As John Bevere continues with his list of don’ts that are evident in the New Testament, he touches on the idea that Christians should try to lead pure lives. What he is really writing about is no pornography, no lewd videos or anything that encourages lustful thinking. As I write this post, my wife is watching one of her favorite soap operas on television and if anyone has seen a contemporary soap opera today, you know there is more skin exposed than in the past. Oh well, just a sign of the times…
It seems that near nakedness is everywhere and of course with a mouse click, total nakedness is easily accessible.
Since writing about the “don’ts” in Chapter 12, I realize that Bevere’s list runs headlong into today’s cultural values. Let’s be honest, many people see nothing wrong with material that encourages lust. Bevere has some statistics that reveal the pulse of America today regarding this issue. Over forty million Americans regularly visit porn sites, every second 28,258 users are viewing porn. Porn sites are the second most popular site to visit only surpassed by social media sites.*
Ok, what does that matter? Christians don’t have a problem with this do they?
You know they do. A recent CNN poll reported that fifty percent of evangelical Christian men are addicted to porn, and seventy percent of Christian men struggle with it.
That sounds like a major problem in the church but many don’t think it is. Steve Gallagher, founder of Pure Life Ministries says “The Church’s greatest threat to the church today is not so much the pornography itself, but the lackadaisical attitude many Christians have towards the wrongness of it.
Note the title of this post: “The Problem Most Choose to Ignore.” That is a broad statement. Not everyone ignores the problem but in my years of being in a church and participating in presentations for Christian audiences, I have never seen a stand against pornography in the church. I do have a pastor friend who is leading a seminar to help men with porn in his church right now and he told me that several men have come forward to participate. His bold action is the exception.
Years ago, I had a very talented friend who decided he should leave the United States and continue his work in Brazil. From that point on, it was easier to communicate via emails and we did that over a period of time. As he established his family in his new location, he began to share more private information about his life. It turns out he had an addiction to pornography, an addiction that I found very strange, for my friend was a pastor. I will never forget his admission that he looked at naked women on his church computer and then would go and preach a sermon to his church. It was good that he had me to talk to about his problem and it turns out that he is not alone. Christianity Today magazine did a survey in which pastors were asked if they’d visited a pornographic website in the past year. Fifty-four percent answered “yes.”
Yes, a significant percentage of the leaders in our churches.
What has to happen for this to become a problem we no longer choose to ignore? First of all, we need to admit that men are really affected by this form of visual stimulation and their thoughts can cause guilt, poor relationships with the opposite sex, and an inability to be close with God. This is weakening Christian men from the inside out. Families can be destroyed. I have a friend who revealed that she divorced her husband due to his incessant porn use. He just could not curb his need to see women other than his wife. Secondly, the accessibility of porn is a major problem that must be addressed. Computers are everywhere and to access porn only takes a click and there you are. The attitude about it needs to change. Being alone with your computer, it is easy to think, “I am not hurting anyone; it is just me and my pleasure.” We are never alone. When we sin, God knows but because of the acceptance of porn in our culture, it is easy to try to justify its use. Thirdly, the internet is a wonderful tool which has allowed all of us easy access to information that we never had before, but with the wonderful good comes the bad. Many Christians don’t believe that spiritual warfare is a real thing but I am one who does. Satan does not want us to grow stronger in our love for Christ and I think that the darker aspects of the internet retard our growth in our relationship with God. To ignore the attack that is being levied against many men today is foolish. The attack is real and is designed to weaken men.
Pastor Bevere admits his own use of pornography; he struggled with it until he was twenty-seven. He was married, he was in the early years of his ministry and he expected that he would be able to stop his accessing of porn. But he struggled. He never got the words he needed to stop until he confided in another pastor who put the fear of God in him. The pastor’s words that worked were “stop it.”
Many Christians believe that only New Testament teaching is relevant for us. Fearing God is an Old Testament thing but a little fear can be a good thing. For men who grow beyond porn use, a little New Testament grace is a good thing too, as we use it to experience forgiveness, salvation and empowerment, empowerment over the use of porn.
God doesn’t want us to be locked in a struggle with porn. He wants us to know Him intimately. It is not news to God that we have a powerful anti-God force called sin. He wants us to grow beyond our self-centeredness to have a power to love Him with our heart, mind and strength. Ignoring real problems will not make them go away. Excusing problems because our culture says they are acceptable is not the answer.
Maybe Bevere’s pastor friend was right: “STOP IT!”
*“The Stats on Internet Pornography” from The Daily Infographic.com, 2014.