Conventional Thinking: Slaying ‘the elephant’
It’s been called the “dark cloud hovering over the church” and the “elephant in the room.” I refer to pornography. Taken from the Greek, the word “pornography” literally means “the depiction of prostitutes.”
These depictions, with the advent of the Internet and smart phones, are increasingly scandalous and frightening. New survey results from LifeWay Research show that many Christians are going along with it, as pornography is being consumed at alarming levels, even among professed Christians.
The problem is as old as time, but the affordable, anonymous and accessible nature of pornography today have brought it to an all-time high. It is an uncomfortable topic that the church has clumsily handled—at least until now.
A new group called the “1 Million Men” project (See article on page 12)is calling on Christians—specifically men—to step up and, by God’s grace, slay this elephant. Speaking to a group of Southern Baptist leaders in Oklahoma City in February, Jay Dennis, the movement’s leader who also serves as pastor of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla., said, “Our enemy has found the perfect tool to deliver temptation to men— men who love God, men who love their wives, love their children and love their churches. Yet their involvement in looking at pornography has virtually duct-taped their mouths closed and taken them out of spiritual leadership in the home and in the church.”
Like Churchill speaking boldly and resolutely in the face of a rising tyranny, men like Dennis are stepping out and calling men to walk humbly and in purity with Christ. Dennis envisions massive droves of men committing to a better walk.
Dennis calls it the “pink elephant in the pew” because “we have a huge problem that is primarily directed at men’s attitudes toward women.” He cites characteristics that make pornography so pernicious; namely because today it is “accessible; affordable—in many cases free; anonymous; addictive; altering—changing how men view women; and creates amnesia.”
Not content with diagnosing the problem or assessing the damage, Dennis is pointing to resources that will help. In addition to a booklet called Our Hardcore Battle Plan, A-Z, the effort is equipping men with 31 Scriptures to memorize.
Dennis admits that, as a pastor, this is one topic he would prefer to avoid. Honestly, as a man writing this very column, I do so with fear and trepidation knowing that sin lurks at my own door and not one of us is immune. At the same time, our hesitancy to address the problem and doubts whether we can win only show our lack of faith and our weakness. God calls us to be faithful, and a large part of that is trying, by God’s grace, to make improvements. “With God, all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).
This is not the first, nor will it be the last, organized attempt to stem the tide of pornography. What is at stake in this battle is nothing less than our Christian testimony. Jesus calls us to be radical in our solutions. In the Gospel of Matthew, He is recorded as saying, “And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell” (Matt. 18:9).
If Christ tells us to go so far as cutting out our eyes, surely we could go so far as to cut cable TV or our smart phones, if they cause us to stumble. After all, what would it profit a man to gain the whole World Wide Web but lose his soul?