Pornography is a problem for men and women of all ages, and those in the church aren’t automatically immune.
Bill Newton, pastor of generations and online at First Baptist Church Hot Springs, Arkansas, addressed the issue in the breakout session, “The Truth about Pornography,” at the Aug. 7 Navigate Conference at First Baptist Church Benton, Arkansas. Theme for the event was “A Digital Equipping Conference for People Who Champion the Next Generation.”
“I chose the topic of pornography [because] I’ve done a lot of research on it and it’s a topic that no one in the church is talking about but everyone in the church should be talking about,” Newton asserted. “It is a major crisis in Christianity, with major ripple effects not just for the individual but for the family as well as the church. I saw this as an opportunity to address it in a biblical way that would hopefully start some conversations.”
Pornography use has increased exponentially, Newton noted, and has become more acceptable in mainstream culture as digital media is more easily accessible. A 2018 study posted on www.CovenantEyes.com reported 32% of females and 51% of males encountered pornography before their teenage years.
“The Porn Phenomenon,” a study the Josh McDowell and Barna Group conducted, echoed that pornography is becoming “normalized” for young people.
“Teens and young adults are living in an environment where porn is more acceptable — and more ubiquitous than ever before,” the study reported. “As access to pornography has increased, the stigma toward it has seemingly decreased.
“There is just a general assumption that people are using porn — especially among teens and young adults. And this assumption is not a negative one [within this generation]. When it comes to watching pornography, teens and young adults aren’t getting accountability from their friends — they are getting peer pressure.”
Newton’s workshop focused on how to talk about sex with children, what pornography is, lies and truths that need to be shared, and what to do for those who are struggling. There was a mix of parents, grandparents, youth pastors, married couples and singles ranging in age from mid-20s to early 70s in the breakout.
“Porn (and sexual sin) has been around in some form since the fall [of Adam and Eve],” Newton said. “There’s nothing new under the sun, but the way it is presenting itself is new. It is now more pervasive than ever. For the first time in history, I can carry pornography in my pocket and can access it anytime I want; no more seedy, lurking trips down to the local gas station to buy a magazine, grabbing dad’s magazine under the mattress or sneaking into the backroom of the video store.
“Unfortunately, most adults have no idea how to talk with their kids and grandkids about it. So, the breakout was a chance to equip in that area,” Newton said.
His emphases about talking to children included not telling them sex is bad or merely telling them to wait for marriage, but rather teaching them why they need to wait. Newton also emphasized that it can’t be a one-time talk, but an ongoing conversation that includes discussing pornography.
A handout Newton provided included these reminders:
“It’s OK to freak out on the inside, but NOT on the outside …
- when it comes to “the sex talk;”
- when (not if) it comes to them seeing/viewing pornography;
- when it comes to anything else they come to you with, whether it’s regarding a friend or themselves. How you react will determine whether or not they will come to you again in the future.”
Newton also shared four “main lies” of pornography and their associated truths (from www.BlockerX.net):
- Lie #1: It’s possible to enjoy the immediate gratification of virtual sex partners and the long-term satisfaction of a real relationship.
- Truth #1: Watching pornography actually decreases sexual satisfaction and disconnects people from real relationships and commitment.
- Lie #2: Watching people have sex is normal.
- Truth #2: Sex is a private act between a man and woman who are married.
- Lie #3: Pornography is a harmless pastime.
- Truth #3: Pornography rewires the brain and distorts both relationships and the act of sex itself; encourages selfishness instead of intimacy; treats sex as a commodity; and causes desensitivity to sex with an actual person.
- Lie #4: Pornography is a safe way to learn about sex.
- Truth #4: Pornography isn’t safe, normal or healthy and cannot deliver on what it promises.
Newton also addressed how addictive pornography can be.
“For those addicted: one of the first and most powerful steps is to name it and bring it into the light. There is something powerful about just simply breaking ‘the secret.’ For ones who are deeply into it, I suggest counseling.
“In some forms, porn addiction is no different than a drug addiction,” Newton continued. “MRI studies have shown very similar brain rewiring in the brains of porn addicts as for a drug addict (someone on cocaine). So sometimes counseling, and even rehab, is the most helpful option.”