Many experts were referring to the use of pornography as being at epidemic proportions. Morality in Media, a national organization in the fight against porn has declared porn a pandemic. Even though the distribution of porn is illegal under federal law it now comprises 30% of the total data on the internet.
I believe both epidemic and pandemic statements are true. It is easy to find the statistics to prove that the use of porn is out of control in and outside the church. Yet bring up the discussion and see what happens. Very few want to talk about this issue. It is a cancer that destroys relationships, marriages and cripples the church yet the issue is met by many church leaders obstinately.
Let me tell you a few true stories. Laura is a professional Christian counselor. She has been married to Bob for many years. Bob has an attraction to pornography that has grown to include acting out with other women. He’s having affairs. Bob’s addiction has been passed on to the couple’s son. His addiction to porn and prostitutes has him on probation for breaking laws. This family belongs to an evangelical, Bible preaching church. Bob has even been in some leadership positions at the church.
So it makes sense that the couple go to the pastor for some counseling. What do you think happens? The pastor sides with the husband and tells the wife to step it up in the bedroom because it’s the wife’s responsibility to make the marriage work. Do you understand how sick this pastor’s advice was? I hope so. The story gets worse. The wife continued to believe, and rightfully so, that her husband was in the wrong and now so was her pastor. One other woman in the congregation sided with Laura and both of them were eventually run out of the church for not being obedient. Obedient to what? Certainly not Scripture! This church is sick to the core! I wish this story was one of a kind but it is not.
Kathy’s husband was a denominational pastor. He battled a secret attraction to pornography that was paralyzing their marriage. They both felt they could not ask for help because Bill would lose his job. They struggled on for years with their secret until one day Bill resigned as pastor and told his wife he was leaving with another woman. He even faked his own death after leaving. Bill has been married four more times now and is nearing divorce again. He is suicidal, believing that there is no hope for him. Kathy is remarried but believes she can not talk about her past with church friends because no one would understand her divorce, her pain or the lasting effects her first marriage has had on her children.
The four days we were at the conference, exhibiting my book, my wife and I lost count of how many times we heard this comment: “pornography is a huge problem, keep doing your ministry; it is so needed.” Many professional counselors stopped to say they have many clients dealing with porn, some said it is the number one issue with clients. A young college student told us some of her age group are outspoken in the use of porn as a “marriage enrichment tool,” totally oblivious to the fact it will cripple or kill their marriage. Over and over we heard the statistic that 65-90% of pastors are struggling with porn use.
SO WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON, WHY ALL THE SILENCE? We are in a war, a spiritual war that rages whether you believe it or not. Our enemy is not of this world. In war, the first tactic used by opposing forces is to cut off communication between allied forces. This is precisely what the evil one has done with many Christians in the church. Fear, shame and denial keep us silent and as a result the use of porn goes on in silence, its cancer destroying the core of relationships and people suffer in silence. The very thing we fear is the very thing we need to do: TALK.
The only entity that puts levels on sin is the evil one. Sin is sin period. Jesus has set us free from the penalty for sin. In Him we find forgiveness and hope. As Christ followers, we need to share our common denominator with each other: sin. When we bring these discussions into the open the very first thing that happens is that the temptation to that sin loses its power. The next thing that happens is that the commonality of the sin is exposed. Others struggle too. None of us is alone. Then we develop support from each other, building each other up and strengthening each other. In other words, we will start to behave like the Church was intended to by God’s design, to function as a body.
Somehow we need to break the silence. Not by shaming or declaring some kind of “here look how great I am, you need to follow me” (self righteousness or modern day Pharisee). But in honest humility, declare our own brokenness.
I met such a man at the conference we attended. I think he is one of the most profound Christian men I have ever met. When I first saw Jeffery I judged him by his looks and actions as being very feminine. I was confident he was homosexual. “Was,” is the only thing I was right about. Jeffery was manning one of the tables for Shared Hope International, a Christian ministry to the LGBTQ communities. Jeffery had lived about 20 years of his life as a transsexual. The pictures displayed showed the transformation from childhood little boy to a young man, then the surgical and hormonal intervention which produced an attractive woman. Jeffery lived 20 years of his life as a stripper and a prostitute. Jeffery had bought into the politically-correct lies of gender identity and out of control sexuality, the lies of the evil one with whom our battle is against. He had been raped at a young age and friends and family recognizing his feminine characteristics always commented on how he should have been a girl. Never underestimate the power of your words on another person and how the evil one will use them.
Jeffery eventually learned through the loving kindness of another person that God loved and had always known Jeffery, even before he was born. Despite his personal characteristics, God created him in the womb of his mother as a man and as a man he was born. He also was convinced that he had done nothing that God would not forgive him for. Jeffery is living his life for God now, as a man. He has cut his hair short, had his “breasts” removed, the silicone stripped from his lips, he no longer takes female hormones.
Jeffery will never recover his male anatomy. Some things just can’t surgically be undone. Yet he is the happiest he has ever been, held tight in the loving arms of God, his gracious father. Do you think God is using Jeffery powerfully in ministry? Yes very!
God has mightily healed Jeffery on the inside. He is still broken on the outside and in profound humility and brokenness, Jeffery reaches out to others that are also broken so they might also find the love, hope and healing only found in God through Jesus Christ.
I believe we all should follow the examples of courage set by men of God like Jeffery. Let’s break the silence and start talking about our own brokenness.
Lynn Fredrick is the author of Stand Firm. For a downloadable brochure for examples of presentations and workshops go to www.lynnfredrick.com — click on “media kit.”