Porn in the Pew: Can You Love God and Porn at the Same Time?

It’s the thing nobody in the church wants to talk about. But it kills more marriages, drains more hearts, and ends more ministries than anything else. It’s the elephant in the church–pornography. The church has only three available responses: ignore it, condemn it, or address it. We have chosen to address it.

For the pastor who dares to address from the pulpit what people are talking about in the pew, the veil can be lifted. Where there is shame, we offer hope. It’s time for the church to become the biblical community where healing can take place. To that end, we will address three questions.

Porn in the Pew - Can You Love God and Porn at the Same Time?

How Bad Is the Church’s Porn Problem?

It’s bad. Real bad. Many of us have suspected this for some time, and here is just a sampling of the data.

  • 62% of evangelical men view porn monthly, compared to 64% of non-believers. (Proven Men Ministries)
  • 64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women view porn at least once a month (compared to 65% of non-Christian men and 30% of non-Christian women) (Proven Men Ministries)
  • 37% of Christian men and 7% of Christian women view pornography at least several times a week (compared to 42% of non-Christian men and 11% of non- Christian women) (Proven Men Ministries)
  • 13% of Christian men say they are addicted to porn; another 5% say they might be. (Proven Men Ministries)
  • Only 7% of pastors report their church has a ministry program for those struggling with porn. (The Porn Phenomenon)

Download the 2018 version of Covenant Eyes’ ebook, Porn Stats, for the most up-to-date statistics on porn, including stats on porn use in the church.

Can You Love God and Porn at the Same Time?

To even ask the question is heresy to some. Of course you can’t love God and porn at the same time, right? You must pick one or the other. After all, Jesus said it himself–no man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). But hold on. Jesus said we can’t serve two masters, not that we can’t love two masters.

The history of loving God while struggling with personal demons is rich. Job questioned God’s plan for his life when he asked, “Why didn’t I just die at birth?” (Job 3:11). David confessed, “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear” (Psalm 38:4). Moses killed a man (Exodus 2), Jeremiah cursed the day he was born (Jeremiah 20), and Peter denied even knowing Jesus (Luke 22). And Paul said, “I do not the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19).

J. I. Packer explained Paul’s struggle. “Paul wasn’t struggling with sin because he was such a sinner. Paul was struggling with sin because he was such a saint.”

The Christian Hall-of-Fame is filled with those who struggled. Luther doubted his own salvation, Spurgeon battled fits of worthlessness, Calvin battled unbelief, C. S. Lewis endured long periods of doubt, and Mother Teresa spoke of her personal hypocrisy.

This is not to let the porn user off the hook. To bow to the God of heaven and the god of porn simultaneously is to be the living definition of the “double-minded man” (James 1:8). This man is in for sleepless nights, unfulfilled relationships, and years of guilt and shame.

To relegate porn use to the trash heap of disgusting sins is too simple. Dr. Bob Hughes, clinical psychologist, describes sex addiction as both a sinful choice and a biological disease, which can “grab onto a person and rob him of his volition.”

A man can love God and porn at the same time because the struggle with sin never goes away. Luther coined the phrase, simul Justus et peccator–the simultaneously righteous and sinner.

Commenting on Paul’s struggle as recorded in Romans 7, Donald Barnhouse said, “The believer in Christ is given power to overcome the outbreaks of Adamic nature, but its presence constantly contaminates his life on earth.” Nelson Mandela described himself as a “sinner who keeps on trying.”

Can a man love God and porn at the same time? If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be in recovery myself. And Beth and I would not have launched a national ministry to help those who suffer from porn and sex addiction.

How Should the Church Respond to Porn?

First, the church must recognize the magnitude of the problem. Churches provide wheelchair ramps for the 0.7% of their members who need them and devises for the hearing impaired for the 15% who need that. Only three percent of churches ever have a fire, yet they all have fire extinguishers. Yet, in a day when 95% of our men have viewed porn (and 62% do so regularly), we offer silence. Only 7% of pastors report their church has a ministry program for those struggling with porn. The church must awaken to the magnitude of the problem.

Second, the church must create a culture of redemption. I’ve never heard of a man ostracized over a “proud look,” though it heads the list of deadly sins (Proverbs 6:16-19). Yes, sexual impurity is a sin, but the church must be a safe environment for sinners. This means offering 12-step groups, affordable counseling, and studies such as Every Man’s Battle.

As I already stated, the church can respond to the pandemic of sexual addiction in one of three ways: ignore it, condemn it, or address it. A problem so widespread, so devastating, cannot be ignored. To simply condemn it is too convenient. We must address the problem–now.

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

It’s Time to Address the Problem of Porn in the Pew

The problem of porn and sex addiction is screaming loudly in today’s world. The church can no longer afford to respond in silence. If you are a Christ-follower who suffers from the clutches of porn, you are not alone. In fact, you are in the majority. If you are a pastor or church leader, it’s time to step up. Your church needs your compassion, not your condemnation. They are begging for help. Their pleas must not go unheard.

The problem is huge, but God’s grace is sufficient. There is porn in the pew; it demands grace in the pulpit. For you who struggle, there is hope. For you in leadership, it’s time to lead.