In the spring of 2000, Zogby International asked more than a thousand U.S. adults whether they had ever visited a sexually-oriented web site. Only one in five had done so. Among born-again Christians, 18 percent had gone to such sites, just three percentage points less than the general public.
Well, fast forward to today. A group called Proven Men Ministries commissioned the Barna Group to examine current pornography use. You might want to sit down for this—Barna found that 64 percent of American men and 20 percent of women view pornography at least monthly. And for Christian men, that number is 55 percent.
Fourteen years ago, only one out of every three men had ever gone to a pornography site, but now nearly one-third of men under 30 do so on a daily basis. And if you think it can’t get worse, the survey found that 18 percent of men believe they may be addicted to pornography. That’s more than 20 million men in deep trouble.
Friends, take a moment to let this sink in. More than half of Christian men in America routinely expose themselves to sexually explicit lies that shape the way they see sex, love, marriage, and women. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that this is a crisis for the Church and certainly for our culture. If these numbers are accurate in any sense, and I believe they are, we’ve reached a time of reckoning.
One of the first things to realize is that rampant pornography use can’t be isolated from its larger cultural context. So many of our social ills stem from the fact that society is losing or abandoning the ability to see people as beings made in the image of God.
With crime, victims are treated as obstacles to overcome or things to exploit. Abortion sees people as disposable because he or she is inconvenient. Pornography treats people as objects in service of self-gratification. We’ve become this “use or be used” society.
And so, if we are to reclaim the sacred dignity of every human person amidst this brutish culture, we must turn inward. We’re all tempted to point angry fingers at those sinners “out there” that we think are degrading our culture. But even as Miley Cyrus flaunts herself on stage in front of millions, tens of millions of Christians are secretly watching pornography while their churches stay silent as tombs about the issue.
It may be that we in the church should revisit the story of the self-righteous Pharisee in Luke 18. If these survey results are true, we can no longer stand in the front of the church patting ourselves on the back for not being like those sexual sinners out there. Instead, together we can lower our face before God and say, “Have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Although this survey grieves me, I remain hopeful that through true evangelism and service, and by praying and seeking spiritual renewal in our churches, we have an incredible opportunity to reach out with the Good News of Jesus Christ to the hidden, the lost, and the ashamed. And right now, there are plenty of folks—millions even—waiting along the highways and byways for an invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb. And invite them we must.
The Bible warns us many times that the sexually immoral will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. People’s eternal lives are at stake, including many who we call brother and sister each week in church.
And, above all, pray for our Christian leaders who must begin to address this issue head on. And let me be clear, it won’t be easy. The topic of pornography is so difficult, embarrassing, and painful for many Christians to talk about. But talk about it we must.
— by John Stonestreet
Stonestreet is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and is heard on Breakpoint, a radio commentary that is broadcast on 400 stations with an audience of eight million.
Copyright© 2014 Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission. BreakPoint is a ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries