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The Porn Pandemic: It’s Time to Talk About Porn in the Church

Last Updated: November 4, 2020

Guest Author
Guest Author

Want to write for the Covenant Eyes blog? Share the story of your journey to freedom from pornography. Let us know how you overcame porn or how Covenant Eyes has made a difference in your life or the lives of those you love.

In a recent episode of Faithlife Today, Dr. Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), shared some of the greatest problems facing Christian families today. His biggest concern? Porn.

“The porn pandemic is destroying us.”

Watch the interview below:

If you’re struggling with pornography, you’re not alone. It’s hard to feel that way though because the church doesn’t talk about it much. Dr. Clinton says, “Almost 50% of Christian families now say that porn is the major issue in their home. Come on. Somebody needs to flip the switch.”

Related: 5 Reasons We Should NOT Talk About Porn in Church (Sarcasm Alert)

When we feel alone in our sin, it makes confession—and the healing it brings—that much harder. Whether you struggle with porn personally or not, someone you know does, and it’s a conversation the church needs to have.

The Impact Our Stories Have

Sometimes this means being the first to be vulnerable. As a youth leader, this openness plays a huge part in developing meaningful relationships with kids. When I share about the sin in my life and how God has worked to remove it, others feel freedom to confess their own struggles.

Recently, a high school kid I hadn’t seen or talked to for almost a year called me. I’d never been particularly close to him, but we served together at a Young Life camp for a month, and while we were there, I shared my testimony. Part of that testimony was my struggle with pornography and sex, and the shame, guilt, and lies that came with it. When he finally came to the point where he was ready to face his own sin, he called me—the only other person he knew who had struggled with porn. Did you catch that? The only other person he knew, the only person he felt he could talk to about it, was someone he barely knew.

Accountability and confession isn’t something Christians do because we’re “supposed to.” They are powerful spiritual tools God uses to restore the body of Christ. Taking that first step of awkward, clumsy confession can often be the catalyst that invites others to experience that same restoration.

We Can’t Let Others Believe They’re Alone

Sin builds walls of loneliness that keep us from seeing the body of Christ as it’s meant to be. Porn is a tap or a click away. We can’t let others (or ourselves) think they’re alone, that the church doesn’t care, or that the church doesn’t know. The body of Christ is not too holy to deal with sin any more than a doctor is too healthy to help the sick. The church has sin in it, and sometimes doctors get sick too.

Related: Why the Church Must be a No-Shame Zone

Not only are you not alone in your sin (1 Corinthians 10:13), but you have a perfect God who identifies with your struggle. “Since he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18 NIV).

But we can’t keep hiding this in the church. Dr. Clinton said, “I don’t think we’ve yet to begin to see the tidal wave of effects of what’s going to happen in our relationships.”

Even if you can’t personally identify with someone’s sin, we have to have these conversations. We have to create open environments where people can share. We have to hold each other accountable. Pray for each other. Speak truth to one another.

As Dr. Clinton said, “Herbie” is in the room. Let’s talk about him.

Related: Destroying Porn Addiction Starts With Destroying Shame


Ryan Nelson is a copywriter for Faithlife. He lives in Bellingham, Washington, and writes regularly on the Faithlife blog.

  • Comments on: The Porn Pandemic: It’s Time to Talk About Porn in the Church
    1. Ben on

      Amen. Knowing that confession is for forgiveness, cleansing, and to move on with a clean conscience and a strong assurance of God’s deliverance and help – this is good. But someone has to break the ice, and I have seen more than once how one man’s honesty opens healing for him and others. (Either when it is someone else or me that confesses.). Thank you for sharing this article

      Reply
    2. Jonati on

      We as a family lived through the devastation pornography created in our lives. It destroyed my husband (addicted to pornography) and me in different ways. Through the grace of God and hours in counselling we are now in a more stable place. I wonder how our path would have looked like if the first counsellor and minister we spoke to 28 years ago had insight in the effect of pornography on the addict. I was told to “submit” and “through my good behaviour my husband would be won over and change his ways” he was told “you are not an addict you only have a problem” and “your wife is codependent”. I now understand the trauma I suffered and I am in a better place. I have come to know God’s comfort and His tender heart towards me. Pornography destroys the soul of a marriage.

      Reply
    3. Reality on

      Whatever you make taboo will flourish. The church made sex and nudity taboo. So that is what flourishes. Also, this is a self-generated problem. No one asks. What is the problem with seeing naked people or watching people have sex? Don’t tell me the bible says it is wrong because frankly, the bible tells me that owning slaves is okay and owning another human being is completely wrong. At the end of the day, churches create guilt to keep people in line. If this guy thinks that porn is the biggest problem in churches, he is sadly mistaken. Many people are mass exodusing churches and I assure you that porn is not the cause. It is they hypocrisy of the church and the fact that constantly being told you are a sinner is not good for one’s long term mental health. American Christianity isn’t a religion of love. It is a religion of guilt. Guilt designed to keep you in line. Ironically, the American bible belt is the place that leads the entire world in incarceration. Forgiveness … nah. Christians have no idea about that. But dont you look at a naked woman…. you are a sinner then. So hypocritical.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        You’re asking a number of questions here, so I’ll try to answer them one at a time.

