RESEARCH PAPER: PORNOGRAPHY AND THE CHURCH;

BEAUTY FROM ASHES

 

 

 

 

 

 

Professors: Sarah Sumner, Ph.D; Halee Scott, Ph.D.

A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary

 

 

 

In Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Course

TH 6300 Church and Society

 

 

 

By

Norine Rae

 

 

 

CONTENTS

 

INTRODUCTION.        

CHAPTER 1.  A CALL TO ARMS: PORNOGRAPHY AND THE CHURCH    

                         What is this monster?           

                         Staggering Statistics – Wake Up Church 

                         Neuroplasticity and Sexual Addiction    

 

CHAPTER 2.  EFFECTS OF PORNOGRAPHY:

                          Why the Church Needs to be Concerned

                           Pandemic and Systemic 

                          Marriage and Family                 

                                           

CHAPTER 3.  BEAUTY FROM ASHES         

                         Redemptive Savior                 

                         True Repentance and Forgiveness.          

                         Victory through Christ   

CONCLUSION     

BIBLIOGRAPHY          

  

INTRODUCTION

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,

 Courage to change the things which should be changed,

And the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time,

 Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,

 If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

 And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen

By: Reinhold Niebuhr[1]

Society is bombarded with pornography today and the only possible way to stay unaffected is by driving offensively with your eyes wide open. It is in our schools, on our billboards, television; media of all forms and yes, in our churches. Cell phones have made it easily assessable with just a few clicks. It does not matter where the user is, in the privacy of the moment, the fix can be obtained. The church must ‘wake up’ to the effects of pornography which encapsulates many believers desiring to be free from its clutches.  For it is like a monster sweeping the land destroying everyone in its path. It does not care if the person is male, female, adult, or child: Islam, Christian, Buddhist or Hindu… Yes, it may even have its grasp on your child or spouse. Its appetite precedes itself as a consuming fire ravaging the land - all for the sake of profit. 

This paper is written with the endeavor to gainfully look at the adverse effects of pornography to individuals, families, and community in hope of bringing ‘Beauty From Ashes’ as awareness and redemption are powerful gifts in Christian living. Like it or not the monster is in our midst destroying families and wreaking havoc in our churches. Ignorance of pornography will not eradicate the issue or its continuous devastation. We, the Church, must not shrink back within the chaos, but participate as bearers of hope and peace through the love of Christ. Now is the time for the church to arise as written in Isaiah 60: 1-2,"Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.”For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you.”  Just as theologian Reinhold Niebuhr so eloquently wrote in his poem, “Courage to change the things which should be changed, And the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other”[2] there is a God given call to believers to use wisdom taking a stand for truth within society fighting the principalities and powers of darkness thus advancing kingdom principles for the good of all humanity (Eph 6:12).

                    A CALL TO ARMS: PORNOGRAPHY AND THE CHURCH                   

What is this monster?

For just as the gingerbread man was eaten in the notorious nursery rhyme so too will the ignorant be eaten by the ravenous monster of pornography. In order to effectively fight we must first know the culprit we are dealing with.  According to the Britannica encyclopedia Merriam Webster there are three explanations; first, the depiction of erotic behavior such as when one sees a picture or writing for the intent of sexual excitement, second, the use of materials such as books or photographs which show erotic behavior and thus causes sexual excitement and third, is the depiction or acts in a sensational manner that cause arousal and quick intense which may lead to the pornography of violence. The words origin comes from the Greek pornographos, and the adjective was with regard to prostitutesfrom pornē prostitute + graphein to write it was first known to be used in 1858.[3]  This definition in itself does not seem too dangerous, but it is the outcome of prolonged exposure which has harmed our society. For this is not a mythical story as in nursery rhyme, real people lives are being devastated by this torrential epidemic sweeping the church.

            Patrick Fagan describes pornography as “a visual representation of sexuality which distorts an individual’s concept of the nature of conjugal relations.”[4]  He goes on to share that it actually alters the individual’s behaviors and attitudes. Thus it hurts the individual as it threatens the freedom within marriages, family, and children possibly destroying any attempt for happiness and social stability.  The social, psychological, and neurological effects of pornography are currently being studied by social scientists, clinical psychologists, and biologists to clarify its negative effects and collateral damage.[5] J. G. Ballard said, “The widespread taste for pornography means that nature is alerting us to some threat of extinction.” [6]

Perhaps it is humanities attempt to create a world simply for pleasure as pornography is captivating, seductive, and addictive to so many. Yet it has disastrous consequences for the individual, family and society at large as the prevalence of pornography addiction and ‘cyber-love’ is truly alarming. Because of its ‘private’ character its adverse effects are underestimated. An orthodox study explained, “Corrupted worldview, perverted lust, social isolation, addictive cyber-sex are just different faces of the same problem, which can lead to disrupted families, social handicaps and personal dissatisfaction.”[7] The churches awareness of the struggle of pornography needs to be heightened so not to quarantine people, but to help them as statistics are staggering.

