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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…