Sexual Purity Posts

Pornography in the Church

By Bill Perkins

The High Cost of Silence

The pervasive sin of Internet pornography is taking hold in our churches…and most leaders aren’t doing much to address it.

Several years ago I performed the marriage ceremony for a young couple. Both had grown up in Christian homes and done well professionally. She had won the state’s “Best Teacher” award, and he was a successful salesman. They completed six weeks of premarital counseling with me and also met numerous times with a professional therapist. They seemed on course to have a healthy and fulfilling marriage.

But things were not as they appeared.

Six months after their wedding I received a phone call from the bride. “Bill, I just found out Jason is addicted to porn.”

“How did you find out?” I asked.

“I pay the bills and noticed some unexpected credit card charges,” she said. “I asked about them and his explanation made sense. I mean, I wasn’t even suspicious. And then one day I was looking for something on his laptop and out of curiosity, checked his browsing history. What I saw made me sick. I then did some research on the credit card charges and discovered they were to an online company with a bogus name—it’s a porn site, and he has been paying for adult video-chats.”

“Did you ask him about it?”

“I asked,” she said. “Initially, he denied it. But when I started to power up his laptop, he came clean. He admitted he had been hooked on porn since he was a teenager.”

I wish I could tell you their story ended well, but it didn’t. Nor do most of the stories I hear from the men and women who contact me after reading one of my books or hearing me speak. I wish I could say most pastors and church leaders are aware of the extent of the problem and have a system in place to educate, counsel, and protect their parishioners from the growing influence of pornography. But as someone who travels across the United States speaking in all flavors of churches, I don’t believe that’s the case. I suspect if church leaders were more aware of the high cost of porn in the church, they would more aggressively mobilize the resources needed to combat the problem.

Hiding Creates a Greater Problem

When something is forbidden, or banned on grounds of morality, it becomes taboo. Nothing in the church is more taboo than sexual sins.Indeed, the hallmark of Christian virtue is sexual purity. The Bible repeatedly tells us to abstain from sexual immorality and pursue purity (1 Thess. 4:5; 2 Tim. 2:22; 1 Pet. 1:14; 2:11; 1 John 2:16). And so as believers we should set a high biblical standard of sexual purity and condemn sexual sins.

The problem is, when we hammer away on the evils of sexual sins people decide not to talk about them at all. And since it’s not talked about, everyone assumes there is no problem. Or, if there is one, it’s with other people.

Since pastors are expected to live lust-free lives, they also refuse to discuss their personal struggle to remain sexually pure. No wonder—if a pastor admits he’s got a problem with porn, regardless of how limited the problem may be, he could be fired and blackballed.

Moreover, the taboo nature of sexual sins in the church makes them more exciting to commit. While doing research for one of my books on addictive behavior, I conducted a telephone interview with a leading expert in the field of sexual addictions. He told me, “I believe evangelical Christians have a greater tendency to fall into sexual addictions than any other sub-culture in the United States.”

When I asked him why, he said, “Because sexual sins are so taboo in the church people find them more exciting. Once they commit a taboo sexual act, they refuse to tell anyone. Their belief that they have done something bad creates guilt which leads to shame. This shame generates pain which they try to medicate with more sexually taboo activity. The deeper they fall into sexually deviant behavior the more closely they must guard their secret. The longer the behavior continues, the more addictive it becomes, and the more it destroys their core being.”

While just his opinion, he told me this without knowing that I am a Christian who writes from a Christian perspective. His thoughts underline the possibility that churches, by refusing to address the problem of porn in the church, are actually creating an environment that fosters porn addictions.

The Apostle Paul addressed the power of the taboo when he said, “The law was added so that the trespass might increase” (Rom. 5:20, NIV). His statement is certainly true when it comes to sexual purity—just tell someone something is wrong and it suddenly excites the flesh (Rom. 7). And so as the church fights for purity we need to recognize the message we’re sending could be creating a bigger problem.

Does that mean we should lower the moral standard? No, it doesn’t. But it does mean we need to avoid placing sexual sins in a category in which they’re so aberrant that those who commit them are anathema. We need to create a place where all sins can be discussed and dealt with. I don’t mean we should have a weekly meeting where everyone stands and confesses their sexual sins. Rather, we need to create a setting where everyone knows someone in the church with whom they can discuss their struggle. We need to follow the admonition of James and confess our sins rather than hiding them (James 5:16).

Crippled Leaders

I could quote to you statistics about what percentage of surveyed evangelical pastors have visited an Internet porn site in the last month. Or I could quote a statistic which declares how many pastors are porn addicts. But frankly, I haven’t seen a legitimate survey with such information. The ones I’ve seen didn’t provide a large enough sampling to convince me they are reliable.

But I don’t need stats, because I’ve talked with enough pastors to know plenty of them are tainting their souls with Internet porn, as are many lay-leaders. This creates a problem, not just for the pastor and leaders, but for the church as well.

Last year, I received an e-mail from a church leader asking for my advice. He told me someone had spotted porn on the pastor’s computer which resulted in his resignation. The pastor claimed he had visited a site just once. And even though an investigation of the computer by an expert had uncovered only a single image with no evidence of Internet porn surfing, the man had to quit his job.

The church was devastated and serious questions were raised about the sexual morality of the remaining staff members. The pastor couldn’t get another job and may end up stepping away from vocational ministry. In addition to his losses, the reputation of the church was tarnished.

Of course, for a pastor to maintain sexual purity, he needs a band of brothers with whom he can be open and honest. A man who is cultivating those kinds of friendships sets an example for the staff and church to follow. And a pastor who isolates himself and refuses to deal with his struggles with sexual lust, builds a church that does the same thing. In other words, churches follow the example of their leaders.

Porn is an enemy that will infiltrate and destroy churches from the top down, and it will do so without a blink of remorse.

Addicted Women and Teens

According to a May 18, 2010, survey conducted by Today’s Christian Women Online, 34% of their readers admit to intentionally accessing porn. The results of this are staggering. More women are getting involved in cybersex, more women than men convert online conversations into real-life affairs, and more women are accessing porn while at work.

If those stats didn’t get your attention this next one will. According to Family Safe Media, the largest group of viewers of Internet porn is children between ages 12 and 17. In spite of this staggering statistic, most of the Christian parents I speak with deny their kids have or would check out a porn site.

Several years ago I had a speaking engagement at a city-wide men’s breakfast on the East Coast. The point man for the event picked me up at the airport and drove me to my hotel. On the way, he mentioned that an image of a dancing naked woman had appeared on the home page of his desktop computer at home and he didn’t know where it came from or how to get rid of it. I told him somebody probably visited a porn site and it followed them home and decided to stay.

“It wasn’t me,” he said.

“Then it must have been your wife,” I said.

“No way!” he insisted.

“Then it was probably one of your teenage sons.”

At this point he became indignant and assured me his sons never visit porn sites. “They’re Christians who go to a Christian school and attend a strong church,” he said.

Later that night, I had dinner with the man, his wife and another couple. The topic came up and the other couple insisted their three teenagers have never visited an Internet porn site either.

Did these parents know for sure their kids hadn’t visited a porn site? No, they didn’t know for sure. They based their conclusion on the fact that they were all good Christian kids. These two couples are like a lot of believers who think a Christian school and good church serve as a spiritual prophylactic guarding their children from the evils of the world. Unfortunately, by making sexual sins taboo and refusing to talk openly about them, those institutions often have the opposite effect on kids. Those two sets of parents may have been right about their kids. I hope they were. But it’s more likely their children know they’ll be severely punished if they admit such behavior and so they hide it and pretend sexual lust isn’t an issue for them. That keeps everyone happy.

Such misguided thinking is fed by the refusal of most churches to talk openly about the issue of Internet porn. People conclude since nobody else at church has kids or moms who dabble in porn, then it must not be a problem for their family either.

Churches Making a Difference

Fortunately, there are churches in which the pastor and leaders openly admit their struggles with sin. These are the churches that provide counseling and support groups for people to safely discuss and deal with their struggles. They talk about sexual sins just like they do other sins, depriving them of the power they have when they are considered taboo. They offer resources that enable everyone in the church to filter what they can access on the Internet while also providing accountability.

Our strategy to achieve sexual purity has to be like a laser-guided missile. These weapons constantly adapt to the changing terrain as they zero in on their target. Because the moral terrain is constantly changing, we must be adept in adapting as we pursue our target: sexual purity.

Sexual Purity Posts

Should a Pastor be Fired if He’s Viewing Porn?

Ask adult Christians what should be done if their pastor is using pornography, and 41% say “He/she should be fired or asked to resign.”* Another 29% say the pastor should take a leave of absence until he/she stops using porn.  Those over 50 years of age were more adamant about that—47% of age 51-69 and 57% of age 70+ were ready to can the pastor.  But only 35% of age 25-30 and 27% of age 31-50 felt that way.

Wow! If that were the case, a lot of pastors would be out of a job! More than half (57%) of pastors say they are either currently struggling (14%) or have struggled in the past (43%) with pornography, and 33% of the ones currently struggling say they “are addicted” to porn.

Among youth pastors, the numbers are higher: 64% say they are struggling (21%) or have struggled in the past (43%).  A whopping 56% of those currently struggling say they “are addicted” to porn.

It is not surprising that pastors think a little differently than the 41% of lay people who say pastors should be fired.  Only 8% of pastors think that a pastor “should be fired or asked to resign” if found using porn.

