Pornography is a plague that has risen to epidemic proportions. Of all Internet users, 42.7 percent view porn; 40 percent of adults in the U.S. regularly visit porn websites; by next year, porn video consumption on tablet computers will triple. As I have written previously, pornography is highly addictive. It destroys marriages, makes women and children into sex objects, and fuels human trafficking. Christians are not exempt: 47 percent of believers say porn is a problem in their home.
Now there's very good news for those of us who are working to counter this plague: Google has joined the fight. The company has prohibited apps sold through its app store that contain or promote explicit content. It is working on technology that would eliminate all images of child pornography and child abuse from the Internet. And now it has decided to refuse advertisements that contain or lead to pornography.
This is a significant decision, for three reasons. One: casual Internet users will be far less likely to view porn unintentionally. It is estimated that 90 percent of America's youth, ages 8 to 16, have viewed porn online, most while doing their homework. Many clicked on an interesting ad with no idea that it would lead to porn. The Internet just became safer for our kids.
Two: other search engine companies may follow suit. Google maintains the world's largest Internet search engine. As such, it is a global leader in technology. The company's decision may encourage and even pressure competitors to follow their example.
Three: Google is giving up enormous revenues. A 2012 study estimated that the company earned $100 million a day from its advertising campaigns. As much as 12 percent of all websites contain porn; 25 percent of all search engine requests are porn-related. Google could lose a massive amount of money as a result of its principled decision.
When last did it cost you something significant to do the right thing? Consider Robert Rowling, a Dallas businessman and personal friend. Bob made the decision in 1999 that his Omni Hotels would remove all pay-per-view adult content from their hotel rooms. Their marketing director explained: "Not all business decisions should be fiscally driven. We believe that this is the right thing to do."
Truett Cathy chose to close Chick-fil-A restaurants on Sundays so employees could attend worship services. Tennessee businessman Alan Barnhart lives on one percent of his company's profits and has donated the rest to an irrevocable charitable trust. Second Chance Coffee Company employs former convicts and provides support to them and their families. Norm Miller, chairman of Interstate Batteries, worked with e3 Partners to launch "I Am Second," a campaign that shares the faith stories of celebrities and ordinary people around the world.
What influence has God entrusted to you? How are you using that influence to exalt Jesus and help people follow him? At what price? C. S. Lewis, when asked how much Christians should give, offered this wisdom: "I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare." Have you? Will you?
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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