Staggering Statistics

There are varying statistical results, but all are astounding as some studies indicate as high as 38 percent of all adults and 70 percent of non-religious adults believe that pornography is morally acceptable.  This is not only disturbing, but shocking. Chuck Swindoll was asked how many people in the church are involved in pornography. He responded, “The most recent studies available suggest that one out of every two people-that's 50 percent of the people sitting in our pews, are looking at and/or could be addicted to Internet pornography… Truth be told, that statistic could be even higher….”[8] The problem with this statistic is that for every person tainted by pornography there are also families, businesses, and communities adversely influenced as well. The result is a growing epidemic within the church:  For no one has full immunity unless they are completely isolated outside of society. Here are just a few statistics:

  • 43 percent of the people using the Internet view pornographic websites according to the Education Database Online. With 40 million Americans regularly visiting porn sites, pornographic downloads represents 35 percent of all Internet downloads. There are 40 million regular visitors, 33 percent are women. 70 percent of men age 18-24 view porn sites monthly.[9]
  • Promise Keepers stadium event survey in 1996 revealed that over 50% of the men in attendance were involved with pornography the week prior to attending the event.
  • 51 percent of pastors say cyber-porn is a possible temptation. 37% admitted that it is a current struggle (Christianity Today, Leadership Survey, 12/2001).
  • Over half of evangelical pastors admit to viewing pornography within the last year.
  • Approximately 20 percent of the calls received on their Pastoral Care Line for Focus on the Family's Pastoral Ministries are for help with issues such as pornography and compulsive sexual behavior.
  • 33 percent of pastors in a 2000 Christianity Today survey admitted to having viewing a sexually explicit Web site. Of those who had visited a porn site, 53% admitted viewing sites “a few times” in the past year, and 18% visited sexually explicit sites a couple of times a month or more than once a week.
  • 29 percent of born again adults in the United States believe it is morally acceptable to watch movies with explicit sexual behavior (The Barna Group).
  • 57 percent of pastors reported that addiction to pornography is the greatest sexually damaging issue within their congregation (Christians and Sex Leadership Journal Survey, March 2005).[10]
  • 55 percent of convicted sex offenders are considered sex addicts.
  • 71 percent of child molesters are sex addicts.[11]

To think christianly is not to have our ‘heads in the sand’ as believers, but it is to ‘wake up’ to the reality of the epidemic before us. Listed above are just a few of the astonishing statistics available. Pornography is clearly adversely influencing men, woman, and children within the church. There are Internet predators.  Research shows that seventy-six percent of victims from Internet initiated sexual exploitation cases were 13-15 years of age and 75 percent of those were girls. It is not surprising that most of these cases were said to have progressed to sexual encounters with 93 percent of them meeting face-to-face. According to the Journal of Adolescent Health published in November of 2004 the reported face-to-face encounters led to illegal sex.[12] Taking arms through education and prayer - Christians should be keenly aware of these statistics as they are growing: Firmly confronting the issue within the church for we are the church. All suffer as the aggressive addiction to pornography is linked to the emotional effects it has on the individuals’ brain thus impacting families, businesses, and society as a whole.

Neuroplasticity and Sexual Addiction

President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. R. Albert Mohler acknowledges that the brain addicted to pornography has been emotionally hijacked as humanity has been designed by God for intimacy. Men especially are known to be highly stimulated visually and while they are still responsible for their actions this poison has long-life effects on their thoughts and lives as pornography works similar to a drug addiction.  Struthers explains:

Viewing pornography is not an emotionally or physiologically neutral experience. It is fundamentally different from looking at black and white photos of the Lincoln Memorial or taking in a color map of the provinces of Canada. Men are reflexively drawn to the content of pornographic material. As such, pornography has wide-reaching effects to energize a man toward intimacy. It is not a neutral stimulus. It draws us in. Porn is vicarious and voyeuristic at its core, but it is also something more. Porn is a whispered promise. It promises more sex, better sex, and endless sex, sex on demand, more intense orgasms, and experiences of transcendence.[13]

Brains are molded by psychological experience.  Therefore, with extended use of pornography the ‘neurological superhighway’ develops over-equalization causing narrowing of the mental processes. This is due to hormones which are released during viewing triggering the brain to create new wiring or rewiring. According to Struthers, the person viewing pornography desires more and more in order to receive the same level of pleasure. This is very similar to that of drug addict.[14]  Even though we recognize the force of addiction, Mohler states, “Pornography is a sin that robs God of his glory in the gift of sex and sexuality.” [15] Awareness of the dimensions covered regarding the rewiring of the brain give the Christian knowledge and power of how to address this issue more clearly when it comes to prayer and counseling: For Christian’s have been given the mind of Christ and we can pray accordingly (1 Cor 2:16).

If pornography is truly perceived by the brain as reality and stored in the brain as memory as depicted byJudith A. Reisman, Ph.D. than believers better get busy educating people within their congregations.  Because her studies suggest that the images are the same as experiences themselves.[16]  Reisman cites Pasko Rakic discussing the diverse functions within the brain for sensory perception, motor control, and cognition. He says that over 99 percent of all the synapses in the brain use chemical transmission with fast synapses occurring in less than 1/1000 of a second. The reason this is significant is because scientist believe emotions, awareness, and memory behavior are closely connected within the structure of the brain and they interact with one another. Therefore emotions are triggered by pornography causing fear, shame, anger and lust in many people.  

Reisman’s final remarks declare the neurological damage from pornography defining it as toxic waste to the brain thus violating the rights of women and children; therefore it should be eliminated from our social structure. [17] As mentioned earlier, unfortunately, pornography has been compared to drug addiction for it is progressive in nature. The results of the progression are individuals struggling with compulsive sexual thoughts which experts have shown to historically influence individuals to sexual addiction or sexual violent crimes.  Patrick Carnes, the author of Out of the Shadow: Understanding Sexual defines it as “any sexually related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones and one’s work environment.” [18]

As sexual addiction pertains to the brain, Michael Herkov, Ph.D addresses the grave concern as scientists have recently discovered brain changes which reward acts associated with sexual behavior thus demonstrating the powerful sexual drives which motivates people to deviant behavior. The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity has defined sexual addiction as “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others.”[19] In other words, people who would normally respond by stopping harmful behavior which will hurt themselves and others are compelled to persist in sexual misconduct thus losing interest in true intimacy and quality relationships. Over time the brain has rewired in such a way that the individual has to intensify the behavior in order to achieve the same results. Not every sex addict moves from pornography and masturbation to violent crimes, but without doubt there are negative effects on their family, community, and personal well being. Others are not as fortunate as historical research indicates. Sexual addictions can lead to illegal activities such as exhibitionism, child molestation, rape, or voyeurism.[20]

This is simply a brief explanation of the adverse effects of pornography on the brain. It is a critical component to the issue of the addictive nature of pornography and is necessary for greater understanding of the immense battle the church is facing.  As believers we have been called to love God with ‘all our mind’ (Mat 22:27). Therefore, education within the church is essential for proper understanding because of the significance of the mind to the believer.

We need a compassionate holistic Christian approach when dealing with people.  Christians are called to take every thought captive.  Anderson addresses this in his work on Christ Centered Therapy, expressing the two main areas in which clients struggle, “First is to understand the spiritual battle for our minds; the second is to understand the need to abide in Christ.” Certainly, it is difficult for effected individuals to be free of pornography due to the remapping and wiring on the brain, but it is not impossible. “For all things are possible with God” (Mar 10:27, Lk 18:27 & Mat 19:26).

EFFECTS OF PORNOGRAPHY: WHY THE CHURCH NEEDS TO BE CONCERNED

Pandemic and Systemic – Knowledge is Power

            Pornography is a universal, ethical, and moral issue. It is not just pandemic but systemic as it affects the whole ‘body of Christ’ individually and corporately.  To think christianly is to adhere to Scriptures which clearly states, “wake up and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.’so remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you”(Rev 3:2-3).[21] The church is called to repent when sin is exposed. Leaders need to awaken to truth of the nature of the beast we are fighting. Through awareness and education we can be better equipped to bring light into the dark hidden places. Sexual immorality is not a new problem within the church. It is spoken of in scripture: "For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality” (1Thes 4:2-3), but this monster has exploded because of unlimited accessibility due the Internet.

Doctor Philip Jenkins addressed the issue in his book, Beyond Tolerance: Child Pornography on the Internet sharing, the pandemic is out of control sense the Internet is not subject to national jurisdiction. Pornography is a global problem as boundaries are cloudy, but agencies are diligently trying to work together making arrests when possible in the hope to protecting victims. Perpetrators continue to exploit due to varying legal systems within countries. The United States strictly prohibits the exploitation of children, yet other countries are much more liberal. Thus, accesses to these pornographic sites are currently limitless.[22]  

The international crises are evident. “In 2000, for instance, a pedophile ring in the Baltic nation of Latvia was alleged to include the prime minister, the minister of justice, and other leading politicians: the group was reportedly active in child pornography and selling children as sex slaves overseas.”[23] Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident although it does indicate that political officials can be involved in such conspiracies demonstrating the profound complexity of networking and the gravity of pornography leading to illegal crimes against society. There are a plethora of international documented incidences involving pornography. Therefore, it is only ethical for the church to educate parishioners of this pandemic issue. Church leaders cannot even rule out the possibility of crimes within the church as pornography has proven through statistical evidence that habitual users frequently advance from viewer to predator.

Without education and knowledge churches can provide the perfect incubators for unsuspected predators to gain entry. There is quite a difference from a person who views pornography to one who is driven to explicit denial of self control which compels them to criminal behavior. Yet, since many of the Internet sites themselves are criminal in nature perhaps they have stepped onto a slippery slope. Awareness is also necessary to protect members and assist families to live holistic joyful lives not entangled by sin.  “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hbr 12:1).[24]

Marriage and Family

“The sexuality of community life…is centered on marriage, which joins two living souls as closely as, in this world, they can be joined.” Wendell Berry[25]

Looking deeper into the effects of pornography on families in the ‘body of Christ’ the most disheartening is the adverse pain and often separation caused due to its ramifications. The whole church suffers for, “… if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor 12:26).[26] Victimized family members often feel demoralized and have shared that they are less satisfied in their covenant relationships because of emotional detachment. Divorce and infidelity are common factors. Loss of interest in sexual intercourse with their conjugant partner is also a far too familiar scenario.  Other family members are hurt to the point of distress - For it is not unlikely for the participant to lose interest in family activities as relationships are severed.[27] Masturbation and acting out sexual fantasies while viewing pornography has been reported as devastating to marriages.[28]  The Catholic News Agency cites, McGuire, explaining, “As a man repeatedly masturbates to a vivid sexual fantasy as his exclusive outlet, the pleasurable experiences endow the deviant fantasy (rape, molesting children, injuring one's partner while having sex, etc.) with increasing erotic value.”[29]

In the article How Marriage Impacts Family Life by Corney there is a case study of Zillman and Bryant’s who in 1988 explored the relationship between pornography and personal happiness. Using both men and woman, even though men are six times more likely to be involved in pornography, they had a controlled group exposed to graphic images in hourly sessions over six consecutive weeks rating their happiness as to life and relationships. Results indicated those exposed to pornography negatively impacted their self-assessment in regards to sexual experience. They also were less satisfied with intimate partners especially with their partner’s affection, appearance, sexual curiosity, and performance.

Key to their findings was participants’ lack of intimacy. Basically participants were more interested in sexual relationships without emotional involvement. Partners’ indicated that they no long felt like a person, but only a sex object.[30] Results from the case study concluded, “Pornography leads to an objectification rather than a meaningful interaction with another person.”[31] This is disheartening to those desiring intimacy within their marriages.  God created humans for intimacy as He desires communion with us. Use of pornography steals humanities God given desire for intimacy bringing disharmony as shown in Zillman and Bryant’s research. Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. research shows overwhelmingly that the best possible defense of the use of pornography is a healthy family. Families with happy intimate relationships and good communication skills still need to deliberately monitor Internet use. Fagan declares, “Given the massive, deleterious individual, marital, family, and social effects of pornography, it is time for citizens, communities, and government to reconsider their laissez-faire approach.”[32]  Scripture reveals,

The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him (Rom 8:6-8).

It is with this hope that Christians can teach people within the church the possibilies of victory over the principality of lust. If believers set their mind on the Spirit, life and peace are the promised results. The importance of the yielded life to Christ is significant to sanctification and the work on the cross. Jesus gave his life and is the advocate for those who choose to dwell with God. Communion with God therefore requires an act on our part of repentance to sin and death of the old nature.

This is our victory in God - our lives surrendered and joined with Him - His children need no longer controlled by sin. The fruit of the Spirit lives in Saints providing the necessary means to resist temptation thus escaping harm. “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Cor 10:13).[33]  Those who have been overtaken by the sin of pornography are offered a way of escape through the blood of Jesus (Jh 3:16) as the individual humbly cries out to God with a true heart of repentance (Ezk 18:30).

BEAUTY FROM ASHES

 Redemptive Savior

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor (Ish 61:1-3).[34]

Humanity - created in the image of God – longs for intimacy and harmony.[35] Our Redemptive Savior has commissioned and anointed us to bring beauty instead of ashes; to help people come out of a place of despair. By leading all who are broken to Christ, lives can be redeemed. Pornography strips the natural desire for deep personal communion to one of sexual objectivity. Shame, hopelessness, guilt, and despair often plague the viewer, who has been overtaken by this dreaded creature (sin).[36] The informed ‘body of Christ’ can extend a helping hand to all involved. The church does not embrace the sin but is called to extend love. All sinners are saved by grace. God has provided humanity with a perfect plan of redemption no matter the graveness of the sin.[37]

Even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God (Eph 2:5-8).[38]

          Realistically, pornography is a huge issue within the church and society. From a biblical perspective God has given the church everything needed to successfully tackle sexuality. In an Assemblies of God Enrichment Journal, Stetzer teaches that God has a clear plan for sex. The problem is that the church seems to awkwardly side-step or ignores the issue of pornography allowing it to continue thus destroying families in the process due to the act of omission.  Stetzer is calling the church to greater awareness and clear biblical teaching on the issue. By refusing to the face the issues head-on, the church becomes irrelevant, leaving the conversation to groups who feel freer to do so.[39] By allowing the secular culture to take the lead in counseling and addressing major issues biblical, moral, and ethical principles may be thwarted.  The gospel message calls the church to the ministry of reconciliation.[40]

          By facing the problem, the church can be keenly awareness of the principality of lust they are dealing with. From an informed position the church can effectively operate from a position of wisdom and love bringing the gospel message of forgiveness of sins.[41] “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). Without the gift of the cross we all would parish, but with Christ believers are given a new identity. Through genuine repentance, submitting to God and resisting the devil - peoples’ lives can be transformed (Jm 4:7).[42] In his book Christ Centered Therapy, Anderson states, “Knowing who we are in Christ and what it truly means to be a child of God makes an incredible difference as we work with struggling Christians.”[43]  We cannot fix the people who are struggling with these deep seated issues, but we can love them and lead them to God for “only God can change who they are, and if any lasting change is to take place in their lives, it will be directly related to what they have chosen to believe and to do in response to God.”[44]

True Repentance and Forgiveness

Once revelation of sin is exposed the individual is free to respond to God knowing that they are in need of a Savior. “Fallen reason stands in need of repentance, cleansing, and conversion, so that it too might become captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cr 10:4 &5).[45] The love of God calls us to holiness as He bridges the vast gap (Rom 5-8). “Wherever holiness is spoken of in Scripture, love is nearby; wherever God’s love is manifested, it does not cease to be holy.”[46] God has called us to be holy as He is holy (Lev 11:44). Jesus made clean things out of that which was unclean as depicted in Exclusion & Embrace by Volf. He is the redeemed and restorer of life to all who repent.[47] 

“Yet, Jesus called to repentance not simply those who falsely pronounced sinful what was innocent and sinned against their victims, but the victims of oppression themselves.”[48] The call to repentance is for both the victimizer and the oppressed. Unfortunately, the victims too must repent. Far too often they mimic their perpetrators acting out the very behavior which devastated them. Repentance for all involved is necessary for restoration and social change.[49] Authentic social transformation comes only when the values of God’s kingdom principles are demonstrated on earth.

Therefore, the practice of forgiveness as well as repentance is paramount to kingdom living. But, freedom of the use of pornography or any sin comes through the power of confession and forgiveness.[50]  The ability for people to step forth consciously choosing to walk in miracle of forgiveness is no easy task for the victim, yet forgiveness is necessary for freedom. “Forgiveness is the boundary between exclusion and embrace.”[51] We have been embraced by God.  In turn, we too are likewise instructed to embrace. With open arms – we comfort those who have repented and rejoice with them as they rebuild their lives - renewed and washed in the blood of Jesus (1 Pet 2:24). As believers we are not only called to forgive trespassers (perpetrators), but for our own wellbeing we are called to forget the former things (Ish 43:18). Volf teaches part of the process of forgiveness is to go a step farther for he claims, “The memory of the wrong suffered is also a source of my own non-redemption….final redemption is unthinkable without a certain kind of forgetting.”[52]

This does not negate the importance for justice in the redeeming process as “Christians will never experience victory, wholeness, or mental, emotional, and spiritual health until they assume their own responsibility for doing their part” according to Anderson.[53]  With the help of community, family and friends, the individual is able to overcome the flesh as they depend fully of God. By the grace of God, people are able to overcome all forms of addiction.  Using kingdom principles they can live full victorious lives.

Church leadership has a responsibility to guide individuals to the appropriate community resources for treatment.  There is a process of working through guilt, shame, bitterness, or even co-dependence.[54]  But, as people humble themselves to God, repent, and embrace the truth of their sin - change can take place. As believers are conformed to the image of Christ and those who adopt the attitude of Christ – thinking christianly - they can walk in fullness of joy through the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit. Individuals’ health and wholeness is vital to the community and society as a whole. Regenerated holistic kingdom living is obtainable as over-comer’s set a covenant in Christ.[55] Love and compassion is the biblical worldview needed to break the chains of darkness and set the captives free. Members of the ‘body of Christ’ are called to extend grace to those who repent. Support groups within the church can also be helpful not only to pick up the pieces, but to stop the problem of pornography before it leads to divorce or criminal deviance.[56]

Victory through Christ

     Truly, there is victory in Christ for the person who repents and is delivered from the clutches of pornography. And victims, of this terrible crime within society, can experience freedom through Christ.  Personal responsibility and accountability are important factors for the recovery process.  Spiritual health and freedom are obtainable to people who are no longer deceived and are yoked to Christ who’s burden is light (Mat 11:30).[57]     

God made us sexual beings and “Society benefits when it fosters a healthy sexuality. Human beings are healthiest and happiest when they are monogamous (only one sexual partner in a lifetime), and that happiness is directly related to monogamy’s long-term stability and exclusivity.”[58]  The redemptive power of Christ brings joy and love even to those who may have failed in previous relationships. There is always hope with Christ. “My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Ps 62:5-8).

Sexual relationships can be healthy and research indicates that married couples from Conservative Protestant families have shown the most pleasurable sexual relations. Statistics indicate that individuals who participate in religious worship and monogamy have the highest levels of sexual fulfillment.[59]   Tragically, adolescents who are exposed to pornography are adversely affected at an early age and that is why the church is becoming aware of the necessity of education to safeguard our youth from unnecessary exposure In regards to the evils of pornography within our society our victory in Christ is our ability to think biblically and christianly as we walk in kingdom power using divine wisdom and understanding along the way.  We can look to Scripture as our guide speaking life to one another as it says,

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;  strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light: For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col 1: 10-14).

Christians rejoice in the redemptive power of God and the forgiveness of sins, celebrating and giving thanks to God who has rescued us out of darkness. Remembering our redemption, we may be quicker to forgive and extend a hand of grace (Rom 3:23). The church family can offer comfort, acceptance, and love for we are called to love as Christ has loved us.

Conclusion

Sexual immorality is not a new issue as it has plagued society for centuries, but increased availability to pornography due to the Internet has caused it to grow exponentially. It is not only pandemic but systemic in nature as this creature (principality) has reaped havoc on the innocent and unaware adversely affecting the church, society, and the basic framework of the family. The only possible victory is through a redemptive Savior and the grace extended through a loving community of believers within the church who truly believe in the power of grace and kingdom living. There can in fact be ‘Beauty From Ashes’ as the church ‘wakes up’ to this pandemic issue by providing services, education, and love to all who have be effected. If the Church is to truly make a difference in society we need to use our God given authority and power to influence. Through prayer and kingdom living we can evoke love and support of all who have been hurt by this culprit: Pornography.

As Reinhold Niebuhr so eloquently relied in his poem we can, “Live one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.” [60] By choosing to think christianly and live with a kingdom mentality we are victorious through Christ even in the midst of despair. Christians can rejoice in the hope of tomorrow and the distant future as we keep our eyes fixed on Christ and live as salt and light in world (Mat 5:13). 

 

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[1] “Serenity Prayer - Full Original Copy of the Serenity Prayer”, n.d., http://thevoiceforlove.com/serenity-prayer.html, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Pornography - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary”, n.d., http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pornography, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[4] “The Effects of Pornography.pdf”, n.d., http://www.edstetzer.com/docs/The%20Effects%20of%20Pornography.pdf, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[5] Ibid., 2.

[6] “Pornography Quotes :: Quoteland :: Quotations by Topic”, n.d., 1, http://www.quoteland.com/topic/Pornography-Quotes/557/, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[7] “Pornography Addiction - OrthodoxWiki”, n.d., 1, http://orthodoxwiki.org/Pornography_Addiction, (accessed March 1, 2012).

[8] “Pornography Addiction - OrthodoxWiki.”

[9] “Pastors say porn impacts their churches, but many are not sure to what degree”, n.d., http://www.lifeway.com/ArticleView?storeId=10054&catalogId=10001&langId=-1&article=Lifeway-Research-Pastors-say-porn-impacts-their-churches, (accessed March 1, 2012).

[10] “Statistics on Pornography, Sexual Addiction and Online Perpetrators and their Effects on Children, Pastors and Churches”, n.d., 1, http://www.safefamilies.org/sfStats.php, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[11] “What Is Sexual Addiction? | Psych Central”, n.d., http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/what-is-sexual-addiction/, (accessed March 4, 2012).

[12] “Statistics on Pornography, Sexual Addiction and Online Perpetrators and their Effects on Children, Pastors and Churches,” 1.

[13] “AlbertMohler.com – Hijacking the Brain — How Pornography Works”, n.d., 2, http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/02/01/hijacking-the-brain-how-pornography-works/, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid., 3.

[16] “brain.pdf”, n.d., http://www.drjudithreisman.com/archives/brain.pdf, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[17] Ibid., 11.

[18] “Sexual Addiction News - The New York Times”, n.d., http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/subjects/s/sexual_addiction/index.html, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[19] “What Is Sexual Addiction? | Psych Central”, n.d., http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/what-is-sexual-addiction/, (accessed March 4, 2012).

[20] Ibid.

