It was a couple of years ago that I sat with a father, listening to a story of the destructive consequences of porn addiction. What made this moment different from any other conversation I’d had, was it wasn’t the father we were talking about, it was his daughter that was sitting next to him, weeping while she recounted the journey of her first encounter and subsequent enslavement to a force that was destroying her life.
It broke my heart.
It seems that historically, when we speak about porn addiction we have primarily framed it as “just a male problem”. While it has never been “just a male problem”, in ways perhaps like never before, it is now an “everyone problem”. Porn is so prevalent that one wonders if purity really is possible.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, Paul says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God.”
According to Paul, purity is taking our sexual desires and functioning with a high regard for the holiness of God, (submitting to His good plan for sex, and imaging forth purity and faithfulness with our desires and actions towards others), and a passion for the honour of others (not objectifying others, but rather sacrificially protecting and caring for their physical, social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing).
This is the antithesis of a pornographic worldview.
So the question becomes, how should we respond? (and we must respond) I would suggest that if you do not wish to deal with the issue of pornography, if you do not wish to respond, perhaps youth ministry is not your calling. As we’ve already shown, there are few issues more prevalent in youth culture than pornography.
My friend Sarah and I have created a resource for you that I pray will help you shepherd your students away from pornography and towards Jesus Christ. This year at CYWC Critical Concerns, we will teach you how to use it, and make sure you have access to all seven sessions (learn more and register here). This is not a professional/clinical response, this is a pastoral/shepherding response, and much of it we have learned from wiser men and women than us.
About 8 months after meeting with that father and his daughter, I unexpectedly ran into the young lady again. She was a completely different person. Instead of tears of sadness and shame, there was joy and freedom. Her journey was far from over, but instead of despair she now had hope…at least for a time. It was amazing. It gave me hope that the Kingdom reality of purity really is possible. I am praying God would allow us to be part of more and more stories like that.