Search the Site

AFA Journal


Should the Church Be Concerned About a Few Dirty Pictures?

Ed Vitagliano
News Editor, AFA Journal
AFA Journal, June 2001 Edition

There are so many critical issues with which concerned Christians can be involved. Do we really need to slap something else on our plates?

Restraining the explosion of pornography in our culture is one of those subjects that might seem unworthy of the church’s time and energy. After all, everyone sitting in the pews knows that a man or woman looking at some dirty pictures on Saturday night is probably not the kind of person who will be sitting in a church pew on Sunday morning. Right?

Not so fast. Pornography, with its intrinsic potential to ensnare anyone, is quickly becoming available to everyone. The Internet alone presents web surfers with numerous opportunities for anonymously encountering porn.

According to a recent Zogby International survey, conducted for Focus on the Family, one out of five survey respondents said they had visited a sexually-oriented web site. That means a staggering 40 million Americans may have viewed online porn.

If such numbers are sufficient to cause the church to see the fields as white unto harvest, it should also understand the threat posed by such numbers. The poll said 18% of those who are married had looked at online porn. For the church, the possibility of yet one more potentially lethal threat to marriage stability ought to ensure its action. If the church will not respond to this problem, who will?

The problem, as it turns out, is that some of the Christians who should be liberators might themselves be held captive by pornography. The Zogby poll revealed the disturbing fact that almost one of out five (17.8%) of those who self-identify as born-again Christians had also visited sexually-oriented websites.

If Christians are coming under the power of this scourge, how can the church fulfill its commission to preach release to the captives outside the church walls?

Christians, of all people, should endeavor to live lives of sexual purity. That’s not always easy, however. Even though most churches probably maintain a strict, biblical interpretation of sexual morality, individual Christians are working, playing, and raising their children in the midst of a sex-crazed culture.

Many pastors may feel unequipped to handle such issues, however, even when someone approaches and openly confesses his need for help. However, there are ministries which can help clergy help their parishioners. Pure Life Ministries (AFA Journal, 1/01), for example, has a “Pastor’s Resource Kit” for that purpose.

The need for spiritual help in combating porn may be more acute than anyone has suspected. Focus on the Family revealed another shocker: according to a press release that accompanied the Zogby survey results, a significant number of the nation’s clergy may be succumbing to the sticky sexual strands of the worldwide Web. Focus spokesman Steve Watters said that “one out of every five individuals who call a phone line specifically set up to counsel families in Christian ministry admit to having a pornography problem.”

For those believers – clergy and parishioners alike – who find themselves already trapped, there is hope. See page 12 for a list of ministries that specifically help Christians overcome the devastation of sexual sin.