Congratulations if you read past the headline! Pornography is a head-turning subject in more than one way. Nobody wants to talk about it. But far too many are watching it.
Pornography teaches people to objectify and dehumanize other people – people created in the image of God! Pornography instills in the mind of the watcher that others are to be used for his or her own selfish desires. As the user becomes addicted and seeks to view more deviant acts and imagery in order to reach the desired high, the person’s thought life is increasingly distorted.
As the user’s perception changes, his or her desires increasingly align with what has been seen on a screen, resulting in increasingly selfish behavior, causing harm to the person viewed as the object of self-centered demands. The addict’s inability to enjoy a sexually giving relationship within the beauty of the marital covenant brings dysfunction and emotional pain into the marriage.
Meanwhile, children are being set up for failure in their futures, as they are being bombarded with pornography. According to a 2020 report by the British Board of Film Classification, 63% of children age 11-13 who have seen pornography said their first exposure was unintentional. In the same report, 83% of parents agreed that robust age-verification controls should be in place to stop children from seeing commercial pornography.
Seventeen states have either introduced or passed resolutions identifying pornography as a public health crisis. Utah is among those states identifying pornography as a “societal harm” via a concurrent resolution.” In late March, the state took a further step when Gov. Spencer J. Cox (R-UT) signed a bill requiring that a filter be automatically enabled to block such harmful materials from minors when a smartphone or tablet is activated.
While the filter prevents “the user of the device from accessing material harmful to minors on the device,” it enables parents the option of deactivating the filter for the device or for specific content.
It is important to note, however, that before the bill can take effect, five other states must pass similar legislation, a condition added to address concerns about the difficulty of implementation by a single state.
If your heart is burning within you as you read this, consider contacting your legislators and encouraging them to follow the example of Utah. You will likely face an uphill battle! It is not an easy task to find one who is ready to attach his or her name to this fight. Sad, but true.
Many adults support protecting children from the detrimental effects of pornography. This is good news. However, far too many adults are determined to have access for themselves.
Not only is it difficult to find lawmakers who will address this widespread issue, but what is more disturbing is the church’s silence. According to a 2016 Barna Study of practicing Christians, 41% of males and 13% of females (ages 13-24) are actively seeking pornography at least once or twice a month. The number is lower among practicing Christian men older than 24, but it still sits at 23%.
Brothers and sisters, we are talking about our people – people who identify as Christians and regularly attend church services. This is serious!
The same study reveals that one in five youth pastors and one in seven senior pastors use pornography on a regular basis and are currently struggling. Meanwhile, only 7% of pastors report their church has a mechanism in place to help those struggling in this area.
As redeemed followers of Christ, we know the path out of darkness. It starts with honesty…humility…and confession. If there was nothing else to learn from the distressing report the RZM ministry released in February concerning the hidden sexual misconduct of the widely respected Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias, it is that accountability to other brothers and sisters is an essential component of the Christian walk. No one is above it.
In the flesh, we don’t like to talk about our secrets. Especially when we desire to continue on the path of darkness. But as blood-bought brothers and sisters, we are to throw off the old man (the flesh) and walk in newness of life. We must be talking about these issues, confessing our sins to each other, and praying for each other, that we can be healed (James 5:16).
A dear friend recently told me, “You have a hunting license in my life.” What if we all gave another person or persons permission to ask us hard questions about our thought life and our behavior when alone? Choose someone who really knows you – someone with whom you spend time, who sees you at your best and your worst, who you can trust to be honest with you, who will listen well and help you back onto the path of fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-10).
We can look back at King David, the “man after God’s own heart.” He was far from perfect. And he had been so hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, it took another man – Nathan – to confront him before he could see his own state of sinfulness and the dire need for repentance.
How can a person be stirred to repentance when surrounded by silence? We must speak on this subject in the church. We must provide a culture of transparency and a clear path out of darkness.
The Conquer Series: Teaches a way to live free of pornography through proven strategies and practical tools, including action-packed episodes and biblical teaching.
The Defenders: The Men of Shared Hope: Provides the opportunity for men to commit their lives to bring dignity, honor, and respect to women and children while holding themselves and other men accountable – all to bring an end to the destructive marketplace of commercial sexual exploitation.
The Shepherd Project: Equips individuals and the church to recognize the interwovenness of pornography, sexual abuse, sexual assault, and sex trafficking.