In the 21st century pornography has become a pervasive part of secular culture and has dramatically changed in both content and availability. Changes in technology in particular have meant that the age of exposure to pornography has significantly dropped and indeed most studies across the globe show that increasingly younger children (even as young as age 10) have either been shown pornography or accidentally stumbled across it when accessing the internet.
Further, technology has brought availability of child sexual exploitation or abuse material (also known as "child pornography") to a far wider audience. Producing, making available, accessing and viewing this kind of material is illegal in Australia. Doing so in Victoria is a crime that may result in a custodial sentence and registration on the Sex Offenders Register.
Pornography use is explicitly banned in the Safe Church Code of Conduct. If a leader or volunteer in a role in the PCV uses pornography they are in breach of the Code of Conduct and should seek help from a trusted leader as they work through this issue. Pornography use is often exacerbated by stress and always impacts on a person's spiritual life and relationship with God. The person who comes forward seeking help needs to be first met with compassion and kindness and encouragement to know that with God's help, positive resources and accountability, pornography struggles can be overcome.
If such a person comes forward and they are currently in a leadership role of any kind it is recommended they take a break from the role while working through their struggles. This should be dealt with confidentially by the leadership. To encourage such a person to continue in their role would be encouraging them to knowingly breach the PCV Safe Church Code of Conduct and to also undermine the seriousness of their struggle and its impact on their relationship with God and potentially others. The Safe Church Unit has a number of excellent resources that are recommended for people struggling with pornography and also for leaders who would like resources to assist them in ministering to such people.
In the case of a person who comes forward with struggles with child sexual exploitation or abuse material they must be immediately stood down from any role and the Safe Church Unit contacted to assist the leadership in working through the situation. This is a most serious matter and has ramifications for the legal responsibility of leaders in the church. Such a matter must be reported to Victoria Police, in accordance with the law of Victoria.
For pastors and leaders:
Many pastors and leaders across all Christian denominations may be uninformed about the content and ready availability of 21st century pornography. Many might have an outdated and inaccurate understanding of the nature of pornography in today's world. The Safe Church Unit has a specific resource for pastors and leaders relating to this and also has a number of other recommended resources to assist in ministry relating to this issue. Contact the Safe Church Unit for these resources to be sent to you, either electronically or via post.