You may not think of porn and religion as two things that go hand in hand (unless you're watching a very particular kind of porn). But according to a perplexing new study, people who watch a lot of X-rated videos are actually more likely to become religious in the future.
University of Oklahoma sociology professor Samuel L. Perry analyzed two sets of data collected in 2006 and 2012 during the Portraits of American Life Study, which revealed how often 1,314 adults watched porn, attended religious services, and prayed. And according to Perry's findings, people who watch porn become less religious over time, which is what he expected.
"Because of the guilt and shame often associated with pornography use, especially among devoutly-religious Americans, I expected that using pornography at all would predict lower levels of religiosity over time," Perry told Complex.
The exception, however, was when people watched a lot of porn. Then, the opposite happened. The study found that those who watched porn once a week or more were more religious after six years, regardless of their age or gender.
How on Earth is this happening? Are there subliminal messages in the porn people are watching? Is there some little-known religion that's promoting porn? According to Perry, it's likely a result of people feeling guilty about all the X-rated media they're consuming, which he believes causes them to turn to religion to feel better about themselves. "These people may be saying something like, 'OK, God, I may be disobeying you in this area of my life, but look at all the religious stuff I'm doing over here!'" he explained.
Another possibility, Perry said, is that both religiousness and porn usage correlate with obsessive tendencies. "Some personality types tend to be compulsive about religious participation and these same folks may also be compulsive in other areas of their lives like pornography use," he explained.
Lastly, Perry said it could be that once porn becomes a big part of peoples' lives, they figure out how to live with themselves without any internal religious conflict, even if they are religious. "It no longer makes them feel guilty and they just do it daily, like getting dressed or brushing their teeth," Perry speculated. "This allows them to be very religious while using pornography at the highest frequencies."
Whatever the case, it seems porn and religion might be more interconnected than we originally thought, and if you want to know which of your friends might be susceptible to becoming religious one day, their Internet search history could provide you with a very important clue.