A recent TIME magazine cover story featured a group taking a stand against Internet pornography, not on moral grounds, but on what adverse effects pornography is having on young men who consume it. A recent article in the Washington Post called pornography a “public health crisis.”
The world is starting to see what the church knew all along; namely, that pornography is destructive to people who consume it, as well as society as a whole. With the advent of the Internet, however, pornography has found safe passage into the heart and home of nearly every family in America.
I do not need to cite the statistics to show this alarming trend, which is affecting men and women, old and young. Pornography, once relegated to red light districts and behind curtains and seedy places of business is an Internet search away, offering the illusion of a sexual thrill that is anonymous and affordable.
In truth, it is not anonymous (the Lord God sees everything we do), and consumption of pornography is costly beyond measure to those who do (C.S. Lewis said pornography, among other things, inflames and perverts sexual appetite and diminishes true godly pleasure) and the innocent people around them.
Ultimately, it is not secular news sources who can help see us through this mess. It is the church who offers the cure in Jesus Christ. Fortunately, many church leaders, including Oklahoma Baptists, are stepping up to the challenge. Youth leaders have embraced Project Love as a way to promote purity among teens, who will be lured toward pornography in ways prior generations could not have imagined.
Excellent books and resources are available through the BGCO Family & Men’s ministry (visit www.bgco.org/men).
All of these steps are a good start, but we are in for a long term battle. If you or someone you know is struggling with the sin of pornography, here are three things to know.
Russell Moore recently said, “In order to fight (pornography), one must first address shame, which means repenting of the desire to keep everything hidden. Find a trusted elder (of the same sex) in your church, and seek help. … Pornography is a lure too powerful to be fought by willpower or social movements alone. We need to bear one another’s burdens, through the energy of the Holy Spirit within the new temple of the church.” The battle for purity cannot be fought alone.
Jesus said, “And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.” (Mark 9:47). If Jesus calls us to gauge out an eye, surely giving up a computer or smartphone is not too much to ask. Find out where Satan is tempting you and cut it out of your life.
The Bible says, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). Notice we are to flee, not to stand and fight. One respected resource that has helped countless men get out of the pornography trap is The Game Plan: The Men’s 30-Day Strategy for Attaining Sexual Integrity by Joe Dallas. Whatever it takes, find a pathway out and flee for your life.
The pornography epidemic will most likely get worse before it gets better. Within the church, we can see victory over its grip. Only when this massive plank is out of our own eye will we see clearly to help our neighbors who are struggling, too.