Do you know where your pastor is right now?
Do you know what he or she is doing, this very moment?
Of course, you don’t. Most of us don’t know where (unless they are actually with us) our spouse or children are at this precise moment. We don’t truly know what they are doing, nor do we know with whom they are doing whatever they are doing.
If you were to ‘guess’ what your pastor is doing, right now, what activities would make the top three?
- Reading the Bible?
- Sharing the Gospel with another lost soul?
- Serving the poor?
- Preparing for his/her sermon?
- Praying, praying, praying?
Where is ‘viewing porn’ on your list? Didn’t make it? Then maybe you should consider the latest report on pastor’s, porn and the epidemic that infects us all!
While I am glad you didn’t select porn consumption as one of your pastor’s activities, it’s still quite true that your pastor is likely struggling with porn addiction or to have struggled with porn in the past. A new report conducted by Barna, commissioned by Josh McDowell and Cru, concludes that most pastors admit to – at least in the past – struggling with porn. Christianity Today assistant editor, Morgan Lee, reporting on the initial evidence commissioned for an upcoming summit, says:
“Most pastors (57%) and youth pastors (64%) admit they have struggled with porn, either currently or in the past,” Barna reported. “Overall, 21 percent of youth pastors and 14 percent of pastors admit they currently struggle with using porn.”
STATISTICS REVEAL A PARTIAL PICTURE AND HIDE A MORE PERVASIVE PROBLEM
As one who has struggled with porn and journeyed through my addiction – nurtured at an early age – into victory, I suspect this report isn’t the whole – or, at least, most accurate – picture. My hunch is the numbers are much higher than the study reveals.
I hope I am wrong, but a particular quote in the article itself leads me to believe I’m not:
A solid majority of pastors currently using porn said that it negatively impacts their ministry (75% of youth pastors, and 64% of pastors), though twice as many youth pastors (44%) as pastors (18%) said that was “very true.”
You may want to read that again.
I had to.
While a ‘solid majority’ report negative impact, it’s the silent minority that leads me to believe even the confessors may be shading the truth. Here’s why: anyone who has ever viewed porn or struggled with porn addiction knows – deep in the parts of our heart we ignore – that viewing porn hurts us and those around us.
Yes! 100% of the truly confessional will fully confess to porn’s disruptive and destructive influence. If only 18% say this is very true, then they – I suspect – likely remain trapped in the impressive and vice-like grip of pornography’s lusty lure
My hunch is, the numbers are much worse than we dare to know! Here’s the problem: we are just too scared to admit how deeply lost we feel and how hopelessly trapped we are. If, as you read this, you are struggling with porn, then your gut is probably tied up in knots. Because you feel it too. This powerful fear keeps us from confessing as it morphs into the shame that robs us of community and then slides into the deception that fills our heart with falsehood. Porn thrives in the fertile soil of fear, shame, and deception. The addiction grows deep roots in such soil. Roots which weave their way into the internal desires of our heart; disrupting and distorting as they grow!
When I was a child, I awoke to a radio program blaring from my parent’s bedroom every morning. It was a talk show. The only thing I remember from that show was one quote – exclaimed (with striking force) at the end of the comic monologue: ‘WAKE UP, AMERICA!’
Today, I shout, ‘WAKE UP, CHURCH.’
It’s time to wake up and stop pretending as though porn is not a significant problem in our congregations. If you conduct a simple ‘google’ search with the terms porn, porn addiction, porn and culture, you will quickly find how pervasive this problem has become and how radically it’s altering the global human experience. Numerous studies by a variety of agencies have connected porn addiction to human trafficking and rape. Even now reports are circulating about ten thousand missing Syrian refugees. The majority of them are children. All of them feared lost to the global slave trade. Though not its only fuel, porn is likely the largest fuel for human trafficking’s massive economic engine.
I’m not one to jump on my soap box without attempting to provide some hope and steps forward. Today, I am going to offer you two concrete steps you can take.
- Join the fight against porn. The influence of the porn industry is prolific, and its resources are vast. It will only crumble if we lock arms and advance together. First, if you are in a local church, talk to your pastor and leadership. Find out what the church is doing to address the issue and let them know you are willing to assist. You might also support and sponsor influential voices and organizations that are trying to fight this on a global scale. I have recently partnered with one such start-up known as Men Against Porn. I am currently writing for them and trying to pull together a dense network of institutions, people and organizations committed to the eradication of this systemic injustice.
- Live a life free from porn. It’s possible. It’s even probable. My story of freedom is birthed from the freedom the Gospel provides and the hope sustained by the Gospel of God in Christ. You may not have much space for God. That’s okay. My story, I believe, can still be of value to you. At the end of the day, all of us are seeking to love deeply and be deeply loved. Porn will always exploit and distort this desire. I am going to leave you with four steps you can take to help you begin this journey. You will only be able to take one step at a time, but you will find they overlap to provide a blanket of security and a pathway of stable footing!
Four Steps To Freedom Anyone Can Take
- Contrarian Voice. We are, for the most part, adept at lying to ourselves. We say things like: ‘I am not really addicted,’ all the time. That’s why we need a trusted voice who will say the things we don’t want to hear. The trusted contrarian voice is a voice that provides more than accountability. It’s a voice – a person in our life – to whom we give authority to speak and from whom we are open to receive. It’s the contrarian or prophetic voice of Scripture that calls the people back to the truth. In short: Every David needs a Nathan.
- Communal Journey. Porn thrives on isolation and grows in the shady corners of our world. One struggling with porn must, therefore, look for meaningful community. Find ways to participate – meaningfully – in the community around you. I don’t mean that you should join your local HOA. I mean that, if you are a dad, be with your family when you are home! Be fully present to them and attentive to their needs and desires. If you have a church, throw yourself into the community. If you find that your congregation, or place of gathering, repeatedly fails to create and foster meaningful and life-giving community, then you may need to go elsewhere. Truth is ALWAYS nurtured in community and falsehood ALWAYS thrives on isolation.
- Commitment to Win. It’s important to get a vision of what victory looks like in this area of addiction. When porn convinces you that it’s unbeatable, you lose hope. Find encouraging stories of success. Stories that provide hope and remind you that you are not alone on this journey and that there are others who are willing to help you as you go. Take steps that nurture victory and make a ‘win’ possible. Check out the links at the bottom of this post for an ‘online’ list of five wonderful resources and agencies designed help people break free from this addiction.
- Confessional Posture. The step of confession is a crucial one. It’s also why a contrarian/prophetic voice must be nurtured. You are going to mess up. You are going to wreck things. When this happens, you need a place to confess – verbally – and receive the healing that accompanies confession and the rebuke that freedom requires. Confession has always been the hardest and most essential step in my walk! It’s likely the case in yours.
A final plea to pastors. Do not be fooled into believing that silence is an option. You must take a stand. I and numerous others can help you, but we cannot assist you if you don’t reach out. If pornography is a personal problem, then seek help! Your healing might be the best thing you can provide for your congregation! Many in your church are silently struggling with this pervasive evil.
This I know: IF WE DON’T END PORN, PORN WILL END US! You have a platform. Use your platform to address the most pervasive evil we have seen in modern times. Use it.
Disrupting to Renew