A new ebook released Aug. 23 addresses the gravity of pornography addiction among pastors and outlines methods for fighting it. Porn and the Pastor: The Life and Death Consequences of Addiction in Ministry, edited by C. Jeffery Robinson and Garrett Kell, is published jointly by Southern Equip, a resource center for pastors from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and The Gospel Coalition (TGC).
Porn and the Pastor: the Life and Death Consequences of Addiction in Ministry is available as a free download at the Gospel Coalition website.
According to a 2016 study by the Barna Group, 14 percent of pastors admitted the currently struggle with pornography use, and 57 percent said they have struggled with porn in the past. Five percent of pastors reported they were currently addicted to it. The book addresses this widespread problem by first addressing pornography use as a sin problem, then developing strategies for fighting the sin and cultivating accountability.
“As porn use has risen in the church and has infiltrated the lives of church leaders, an entire host of questions have arisen regarding the care for those who have fallen alongside questions as to how best to protect the purity of local churches,” write Robinson and Kell in the introduction. “Like a deadly rattlesnake, porn is not an issue to be trifled with, and it must be confronted intentionally, vigorously, and perennially among the people of God.”
The book features 11 chapters written by an array of evangelical voices curated from Southern Equip and TGC. Kell contributes a headline chapter titled “I was a porn-addicted pastor,” in which he tells his own story as a pastor in his mid-20s in the deep throes of a pornography addiction.
Kell’s story was also featured during a video message at the Together for the Gospel conference in April. After a painful year-long process of confessing his sin to his church, Kell was restored to ministry. He is now the pastor of Del Ray Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., and an associate council member at The Gospel Coalition. In his chapter, Kell uses his story to call other pastors to repentance and renewal in the midst of hidden sin.
“There’s something freeing about the light, even if it makes you wince because you’ve been in the dark for so long,” Kell writes in his chapter. “That year God reached into the darkness of my image-protecting hypocrisy, and pulled me into his liberating light. It was through this deliverance that I learned to trust him in ways that had only been theoretical before.”
Boyce College professor Denny Burk contributed a chapter titled, “Pursue God, not pornography,” in which he challenges pastors to take serious steps to deal with such a serious sin. The process of restoration should begin with repentance – both to God and to another believer. This confession should be just the first step in a long process of accountability, Burk writes.
“If you’ve got areas in your life that you are intentionally keeping in the dark, you’ve not only got to confess your sin, but you’ve got to attach yourself to people who can help keep you accountable,” he writes. “And those people can’t be people who are mired in the same problem you are. They have to be people who have proven faithfulness in this area and can actually pull you forward in constructive ways.
The book features a chapter written by Nikki Daniel, a pastor’s wife who lives in Augusta, Ga., that details how a porn-addicted pastor’s wife views her husband’s sin (“Four revelations about porn from your wife’s perspective”), along with a step-by-step process for pastors to follow when they are struggling with porn use written by Capitol Hill Baptist Church pastor of biblical counseling and family ministry Deepak Reju (“How do I fight this sin?”).
Jared C. Wilson, director of content strategy at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Jonathan Leeman, editorial director at 9Marks, both contribute chapters on what churches should remember as they consider restoring a pastor who is entrenched in pornography use.