        1. You say that because the Bible say owning slaves is okay, the Bible is therefore wrong, and it is therefore wrong about “seeing naked people” as well. First, the law of God does approve of the kind of things we in modern western cultures associate with slavery. The Bible often endorses the notion of debt slavery—selling oneself to someone for service to pay off a debt—but not the kind of human trafficking we have seen in the west over the last several hundred years.

        Nonetheless, the heart of your objection seems to be this: “What I think is wrong is universally wrong, and anything the Bible says to seemingly contradict my opinion flies in the face of this truth.” This is, quite frankly, a little presumptuous: why should anyone blindly accept your version of right and wrong? If you are going to accuse Christians of authoritarian thinking, are you not guilty of the same thing?

        2. You ask, “What is the problem with seeing naked people?” If we’re talking about merely “seeing” nudity, not much is wrong about that at all. The Bible often praises the joys of sex between married partners. The Bible says in the beginning our first parents were naked together and without shame. However, ever since human beings rebelled against God, things have been very different. Nudity still communicates the same kind of openness, beauty, transparency, and vulnerability it did in the Garden of Eden, but because of the way sinful people exploit that vulnerability (through seduction) and are exploited by it (through lust), modesty is important. Porn is problematic on both fronts: it exploits viewers via seduction and it exploits its performers as objects to be used and abused.

        3. You said, “Whatever you make taboo will flourish.” You are very right about this, though I think your application is off. One can say something is sinful and not make it taboo. For instance, gossip is sinful but it isn’t particularly taboo in the church. As such, we can opening talk to one another about the importance of not gossiping and slandering another’s reputation and there isn’t undue social punishments in place for gossiping. People can feel free to confess these faults. While the social ramifications differ from one sin to another, it would be good if we could de-stigmatize pornography so it was not as taboo as it is today.

      • Gerald Iverson on

        Some sins are “ok” to confess and others are taboo. Sexual sin falls under a taboo label. Many churches do not want to deal with a taboo sin, so they instead heap guilt onto the person who is struggling. Guilt only brings condemnation which in turn drives people to continue to “act out” sexually to medicate the pain. Guilt also encourages isolation which is where acting out sexually flourishes. Churches do need to adress this taboo sin and fast. Get it out into the open. Confess your faults one to another so that you may be healed. See the connection between getting it into the open and your healing?

      • Kay Bruner on

        Absolutely. Meanwhile, I think the only thing we can do is keep speaking, keep telling our stories, and keep making small safe places for others who are ready to do the same.

      • Ken Lotts on

        Just as color is to a blind man, whatever you or I imagine of God, we are automatically wrong.
        God is infinitely bigger than our grandest thoughts. He had no beginning. He spoke all existence into being.
        His very spirit is so complete and full of life that it is a distinct person [The Holy Spirit]. His self-image and glory are so utterly ravishing and full of life that it also is a distinct person [Jesus Christ]. Far beyond our ability to even imagine it, God is both “one” and three persons [trinity]. In ways that are beyond anything fully graspable, you and I were created in His image.
        The uncountable galaxies and border-less reaches of outer space created and upheld by the word of his power speak to the fact that God is beyond understanding. Even God’s perfections are beyond understanding. He is holy. He is perfect. He is the truth by definition.
        Nothing is hidden from Him. We all are held fully accountable for even the smallest thoughts in our head.
        None is righteous [has no shame before God and has a right standing with Him], no, not one; (Romans 3:10)
        You are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (Romans 2:5)
        We are cursed.
        The final judgement that was meant for each of us, however, was instead completely poured out on our savior Jesus Christ who redeems [purchased with his very life] all that [through faith alone] call on His name.
        Christ becomes cursed in our stead.
        “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13)
        “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
        ‘Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ (John 14:6)
        The life laid down as payment is so complete and perfect in Christ and God’s holy justice is served so completely that death [separation from God] could not keep him and he was resurrected to full life [seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high]. He lives! and is joined with us through the Holy Spirit for all eternity. We are united in Christ.
        The Bible uses the picture of marriage. The two become one flesh.
        Christ’s perfect righteousness [right standing with the Father] is now ours just as our sins are now His.
        “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” [blameless right standing before God] (Romans 4:5)
        “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners [willfully separated from Him], Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
        Christians are redeemed. In Christ, we have a perfect relationship with the Father for all eternity. Christians are birthed into a new kingdom. We slowly learn and are guided to behave just as a baby slowly learns. We are redeemed sinners and make sinful mistakes just as a child makes sinful mistakes. BUT, we are and always will be His!
        …neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
        We are His! We are endlessly grateful to Jesus, our Savior! We will sing of His amazing grace forever!
        Behold, the kingdom of God is at hand!

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