Dear Church . I am struggling with porn. Will you help me ?

porn

Do you ever feel like you’re the only one with a porn problem? And everyone else around you seems to have their life sorted? You will definitely not be the only one who has felt like this or the first to feel this way. In the church alone, 68% of men and 30% of women are viewing pornography on a regular basis (https://conquerseries.com/porn-industry-doesnt-want-find/). I don’t blame you for being curious, or stumbling upon it, when that wasn’t your first intention (or maybe it was!). Either way, it’s so easy to access today, it’s not a surprise that user levels are high in society. Many people of varying demographics, regardless of gender, ethnicity and class are found to be victim of it. It is seeping into everyday family life, behind closed doors, in schools, at the park, workplaces, at whatever time of day through whatever medium is available (tinder, snapchat, Tumblr, porn hub, google searches etc). Although there are blockers out there, that are good (Covenant Eyes) the damage has happened too late for many. Unfortunately, we are already seeing the tip of the iceberg with sexual crimes on the increase against children, and in Manchester alone a five-fold rise (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/mar/30/child-sexual-exploitation-offences-quadruple-report-greater-manchester). We know there is a rise in sexually transmitted diseases too, such as chlamydia and syphilis , could watching porn could be contributing to the rise in sexual activity in society. How can we even begin to detangle the affects that porn is having on our society as a whole?(https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jul/07/untreatable-gonorrhoea-superbug-spreading-around-world-who-warns).
Porn does not spare our youngest generation either. Stats show that, 53% of 11-16 year olds have seen explicit material online and scarily when asked how realistic they find the sex in porn,  they think it is a ‘spot on’ view of sex (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-36527681). I worry for them and my own children too. Experimenting and exploration is part of growing up for them, however, with this instantaneous technology, it can become very easy to send selfies and sometimes the boundaries are crossed and blurred without even thinking. Unfortunately, immaturity and sex can wreak havoc to relationships and porn is another added danger for them. Unless we educate, open up and speak freely about the negative effects the porn industry has, it will just keep spiralling out of control. This is where the CHURCH needs to step in and do something.
Porn can isolate the individual as it requires no emotion, no conversation, no commitment and no partake in the actual acts (Unless re-enacted afterwards!). It uses the most sexually intimate part of the relationship between two parties (or more) and seduces the viewer to engage and imagine. The reality is, it breaks down relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, teacher and pupil, you name it, it has truly infiltrated into society in an enormous way. It can be very addictive, it rewires and stimulates the brain. It normalises many behaviours towards individuals that in ‘real life’ relationships would be viewed as violent, abusive, unloving and breeds desensitisation and unawareness of each other’s feelings. The concept of right and wrong in a relationship has somewhat disintegrated from heavy porn usage. This disconnect of reality and fantasy means that many men and women can’t enter into an actual mutually loving relationship. We can look to Jesus’s example of sacrificial love. But we know that porn is self- serving only.

The church needs to admit the problem is catastrophic
With only 9% of church goers and 7% of pastors say that they have a program at their church to help those struggling with pornography(conquer series), it shouldn’t be hard to convince church leaders to do something, ANYTHING! We are all subject to it. Some of us are more drawn to it than others, but it’s always there ready to be opened at a click or press of a button. Some may feel stigmatised and feel they will be judged for speaking up. But, this is exactly what porn wants. It wants to lie dormant, never to be confronted, because when it does, many will be freed of its entrapment’s and trimmings. I know Christians and non -Christians who feel that they can’t speak out, and that they feel they will be judged or condemned or worse still – prayed for ! Prayer alone does not change things completely , action and informing needs to take place too. It takes time to rebuild trust between a husband and wife again, or receive counselling. It is a complicated process! People need practical help, accountability, support groups, engaging in dialogue with professionals to understand the psychology behind it. I know, it’s easy to palm it off and say it’s ‘just a phase’, but it is a serious addiction and illness and it is destroying people’s lives. A Porn addict’s brain can be compared to that of a Heroin addict (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/26/brain-scans-porn-addicts-sexual-tastes). Porn in the US has been recognised as an actual health concern (http://www.christian.org.uk/news/porn-public-health-crisis-say-us-states/). These stats should scare us into action !! We desperately need more people trained in pyscho-sexual therapy (http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/psychosexual.htmlour) in or out of churches to shed light on the situation. More importantly, let us not be quick to judge and show real compassion and grace to those who are struggling.
What is out there to help ?

The church are being slow to respond. But there is  hope for those who are grappling on the edge daily. The USA are leading the way in this. Resources that allow group study have just been released  and easy to use Dvd’s ( https://conquerseries.com/) by a group of professionals and churches working together. Speak to your church leaders, they need to hear what you have to say. It’s a start at least. (Alpha Marriage does not tackle this subject). If you’ve tried to reach out and let someone know at your church and it’s fallen on deaf ears, I ask you take another risk and try again. I ask that God will answer your call. You are doing this , not just for you, but for others who are too scared to speak out. If you are a leader in a place of influence, I urge you to create a space where male and female can open up about their struggles.

Every time we open porn content, we are encouraging the abuse of people, we are part of the problem that funds pornography. We must realise that the pictures and images behind the glamour of pornography are real human beings going through real torture and pain. They could be part of a sex ring, or part of trafficking, or they just don’t realise they are subjecting themselves to abuse. They are being humiliated, drugged and exploited to the deepest, darkest mire. Is it right that we should just stand by and watch? “Porn, it promises you everything and gives you absolutely nothing,” (Dr Ted Roberts – Conquer series) . I pray with my heart that God will rescue you from this pit and save you with his unfailing grace, because when one sinner repents, there will be more joy in heaven than ninety nine righteous who do not repent (Luke 15:7). You are loved deeply by God, no matter what you have done, all your sins are nailed to the cross, and you have no condemnation in Christ . Jesus wants to heal you. Jesus wants to heal the hurts you have sewn into your life. You are a  new creation in Christ.

I will end my thoughts with this Bible verse, ‘Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body’ (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

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