[21] “Revelation 3 (Blue Letter Bible: NASB - New American Standard Bible)”, n.d., http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Rev&c=3&v=3&t=NASB#3, (accessed March 5, 2012).

[22] “Beyond Tolerance : Child Pornography on the Internet”, n.d., 184-186, http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.library2.simpsonu.edu:2048/lib/simpsonu/docDetail.action?docID=10032570, (accessed March 5, 2012).

[23] Ibid., 190.

[24] “Hebrews 12 (Blue Letter Bible: NASB - New American Standard Bible)”, n.d., http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Hbr&c=12&v=1&t=NASB#1, (accessed March 7, 2012).

[25] “Pure Intimacy - Human Sexuality as a Picture of the Inner Life of God”, n.d., 1, http://www.pureintimacy.org/piArticles/A000000397.cfm, (accessed March 6, 2012).

[26] “1 Corinthians 12 (Blue Letter Bible: NASB - New American Standard Bible)”, n.d., http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=1Cr&c=12&v=26&t=NASB#26, (accessed March 5, 2012).

[27] “The Effects of Pornography.pdf.”

[28] “Life and Family: Treatment and Healing of Sexual and Pornographic Addictions :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)”, n.d., http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resource.php?n=1076, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[29] Ibid.

[30] “Simple Marriage | How Pornography Impacts Marriage and Family Life”, n.d., http://www.simplemarriage.net/how-pornography-impacts-marriage-and-family-life.html, (accessed March 6, 2012).

[31] Ibid.

[32] “The Effects of Pornography.pdf.”

[33] “1 Corinthians 10 (Blue Letter Bible: NASB - New American Standard Bible)”, n.d., http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=1Cr&c=10&v=13&t=NASB#13, (accessed March 6, 2012).

[34] “Isaiah 61 (Blue Letter Bible: NIV - New International Version)”, n.d., http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Isa&c=61&v=1&t=NIV#1, (accessed March 7, 2012).

[35] Neil Anderson, Christ-centered therapy : the practical integration of theology and psychology (Grand Rapids  Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House, 2000), 36.

[36] Ibid., 88.

[37] Ibid., 88–90.

[38] “Ephesians 2 (Blue Letter Bible: NASB - New American Standard Bible)”, n.d., http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Eph&c=2&v=5&t=NASB#5, (accessed March 6, 2012).

[39] “Pastors say porn impacts their churches, but many are not sure to what degree.”

[40] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and embrace : a theological exploration of identity, otherness, and reconciliation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996), 37.

[41] Anderson, Christ-centered therapy, 89.

[42] Ibid., 90.

[43] Ibid., 92.

[44] Ibid., 117.

[45] Thomas Oden, The living God, 1st HarperCollins paperback ed. ([San Francisco  Calif.]: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992), 395.

[46] Ibid., 124.

[47] Volf, Exclusion and embrace, 73.

[48] Ibid., 115.

[49] Ibid., 117.

[50] Ibid., 121.

[51] Ibid., 125.

[52] Ibid., 133 & 135.

[53] Anderson, Christ-centered therapy, 117.

[54] Ibid., 304-309.

[55] Ibid., 307.

[56] Ibid., 315.

[57] Ibid., 307.

[58] “The Effects of Pornography.pdf,” 26.

[59] Ibid., 27.

[60] “Serenity Prayer - Full Original Copy of the Serenity Prayer.” 

 

“Statistics on Pornography, Sexual Addiction and Online Perpetrators and their Effects on Children, Pastors and Churches”, n.d. http://www.safefamilies.org/sfStats.php. (accessed March 2, 2012).

 

“The Effects of Pornography.pdf”, n.d. http://www.edstetzer.com/docs/The%20Effects%20of%20Pornography.pdf. (accessed March 2, 2012).

 

Volf, Miroslav. Exclusion and embrace : a theological exploration of identity, otherness, and reconciliation. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996.

 

“What Is Sexual Addiction? | Psych Central”, n.d. http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/what-is-sexual-addiction/. (accessed March 4, 2012).



[1] “Serenity Prayer - Full Original Copy of the Serenity Prayer”, n.d., http://thevoiceforlove.com/serenity-prayer.html, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Pornography - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary”, n.d., http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pornography, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[4] “The Effects of Pornography.pdf”, n.d., http://www.edstetzer.com/docs/The%20Effects%20of%20Pornography.pdf, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[5] Ibid., 2.

[6] “Pornography Quotes :: Quoteland :: Quotations by Topic”, n.d., 1, http://www.quoteland.com/topic/Pornography-Quotes/557/, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[7] “Pornography Addiction - OrthodoxWiki”, n.d., 1, http://orthodoxwiki.org/Pornography_Addiction, (accessed March 1, 2012).

[8] “Pornography Addiction - OrthodoxWiki.”

