Recent statistics point to an unprecedented rise of pornography addiction in the United States, especially among pastors.
By 2008, as many as 70-90 percent of men, 50 percent of pastors and 40 percent of women in the United States were addicted to pornography. The average boy is exposed to pornography by age eight and more than 50 percent of children in the United States are exposed by age 11.
Tyler Jones, pastor of Vintage 21 Church in Raleigh, shared these statistics during the recent Pursuit of More Conference at Open Door Baptist Church in Raleigh. Other conference speakers included Stephen Davey, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Cary; Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Tony Merida, pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh; and Dwayne Milioni, pastor of Open Door Baptist Church.
The two-day conference featured plenary and break out sessions based on the conference theme: “Enslaved: Uncovering the Truth of Sexual Addiction.”
Converting Hearts Ministries, a non-profit organization that provides Christ-centered holistic recovery programs for men suffering from substance abuse and sexual addictions, sponsored the conference.
Jones pointed to the statistics as evidence that the impact of pornography addiction extends beyond the individual who routinely looks at pornography. He said it also impacts an individual’s relationship with family members and friends, and with God.
“The myth of pornography is that it doesn’t hurt others,” Jones said. “You can’t believe any longer that your hidden sin affects only you. It’s not just you in a room.”
Return to true worship
Jones said the first pornographic images people view are burned into their memories and are usually the source of recurring sexual temptations.
“Because of that, the affects of sin are everywhere and temptation is constant, especially if you are a man,” he said.
But the Christian can erase those images and overcome addiction to pornography through confession, repentance and worshipping Jesus Christ.
“Repentance renews our mind so that the images that you have crammed into your head don’t have to stay there,” Jones said. “It can change your heart and your mind from the images of brokenness to the magnitude of Jesus.”
In addition to confession and repentance, Jones told men to give wives and accountability partners complete access to their cell phones, computers and Internet passwords.
He also suggested that men find multiple accountability partners with other men who are willing to ask tough questions with the aim of maintaining true accountability.
In order to overcome pornography addiction, people must remember that they were created to worship God.
No one escapes the desire to worship, but all too often people replace worship of God with something such as pornography, which always leaves the worshipper unfulfilled.
“We primarily have a worship issue at hand when we talk about sexual addictions. We are worshipping something that we weren’t created to worship so it cannot possibly do what we want it to do,” Jones said. “When you worship Jesus you get the very thing that you were created for. When you worship Jesus it satiates your soul.”
Consider the consequences
Akin said sexual addiction in the church has reached a critical level and church leaders must come to grips with the growing problem.
“We are literally drowning in sexual perversion and sexual addiction,” he said. “It’s choking the life out of us and we ignore it and pretend it is not there only at our peril.”
Akin used Romans 12:1-2 to illustrate how believers can overcome sexual addiction with a conscious decision to surrender the mind, body and soul to Christ every day in recognition of His sovereign rule over all creation.
“Our sexuality should be pointing others as well as ourselves to the greatness, the glory, the wonder and the majesty of Christ,” he said. “If we are to give glory to God it is not something that is optional but something we must choose to do every day.”
The battle for sexual purity must be won day-by-day, because yesterday’s victory does not guarantee victory today. “You must daily, moment by moment, be killing sin or sin will be killing you,” Akin said.
Akin reminded the audience that the stakes are high for believers when sexual temptation occurs and that too many people give in without considering everything at stake.
With that in mind, Akin suggested that a strategy for overcoming sexual sin is to ask God for a vision of its consequences.
“It will bring shame to the name of Jesus, and it will cause the world once more to laugh cynically at those who claim to have been radically altered and transformed by a great king named Jesus,” Akin said.
Sexual sin does irreparable harm to family members, especially a spouse and children.
“You will break the heart of your mate. They will be crushed on the inside and will struggle to ever truly and with confidence trust you,” Akin said.
“You will lose forever the respect of your children.”
When believers are tempted to pursue sexual sin, Akin said they should remember the cost and consider if it is worth a few tantalizing moments of sin. “See the end of sin as a tool for battle to win the victory.”
For more information visit convertinghearts.com.