Three Taverns Church

Why Don’t Pastors Preach About Pornography?

7 Comments

The majority of pornography users are either compulsive or addictive users. From a biblical perspective the lust produced by pornography use is closely linked to idolatry and is the kind of sin that has the power to destroy the human soul. From a secular perspective, pornography is correlated with (if not causative of) increases in divorce, sexual abuse and assault, and rape.

Here are a few statistics on pornography use in the United States:

  • More than 70% of men from 18 to 34 visit a pornographic site in a typical month
  • 29% of born again adults in the U.S. feel it is morally acceptable to view movies with explicit sexual behavior
  • 20% of men and 13% of women admitted to accessing pornography at work
  • 47% percent of families said pornography is a problem in their home
  • The Internet was a significant factor in 2 out of 3 divorces
  • 51% of pastors say cyber-porn is a possible temptation. 37% say it is a current struggle
  • Over half of evangelical pastors admit to viewing pornography last year

With so many serious problems infecting society through pornography, why don’t pastors preach about it more often? Or ever? I’ve been at my church for several years now and not once have I heard a sermon on pornography; we’re lucky to get one sentence about pornography during a sermon on divorce. If you have been a regular church attendee for any length of time you’ve probably heard dozens of sermons on forgiveness, tithing, gossip, faith, David, Abraham, and (enter your pastor’s soap-box topic here). Yet how often is a divorce caused by a misunderstanding of the story of Abraham? How often are children sexually abused because of gossip?

Why isn’t the church talking more about this subject? I don’t know, but here are my best guesses as to why pastors don’t preach about pornography:

  1. They use pornography. As noted above, a certain percentage of pastors use pornography. For this group, perhaps, preaching about pornography is simply too personally convicting and hypocritical. Rather than preach about pornography (and confront their own sin in the process) they live in denial like all other pornography addicts.
  2. They have never used pornography. Conversely, I suppose there must be some pastors who grew up in the church and have never  used pornography. They may have glimpsed a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition on the grocery store magazine rack, but by and large they are ‘clean as a whistle’ with no tawdry past. Perhaps this group is ignorant of the problem (anything is possible in the Church Bubble), or perhaps they feel they don’t bring enough credibility on the subject to deliver a sermon. Maybe, because of their abstinence from pornography, they simply can’t relate and wouldn’t know where to begin…the lucky bastards. If that’s you, I’m available to preach at your church.
  3. They are afraid of losing members. Pornography use is more common in the church than divorce, and the nature of pornography generally leads to compulsive and addictive use; it’s like a drug. Perhaps some pastors are afraid that if they took on pornography from the pulpit, members who use pornography would switch to a church that is silent on the problem. People don’t like to be convicted of their sin, and an exodus of 70%+ of the men from any congregation would dry up a church’s budget overnight.
  4. They don’t think it’s an ‘appropriate’subject.Not all churches are blessed with a separate children’s ministry. In many churches families attend Sunday service together, and Mr. & Mrs. John Doe might not appreciate a pastor bringing up the subject of pornography in front of their children. If that’s the case, why not use a euphemism? Call it “The Product” or something innocuous. If a kid picks up on it he already knows about pornography and needs to hear the sermon; if he remains blissfully unaware, so much the better.

I recently wrote a post about the pitfalls of giving unsolicited advice, so I can’t tell my pastor-friends what to do. But as a church member who is recovering from pornography addiction (and who has friends who still use pornography) I sure would love to hear a good sermon on pornography one of these days…

7 thoughts on “Why Don’t Pastors Preach About Pornography?

  1. Is it possible that the suppression of sexual desire within religions of all kinds is at the heart of pornography’s appeal to the clergy? Maybe if religious leaders in our communities were able to live more normal lives the craving would subside. Just a question.

    • Hi stuartart, I honestly don’t know the answer to your question. From my own experience I can tell you that one mistake I made was to think that a lack of sex was to blame for my lust. Lust and sexual desire can be two different things, though through pornography the difference becomes so blurred that I assumed they were one and the same. So with regard to clergy, their lust and subsequent use of pornography may have less to do with allowable sexual activity than you might think.

      Having said that, any kind of community, religious or otherwise, that fails to adequately address its members needs openly with good communication is bound to fail.

      The denomination I attend is led by pastors who are married, and they seem to struggle with pornography the same as everyone else. Just a thought.

      Anyway, this was a great question! I suspect everyone else who read the post was thinking the same thing.

  2. I think it is a matter of a pastor (even one who is “clean as a whistle” not wanting to feel uncomfortable with speaking about something so convicting. Indeed, messages of conviction of any kind are becoming more and more rare in the western church.
    Perhaps pastors would find it easier to target the root cause of pornography use – misdirected desire, which most often results in porn use for men and hyper-activity and control issues for women.

    • I would approach the topic from a ‘free-your-chains’ perspective (in fact all sin should be approached this way) rather than a ‘you’re-a-bad-person’ perspective. And i respectfully disagree that the indirect approach can be effective. I think we need to take this head-on.

      • I wouldn’t suggest an indirect approach at all. I just mean to say that focusing strictly on porn as being the root of the problem will not thoroughly address the problem. Many years ago, I got into a support group for guys with lust issues of varying degrees. I went nearly four years without using, but I realized later on that my momentum was born completely out of the exhilaration of finally knowing I wasn’t alone. Once that knowing started to feel normal, I struggled worse than ever. Had we a better grasp of what was compelling our behavior, I think the guys would have had greater success. It wasn’t until I better understood that porn use (and most other vices for that matter) is a negative symptom of a lack of a positive something that we in Western society are slowly dying from.
        Unfulfilled desire is killing us, both male and female among. Porn seems to be one of its most potent weapons.

      • Ahh, I see. Yes, we agree then. This would make a great preaching series! We should both blog a bit on unfulfilled desire…

      • ah, that sounds like fun! I shall see what comes forth!

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