Steve closes up the computer, feeling that all too familiar dejection and shame, the same emotions he always experiences after he has succumbed to the temptation to look at pornography. Tonight he’s done it, yet again. It’s his dirty little secret, and he happens to be a small group leader and teacher at his local church.
But he won’t talk about it, because no one else does, and there’s a reason for that. Pornography and sexual addiction is the Church’s worst kept secret. When was the last time your local pastor gave a sermon about pornography and sexual immorality?
Still trying to remember?
That’s not surprising. Pastors hear about it; sometimes they battle it themselves, but they won’t address it from the pulpit.
In most American “churches”, porn addicts are considered “those sinners”.
Guys like Steve are only a notch or two below practicing homosexuals on the “who is the worst sinner?” chart. This is the reason why Steve never talks about his addiction. If anyone ever found out that he struggled with pornography, he would be drummed out of the church as quickly as any of the other “unrighteous”, because “real” Christians don’t struggle with pornography.
That doesn’t really happen… does it?
Well, let’s look at the numbers.
According to a 2014 ProvenMen.org survey of self-proclaimed Christian males, here are some stats that may just blow your mind:
Among Christian men between 18-30 years old:
- 77% look at pornography at least monthly
- 36% view pornography at least daily
- 32% admit being addicted to pornography
Among Middle-aged Christian men (ages 31-49):
- 77% looked at pornography while at work in the past 3 months
- 64% view pornography at least monthly
- 18% admit being addicted to pornography
Among Married Christian men in all ranges:
- 55% look at pornography at least monthly
- 35% had an extra-marital sexual affair while married.
If you are thinking that these numbers represent only the guys sitting in the pew or chair next to you on Sunday morning, you would be mistaken. Check out this 2014 report from Expastors.com: Fifty-one percent of pastors say pornography is a temptation. Nearly 20% of the calls received on Focus on the Family’s Pastoral Care Line are for help with issues such as pornography and compulsive sexual behavior. Of the 1,351 pastors that Rick Warren’s website, Pastors.com, surveyed on porn use, 54% said they had viewed internet pornography within the last year and 30% of those had visited within the last 30 days. Patrick Means, author of Men’s Secret Wars, reveals that 63% of pastors surveyed confirm that they are struggling with sexual addiction or sexual compulsion including, but not limited to, the use of pornography, compulsive masturbation, or other secret sexual activity; however, concerning online activity, most pastors do not hold themselves accountable. In fact, seventy-five percent of pastors do not make themselves accountable to anyone for their Internet use.
How did we get here?
While pornography use has always been available to Christian men (Who knew?), the problem has increased exponentially over the last decade. Why is that?
Two words: The internet.
In the years before the invention and growth of the internet and social media, a person would have to physically go to the store and purchase a pornographic movie or magazine (or at least attach it to a credit card bill via magazine subscription, cable bill, or hotel pay-per-view). This environmental or financial exposure was an automatic barrier for many Christian guys. They would not want to look the person at the counter in the eye as they are renting that movie from the movie store around the corner (wow, I just dated myself here), nor have to explain that sealed black bag in their mailbox or line item for an in-room movie. Today, those barriers are gone. With a few simple keystrokes and a couple clicks of the mouse, explicit images and videos are available right on a guy’s phone, tablet, or computer.
Of course, everything I’ve said only has to do with men and their choices, so how exactly has the church en masse failed?
While technology has allowed people’s access to pornography to reach an all-time high, the American “church” has seemingly changed as well.
In years past, the pastor would stand at the pulpit and tell people how doing anything that goes against God’s Word is a sin:
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry, because of these, the wrath of God is coming — (Colossians 3:5-6).
Many of today’s so-called churches, though, preach a different message: our cultures. They give it a Christian twist, but it’s no different than the hollow words we hear from politically correct “progressives”:
“If it’s okay with you, it is probably ok with God.”
“We’re not going to call out your sin.”
And my personal favorite… “Only God can judge me.”
This is the message being taught in today’s American “Church”. Now, Today’s society teaches that there is no such thing as a tried and true standard; and in an effort to stay relevant the American “church”, has decided to follow suit: “If it is okay for you, who am I to ‘force’ my ‘religion’ and beliefs on you?” Sadly, the American “Church” has become so scared to stand up to the World and proclaim God’s standards that the “Church” itself is has abandoned standards to its own people who are supposed to look different from the world.
So, what can we do then? If the local church is turning a blind eye to sin, is there a way for guys who are caught up in sexual sin to get help?
If you are asking those questions, I’m proud of you! Not only have you battled through my bad attempts at humor, but something inside you is saying that now is the time to finally walk away, to break the chains that your addiction has put on you. The first thing that I want to tell you (as you saw earlier): you are not alone; a lot of guys sitting in the pews around you are battling the same demons. Here are some things you can do with other believers who refuse to follow the culture’s attitude toward sexual sin.
Admit to yourself that you have a problem. There is nothing wrong with admitting to yourself that those images you are looking at are causing you to feel a disconnect from God. Because what you are doing is causing disconnect between you and Him. Don’t hang your head in shame, though! Remember what Paul considered himself? That guy wrote a lot of the New Testament and considered himself the worst of all sinners! But the good news is that while God can’t look upon the sinful actions you have committed, He sent His Son to earth to die in your place! Which leads me to….
Tell God all about what you have been doing. He can handle it. The next step (and the most important) is to simply pray. Tell God how you have messed up and that you can’t fix it. In His New Testament letter, James says the following: “4-6 You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that ‘he’s a fiercely jealous lover.’ And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that ‘God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.’
7-10 So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” (James 4:4-10 / The Message) [Emphasis mine]
Become accountable. So, in the words of James, you said a quiet “yes” to God and you’ve “hit rock bottom and cried your eyes out”… Way to go! Way to step up and start down the path of becoming the man of God you were created to be! But… now what? Should you just sit there and wait for God to do all the heavy lifting? No. Absolutely not! Now is the time to start moving forward in faith. But what does that look like? For all this time you have probably thought that you were the only one that struggled with this. Well, as we have already seen, that is so far from the truth. So, the first step to becoming accountable is finding another guy that you trust implicitly to become your accountability partner. This needs to be someone that you are okay with speaking brutal truth to you; someone that can handle learning about the real you; someone who is willing to call you up and ask you the really tough questions.
And always keep in mind, we weren’t created to do this alone! In a whole bunch of places the Bible tells us that we weren’t created to do life alone:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16).
We are to carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), care for each other’s practical needs (Romans 12:13, Hebrews 13:16), warn each other of sin (1 Thessalonians 5:14) and rejoice and mourn with each other (Romans 12:15).
So what does all this mean? Find a group of men who are willing to come together and walk this path to sexual freedom together with you!
Men… The church has failed you. There is no doubting that fact. Instead of attacking this problem head on, the church has chosen to pretend that this issue simply doesn’t exist. We know that it does exist though. So this leaves us with two options:
- Continue to “hide” our struggles and hope that one day we will be able to defeat them on our own.
- Stand up… no… Man up! Admit that we have a problem. Admit it to ourselves and admit it to God. Then decide today that we are going to do something about it. Reach out and become accountable and find or form a community of other men and take the fight to the evil one!
Ultimately, we, as men looking to get right with God are going to have to fight this fight on our own. The American “Church” is too busy telling anyone that will walk in the doors how they don’t need to turn away from their sins.