Poor Billie image

Poor Billie

Just 19 years old, Billie Eilish is already terribly jaded when it comes to sex. In an interview just before Christmas she described the impact viewing porn from age 11 had on her. ‘The singer-songwriter said she believed viewing the content while so young had "destroyed" her brain and caused her to suffer nightmares.’

My wife teaches at our local boys school while our daughters have attended the corresponding girls one. We’ve noticed, anecdotally, the impact porn is making. The boys expect their girlfriends to perform in ways they’ve learnt from porn; unsurprisingly, the girls often find these expectations objectionable. We’ve wondered about the extent this has contributed to the number of girls identifying as gay/bi/trans – if being with a boy means that then a large number of girls, quite sensibly, would rather not be with a boy.

Rather than leading to increased sexual activity, as was once predicted, the ubiquity and ugliness of porn seems to be contributing to its decline – something social scientists and other researches are noticing more and more. While at one end of the gaussian curve there are perhaps more people who are extremely promiscuous than was true when I was 19, the general trend is towards less sex. To illustrate, a survey of undergraduates by the Higher Education Policy Institute survey found that 66% of male students had not had sex during their time as a student. That is rather different from how I remember things being in my student days.

Against this backdrop the historical Christian approach to sex perhaps starts to look appealing. Rather than being unrealistic, sexual restraint outside marriage and sexual enjoyment within it offers an antidote to the excesses of a porn-sick culture. Poor Billie, and the millions of young people like her, need a dish more hopeful and more healing than the one porn has offered them: in Christ, the church has that hope and healing to give.

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