The latest issue of Christianity Today has an article on pastors and the struggle with pornography. Here’s a couple of pieces of data from the 770 pastors surveyed
- Current struggle? 21% of youth pastors and 14% of pastors say yes
- How frequent a struggle? 35% of both categories say “a few times per month”
- Past struggle? 43% of both categories say yes
So, it is a problem. But here’s the data that stood out to me most of all.
- 70% of adult Christians say that if a pastor is having this struggle, the pastor should either be fired or put on leave until the problem is resolved? While
- Only 8% of pastors think they should leave their position if having this problem
While not surprising, it is telling. We think we should manage our own problems (or get a counselor or accountability group–that is still managing on our own) and that these problems don’t hinder our work.
What do you think?
How serious is the problem of porn use amongst pastors? Should it be cause to lose the position? Sinlessness is not a reasonable goal for pastors. But what would disqualify one from the position?
And if porn is a significant problem amongst congregants (and this study among many say so), does having a pastor with a current (even if infrequent) use of porn help or hinder care of congregants?
A friend of mine, David White, published a book late last year with New Growth Press entitled, Sexual Sanity For Men: Re-creating Your Mind in a Crazy Culture. I commend you this book for several reasons.
- The topic is absolutely important. David doesn’t offer a white knuckle approach to dealing with sexual temptations. Nor does he gloss over the difficulties and give the simplistic bible answer as to why porn use is bad for you or that Jesus is a substitute for porn (see week 11, day 2 for how why he rightly says, “Jesus is not going to become like porn for you” and why many addicts imagine that he will.)
- The book design is perfect. By saying this I am not talking about its physical attributes. Ever read a book that has decent sized chapters and then a few questions at the end? If you are like me you might glance at those “for further thought” questions and then move on to the next chapter. The result is that you get lots of content quickly but make little to no application. David’s book is written in the format of daily readings (5 per week) for 14 weeks. Each reading is about 2-3 pages with specific reflection and self-assessment questions with space to write. I suggest a reader complete on own but then meet up with a group of guys and discuss (hold accountable) what your read/wrote.
- The focus. The material and questions spend what may feel like an inordinate amount of time on discovering how deceived we are. You could feel like he is beating a dead horse. But I would suggest that David is intentionally helping readers peel back layer and layer of deceptions that allow sin to continue. How else could believers imbibe sin if they weren’t first deadening with deception? For example, he asks the reader to note where they wear the “fig leaf of ministry” as a way to mollify guilt.
I would encourage readers to add one question to each day/week: “What is one thing I am going to endeavor to do today, with God’s help, in light of what I just read?” If we only stay with the assessment, we can become defeated and discouraged by the amount of mess we find. But, God gives us a way of escape. Where is it today? Don’t promise yourself the world. You’ll break that promise. Endeavor to make one small, incremental change today. Tomorrow, you’ll do it again. And, don’t try to do it alone.
You can find David at www.harvestusa.org.
*received complimentary book from NGP but review is my own and not the result of free books. I get plenty others that never make my recommended list.
The link between the demand side of sex and trafficking has already been established by good research. But, few are aware of some of the connections and many think that porn use is only a personal decision without larger consequences.
I commend to you this link to a well-written essay by Luke Gilkerson of Covenant Eyes. (Covenant Eyes provides technology to track and filter unwanted sexual content for Internet users.) In this essay he summarizes the linkages and reminds readers that one of the best ways to get the message out is with a good video. He provides an extensive bibliography of videos on the topic of sex trade, porn, trafficking, and their impact on victims, families, and users.
Good stuff for you to consider.
Brad Hambrick, a counselor in Georgia, has written an article exploring whether or not pornography use might provide grounds for divorce. It is a worthy read. His final answer is a qualified no but includes a lot of other helpful thoughts about the experience and what repentance ought to look like. Too often we get caught up in a yes/no focus to this question and miss significant issues. Seems there are several questions that need to be answered,
1. Is porn use a form of adultery given Jesus’ equating lust and adultery?
2. Does failure to repent or repetitive acts such porn use destroy the covenant so that it is impossible to live at peace with a spouse? In this case, the question is less about porn and more about refusal to honor a covenant. David Instone-Brewer writes about this from a NT perspective on the OT. I blogged about his thoughts some time ago and you can search “divorce” on this blog and find multiple entries. Instead of divorce, we could insert repetitive gambling away family income, repetitive risky behaviors.
3. What would be evidence of repentance? Does any relapse equate to total failure? How many relapses equal refusal to repent?
Rather than just focus on the “big” question, it might be helpful to ask more immediate concerns. Does the porn user agree to utter transparency? Are they demanding something in return for their abstinence? Are they still trying to control their treatment?
For those who follow the link, I’d be curious your response. Read it from a user’s perspective and also of the victim spouse.
I subscribe to a listserv that documents abuse and exploitation around the world. Recently, I received notice of an article in the National Review (by an anonymous psychologist) entitled, “Getting Serious about Pornography”. The writer documents the known impact of pornography on men (i.e., the objectification of women) and at the same time tells of her own experience of being abandoned by her husband due to his porn addiction. I include her first paragraph. Click the link above for the essay on the original website.
Imagine a drug so powerful it can destroy a family simply by distorting a man’s perception of his wife. Picture an addiction so lethal it has the potential to render an entire generation incapable of forming lasting marriages and so widespread that it produces more annual revenue $97 billion worldwide in 2006 than all of the leading technology companies combined. Consider a narcotic so insidious that it evades serious scientific study and legislative action for decades, thriving instead under the ever-expanding banner of the First Amendment.
According to an online statistics firm, an estimated 40 million people use this drug on a regular basis. It doesn’t come in pill form. It can’t be smoked, injected, or snorted. And yet neurological data suggest its effects on the brain are strikingly similar to those of synthetic drugs. Indeed, two authorities on the neurochemistry of addiction, Harvey Milkman and Stanley Sunderwirth, claim it is the ability of this drug to influence all three pleasure systems in the brain arousal, satiation, and fantasy that makes it “the pièce de résistance among the addictions.”
For more click the link above. It is well worth the effort.
I think I wrote about this last year….search APA journals for literature on Internet addiction and Pornography addiction and what do you find? Not much (1st set of terms) and nothing (2nd set of terms). Search all of PsychInfo to include all of psych journals and you find a few: several published in christian journals and several in marriage and family journals. But all in all, very little.
I guess they don’t have the stomach to address these ills. They don’t even try to debunk them as social or cultural anomalies.