[9] “Pastors say porn impacts their churches, but many are not sure to what degree”, n.d., http://www.lifeway.com/ArticleView?storeId=10054&catalogId=10001&langId=-1&article=Lifeway-Research-Pastors-say-porn-impacts-their-churches, (accessed March 1, 2012).

[10] “Statistics on Pornography, Sexual Addiction and Online Perpetrators and their Effects on Children, Pastors and Churches”, n.d., 1, http://www.safefamilies.org/sfStats.php, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[11] “What Is Sexual Addiction? | Psych Central”, n.d., http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/what-is-sexual-addiction/, (accessed March 4, 2012).

[12] “Statistics on Pornography, Sexual Addiction and Online Perpetrators and their Effects on Children, Pastors and Churches,” 1.

[13] “AlbertMohler.com – Hijacking the Brain — How Pornography Works”, n.d., 2, http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/02/01/hijacking-the-brain-how-pornography-works/, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid., 3.

[16] “brain.pdf”, n.d., http://www.drjudithreisman.com/archives/brain.pdf, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[17] Ibid., 11.

[18] “Sexual Addiction News - The New York Times”, n.d., http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/subjects/s/sexual_addiction/index.html, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[19] “What Is Sexual Addiction? | Psych Central”, n.d., http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/what-is-sexual-addiction/, (accessed March 4, 2012).

[20] Ibid.

[21] “Revelation 3 (Blue Letter Bible: NASB - New American Standard Bible)”, n.d., http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Rev&c=3&v=3&t=NASB#3, (accessed March 5, 2012).

[22] “Beyond Tolerance : Child Pornography on the Internet”, n.d., 184-186, http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.library2.simpsonu.edu:2048/lib/simpsonu/docDetail.action?docID=10032570, (accessed March 5, 2012).

[23] Ibid., 190.

[24] “Hebrews 12 (Blue Letter Bible: NASB - New American Standard Bible)”, n.d., http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Hbr&c=12&v=1&t=NASB#1, (accessed March 7, 2012).

[25] “Pure Intimacy - Human Sexuality as a Picture of the Inner Life of God”, n.d., 1, http://www.pureintimacy.org/piArticles/A000000397.cfm, (accessed March 6, 2012).

[26] “1 Corinthians 12 (Blue Letter Bible: NASB - New American Standard Bible)”, n.d., http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=1Cr&c=12&v=26&t=NASB#26, (accessed March 5, 2012).

[27] “The Effects of Pornography.pdf.”

[28] “Life and Family: Treatment and Healing of Sexual and Pornographic Addictions :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)”, n.d., http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resource.php?n=1076, (accessed March 2, 2012).

[29] Ibid.

[30] “Simple Marriage | How Pornography Impacts Marriage and Family Life”, n.d., http://www.simplemarriage.net/how-pornography-impacts-marriage-and-family-life.html, (accessed March 6, 2012).

[31] Ibid.

[32] “The Effects of Pornography.pdf.”

[33] “1 Corinthians 10 (Blue Letter Bible: NASB - New American Standard Bible)”, n.d., http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=1Cr&c=10&v=13&t=NASB#13, (accessed March 6, 2012).

[34] “Isaiah 61 (Blue Letter Bible: NIV - New International Version)”, n.d., http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Isa&c=61&v=1&t=NIV#1, (accessed March 7, 2012).

[35] Neil Anderson, Christ-centered therapy : the practical integration of theology and psychology (Grand Rapids  Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House, 2000), 36.

[36] Ibid., 88.

[37] Ibid., 88–90.

[38] “Ephesians 2 (Blue Letter Bible: NASB - New American Standard Bible)”, n.d., http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Eph&c=2&v=5&t=NASB#5, (accessed March 6, 2012).

[39] “Pastors say porn impacts their churches, but many are not sure to what degree.”

[40] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and embrace : a theological exploration of identity, otherness, and reconciliation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996), 37.

[41] Anderson, Christ-centered therapy, 89.

[42] Ibid., 90.

[43] Ibid., 92.

[44] Ibid., 117.

[45] Thomas Oden, The living God, 1st HarperCollins paperback ed. ([San Francisco  Calif.]: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992), 395.

[46] Ibid., 124.

[47] Volf, Exclusion and embrace, 73.

[48] Ibid., 115.

[49] Ibid., 117.

[50] Ibid., 121.

[51] Ibid., 125.

[52] Ibid., 133 & 135.

[53] Anderson, Christ-centered therapy, 117.

[54] Ibid., 304-309.

[55] Ibid., 307.

[56] Ibid., 315.

[57] Ibid., 307.

[58] “The Effects of Pornography.pdf,” 26.

[59] Ibid., 27.

[60] “Serenity Prayer - Full Original Copy of the Serenity Prayer.