What happened next was what I'll never forget.
He placed a chair in the middle of the room and said, "Who is brave enough to sit here and confess your sexual sin?" One by one the men around the circle shuffled to the chair and poured out their hearts to God. As they did, both friends and strangers also came, placed their hands on them, and prayed for them as tears streaked down their faces. Each man's courage inspired the next man. Their confessions were sobering, even shocking, but there was no judgment in that room--only grace and brotherly compassion. The compassion of men who know the stain of this sin. It began with the courage of one man to shine the light in the darkness.
This sin is not going away. In fact, this year someone is making $100 billion by victimizing 30,000 of us every second and terrorizing its employees. They will make more next year. Who's stopping them? Virtually nobody. Perhaps a worse question is, who's paying them? We are.
Consider the impact:
"Multimedia pornography has become the chief means by which the emergent sex industry encourages the solicitations of the senses to overwhelm the moral and aesthetic feelings of fitness on which all civilized actions and an ordered culture depend. Pornography represents the contemporary means of making Caligulas of us all—with all that that implies in terms of violence, misogyny, and interpersonal grief." - Paul McHugh, University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of MedicineWhat this fancy academic language means is that porn fundamentally alters the way we think--not just about sex, but about ourselves and other human beings. In other words:
Porn use creates the impression that aberrant sexual practices are more common than they really are, and that promiscuous behavior is normal. For example, in a 2000 meta-analysis of 46 published studies put out by the National Foundation for Family Research and Education at the University of Calgary, regular exposure to pornography increased risk of sexual deviancy (including lower age of first intercourse and excessive masturbation), increased belief in the “rape myth” (that women cause rape and rapists are normal), and was associated with negative attitudes regarding intimate relationships (e.g., rejecting the need for courtship and viewing persons as sexual objects). Indeed, neurological imaging confirms the latter finding. Susan Fiske, professor of psychology at Princeton University, used MRI scans to analyze the brain activity of men viewing pornography. She found that after viewing porn, men looked at women more as objects than as human beings.No wonder Jesus was so serious about what we look at: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Little did His disciples imagine what dangers awaited us 2,000 years in the future!
Because as you probably suspect, the problem in the church reflects the problem in the world. Brace yourself:
- A 1996 Promise Keepers survey at one of their stadium events revealed that over 50% of the men in attendance were involved with pornography within one week of attending the event.
- 51% of pastors say cyber-porn is a possible temptation. 37% say it is a current struggle (Christianity Today, Leadership Survey, 12/2001).
- Over half of evangelical pastors admit viewing pornography last year.
- Roger Charman of Focus on the Family's Pastoral Ministries reports that approximately 20 percent of the calls received on their Pastoral Care Line are for help with issues such as pornography and compulsive sexual behavior.
- In a 2000 Christianity Today survey, 33% of clergy admitted to having visited a sexually explicit Web site. Of those who had visited a porn site, 53% had visited such sites “a few times” in the past year, and 18% visit sexually explicit sites between a couple of times a month and more than once a week.
- 29% of born again adults in the U.S. feel it is morally acceptable to view movies with explicit sexual behavior (The Barna Group).
- 57% of pastors say that addiction to pornography is the most sexually damaging issue to their congregation (Christians and Sex Leadership Journal Survey, March 2005).
So what? Is it really so bad? Are you one of the nearly one-third of born-again adults who thinks it's no big deal? Because porn destroys the lives, marriages and families of those who watch it. And that's nothing compared to the horrific experiences of the people trapped in the industry (the very people you whose oppression you are supporting every time you watch that video or click that hyperlink).
Listen to one prominent former porn industry star tell the awful truth:
Is there hope? Yes, there is hope and recovery, but only when there is honesty. If your church, Bible study, or family isn't talking about porn, you're not dealing with reality. It's a terribly difficult and embarrassing topic, but sin thrives in dark corners. Turning the tide starts with shining a light.
It starts with the courage of one person to stand up and tell the truth.