It is probably one of the most common questions I am asked. A young woman will e-mail me, sharing her struggle with pornography and masturbation. Somewhere near the end, in all CAPS to illustrate her frustration:
“Why isn’t ANYBODY talking about this!?”
Well, Christians, that “anybody” should be us. And as a Christian who is talking about it, I find myself in a bizarre place trying to bridge the gap between a church that, as a collective whole, has missed its calling with a group of women who are angry at that church for missing its calling.
We need the body of Christ. That’s just it. Actually, we need Christ. We need to fellowship with His body. That means we are going to have forgive the fallible human beings known as Christians for failing to see our need. Still there is the understanding that people can’t fix problems if they don’t even know those problems exist.
I can understand the frustration and the anger. When I first started Beggar’s Daughter, it was just a place for me to share my personal story. Then, it morphed into this rallying place for an angry mob out to teach ‘the church’ a lesson. I attacked ministries for not having resources for women.
Finally, somebody snapped me out of it. I got an e-mail one day that basically said, “Jessica, if you’re not going to try and help, shut up.” When I recovered from the shock, I realized he was right.
It’s true what they say, “If you’re not part of the solution; you’re part of the problem.” So, for the last three years or so, I have tried to be part of the solution.
In doing so, I’ve found answers.
3 Reasons Why The Church Isn’t Talking About This
1. It’s Awkward
In most cases, you have church bodies led by men. When you want the ‘church to talk about it,’ you are asking a man to get up and say that women can struggle with sexual desires. When they aren’t even comfortable openly addressing the fact that men can struggle, you won’t find them easily crossing gender lines. As a church, we don’t even talk about sex well, so it stands to reason that we are going to be really really bad at talking about pornography.
2. It’s “New”
While women struggling with sexual sin is not new (hello, Deuteronomy talks about women having sex with animals), the rise of internet pornography and the sexual liberation of the 21st century woman is new.
It has its own lingo too. It can sometimes be overwhelming for me to keep up with all that’s going on, and it’s what I do! Within the last couple weeks, I’ve had to educate myself on the definition of “YOLO” and figure out what twerking is. (Yes, I wanted to gouge my eyes out and throttle the parents that OK it as a form of self-expression.)
3. They Have No Idea What to Do
Churches like follow-through plans. Well, most of them. There are books for pretty much everything, and then devotionals for anything else. There are pamphlets, fliers, and little books to help you with the next steps. There are small groups, special classes on Tuesday nights. We like to do stuff with people. What do you do with women struggling with sexual sin? Do you hire female counselors on staff at your church? Where can you find mentors?
With the technology gap comes a huge gap in women struggling (HUGE). Yes, some older women struggle with pornography, and even sexting (for those who know how to operate their camera phones). However, if I had to guess, I would say the highest percentage of women who struggle are 25 or younger. Most of the girls who come to Beggar’s Daughter for help are 18-24. Most of the women speaking out about this are in their late-20s, early-30s.
Essentially, you have a generation (my grandmother) that sees it as detestable and absolutely disgraceful that a would watch pornography, and a generation that sees it as perfectly acceptable to not only watch pornography but to act pornographically (yes, that is now and adverb).
In between those two generations is a hodge-podge mix of women- some who see this as an irrelevant and unnecessary battle and others whose life depends on whether or not we fight it. We are not on the same page as women at all. So, churches really don’t have overwhelming support to talk about things like this.
So, in keeping with the challenge, the next post is going to be about starting the conversation. Stick around.
For now though, I encourage you to think about ways you can support your pastor or church leadership to address this topic. How can you help your church reach women who struggle? Remember, you are part of the body.