In 2005, I wrote How Many Porn Addicts are in Your Church? that showed at least 50% of Christian men were viewing porn. Eight years later, how are we doing?
Here’s what todays numbers show:
Porn has gone mainstream:
67% of men and 59% of women say that porn is acceptable.
More Christians are struggling with it:
- Josh McDowell quotes statistics that 60% of Christian men are viewing porn.
- A Christian missions agency reports that 80% of new applicants admit to viewing porn. They no longer ask “if,” but “how often.”
- One youth minister estimated that 90% of the kids who come to him for help, all who are from Christian families, are addicted to porn.
- 21% of Christian girls admitted to texting a sexually explicit picture of themselves.
- 50% of pastors regularly view porn.
Porn has exploded among our youth:
- According to a worldwide survey of 19,000 parents, kids as young as age six are accessing porn.
- The largest age group of porn users is 12 to 17 year olds.
- 70% of 18 to 24 year olds visit porn sites monthly
Can all of this be true?
At Blazing Grace, we receive emails often from Christian wives whose marriages are reeling. Some are close to divorce. Often, their emails read like this: “My Christian husband won’t get help, and he blames me for his porn addiction. He holds a ministry position in the church and he won’t tell anyone. What should we do?”
Marriages and families are being destroyed at an increasing rate. Estimates are that 50% of divorces are caused by porn.
With all the carnage we’re seeing, are pastors taking porn seriously?
In a recent survey, 1,000 pastors were asked how many of their members they thought were viewing porn on a weekly basis. 43% did not respond.
Of those who did:
- 62% said they thought that less than 10% were viewing porn.
- 24% guessed between 10 and 24%.
- The remaining minority thought it might be higher than 25%.
A tsunami of sexual depravity is rolling over the church; it’s hitting every age group at full force, from kindergarteners to seniors. The advent of smartphones has a lot do with this. Mom and Dad don’t realize that the iPhone they gave to little Jimmy is a gateway to porn; if Jimmy doesn’t already know how to access it, his friends at school will show him. In his Moody Church newsletter just this month, Erwin Lutzer wrote of counseling parents of teenagers who had been taught by peers how to get around porn blocking software. If Mom and Dad don’t speak openly and honestly with Jimmy about porn at an early age, by the time he’s a teenager the chances are high that he’ll be a full blown addict. Just recently we were contacted by a young man who said his parents had never talked to him about porn. He had been addicted to it for three years.
Our reality of today is that waves of college-aged men are entering marriage with a porn habit. As I know from experience, the stress and challenges of marriage force all false coping mechanisms to the surface. If a man has used porn for comfort before marriage, it won’t be long until his relationship with his wife is on dangerous ground. The family is already unraveling in the U.S. at a breakneck pace; left unchecked, the porn tsunami will bring about even more wreckage and destruction.
Many wait until the building is engulfed in flames before they take action. A lot of Christians, pastors included, are afraid to say “sex;” it’s as if they’re still living in the 50’s. One friend told me of a church he attended. He loved their theology and the teaching; when I asked him if they ever addressed porn, he said, “Oh no, we never discuss that.” Once, when I purchased a book on sex addiction at a large Christian book store, the lady who checked me out hurriedly packed the book in a bag, as if I was buying a Playboy magazine. While we’re tip-toeing around the issue, the world is force-feeding its sexual filth down our throats and that of our kids. It’s time to stop this madness.
So let’s get into some solutions:
1. We must move past our fear of talking openly and boldly about sex. The Bible is packed with it; the church should be the first place people go when they want answers.
2. We must come to terms with reality. Our culture is a cesspool. Huge numbers of children, teens, youth, married couples, and seniors need help (Just last week we received emails from persons in their 60’s whose marriages were in trouble). Families are rupturing. We have to start acting like a church that exists in the age of Sodom and Gomorrah, not the era of Leave it to Beaver.
3. Effective action will require getting out of our comfort zone and talking about topics that make people squirm, bold confrontation, and walking those in bondage to freedom. One neat and tidy sermon a year on “the Bible says sexual sin is bad, don’t do it” isn’t going to get it done.
Parents need to talk to their children at a young age about porn, and then set up a structure of accountability. Youth ministers need to encourage their kids to talk openly about sex, and provide a safe place to share.
Pastors need to start by setting the Bible’s standard for sexual sin, beginning with Matthew 5:28, and then destroy the walls of justification (porn is my wife’s fault), overturn the tables of lies, (it’s not hurting anyone; it’s not a big deal) and provoke them to action to get help. Once porn or sex addiction has coiled itself tightly around a man and he’s in bondage to it, he will manipulate, lie, justify, and blame others to avoid the truth that his Christian walk is a hoax. Such men need to hear their pastor say they’re a hypocrite, a liar; that they will destroy their life and that of their family’s if they don’t get help, and that they’re wasting the one life God has given them for all of eternity. They need to hear their pastor come down on them for blaming their wives for their porn habit, and that they have zero ground to stand on in God’s eyes for their sin.
If this sounds harsh, please remember that there’s a lot at stake; marriages and families are being destroyed. Men need to hear these words from their pastors; many are ignoring their wives pleas to get help and are train-wrecking their family.
4. Open the door wide for them to get help. The best way to do this is have someone who’s broken free from sex addiction share in front of your church, youth group, men’s group, or parachurch ministry what sexual sin did to them, and how God led them to freedom. This will make it safe for persons who want help to reach out; they’ll realize they’re not a freak and there is hope.
5. Provide safe places for men and their wives to get help. This means support groups held in places where Gertie the Gossip can’t get in, and where group members are committed to keeping what’s shared confidential. If your church doesn’t host such a group, find a ministry that does so you can refer your members to them.
6. Keep pressing in. The church has a tendency of doing a one time, special event, and then thinking the job is done. Our culture’s free-fall into sexual depravity is accelerating. Parents need to keep their kids accountable and ask the hard questions. Churches and ministries need to find creative ways to keep the issue in front of their congregation.
We all have a part to play. If the church is willing to step up to the plate and face the challenge, we can be a lighthouse of answers, hope, and healing to the broken.