And it is even less surprising to find out that 55% of those using porn “live in constant fear of being discovered.”  No kidding! I know of many pastors who, upon being discovered, lose their careers, their families, their homes, their friends, everything.  Some have even ended their own lives as a result of being discovered.

What solutions do pastors suggest?

  • 82% said they should find a professional counselor.
  • 59% said they should find “a group of mature Christians who can hold him accountable.”
  • Only 1% of the pastors said that the congregation should be told.

But congregations are  unaware of the scope of the problem.  Awareness precedes understanding, and understanding precedes action. Once the people understand how addictive porn is and recognize that pastors are as prone to the sin as anyone else, they can take action.

If there is no problem among your pastors, that’s great!  But as the pastors themselves say, accountability is the best preventive medicine.  How devastating it would be to coast along, thinking there will be no problem, only to find out you need to rehabilitate or replace a key staff person.  How disrupting to the ministry, how costly for the counseling, how humiliating for the staff—all of which could be headed off by installing Covenant Eyes on all of the staff computers to maintain accountability and have open and transparent conversations.

It would be like the Black Plague on the church if all of the struggling pastors had to resign.  I believe they need help, not banishment.  I also believe we need to educate the church that porn is a pervasive problem, and pastors are human, too.  If we force pastors to live in constant fear, we force them to NOT seek help, the very help they know is needed.

The majority of those who struggle know what must be done–they need professional counseling along with accountability partners.  But they aren’t going to seek that help if they can’t admit they struggle, and they can’t admit they struggle if they know they’re out the door the next minute.  We need to meet them at the foot of the cross, where Christ took on the burden of our sins, as well as those of our pastors.

Send your pastor to the Set Free Summit, and have him bring a copy of this article to the Covenant Eyes booth for a free year’s subscription of Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability for you or your pastor.

*All data in this article are from The Porn Phenomenon, a 2016 study by the Barna Group. Get the full results at the Summit.

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Sexual Purity Posts

How Your Church Can Handle Sexual Sin the Right Way

Posted: 24 Feb 2013 03:00 AM PST

It is a rare thing for a church to handle sexual sin the right way.  Some of you may have experienced the heavy hand of a church or pastor.  Some may have seen a leader or pastor fall to sexual sin.
I know of some churches that have done it the right way.   They are Hall of Fame churches in my opinion!  Here are some things I have observed about churches that do it right:
1.  They are upfront with the congregation – Churches that do it right do not try to cover up or hide the sin.  They do not dismiss the minister or person quietly.  They realize that truth is better than cover up, even if it’s messy.
2.  They do not share the details – Church members do not generally need to hear names, dates, and specific sexual details.  Those should be shared with the right people (like counselors, and church elders).
3.  They remind the church that we are all sinners – Sexual sin is no worse before God than other sins.  It has different levels of consequences, yes.  But it is breaking God’s standards for godly living.  We all break God’s rules.  We all have junk and need to deal with our junk.  Some of us are in bondage to different things.
4.  They take sin seriously – Churches that do it right rebuke wickedness.  They call the person to repentance.  They do not gloss over it or try to pretend its not serious.  Our sin steps on the holiness of God and defiles us and His name.
5.  They extend love, grace and forgiveness – This has to be the other side.  Deal with sin seriously with one hand.  Extend grace with the other.  Churches that are doing it right surround the person, get in the mud with him, and help rescue him back to health.
Extending forgiveness is not the same thing as restoration or restored trust.  Good churches understand that.  They can forgive trespasses, but consequences will still happen.
6.  They invite others to prayer – A sexual problem in a church affects the whole of the church.  Good churches call for prayer, not just for the individual or couple, but for themselves.  Many others may be in bondage too.  Trust has been broken, hypocrisy exposed, and wounds have happened.  The church body needs healing when a member is caught in bondage to sexual sin.
7.  They provide resources – So many churches fail here.  Good churches have resources, counselors, or programs to help, or they go out and help the sexual struggler find them.
8.  They develop a plan for restoration and oversight – Another major failure of many churches.  Good churches deal with sin, then continue to work with the person or couple.
There are many, many people in our churches holding on to sexual sin.  Consider your own church.
Q:  Is your church a safe place for people to share?
Q:  Do you as a church leader share your own struggles and invite others?
Q:  What are you doing to resource those who are struggling with sexual sin?
Q:  What are you doing in your own life in the are of sexual sin?
Sexual Purity Posts, Videos

Pornography, Bravery, and Freedom

I read this post and watched this video (another version was posted to Castimonia a few months ago) and thought I’d share this.  There are a lot of Christian men (and women) who struggle with pornography or sexual addiction but can’t escape because they are keeping it a secret from others for fear that they will be shamed and shunned by the church.  If you are one of those, then contact the leaders of Castimonia, we are here to help you, not condemn you!

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Pornography, Bravery, and Freedom.

I hope you found that video both sobering and heartbreaking. Sexual addiction/pornography addiction has become pandemic. It can no longer be ignored. It destroys marriages, families, friendships, careers, and lives.  Let me share some statistics with you.

  • 50% of Christian men and 20% of Christian women are addicted to pornography
  • 70% of porn visitors online admit that they keep it secret
  • Ages 12-17 are the largest consumers of internet pornography
  • 62% of parents with teenagers are unaware they have accessed objectionable website
  • 90% of children ages 8-16 have viewed pornography on the internet
  • 1 in 3 porn viewers are women
  • 70% of men, aged 18-24, visit porn sites in a month
  • 12% of websites on the internet are pornographic
  • Nearly 25 million pornographic sites are in existence
  • Every second, over $3,000 is spent on internet pornography
  • Over 28,000 internet users are viewing porn every second
  • 40 million Americans are regular users of porn sites
  • 25% of all search engine requests are pornography related
  • 68 million searches are conducted a day that are pornography related
  • 35% of all internet downloads are pornographic
  • There are 116,000 searches for child pornography daily
  • The average age at which a child first sees porn online is 11
  • Every 39 minutes a new pornographic video is being created in the U.S.

Most people have no idea how addictive pornography actually is. They think that it is just looking at pictures or videos. How can looking at pictures be addictive? The addictive process is multifaceted. The more one continues to view pornography he or she becomes behaviorally conditioned to continue doing so. The sexual drive is a natural drive that God created and it is extremely powerful. The brain also chemically reinforces the addictive process because the use of pornography provides the brain with potent chemicals. Eventually the use of pornography is the brain’s primary way of getting its needs met, and the addiction becomes extremely ingrained. The addiction to pornography is also promoted through a social context. Many would say this is part of “being a man” and that it is perfectly healthy. All of these factors coalesce into a powerful addiction.

So just how powerful is the addiction to pornography? One experiment was conducted where rats were habituated to the drug Heroine. The rats were then given the option to receive a dose of Heroine or an electrical impulse that stimulated the sexual pleasure centers in their brains. The rats chose the electrical impulse every time. That is extremely telling.

So why has pornography become such a problem? Because the addiction is rooted in shame and shrouded in secrecy. No one wants to come out and admit they have a problem. The shame and secrecy actually feed the addiction. The only way to break free is to take the first step and admit it is a problem to someone else.

You probably noticed from the statistics that the church is heavily impacted by this addiction. Christianity clearly teaches that lust and pornography are wrong. Pornography is prohibited along with every other form of sexual aberration. So with the Biblical proscription against pornography, why is it such a raging problem? Could it be that people are afraid to approach the church with this problem because they are scared of being condemned and judged instead of helped and loved? Have we created an environment in church that actually feeds the problem? What if the church promoted the teachings of Christ? That people are broken and desperately in need of some loving people to hold their hands and walk them through dark nights of the soul. Maybe more people would find the strength to be removed from the bondage of pornography if Christians would create an atmosphere of safety in churches, where we promote the idea that we are all sinners. Where we take off the masks instead of pretending like our outer Sunday best is a reflection of what is inside.

Parents, did you notice the statistics about kids? Don’t bury your head in the sand and assume that your child would never look at pornography. On the contrary, the weight of the evidence says that your child will look at pornography or be approached to do so. Talk to your kids about this topic. Let them know the dangers. Give them the freedom to come tell you when they mess up. Don’t punish them for being honest. Instead, praise them for their bravery to admit there is something in their life that shouldn’t be there.

Chances are extremely high that someone reading this struggles with pornography. Let me promise you something. You will never kill this monster on your own. It is like fighting a nine-headed hydra. Cut of one head and two grow back. I have worked with enough people to know this is a fact. Do not lie to yourself and tell yourself you will stop or that you can quit. It will not happen. Instead, tell someone. It is the brave thing to do. Know that there are probably people you know that struggle with the same thing. Maybe if you are brave they could be too. Would you take the first step and tell someone? Would you do yourself a huge favor and deal with this immediately? I hope you will.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed. Josh

If you read this and know that you struggle in this area but are too scared to tell someone you know, would you send me an email? You don’t even have to give me your name. Just start there. I would love to give you some information, resources, and ideas of where to go from here.

General Meeting Information

Castimonia Thursday Night Meeting

Just a reminder to everyone that we are starting a third weekly Castimonia meeting on Thursday nights!  The meeting will be held “off campus” at another church who was gracious enough to donate one of their rooms for this Men’s Sexual Purity Support & Recovery group!

I look forward to seeing you this Thursday night!

Castimonia Men’s Sexual Purity Support & Recovery Group
Time: Thursday Nights, 7:00PM – 8:30PM
Location: Grace Fellowship United Methodist Church – Epicentre Youth Building, Room 213
2655 South Mason Road
Katy, TX  77450

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