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More so than ever before, we live in an oversexualized world. Globally, we are bombarded with sexual content from the media, video games, and movies. 40%(1) of the world is a click away from hardcore porn through tablets, computers, and smartphones. Due to the damaging effects porn has on the brain(2), many are developing addictions at a young age. On average, individuals are now exposed to porn by the age of 11.(3) Not only does porn reap devastating consequences on individuals’ minds and their relationships–porn is a key factor in fueling the global sex slave industry. Many of the performers are victims of sex trafficking themselves and are coerced into participation in sexual acts on film.(4)
Porn is not a male issue or a female issue. Porn is a global, everyone issue.
Traditionally, we may have thought of habitual porn use as an issue primarily faced by men in the western world. But porn is not a male issue or a female issue. Porn is a global, everyone issue impacting people from all backgrounds and demographics. With the ease of access to porn, there is no question that the number becoming addicted will continue to rise every year if we do not take action. I fear the impact this will have on the church’s witness when we look little different than the world in the next few years. Given this epidemic, the church is in the fight of her life. Pastors and ministry leaders are in place to shepherd their flocks (Eph. 4:11-12), but most are not equipped to deal with the extent of the sexual brokenness many are facing. In fact over half(5) of pastors in the U.S. are struggling with sexual addictions themselves.
I am convinced that addressing the global porn issue is the key to seeing the completion of the great commission in our lifetime.
Never in the history of the world have so many been facing one common issue as now with porn and sexual brokenness. Over 40% of women and 60% of men are dealing with sexual addictions.(6) For most, porn has moved past an occasional struggle and has led to an unwanted addiction. I am convinced that addressing the global porn issue is the key to seeing the completion of the great commission in our lifetime.I believe what the enemy intends for evil, God wants to turn around and use for good. In Matthew 28:19-30, Jesus tells us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” As a global church, we are failing at making disciples if we do not disciple individuals toward obedience in sexual integrity. We are failing if we do not help our world deal adequately with its largest struggle and epidemic–porn and sexual brokenness.
The greatest hindrance to God moving through us is our self focus and idolatry. We are at a point in history with greater distractions than ever before. We are consumed with comfort, luxury, pursuing wealth and status, and the pinnacle of our idolatry–porn, which is the ultimate get it now fix. Now is the time to take action, we cannot wait. If we are proactive in dealing with this issue head on, I believe God will leverage our largest failure in discipleship into our greatest strength. What if we repented and truly turned from this globally as a church? What if this freed us up to be zealous once again to obey Jesus and make his name known, leading to a radical and global movement of God?
We don’t need behavior modification, we need soul transformation.
To repent, or to turn from our sin, we must deal with the underlying factors driving the behavior. We don’t need behavior modification, we need soul transformation. To make disciples of all nation who obey Jesus, we cannot simply focus on the behavior. It’s not just a sin issue or a behavior issue, it’s a brokenness and painful life experience issue. We experience brokenness from our own sin but also from the hands of others. According to many addiction professionals, trauma from painful life experiences is one of the key factors that lead to addictions.(7)
For many of us, these painful life experiences can be difficult to identify because we have no other life to compare ours to. What we know is normal. Often, this pain can be caused unintentionally by those that are closest to us, like our friends and families. Often, family dysfunction or other painful experiences in life can actually cause trauma in our lives, which can be defined as severe stress that leaves deep emotional scars requiring special coping techniques.(8)
When we hear the word trauma, we can think of the most extreme cases like intense physical or sexual abuse, but in reality, subtle emotional pain or neglect over time has been found to also cause severe trauma.(9) This can easily happen in childhood, skewing our view of God, ourselves, and others leading us to find ways to cope in life. This trauma comes in the form of two extremes. The first being big T trauma, or events of extreme impact. For example, you may have faced an infrequent painful event of high intensity that led into the extreme trauma zone. It could have been sexual or physical abuse, the loss of a parent, a life threatening situation, the divorce of parents, or other events of high intensity.(10)
The second form of trauma is little t trauma, or frequent painful events of low intensity.(11) For example, you may have had consistent experiences of someone communicating to you that you would never measure up in life. Maybe it was unintentionally communicated over and over that you had to perform to to get the approval of others. Maybe you were bullied consistently, controlled, or manipulated. Maybe a parent was physically or emotionally absent consistently. All of these situations can cause little t trauma leaving an intense impact on your soul and leading you into the extreme range of trauma.(12)
To deal with trauma that has led to our idolatry and coping through sin, we must walk through this pain in depth in the context of community with Jesus and others and experience a renewed view of ourselves, God and others. As we are wounded experientially in relationships, we must be healed experientially in relationships–tangibly experiencing the true acceptance, love, forgiveness, and healing of Jesus through the body of Christ. As we experience the transforming work of Jesus in the depths of our souls, we will experience personal revival or a “renewed zeal to obey God” as defined by Charles Finney.
We are overdue for revival.
As young people are the primary users of porn, dealing adequately with this issue is particularly strategic. Looking at the way God has worked throughout history–revivals, great awakenings, and missionary movements have so often started through young people and on college campuses. The twelve disciples of Jesus were thought to be teenagers. The Protestant Reformation, led by Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and others began on college campuses in Germany and Switzerland. The revivals and great awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries spread through college campuses leading to missionaries and organizations being raised up to go to the ends of the earth. And today, college students and young people are the future CEO’s, political leaders, and religious leaders of the world.
Traditionally speaking, global revivals have occurred every 40-50 years, the last being over 70 years ago. Given this timeline, we could have expected a global revival around the beginning of this century. We are overdue for revival. Could it be that this did not happen as the turn of the century was when hardcore porn made its way into so many of our homes through the internet? Could it be that in the past 70 years we have gotten so far away from following Jesus at all costs and are consumed with distractions and comforts?
What if we looked different than the world and truly turned from our sexual brokenness? What if we could offer the healing and freedom Jesus brings from porn and sexual brokenness after experiencing it ourselves? What if this freed us up to be zealous once again, to obey Jesus at all costs, and we saw a radical movement of God across the globe leading to revival, great awakening, and the completion of the great commission? If we are proactive in dealing with this issue globally as a church, and as we help individuals experience Jesus transforming the depths of their soul that have been affected by shame, abuse, sexual sin, and trauma, I think they too will feel as if “we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” as Acts 4:20 says.
8.Patrick J. Carnes, “Abused Children Addicted Adults,” Changes, June 1993, p. 81.
9.Ted Roberts, Pure Desire (Regal, 2008), 66.
10.Ted Roberts, Seven Pillars of Freedom (Pure Desire Ministries International, 2015), 161.
11.Ted Roberts, Seven Pillars of Freedom (Pure Desire Ministries International, 2015), 161.
12.Ted Roberts, Pure Desire (Regal, 2008), 67.