The Pastor and Pornography (Heath Lambert)
In the new issue of Credo Magazine, “Churchy Gimmicks: Has the Church Sold Its Soul to Consumerism?”, Heath Lambert wrote a column entitled, “The Pastor and Pornography.” Lambert is Assistant Professor of Biblical Counseling at Boyce College in Louisville, KY. He is the author of Finally Free: Fighting for Purity Within the Power of Grace.
Christians today live in the midst of the raging warfare of sexual immorality. It has always been so. There is, after all, nothing new under the sun. Human beings today suffer the same predilections that confronted our fathers, grandfathers, mothers, and grandmothers. The temptation of faithless sex is a constant in human history. The Internet, however, has shaken things up a bit.
The Internet allows human beings to project their sexual sins in ways that were not feasible before it existed. The World-Wide Web offers countless Christ-honoring benefits, but one of its most damaging realities is the proliferation of untold amounts of sexual immorality displayed in pornography. If Christians live in a raging warfare of decadence, then Internet pornography is weapons-grade sexual immorality.
Local church pastors are on the front lines of this war. They are the ones called to shepherd God’s flock and protect them from the many dangers they face. Today that pastoral care necessarily includes protection against the threat of pornography. As pastors engage in this crucial work, I would offer three initial words of counsel.
Be aware of the problem
First, be aware of this problem. This advice is important because so many pastors are unaware of this problem. In Acts 20:28 Paul advises the Ephesian elders saying, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” This passage warns of the two ways pastors can be caught unaware in an age of Internet pornography.
Pastors can be unaware of the threat to themselves. As a pastor you must never think that you are insulated from the temptations of this problem. I would go so far as to say that any pastor who does not have standing accountability in his life and protections on his computer is not paying the kind of careful attention to himself that Paul requires. Porn is too easily accessible, its effects are too damaging, and your reputation is too important to take no action to insulate yourself from this threat.
Pastors can also be caught unaware of the threat to their sheep. I talk with pastors all the time who tell me, “I really don’t think anybody in my church is looking at pornography.” This is simply not true. In this day almost every church will have people who are struggling with pornography. Pastors should assume that people in their church are struggling and so preach on this topic regularly, and be prepared to offer wise counsel when the sin surfaces in the lives of individuals. That leads to the next piece of counsel. . . .
Read the rest of this column today!
The Evangelical church in the twenty-first century has in many ways absorbed the consumeristic mentality that is so prevalent in the culture. Churches approach worship as if they were selling a product and the attendee were the consumer. Since the product is up for sale, churches must show that their product is more entertaining than anything else the world has to offer. Therefore, churchy gimmicks are the name of the game. Whatever keeps people coming back for more takes first priority and becomes the controlling principle for all things church-related. The preaching must be relevant, the music must entertain, and church events must keep people on the edge of their seat. If the church doesn’t sell itself, then it will be out of business.
In this issue of Credo Magazine we hope to pour an ice-cold bucket of water in the face of the church. No longer can we turn to the culture to decide what the church should be and do. God, his gospel, and his bride are not products to be sold. And those who walk through the church doors on Sunday morning are not customers to entertain. Such an approach makes man the center and treats the church like a business. In contrast, our aim in this issue is to draw church-goers and church leaders back to Scripture, which we believe should be our final authority and guide for worship. In doing so, we must recover the ordinary means of grace that God uses to equip the saints and transform us into the image of Christ.
Contributors include: Brian Cosby, Dennis Johnson, Harry Reeder, Mark DeVine, T. David Gordon, Heath Lambert, and many others.