Pornography: Silent epidemic in churches

First Posted: 2/17/2015

LIMA — According to Proven Men Ministries, a ministry aimed at equipping men to have sexual integrity through the power of God in their lives, approximately 64 percent of U.S. men view pornography at least monthly. The number of self-processed Christian men who view pornography is virtually the same as those who don’t claim to be Christians. The average age of first exposure to pornography is 8 years old.

The new documentary, “The Heart of the Matter,” is aimed at looking at this problem that is so rampant in churches across the country but rarely addressed in any meaningful way.

“I don’t have a very interesting story,” said Jessica Mockett, director and one of the producers of the documentary. “I felt drawn to the topic even though I didn’t have a personal story when I started. It was talked about in church a few times, so I started doing research about five years ago.”

Mockett did not at first believe the statistics she found.

“I was in denial,” she said. “I thought, ‘I don’t know anyone who has this issue.’”

Over the course of the three years it took to make the documentary, Mockett found out she knew more people than she realized that struggled with pornography, including several family members.

Mockett began making the documentary in December 2011, but it took two successful Kickstarter projects to fund the film. “It cost just over $100,000 to make,” she said. “That was a labor of love and basically everyone went unpaid during the three years we spent making it.”

The film interviews 24 different people about their addictions to pornography, including how they got hooked and its impact on their relationships. The interviewees include several women, as well as, men of various ages.

“There aren’t as many women,” Mockett said, “but it is becoming an increasing problem for younger women. So many young men are viewing pornography, and it creates unhealthy sexual appetites because they expect young women to act pornographic. A lot of young women are looking at hardcore pornography to figure out how to meet these needs, and then they get sucked in, too.”

Mockett sees one of the biggest obstacles to churches addressing this is the need for members to appear to have it all together.

“The reason people go to church every week is because we are all broken,” said Mockett. “To admit failure or to seek guidance is part of the point. This idea of perfection is harmful. There is not a lot of room to admit to the behaviors in this area.”

Pornography’s easy access online is one of the reasons the problem has skyrocketed.

“Men are already very sexually driven,” said Mockett. “They are curious and the internet makes viewing porn easy. It has made porn accessible, affordable, anonymous and addictive. In the past, you had to risk being seen, but now, there is no real risk for the addicted person, at least at first.”

So, what should the church be doing about the issue of pornography? The Rev. Phil Starr, youth pastor at Lima Community Church said his church is not really addressing this issue because there were several obstacles in talking about it.

“People who know it is an issue assume it is so prevalent, if they were to address it, it would just be overwhelming,” he said. “The second thing is, there are not very many identifiable next steps for those viewing.”

Starr said it would be a difficult drive home for a husband and wife after one of them went forward to the altar or confessed publicly in some way that he or she has a pornography addiction.

“How do you prepare for a conversation like that between and husband and wife?” he said. “It has a lot of in-depth things connected to it. We want to be responsible in how we say it, and we do not, at this time, have a next step for healing.”

For young people, Kris Browning, family life pastor at Shawnee Alliance Church, said that dealing systematically with the issues of pornography and the literature-based pornography of erotica, is difficult at best.

“Ten years ago, a kid had to go on the family computer with a shared browser history to look at porn and had to get a real book to read erotica,” he said. “Today, probably 60 to 80 percent of junior high kids have smart phones which gives them 24/7 access, and they are usually better at concealing it than their parents are in finding it. So the conversation has changed to talking about what God’s plan is for sexuality.”

Browning said that churches have to be willing to be uncomfortable in order to address the topic of sexuality within the church.

“We need to talk about all of human sexuality rather than just the hot topics,” he said. “We have to go there even though we know it will cause some people to leave our church. If it is important enough for God to talk about, and He does, then it is important for us as the church to talk about as well.”

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