Our Secret Sin
It's happened three times in the last week.
It happened at the elder meeting last Tuesday night when someone mentioned that many Christian men struggle with pornography. It is a scourge that afflicts far more churchgoing men than most people imagine. Heads nodded around the room. A figure was quoted to the effect that 75% of all pornography involves children in one way or another. If you partake in so-called "adult" pornography, you are helping to finance the 75% that involves children.
It happened again last week when I met a young man in his late teens who faces many problems in his life. Perhaps his largest issue relates to sexual issues. He has been addicted to pornography since he was 12.
It happened again today when I talked to my Pastor of Students Ministries who said that he spoke with a high school student who has been hooked on pornography for at least five years.
Is this a new problem? Yes and no. The ancient Greek and Roman seaports were almost entirely given over to sexual promiscuity. Read the Bible. Sexual temptation has been with us since the beginning. What is new is the easy availability of pornography via the Internet. That simply wasn't possible 20 years ago. In earlier generations, you could only get that sort of literature by asking for it under the counter. Today every sort of vile picture and video is available to anyone at the click of a mouse button. That probably understates the reality. Things most people can't imagine are available to any child who knows how to operate a computer.
My purpose in all this is not to blast the pornographers. The bad guys figured out the value of new technology while the good guys were fiddling with the remote control. Someone commented to me that pornography is the "secret sin" of Christian men. We hate it because we know what it does to us and to those we love. Yet we return to it again and again. Sexual lust can be incredibly, almost overwhelmingly powerful. And because it is irrational, we feel even more ashamed every time we give in. It is the craving for salt by a man dying of thirst.
I do not write to condemn. The sin of indulging in pornography is made much greater by the sin of the cover-up. When we pretend everything is okay, the soul begins to wither and die. My plea is for churches to confront this problem head on, and to tell men, "It's okay to admit that you struggle in this area." And then to say, "You don't have to struggle alone. We can help you." Even then it will take enormous courage for a Christian man (a pastor, an elder, a deacon, a Sunday School teacher, a choir member, a worship leader, an Awana leader) to say, "I've got a problem." A wise friend once told me, "You're only as sick as your secrets." Pornography is not the unforgivable sin, but you will never get better until you admit you need help. The word of the Lord remains, "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy" (Proverbs 28:13).
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