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Discussing and Dealing with Pornography

April 19, 2013

Not along ago I sat with a young married man and he shared with me his ongoing struggle with pornography. He confessed that he believed that he had conquered the temptation, and yet had recently found himself aga

in entangled in the web of illicit sexual fantasy, websites, and thoughts. After our conversation, I was reminded of just how prevalent porn attraction and addiction is in our time, even in the church.

Today, we are evangelizing and disciplining a generation of men who have been inundated with sexually provocative images and have in many instances become numb to sinful sexual practices and inappropriateness. In fact, sexuality is so pervasive that according to one author, “If you don’t address sexuality as part of your evangelism then you’ll either store up problems for future discipleship or you’ll never win people for Christ in the first place.”  That’s a strong statement. Yet, it serves to remind us of the ubiquitous nature of unbiblical sexuality in our culture, and how its sinful effects are felt by all. For sure, there can be no true and lasting discipleship today without dealing with the issues of pornography and sexual temptation.

Consequently, recently the men of East Point Church gathered on a Saturday morning to take up this issue. EPC is filled with men on fire for Christ, evangelism, and discipleship. Yet, it is also, like most churches of our size and demographic, filled with men who have been and continue to be negatively affected and hampered by pornography. As we discussed and shared, it became apparent just how prevalent the struggle is and how needful and indispensable are times of challenge and encouragement.

As a run up to our discussion, the men were encouraged to read two articles by David Powlison on Breaking Pornographic Addiction (part one and part two).  A few of us also read the free ebook Porn-Free Church: Raising Up Gospel Communities to Destroy Secret Sins. These are just a few resources we found extremely helpful in our discussion and ongoing discipleship and we would recommend.

As we talked, we knew that this was only to be the beginning of conversations. Discipleship is not a one time event. It is the ongoing, intentional, life-on-life realities of the blessed community. We committed to continuing the conversation and to pray with and for each other in this every man’s battle.

We did, however, leave with four takeaway or action points going forward as we seek to spur one another on to faith and good works:

1.  Consider the Consequences.  Unfortunately, when it comes to sin, we usually don’t seriously and soberly consider the consequences until after we have sinned and are reaping the consequences for our sin. Yet, as God gives us space to hear his word and to consider our ways (Hag. 1:5,7), let us also consider the effects sin, particularly pornography, can and will have on us and those we love.  After David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and the resulting deceitful and murderous aftermath, God laid out the consequences of David’s sin, and the terrible effects it would have on his family (2 Sam. 12:10-14).  Sin has consequences, even forgiven sin.  Let us consider our ways even before the temptation comes, so that when it comes, we may be better able to stand against it.

2.  Be Heart-Honest.  One of the more difficult things for a man to do is to admit to his weaknesses, especially to other men.  Yet, biblically speaking, no man is ever as strong as when he admits to his weaknesses and thus is able to avoid such temptation. For example, if you know that you struggle with alcohol, you should not be hanging out at the local pub or tavern. Likewise, if you know you struggle with sexual temptation and pornography then you shouldn’t be reading Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. You probably should not be attending rated-R movies with sexually explicit warning tags. This is just common sense. People often ask me if I have watched certain popular movies. I have no problem in saying “no, I have not.” I know that watching a man and woman have sex on a larger than life projector screen is not good for my heart and mind. I need to admit that I can’t handle it.  Others may be able to navigate that minefield just fine (though I have my suspicions) , but I can’t.  But its OK,  because I trust that when I am weak, and admit to my weakness, then am I strongest in Christ (2 Cor. 12:10).

