral pedestal and succumbing to sexual temptations:

Many of us like it too much. Many of us get so attached to having people look up to us that we have a hard time facing ourselves honestly. And if there’s one thing we need to do in recovery, it is to face ourselves honestly. We have to get honest about our resentments. We have to get honest about what we are looking for, and what we are actually doing with our sexual behaviors. We have to get honest about how deceitful we have been. We have to get honest about how unsatisfied we are in our marriage. And we have to get honest about how lonely we are.

If you are a ministry leader who is hooked on porn, know that there is help available. See our page of resources for pastors and read our book for pastors who struggle with porn.