Warning: The contents of this post are of an adult nature. Our goal in posting this is to raise awareness of a very dark side of humanity that may be closer to us than we think so that it can be addressed and combated more intentionally in our churches.
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.”—Jesus
“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among the saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Eph. 5:3-5 ESV).
It was not until the discovery that my father, a former preacher, was a pedophile that I realized how diseased the hearts of Christians are. He is currently serving a 30-60 year prison sentence, sentenced in 2012 after my mom and I reported him to police following an allegation of sexual abuse. I have since gone on a quest not many have undertaken—to enter the mind of a pedophile. Until we are willing to see the world from behind their eyes, we will never be able to understand how they so easily become perverted, rob the innocence and destroy the lives of our children, fool us, and so forth. And what I discovered was more shocking than I ever would have imagined—the church is full of closet sex perverts, pedophiles included. I can’t help myself, I’ve got to quote a line from my dad in his most recent letter to me: “But I know that I know in running through my mind in my past conversations and observations with preacher friends down through the years—show most any of them T&A and they turn into tongue-draggin’ hounds.”
I wish I could say that he is a delusional inmate who has no sense of reality, but my experience tells me that he is being conservative in his thoughts. Unless you experience the volume of pleas for help from churches experiencing carnage from sexual abuse, you will choose to believe that there is not an epidemic of perversion within the church. A good preacher friend of mine called me up and shared his discovery of a 6 year old boy who was raped in the church building during worship. My friend discovered it after seeing the boy limping down the church hall with a huge blood stain on the back of his pants. The perpetrator was acquitted and still attends church there, after the perp’s attorney threatened my friend and the church with a lawsuit. These stories are not rare. I hear stories just like this DAY AFTER DAY. It’s going on in the church, and it’s going on a lot. Pornography has taken over the church, and it has poisoned the hearts of Christians, old and young alike.
We cannot talk about healthy sexuality until we first address the disease and know how to treat it. This, in my opinion, is why the Bible talks about sexuality so much in terms of restrictions and harsh judgment. We have drunk the devil’s Kool-Aid of “exploration” and “sexual freedom,” and in doing so the church has become fully pornified.
In my field of work, I can assure you that there is no shortage of perverts in the church, even among church leaders. And it’s getting worse. We sanitize the Bible and describe sexual sin in soft terms that detach our emotions and free the sexual sinner of any real responsibility. We say that porn addicts and sexual abusers are “struggling,” have “issues of lust,” just “went down a wrong path,” etc. Contrast that with Jesus talking about gouging out eyes, cutting off hands, tying millstones around necks, and Paul’s haunting words, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things (sexual sins) the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 5:6). Why?
It’s because God understands supply and demand better than we ever will, and he knows that our perverted fantasies increase supply while harming actual people. Strangely, maybe Jesus was serious when he said that any man who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. I could fill dozens of pages with statistics showing that sex trafficking and child sexual abuse are the fastest growing industries on the planet. And, pornography is the common denominator every single time. In dad’s last letter (where I asked him what we can do to keep people like him from harming our children), he said: “Gotta think like perps to catch them or dissuade them. You sure aren’t gonna keep them out of churches, scouts, youth sports, schools, etc. They are your family, best friend, preacher, teacher, judge, attorney, etc. . . . I can name you 3 preachers in ___________ who are porn addicts. They’ll act out somewhere, sometime with someone guaranteed.” I talked with a prison psychologist who told me that of the thousands of sex offenders who he’s counseled, he has yet to meet one who was not fully entrenched in pornography. Will every porn addict abuse someone? No, but rest assured perversion of God’s biblical intention of mutual sex, caring for, and compassion is driving the masses to act out in unhealthy ways. As I type this, there are Christian women reading this whose husbands are forcing them to act out fantasies in the bedroom that they see played out in porn. The most common of these are dressing as teenagers, anal sex, and submission while the husband ejaculates onto their bodies (see Pamela Paul’s book Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families). In the words of a friend of mine, “I cannot get aroused by my wife anymore unless I am watching a porn video while having sex with her.” How romantic.
The 7 most common genres of pornography in the US are, in order, Girl on Girl, Man on Man, Hentai (Japanese animated porn), MILF (women usually age 25-50, an acronym for “Mother I’d Like to $@#&”), Shemale Porn (transsexuals, watched almost exclusively by straight men), BBW (big, beautiful women), and BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism) http://graphs.net/most-popular-porn-genres.html Who are the biggest consumers of this filth? It turns out that a study monitoring paid subscriptions to porn (with the availability of free pornography, paid subscribers are deeper entrenched in porn and have moved beyond being “casual” users) “revealed that online subscriptions are ‘more prevalent in states where surveys indicate conservative positions on religion, gender roles and sexuality.’” http://www.cnbc.com/id/31905302/page/1 Check out the lists for yourself. Turns out that folk in the Bible belt are studying more than their Bibles. Utah ranked the #1 state for paid porn subscriptions per capita. Not surprisingly, Utah, a state that has the lowest percentage of its population in prison, ranks as the #1 state with the highest percentage of its prison population as sex offenders. http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58406311-78/offenders-sex-prison-utah.html.csp?page=1
While some experts argue that tougher laws and longer sentences for sex offenders are what’s driving that population up, I disagree. It is extremely rare for sex offenders to get caught in the first place, no matter how tough the laws are. The vast majority (90+%) of sex offenders will never get caught. So how are so many getting caught in UT, unless there are a plethora of them within that state?
All of this to say, we’ve got an epidemic on our hands and we have got to get more serious and aggressive about it. Porn use and sex abuse are at epidemic levels within the church and statistics show that it is getting worse, not better. Are church leaders willing to preach about sex, oppression, and abuse? Are they willing to stand with victims? Are they willing to call each other to a higher standard of moral living and demand transparency? Are we adults willing to create a safe place for our kids and sniff out abusers who are hiding within our churches? Are we willing to preach hard against sexual sin for the oppressors while understanding that victims of child sex abuse may be caught up in promiscuity because of their abuse? Will we demonstrate through our own sexual lives that our spouses have worth and value and they are not reduced to perverted fantasies? It is a complex problem that cannot be remedied in this short article. But my prayer is that we boldly begin the dialogue and restore God’s original intent for compassion, care, and sexuality. We churches are sick and in need of radical healing. Lord, please heal us by means of painful operations. Cut the cancer of sexual perversion and oppression from your Body. Cut us to the core and make us whole again. Amen.