As theological debates on sexuality and marriage become more and more central, many Christian denominations are being asked to clarify their views.
Christian Action Research & Education (CARE) is seeking to impose similar restrictions on the porn industry as are imposed on the gambling industry .
Rt Revd Peter Forster has been raising awareness of the dangers of porn in the House of Lords after securing a two and a half hour debate on Thursday.
Bishop Peter said there are different opinions: some are calling for tighter controls and others are suggesting that it is a private matter, so that it should not be looked at from a legislation point of view because.
"I heard people say that about smoking 30 or 40 years ago, that the link between smoking and disease was uncertain. The innocent argument has to be put under the microscope and that's what I wanted to do today", Foster argued.
There are between 700 and 800 million pornographic pages online, and pornography accounts for more than a tenth of all internet searches, according to The Economist. A recent study by Relate, a relationships and counselling charity, found that pornography frequently came up as a cause of break-ups or divorce in the counselling room.
Currently, the government protects children from accessing pornographic sites with age verification systems and online filters. However there is no restriction or regulations for adults.
CARE SUPPORTS CHESTER
Christian charity CARE has backed up bishop´s participation in the debate. "The Bishop of Chester is right to be seeking to raise awareness of this vital issue and we need new ideas and policy responses from the Government”, CARE's CEO Nola Leach affirmed.
Leach, who branded the debate in the House of Lords as "extremely timely", said now is the time "to start recognising the negative effects of porn on adults too."
"Although porn addiction is not yet clinically defined, evidence clearly suggests addiction to pornography is real and has devastating consequences for satisfying and lasting relationships as well as leading to unemployment”, CARE's CEO stated.
GAMBLING AND PORNOGRAPHY REGULATIONS
CARE have called for similar regulation which applies to the gambling industry to be extended to the porn industry.
The gambling industry provides €8,56m to help fund research and therapy for gambling addicts and is required to give people the option of self-exclusion. This means that people who want to prevent themselves from accessing gambling sites or machines have a mechanism to do so.
These practices could "offer a potential way forward for the porn industry so those who might wish to exclude themselves from porn receive adequate support", Leach explained. "Better education for adults and children over the true effects of porn consumption is also vital," she added.
"Doing nothing" is not the right option, Bishop Forster told Christian Today ahead of the debate.
"The danger is that in tacitly or openly accepting the pervasive presence of adult pornography in people's lives, we are choosing to make the attitudes which lie behind and in pornography seem normal: objectification, exploitation, and very often, abuse" he warned.
Forster's debate follows reports that a new EU regulation will ban online filters for pornographic sites and demand all sites, regardless of content, be treated "without discrimination.”
Speaking in the debate, Culture, media and sport minister Baroness Shields said it was not for the Government to "dictate to consenting adults what sort of content they are legally accessing", but remained mindful of the potential harm for the young and vulnerable.
"Long term 'excessive use of pornography' had been shown in some studies to have a damaging effect but more information was needed”, the minister manifested. However, Shields added: "We agree that pornography should be considered as another potential category of addiction."
Downing Street insisted domestic legislation could be brought in to overrule the EU and allow internet service providers to continue running opt-in filters for pornographic sites.
The Prime Minister must "urgently" clarify the situation, Leach said, and confirm whether domestic legislation overruling the EU would be legally challenged.