by Mike Genung
Some days, I wonder if these things might threaten to put me in the psych ward:
- The trail of broken hearts from porn.
Every week we receive emails from men and women who are suffering. Most of the men have been in bondage to sexual sin for decades and are desperate for answers. They hate themselves, what they’re doing, and how they’re hurting their families. Many have been or are in ministry. A few are on the verge of losing hope, and are even questioning their salvation.
Then there are the emails from stunned wives or girlfriends who discovered that the man they’re married or were going to marry isn’t who they thought he was. He’s been viewing porn and/or committing adultery throughout their marriage or courtship; they’re angry, hurting, frustrated, and confused.
Some marriages are teetering on the precipice of divorce. The husband has been in so deep for so long that his heart has hardened to the point where his wife’s pleas to get help are met with anger, manipulation, or blaming.
Then there are the kids. I can’t stand it when a family is ruptured from porn. Being a child of divorced parents myself, I know how a marital split tears the fabric of the soul. In addition to the effects of the divorce, the chances of the kids’ faith being lost increases. What does it say to a child about his father’s walk with God when he discovers Dad’s porn stash? Or that Dad was having sex with prostitutes? Was God too weak to set their father free from sin? Perhaps this is a part of the reason why 75% of our youth are exiting the church at the age of 18.
The thing that drives me insane is that much of this could be avoided if churches were willing to address the issue head on. However…
- “I can’t talk about this. Do you know what the people in my church would do if I started talking about pornography? … I can’t talk about porn from the pulpit.” This quote was from a pastor.
What’s wrong with us?? We can’t go to the grocery store without getting exposed to magazine covers and displays showing people who are near-naked, or get on a news website like Fox News or CNN and have to navigate around sexually suggestive pictures and content. Instead of helping people cope and overcome the temptations to lust, we shut it down and pretend that “everything is awesome” at church.
One recent survey showed that 90% of Christians said the church doesn’t adequately help those who are struggling with porn. With porn statistics showing that two-thirds of Christian men are viewing porn, church leadership should be freaking out and taking action, not hitting the ostrich hole.
This is an issue every church, para-church ministry, and family needs to discuss and deal with openly.
- Our misplaced priorities.
One professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said “Pornography is the greatest moral crisis in the church today, above issues of divorce and homosexuality. Christians can rail against homosexuality but then go to the computer and feed their addiction to porn.”
We’re too transfixed on the things that are going on outside of the church. A lukewarm church that’s porn-addicted cannot preserve or influence the culture.
- The way some churches respond to sexual sin.
Not long ago, a husband and wife who were missionaries in Southeast Asia returned to the U.S.. The wife was seeking a divorce because her husband had been viewing child porn for ten years. Their church’s response was to chastise the wife for asking for divorce and not working through the reconciliation process… to make matters worse, they insisted she not leave their church. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this. The news media got wind of the story and blew it up, making the church look like a bunch of Pharisees who cared more about their tradition and rule books than their flocks.
To their credit, the pastor later apologized, but by then the damage had been done. I couldn’t help wondering if the pastor would still have apologized if the secular news media hadn’t published the story.
It’s not rare to hear that a Christian counselor blamed the wife for her husband’s sexual sin (“if you would just give him more sex he wouldn’t do that…”) or gave them advice that did more harm than good.
We are the church of the Living God who sent His Son to set captives free. It’s heart breaking when we do more to turn people away than help them.
- The toxic mess social media has become. Ever since the supreme court’s decision on gay marriage, social media has become a mess. It’s become the church people vs. the rainbow people, with the church people screaming “traditional marriage!” and the rainbow people shouting “gay marriage!” I have yet to hear of one person who was swayed by the other side with these tactics..
- My flesh and brokenness. I have been in similar situations like some of those above. I nearly destroyed my marriage, and I’ve also feared exposing my weaknesses and failures to others. (Thankfully, God taught me years ago that sharing my brokenness and sin was something He uses to bless and minister to others). I’ve said things that have hurt other people, and given advice that was off the mark. I’m as fatally flawed as every other Christian; my blind spots are just different than theirs. My pride and sin would have driven me to insanity if God hadn’t pulled me out of the sewer.
I believe God is always willing to heal those who are hurting. If we’re willing to set our arrogance aside and quit trying to prove how religious, spiritual, right, or wise we are, and confess and live in the truth of our brokenness, we’ll then be the type of moldable clay He can use to minister to others. Doing ministry in the flesh and our unwillingness as a body to confront our sin is keeping us from being the salt and light He has called us to be.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4