Sin in your church? What? Hope I didn’t burst your bubble. The church is filled with imperfect people who commit sin. I’ve searched for a perfect church and am yet to find one.
Besides, if I did, the minute I walk in the perfection leaves the building. Sorry to break the news to you. See, I’m not perfect and neither are you.
Now, that we’ve cleared that up, there is a large pink elephant (sin) in the church that wives want pastors and leadership to talk about–pornography. It’s the pachyderm that gets tiptoed around and most often completely ignored.
Meanwhile, the wives of these men in bondage to pornography and sexual sin are emotionally and spiritually dying on the inside. They are silently screaming for the church to do something, to say something, to help them! The shame she carries and the fear of someone finding out is paralyzing.
The other side of that coin is a wife who’s had enough and tells her husband to get help or she’s out the door. She’s been quietly in pain for months or even years. This is a real scenario I’ve encountered over and over in ministering to married men.
How Big of a Problem Is It?
Pornography’s damage becomes hard to ignore once the effects becomes visible for all to see–a pastor falls, a church member’s sexual brokenness leads to a police sting and arrest, or a wife comes to her pastor with a husband who’s trapped in a porn addiction.
Some people respond with vocal disbelief or stunned silence, while others react in a less than Christ-like manner. Some refuse to believe pornography is really that big of a problem, especially within the church. If only it wasn’t.
According to a Barna Report entitled The Porn Phenomenon, at least 63% of practicing Christian males, ages 13 and above, use pornography at least twice a month. And 20% of practicing Christian females in the same age group are using porn at least twice a month. Both of these percentages are unfortunately climbing.
The porn use phenomenon is not isolated to church attenders only. Pastors and church leaders also struggle with porn use. Around 20% of youth pastors and 15% of lead or senior pastors report using porn daily, weekly, and multiple times per month. Of those who struggle, 56% and 33% respectively believe they are addicted.
Pastor, Say Something
In a recent consultation conversation with a church pastor, pandemic was the word he used to describe the pornography problem in the church today. He seemed to be near exasperated by the problem this issue is causing in his flock. A flock he cares deeply for.
Ignoring pornography and sexual brokenness in your churches will not make it disappear. In fact, it’s like pouring fertilizer on it.
If over 50% of your congregation arrived completely intoxicated and near falling down drunk on a Sunday morning, how long would you tolerate that? Yet, we know statistically that very scenario is playing out in the realm of porn addiction with the men (and women) of your church and very few pastors are addressing this issue in any form.
The silence is deafening to the wives and the families trapped in this painful reality. God’s daughters are hurting and the very body that should be ministering to them stands silent, offering little or no hope. Or at least that’s the way in appears to her.
This Wife Is Also a Mom
The children in these homes are paying a price in silence as well. Their mom is experiencing emotional trauma, isolation, betrayal, and loneliness, and yet she’s doing everything she can to hold it together for the kids in her home. The weight is overwhelming.
Children are excellent observers, but not good interpreters. They see the tension and distance visible between mom and dad. They overhear arguments, even when parents are trying hard to protect their kids.
Reality slapped me in the face the day my wife told me our oldest daughter stopped her on the steps in our house and asked her, “Are you and dad are going to stay together?” She was observing every interaction between us and interpreted what she saw.
Julie assured her that we were staying married, together, and a family. That was 13 years ago, and we are still married and a whole family by the grace and power of Jesus Christ.
If you’re a pastor reading this, I implore you to speak to your congregation about pornography and what godly sexuality looks like. Men, women, marriages, and families are dying in the silence.
Sex is a creation of God Himself. When not used in the manner ordained by God, the damage can be existential, but when understood from God’s design, it is always beautiful.
If you’re a husband who’s fighting the battle with porn, speak up. Share your story and ask your pastor or men’s ministry leaders to address the porn problem head on.
If you’re a wife hurting in silent pain, know there is help out here for you. There are churches courageously engaging the issue of porn. There are ministries equipped to help your church, help you.
If you’re a wife who’s church is silent on the porn-demic, you are not alone. Many of us stand ready to help you, your husband, family and your pastor in addressing soul numbing issue of pornography.
Here are a few resources: