Monday, May 19, 2014

Small Group Leader? Youth Leader? Pastor? You should read this.

A groundswell is coming.  If you’ve been in a body of believers—a real community with vulnerability, honesty, and confession—than you’ve probably seen the truth.  Christ’s bride has an addiction problem. It’s not alcohol. It’s not smoking. It’s pornography.

In the minute or two it takes to read this article, over 30,000 people have been watching pornography online.

And a portion of the people with whom you worship on Sunday are the ones doing the watching—and, in some cases, creating.  Porn has become ubiquitous. Any teenager with a smartphone can access an unlimited amount of erotic material, and for the first time since the 1970’s, a blatantly pornographic work has become a normalized part of the cultural zeitgeist.

The problem is that our congregations are terribly ill-equipped to handle not only the shifting paradigm of pornographic presence but also the use of pornography by members who have developed an actual, physiological attachment to porn.

Those who began watching porn at puberty, for example, have quite literally hardwired themselves to need porn. Whether it’s for release from stress or for simple escapism, congregants across the country are finding themselves emotionally attached to pornography and masturbation.

I’m saying this not only as an observer but a former participant. I am one of the individuals I mentioned—or at least I was, from the age of 13 to the age of 28, I was addicted to pornography. I ran to it if rejected, exhausted, or even bored.  As I developed emotionally, pornography became a dangerous tool to cope with difficulties and stressors in life. Like so many men in my generation, the addiction started with sneaking magazines or videos taped from premium cable. Then the internet hit and every changed; access got faster and things got worse.

I went to a Christian university, and the number of men whose stories echo my own are staggering. What’s worse, many men have gone further. Strip clubs, prostitution, and other illicit activities pepper the history of many men who simply did not have the tools with which to engage this world affectively.

People are hurting. They always have, and they always will, and porn is a numbing agent, not a cure, that is constantly self-prescribed by people who simply don’t know the cost of their placebo. It’s lasting, long term effects are far more painful than we tend to see (or believe).

Many online ministries have been developed to combat this issue, and a few with which I’ve had a distinct pleasure of working are listed below, as resources, not only for those who struggle but those in leadership in need of tools and resources to help facilitate discussion and bring this topic to the forefront of their congregations.

Intentional Warriors (Interview with Founder James Cordrey)

If this conversation doesn’t change, things will get worse.

This summer, as folks wear less clothing and hormones run wild in the heat,  educate your church. Instill in its membership lessons for a lifetime. 

The life you change may be the one you’d least expect. 

PS - My Novel, Stronghold , also speaks to this issue in a unique way! You may find it worth a read this summer.

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