I’ll never forget sitting through a church service and listening as the preacher, over and over again, with disgust talked about how sick people in pornography are. The men who watch it are sick. The women in it are sick. The men in it are sick.
Sick. Sick. Sick.
I was torn between wanting to crawl out the back door and standing up and telling him to zip it. I did neither.
Yes, we should be talking about pornography in church. Just not like that. This is just one of many mistakes we can make, whether in ministry or not, when it comes to addressing the sins of lust and pornography.
My momma always said, “If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” Here are 5 common mistakes that don’t solve anything.
Mistakes we make when we talk about pornography
1. We Type It.
I don’t mean we sit at a typewriter; I mean ‘type’ as in ‘stereotype’ or ‘type casting’ for a movie. We have this stereotype in our heads of porn addicts and it looks like this:
Middle-aged white male
Living in his mother’s basement
Where we came up with such an ugly typecasting of porn addicts is completely beyond me. But here’s the problem with typecasting: it makes us delusional. I could get comfortable with the idea that since I don’t know any middle-aged white male atheists who are serial killers, that I really don’t know anyone who struggles with pornography. That would be a very untrue statement. On the flipside, because of this typesetting, I can make untrue assumptions about the character of porn addicts. Let’s get the facts straight here:
Fact: Women struggle with pornography.
Fact: Pastors struggle with pornography.
Fact: Husbands struggle with pornography.
Fact: Wives struggle with pornography.
Fact: Christians struggle with pornography.
Need I go on?
2. Judgement more than Grace.
We Christians have become known for our condemning, judgmental approach to everything. We are the Pharisees of the 21st century, pacing around town with our bag full of rocks just waiting to stone someone. It is interesting to note that Christ did with sexual sinners while He was here, and He was quick to extend mercy and grace. We, however, are quick to make assumptions, and quick to pass judgment. We are quick to look at porn addicts as freaks, as sick disgusting perverts. So are you. We are all sinners. All.
Is there right and wrong? yes. And someone’s struggle with porn is not any more ‘wrong’ than your struggle with pride, or envy, or lying. So drop the bag.
3. It’s Someone Else’s Problem… Somewhere Else
This is the human trait, “Oh that will never happen to me.” We never think anything bad will happen to us or our family- it’s somewhere else. It’s in a different pastor’s church, a different youth group, a different marriage, a different family. Yes, pornography is out there, but it is not here. Pornography can be wherever pornography is, and it is everywhere. We need to be addressing it as a temptation of every day life because it is- right here, right now.
4. We Discredit Personal Struggle.
There’s debate about whether or not pornography can actually be an addiction. Some will say that it can’t be, others say it can. Speaking from personal experience, I’m in agreement with the latter. This is an addiction. You cannot look at someone who confesses to a porn addiction, tell them to knock it off and end the conversation. You cannot look at a wife who has caught her husband in porn and tell her to get over it.
If someone comes to you for help, it stands to reason that person needs help. Don’t just tell them to stop. If sheer determination were enough to break these chains, they would be broken.
5. We Have no Hope
I’m a big fan of hope. I like hope. We all like hope. We thrive on it.
As Christians, hope is a motivating factor for our lives. So what happens when one Christian looks at another Christian and tells that Christian that there is no hope for them? When we stand up and say that porn addicts can never get married, and porn addicts make horrible husbands/wives and even worse parents. When we tell young women without fathers that all they will ever be is unwed mothers, when we tell women who’ve had sex that they are damaged goods. When we promote this idea that hope is only for the perfect, we leave the broken without healing.
Hope is not yours to withhold. How dare we ever feel someone is nonredeemable After being partakers of the redeeming grace upon which our faith (and hope) is built, we should have even more desire to see that grace redeem broken lives. As Christians, it should be our mission to find the broken, love the broken, and watch God redeem the broken. We should be sources of hope, grace, and healing for those in need.
So next time, please, as easy as it is to be completely grossed out by porn addiction, remember that trapped underneath the crushing weight of that addiction is a heart in desperate need of grace, hope, and love. If you’re not part of the solution; get out of the way and let someone else be.