3. Walk with the Wise. The Christian life is not designed to be lived in isolation. There are too many one another passages in the Bible for us to ever believe that the lone ranger Christian is a healthy Christian. This is particularly true when it comes to overcoming the temptation of pornography. Pornography tends to be a secret sin. Those Christians who find themselves entangled by pornographic material are not pulling out the material in public or sharing it freely and willingly on their social media. Rather, it is in private that we tend to fall victim to pornography.  With sexual sin, secrecy is deadly. Therefore it is important that you walk openly with the wise. Remember, those who stray become easy prey. Instead, walk in the counsel of the wise, stand in the company of the righteous, and sit in the seats of the worshipers (Ps. 1), and find yourself among the people of God in a place full of grace, acceptance, wisdom, and encouragement.

4.  Trust in the Truth.  The first step in the Christian overcoming sin is the truth that in the gospel of Jesus Christ all your sin is forgiven. The power of sin in the life of the Christian is its ability to enslave with guilt and condemnation. Sin wants to convince us that God tires of forgiving us. Sin wants us to believe that God’s patience eventually runs out as he come to his wit’s end with our sin. Yet, the biblical truth is that our sin, no matter how often or how grievous, is not greater than the grace of God in Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:20). The truth for the Christian struggling with pornography to remember is that “there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).  We must remind each other of the radical forgiveness of the gospel. We must rehearse in our hearts and minds the sufficiency of grace.  Confess your sin and know that Christ is able and willing to forgive you of your sin and free you from all condemnation and guilt (1 Jn. 1:9).  How many times?  As many as you need!  It sounds radical, I know.  But that’s because it is!

30 Comments leave one →
  1. Olivia permalink
    April 20, 2013 1:18 am

    Great article but can we please stop talking about pornography as though it is a problem that only affects men!

    • ajcarter permalink*
      April 20, 2013 1:31 am

      True that, Olivia. Point well taken.

  2. April 20, 2013 2:04 am

    Glad you are getting it into the open. It is rampant. I know a pastor whose “specialty” is healing from porn, etc. Ive never heard anyone else speak about it as he does. Here is a link to one of his resources and then you will see his website for the church. VERY worth contacting. Darrel Brazell, New Hope Fellowship http://newhope4si.com/resources.html

    • ajcarter permalink*
      April 20, 2013 1:28 pm

      Thanks Barbara. Will definitely check out his resources.

  3. April 20, 2013 4:35 pm

    Good article. I thank God for his people that are continuing to preach truth about the Topic Nobody Wants To Talk About. From personal experience I want to recommend a website for people who are still struggling with pornography and related sexual sins. Months ago I stumbled across the same link in a comments section of a pornography article, and it ended up being God’s way of re-making my heart and breaking me free from the secret sins that had kept me enslaved for so long. If anyone is looking for hope, check it out: http://www.settingcaptivesfree.com

  4. markblock permalink
    April 21, 2013 1:58 am

    Thank you for dealing with a seemingly hidden problem within the church. Good article.

  5. jono permalink
    April 21, 2013 8:22 am

    I have a few thoughts. To be honest I think we are really moving very quickly past for men adleast the hiddenness of pornography use within the church and individuals lives. Most men you just have to press a little now and they will confess there looking at it, i think this issue is very much in the open, and its evident in mens lives anyway that the vast majority look at pornography in some form or manner. This is the issue of our generation for the church. It has so much power to make young men and women inaffective and completely sidelined within the church. Looking at beautiful naked women is pleasurable, we need to be honest with that, that pleasure can only be conquered through the power of the Holy Spirit giving us eyes to see the superior beauty of Christ. I pray many young men like myself would behold Jesus gladly over pornography. Sex is such a good thing, and young men need to be taught that its such a good thing! We need to teach more openly in church about sex and sexuality and good it is! And that we should be patient to enjoy the pleasure of beholding a naked women (our wives) among other pleasures! emotional, spiritual and physical within sex, for marriage.

  6. April 22, 2013 11:48 am

    Thanks, Tony! Great piece. I’m especially grateful for the links to the ebook and the Powlison pieces, which I will put to use in my own ministry!

    • ajcarter permalink*
      April 22, 2013 12:13 pm

      Thanks Mike. Pray the family and ministry are well!

  7. Amy Wagner permalink
    April 23, 2013 12:09 pm

    Has there been any research on the number of men in the church who look at porn? I definitely don’t know any in my family at least. Why does there need to be separateim

  8. Amy Wagner permalink
    April 23, 2013 12:13 pm

    Why are there separate ministries for things like pornography addiction, drugs and alcohol, divorce, etc. do they not all stem from the same source, separation from God and sin? Why not focus on our need for a savior first and not focus on the sin? How is porn any different from all other sin? Should it be “treated” differently?

    • ajcarter permalink*
      April 23, 2013 2:26 pm

      Hello Amy. Thanks for your questions. Yes there has been research on the number of men engaged in pornography. Here is a link to some of the research http://www.covenanteyes.com/pornstats/.

      Also, you are right when you say that the root cause of all sin is unclean hearts, separation from God, and sin. Pornography is rooted, like all sin, in hearts that are not satisfied with God. It is rooted in hearts given to idolatry. However, it is also good in dealing with those hearts of idolatry to identifiy what the specific idol may be. When Jesus speaks to the rich young ruler (Lk. 18:18ff), he exposes the young man’s specific heart idolatry. When Jesus told the man, “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me,” (18:22) it revealed the idol. The young man’s actions in response are telling, “But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich” (18:23).

      As John Calvin reminded us, “the heart is an idol factory.” It is often helpful in dealing with idolatrous hearts to know and expose the specific idol so you can apply the specific Word of truth as the remedy.

      I like your questions. I hope my answers are helpful. Thanks.

  9. Mid-West Music Lover permalink
    April 23, 2013 11:41 pm

    As we discuss this issue can I also step into another mindfield? We, men (and one who desires to honor Christ and lead my family in a godly fashion), could use some help in this area as well. With spring approaching, the way females dress is always an issue. Women would never (or want) to imagine the “little” things that can set a man’s mind racing…….. I’m employed in a leadership position in one of our local high schools and every spring I wish I could go to work with blinders on as I’m amazed and angered that these female students put not only the male students, but the faculty/staff in turmoil with their dress. To ignorantly state that, “It’s my right of expression” is so short sighted, do their realize their stupidity or know what they are doing??

  10. April 24, 2013 1:20 pm

    Great article AJ! This is also on my heart. (http://bit.ly/12aE6dU)

  11. April 24, 2013 4:18 pm

    Glad you enjoyed the e-book!

    • ajcarter permalink*
      April 24, 2013 4:35 pm

      Most definitely! Want to point as many men as we can to it. Thanks!

  12. Sam permalink
    April 27, 2013 3:34 pm

    Awesome article! We can no longer remain silent about this sin… For its destroying the lives of great men and women of God. Thank you.

  13. Francis permalink
    April 27, 2013 4:51 pm

    There us a great resource(Christian): just google: “setting the captives free”

Trackbacks

  1. Fighting Lust and Sexual Immorality | Reformed Thoughts
  2. Anthony Carter – Discussing and Dealing with Pornography » Christian Apologetics & Intelligence Ministry
  3. Check out | HeadHeartHand Blog
  4. Another Post on Getting Free of Porn, since Statistics Show many of our Menfolk Seriously Need Help! | iconobaptist
  5. Wednesday’s Links To Go | Tim Archer's Kitchen of Half-Baked Thoughts
  6. Saturday Shout-Outs: Clarksville, Early Book Release & Ministry Links | H.B. Charles Jr.
  7. Monday Links and Bullets 4.29.13 | pastorkevinb
  8. Top 60 Online Resources for Battling Porn | HeadHeartHand Blog
  9. Fighting Lust and Sexual Immorality | Reformed Thoughts
  10. Fighting Sexual Sin | A Pilgrim's Musings
  11. Fighting Lust and Sexual Immorality | Puritan Gems
  12. Fighting Lust and Sexual Immorality | Puritan Thoughts

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