Pastors and Pornography

A brilliant little article by Ben Witherington III. Here are some of the best bits:

One recent poll shows that 51% of all ministers admit to having at least occasionally looked at pornography on the net, and some 37% admit to having a problem with this matter. If you don’t believe me, you should pay a little visit to the website

Frighteningly enough, there are not many churches talking about this whole problem, at least not in public … One reason is that since many pastors themselves struggle with this issue, they also are frightened to talk about it to anyone, much less from the pulpit … Secondly another reason this is not much being discussed in church is of course, one can get fired on the spot if you are a minister and have this problem. In other words, most ministers know there is 0 tolerance for this in the church, and hence the code of silence … Thirdly, pornography, even today is overwhelmingly a male problem, and overwhelmingly it is males who are pastors, unfortunately.

What can be done about this problem vis a vis pastors? Here are several starter suggestions: 1) download the software from the above mentioned website; 2) find one or hopefully more accountability partners who will keep the matter confidential but will hold your feet to the fire. 3) Disclose to them the full extent of the problem. These partners should not primarily be members of your family; 4) there are organizational meetings like Pornographers Anonymous one can attend; 5) Remove anything from your house that triggers your use of pornography– even if you have to do something drastic like getting rid of your TV or computer. “Tis better to cut off your hand and enter the kingdom maimed than……” 6) If necessary, have someone else control your discretionary income, and monitor your time. If you don’t have the money and the time and the means, you have eliminated some of the major things that allow one to develop this addiction; 7) Nurture your Christian spiritual life by being so involved in deeds of piety and charity that you have no time for such nonsense. 8 ) Work on nurturing your healthy Christian relationships, especially healthy sexual relationships with your spouse. A lot of what sets someone down the road to pornography is an emotional sexual void or gap in one’s life.

SO true.

The more work I do in the realm of sexualilty / identity brokeness, the more I see that pornography is like so many other things simply a symptom of something deeper. If only we had churches where we could share our sexual problems without being assumed to be deviant or immoral. We’re not – we’re just sinners like everyone else. In particular, church pastors need to protect themselves more and more against falling to this kind of stuff, because it can ruin a ministry. For some of us that’s easy, for others of us it’s hard, but it is really very easy to make a choice to do something about it. Installing software like the stuff mentioned in the Ben W post is easy-peasy, but it requires a realignment of the will to choose to place things in place to stop you sinning.

Worked for me folks.

1 Comment on “Pastors and Pornography

  1. all good stuff, sensible practical suggestions and very necessary. but two comments:

    1. we mustn’t be afraid of naming sin, ‘sin’. reading the Church Times report in a recent issue about the clergyman in Oxford diocese who is going to get sent down for possessing child pornography, I was dismayed to read that “he is currently receiving psychiatric help for his addiction”. The man needs deliverance from his sin, by the power of the blood of Jesus and received in response to his choosing to repent and ask for forgiveness. The only thing wrong in his head is his choosing mechanism. Your point about sexual matters being the stuff of real life and of discipleship relationships is spot on, but as sexuality becomes more prominent, we have to be equally prominent in calling ‘sin’ when we recognise it – not in a hostile manner, note, but in a way that sets sin as the barrier to relationship with God that it is.

    2. the practical suggestions are all well and good, but I wonder what constitutes maturity in the area of things sexual? I’m not suggesting that walking along the edge of clifftops is necessary, but block/avoid/run away from solutions don’t speak of maturing in grace. To set this in real terms: sat on the bus coming home from work tonight, I needed to be able to acknowledge the fact that the girl sat opposite me, who engaged me in conversation and smiled a lot was probably flirting but that I was safe and the situation was okay. I needed to be able to ackowledge that she was very attractive, had lovely breasts, a pretty face, etc but without that acknowledgement then moving from my head to my heart in such a way that my head had made a decision to allow my heart to lust. I have to be mature in my receiving and appropriation of God’s grace in that it covers and protects me.

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