The Pornification of the Church

Silence No Longer an Option

Rating: 3.00

Nearly 15 years ago, a survey found that Christians looked at pornography at nearly the same rates as non-believers. Have things improved? Stay tuned to BreakPoint.

Listen Now | Download

John Stonestreet

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.daily_commentary_09_09_14

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.

We can keep pretending this isn’t an issue facing our friends, neighbors, and our very families, or we can do something about it. Come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary to learn more about how to get started. We’ll have links to all kinds of resources and organizations that can help.

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.

Further Reading and Information

The Pornification of the Church: Silence No Longer an Option

Our churches and church leaders must be engaged in the fight against pornography. The resources below provide information and practical steps for individuals and churches to join in reclaiming the God-given dignity of every person, male or female.

Resources for Those Who Struggle with Pornography and Sexual Brokenness:

Proven Men website

Be Broken Ministries website

Brushfires Foundation website

Gratitude Program of Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services website

Samson Society, Friendship and Discipleship for Men website

Pure Life Ministries website

Operation Integrity website

Celebrate Recovery website

Covenant Eyes, Internet and Accountability and Filtering

She’s Somebody’s Daughter website

Available at the Online Bookstore:

Sexual Brokenness, flashdrive
John Stonestreet, T. M. Moore | Colson Center

For Further Reading:

Pornography Use and Addiction (graphs, statistics)
Proven Men

Mindfulness as Practice for Purity
Dr. Kevin Majerus | purityispossible.com


I was going to talk about how I felt this article felt a little legalistic and devoid of grace, but others like Ed expressed that concern better than I likely would have so I will just second it.
One thing I will note however is when Mr. Stonestreet said that "churches had been silent as a tomb" on the issue of porn addiction in the church. I don't know where he gets that. I have seen it addressed in churches I have attended as well as heard it addressed countless times on various radio ministries including this one. Just last week Walk in the Word spent basically all week on it. And interestingly enough every time I see it addressed they talk about how it's never addressed.

-The Bechtloff
What Ed said. That's all that matters. There is no such thing as an antinomian Christian, that's where the debate ends, let's stop burdening Christ's sheep who are struggling with besetting sin (7x70)
right on!
Thanks John for bringing this info to us. My wife and I have been talking about this for years and trying to get others to talk about it without much success. I just blogged a bit about my own struggle with porn (as a missionary) and encouraged us all to start doing something. You can read it here if interested:
As delivered porn addict, Praise be to God, this is truly a silent epidemic in the church. I was trapped for about 8 years and I know I needed help, but was too ashamed to ask. So I try to help myself on numerous occasion, but i'll fall right back into it. Finally I cried out to God and said You have to take this from me, I can't go on like this. As I said, I was delivered by the grace and sure mercy of God. As men, we are more prone to sexual sins like porn than women. I agree it something that needs to be address by the church and church leaders. To make matters worst we are living in such a sexual charged culture and society, using sex to sell everything there is to sell. May God help us all.
Thanks John, Ed, and Rolley
As a Christian man who struggles with pornography, and thanks to Jesus, as Ed mentions, my setbacks have steadily been decreasing. In my journey, God has helped me realize many things about myself, and my addictive nature. I'm addicted to tobacco, and while recovering from other addictive behavior, pretty much not so with that.

I have come to believe that the root of addiction-- any addiction-- is our pursuit of PLEASURE-- what makes us FEEL GOOD. I admit mine, confees mine, as Rolley-- and Jesus-- say to do-- to whoever The Holy Spirit leads me to.

As an addict, I know, without a doubt, that many, many people are addicted to 'church'- yes, little 'c' church. How they FEEL is why they go there, why they spend so much time there {waste so much time there}, and as any true addict {who has come to the knowledge of their being addicted and accepted it} will tell you-- they do not believe they are addicted to church.

Perhaps I should have prefaced the above with.... God has also revealed to me my OCPD- Obessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, which is very hard on any relationship with other people. I don't compromise, I have too high expectations, demanding perfection, production, results.... etc, more of others than myself. Hence my feeling my voice isn't heard at times, even tho I do my best to say, in love, what I believe God wants me to say...... as I am doing here, after asking HIM that HIS Words appear here-- not mine.

I believe that we all are so addicted to feeling good, that we as a people make so much of God's Word a "feel good" pill. We won't fast- unless we believe by doing so, we will feel good- eventually. We won't truly humble ourselves-- unless everyone else does, and/or unless WE see a feel-good reason or result for doing so. We make cliches of so many verses in the Bible- so that we can feel good, feel good by thinking we're making someone else feel good by saying the verse to them.

I challenge whoever here to do their own survey {altho, be careful, King David decided to do one and it wasn't pleasing to God}:
Ask people, Brothers & Sisters in Christ moreso than non-churched people, to say the first thing that comes to mind when you say "Jeremiah twenty..."
Tell them beforehand, that they can interuppt you with their first thought as soon as they hear it. I guarantee that an overwhelming majority will say, "For I know the plans I have for you...." Yeah, right-- we think we know the FEEL GOOD plans HE has for us.

I also challenge any true church going Christians, to do as Rolley said- LIVE the gospel we preach- by doing what Jesus told us to do-- hopefully TELLS us to do everyday! I would really like to see Jesus walk into just about any little 'c' church on any Sunday, tell the parable about the good Samaritan {which HE did NOT describe as good-- we did}, and when HE says, "Now go, and do likewise".......

I think you know what most congregation's reaction would be-- they would probably applaud, and just remain sitting there. Well, maybe for Jesus they would give a standing ovation.

Jesus told me and you to Go, not to sit in some building and read and discuss what we should do.

People have sung the song, saying "We are the church....." and then gone home to watch the football game. No wonder God says we 'honor' HIM with our lips, but our hearts are far from HIM.

I went to school for 12 years and learned the basics I needed to be a part of the community, and have been practising that for the last 44 years.
At times-- AT TIMES-- I have had to, or wanted to-- learn something more to better do my part. I sat across the table from a dear older lady once in a group discussion at church on Rick Warren's "A Purpose Driven Life". I believed she had attended this church for at least 30 years or more. I could not believe when she asked, "How can I serve The Lord?" What does that say about those who preached all those years, all those who attended with her, and her?

My final challenge is to all those who lament the Barna Group survey "statistics" of all the people who are "leaving the church": For one month-- DO NOT SET FOOT INSIDE YOUR CHURCH BUILDING-- BE THE CHURCH OUT THERE WHERE JESUS TOLD YOU TO GO. Consider it a 'mission trip' if it makes you feel any better about it, but always remember this-- Jesus was NOT happy when HE was dragging HIS Cross up to Calvary for our sakes.

May God bless these words, and those who read them. For HIS Glory, I ask it in Jesus's Name- Amen.
You might want to make some separation between the people who unrepentantly use pornography and the people who struggle with porn addiction and are unable to stop but are seeking help. Because when you get to the paragraph:

"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."

Without any kind of distinction made between the two you could be taking away hope from people trying to get out and making setbacks in their journey incredibly demoralizing.
Thanks, John
Thanks for shouting this from the rooftop (in the ears of Christian leadership, especially); for, Nathan-like, telling God's own people that WE are the guilty ones and WE need to get right before we hypocritically presume to be God's agents to call the world to repentance. We need to start living the gospel we preach.

Our root issue--the reason we Christians are silent on this--is pride dressed in shame's attire. We are too proud, too ashamed, to admit our own need for the Son to set us free from sin and our unbelief that He is adequate to do so. We audaciously presume that somehow God will continue to bless our small-c christianity in spite of our being in bondage to the very evils we say Christ came to save people from. If we Christians can't openly admit our guilt and need for the Savior to deliver us (i.e. confess our sins to one another, as James admonished), why would we ever expect the world to come to faith and repentance in an impoverished Christianity that promises but seemingly (as the statistics suggest) can't deliver?

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. It is time for us--the church--to get majorly real about sin, beginning with our own personal and corporate sins. (Leaders, are you listening? Are you willing to lead? If not, consider changing your title to something more appropriate than "leader").

Mercifully, the divine syllogism still holds: IF My people humble themselves . . . THEN will I hear, heal, and forgive. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

But He won't strive with us forever.