The curse of pornography.
A great tree can suddenly fall if rot has gradually eaten into its roots.
Invisible on the surface, but if left unchecked and untreated it will, in due time, fell the great tree.
Pornography is the great character rot that while invisible in the outward Christian man or woman,
slowly and steadily effects their world-view and their mind-set. And many once-great trees are falling, or have fallen.
Few 'decent people' go round proclaiming the truth "I love watching porn" Especially Christian folk.
Yet the statistics show that pornography is now deeply embedded into our culture, and into the church.
Charisma Magazine published figures from a 2014 survey which revealed that those who identify themselves as born-again Christians have struggles with pornography and affairs:
95 percent admit that they have viewed pornography.
54 percent look at pornography at least once a month.
44 percent viewed pornography at work in the last 90 days.
31 percent had a sexual affair while married.
25 percent erase Internet browsing history to conceal pornography use.
18 percent admit being addicted to pornography (another 9 percent think they may be)
A 2006 ChristiaNet poll showed that
50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women are addicted to
60% of the women who answered the survey admitted to having
significant struggles with lust; 40% admitted to being involved in
sexual sin in the past year; and
20% of the church-going female
participants struggle with looking at pornography on an ongoing basis.
A 2016 George Barna survey showed that pornography's tentacles reach deeply into church leadership.
Most pastors (57%) and youth pastors (64%) admit they have struggled with porn, either currently or in the past.
Overall, 21% of youth pastors and 14% of pastors admit they currently struggle with using porn.
About 12% of youth pastors and 5% of pastors say they are addicted to porn
87% of pastors who use porn feel a great sense of shame about it.
55% of pastors who use porn say they live in constant fear of being discovered.
93% of pastors and 94% of youth pastors say it is a much bigger or somewhat bigger problem than it was in the past.
The report stated that the vast majority of faith leaders who struggle with porn say this has significantly affected their ministry in a negative manner. It is not clear why, but youth pastors are twice as likely as pastors to report this kind of unfavorable impact.
For those of us in prayer ministry these figures are not a shock.
The Bible is relentless on the sin of immorality and we are commanded to flee from it.
For good reason.
Pornography is immorality embraced, honoured, submitted to, worshipped and glorified.
Promising to be our secret friend it becomes our cruel master.
Indeed it may well be satan's number one weapon as he seeks to steal, kill and destroy.
Viewing pornography floods the brain with
the chemical known as dopamine. and over time it rewires the brain’s reward pathway and actually changes the make up of
the viewer’s brain. This can result in an increased appetite for pornography. Cambridge University scientists confirmed that it rewires your brain and show brain scan examples to prove it.
Thus pornography is addictive. It 'enslaves' it's addicted followers and steadily defiles, corrupts and diminishes them. It becomes their 'dirty little secret'.
The spirit behind pornography hates marriage and hates families.
It hates children and it rapidly defiles and corrupts their sexuality from an early age. Four out of five 16-year-old boys and girls regularly access porn on the internet and one in three ten-year-old children has seen explicit sexual material.
Even as I write this, news reports that two girls (aged 13 and 14) who kidnapped a 2 year old girl in a store had searched "rape", "people getting rape", "young people getting raped" and "poor little thing getting kidnapped and raped" on their tablet computer just prior to the abduction. Thankfully they were caught shortly after the abduction.
Government figures - not surprisingly - show the horrific reality of pornography linked to rape.
And whether or not those who watch pornography want to acknowledge it, the truth is that it links them into a vast, wealthy, seedy world of deep immorality, violence and trafficking.
Without customers it could not succeed.
But how does it affect our Christian worldview and mindset? And behaviour?
The New Testament continually calls us as Christians to make judgments between truth and lies. Between morality and immorality. Between light and darkness. Between Christ and Belial. Between the culture of the Kingdom of God and the culture of this world. And warns us of the consequences of choosing immorality, darkness, Belial, and the culture of this world.
When Christians join with unbelievers in watching pornography they become 'yoked' with them. All are feeding from the same unclean, forbidden and demonic trough.
For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”
“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 6:16 - 7:1 [emphasis mine]
There is a growing school of thought (hypergrace) that says if unbeliever's indulge in an immoral lifestyle they will face judgment whereas Christians can behave in exactly the same way with no consequences, "Thank-you Jesus!'
Scripture, especially the New Testament, does not speak that language.
It speaks of ungodly behaviour that may result in grieving the Holy Spirit and quenching the Holy Spirit in our lives.
It speaks of believers returning to the world's vomit.
For if, after they have
escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome,
the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and,“a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:20-22
It speaks of being obedient slaves to sin leading to 'death'.
...do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? Romans 6:12-16 [emphasis mine]
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:5-8
Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. James 1:15
Jesus equated lusting after women with adultery and spoke of dire consequences for doing so.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. Matthew 5:27-29 [emphasis mine]
He warned against letting darkness enter through our eyes.
Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Luke 11:34-35
The Holy Spirit - through the apostle Paul - issued a salvation warning to the church,
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.. Galatians 5:19-21 (ESV) [emphasis mine]
The Greek language has two words for ‘do’ and Paul uses ‘prasso’ which means to continually do as a lifestyle. Had he used the word ‘poieo’ it would mean an occasional act. In other words it means,
"Those who put these things into practice in their lives and do these things routinely as a manner of lifestyle shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
Even on the very last page of the Bible the same clear warning is there,
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. Revelation 22:14-15 [emphasis mine]
However, scripture also tells us that before we judge others we must first check our own lives. That the judgment we use is the judgement we will be judged by.
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7: 1-5
So if a Christian man or woman is secretly embracing the sinful pleasures of pornography they know only too well they are in no position to make a scripturally based moral judgment on the sexual behaviour of others without being acutely aware of their hypocrisy.
And when a substantial percentage of pastors and youth leaders are actively viewing pornography they are unlikely to speak against it without being acutely aware of their hypocrisy.
"My husband got terrible advice from a previous pastor years ago that
made it very hard for him to understand the truth. The pastor told him
that women are overly sensitive to the topic of porn because of their
insecurities. They don't understand that God made men to be visual and
that it is 100% natural for a man to watch porn. He said that God made
man this way so it was not a sin as long as it is just watching. I
cannot tell you how harmful this advice has been to our marriage." Jennifer
So as society and the church darkens, many Christians - instead of being salt and light - find themselves beginning to agree with the logic of the culture's sexual revolution since they themselves are drinking from the same poisoned wells. The thinking goes like this,
"If I proclaim that their behaviour is immoral and displeasing to God then I am proclaiming that about myself"
And the devil smiles.
The next stage is to become, or to find, a church which is 'liberal' in it's scriptural interpretation - (Denying moral absolutes; As long as you are sincere God will let you go to heaven; A person's feelings supersede biblical revelation; Homosexuality is not a sin - it is an alternative lifestyle; etc) - in order to affirm this thinking, and 'voila! ' we have a 'Christianity' that is now an affirming friend of the godless culture.
Calling itself culturally relevant because it is acutely mindful of the things of men.
But He (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Matthew 16:23
Here's the truth. As already shown, scripture leaves us in no doubt that submitting to the lusts of the flesh carries God's displeasure and inevitably leads to spiritual death. The tree falls.
But now the good news.
If the rot is identified (owned and confessed) and repented of (agree with God), forgiveness received, and Godly help sought and graciously submitted to, then the rot can be treated.
Bringing spiritual life instead of spiritual death.
We will never have complete victory in everything until we stand in heaven, but the immediate and relentless call on our lives is never to be conquered by the world, the flesh or the devil, but to be conquered by Christ and be more than a conqueror through Christ who loves us.
Following Jesus was never described as easy.
The desires of the flesh are very powerful because they are pleasurable.
And so Jesus would ask this challenging question to those who have embraced pornography.
"Do you want to be well?"
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