Pornography - Addictive, Powerful, Overwhelming
But our God is greater. I sat across the table from a student that had been part of our youth ministry for years and comes from a great family. He poured out his heart and his life to me in a way that was refreshingly authentic. He cared deeply that I knew all of his hurts, pains, struggles, and sin. I listened, and listened some more as he described the addiction that he dealt with. The words he used sounded like something I had read out of Paul's writing. He kept saying things like, "I Just don't want to look at pornography anymore. But I keep doing it. I want to stop!"
Pornography is a big deal in our youth ministries. At a time and context and culture where the internet makes sex accessible within two clicks, youth leaders must be aware that they are wrestling with one of the most addictive traps and activities, next to morphine or heavy drugs, that we have ever encountered. We've all seen the statistics not giving alot of hope in this area. We have seen statistics that tell us that 90% of teenage boys and 50% of teenage girls have looked at internet pornography in the last week. I recently saw a statistic that said that only 3% of boys and 17% of girls that were teenagers had NEVER seen internet pornography (http://www.covenanteyes.com/2010/08/19/teens-and-porn-10-stats-your-need...). Computers, iPhones, iPads, iPods, android devices, and kindles allow for all sorts of media browsing. It's easy for people to get to places that they shouldn't be and this literally rewires the brain. Because our body releases a chemical when we see sexual images and engage in sexual activity, our brain's patterns literally begin to rewire themselves and we begin the very quick process toward addiction. Our students may be addicted within just two weeks of beginning to view pornography. God has wired us in such a way that sex should rewire our brain...for the purpose of connecting deeply with our spouse. What is happening in a teenage culture is an epidemic and will result in failed marriages, broken families, and moms and dads that are unable to connect emotionally and physically with those around them. As youth leaders, we need to confront the issue.
I used to think that the issue needed to be confronted at a student level. I needed to preach about the issue more often and offer resources out of the way of pornography and provide counseling for this epidemic on a regular ongoing basis. But then, something shifted within me and I began to realize that the key to locking down the epidemic that is happening within our men and women in their teenage years is their Father's. I began to see that when there were deep addiction issues with teenagers in our youth groups that the dads of those students were not as involved as they should be. Don't get me wrong, some of them were GREAT dads. They invested in their kids, they loved their kids, they care deeply about their spiritual environment that they are creating. But to talk about sexual issues and identity was literally foreign to some of them. Their teenagers had never had a discussion with them about the area of pornography. So I began to have these conversations and what I found was staggering. The men that were great dads and investing in their kids but were silent about this issue were also struggling through and dealing with an addiction to pornography. They were living in the same issue that their boys and girls were and they had incredible shame around that. I remember sitting down with a father of 3 teenage boys and challenging him to step up ot the plate and share what it meant to be a man and renounce the sexuality of our cutlure and the explicit imaging that our culture seems to put forward. He siad to me, "Chris, I can't. Because I live the exact same way that my boys do." The key to locking down the epidemic is the Dad's that we work with. I also realize that some dads aren't present (Phycially, emotionally, or spiritually) and for those boys, the church, the youth ministry, needs to become the dad to them. They need to be adopted into a clear discipling family and mentored in this area. They are almost certainly going to engage in the addictive behavior of internet pornography. But for those that have Dads that want to be involved, I believe they are the key to leading forward in this area.
I recently sat across the table from an elder of ours named David Riffel. God has used him in the lives of young dads to inspire, to instruct, and to challenge forward. He sent the following to a teenager that he has been working with and saw it as a way of parntering with a father that cared deeply about his teenager and had discussions regularly in this area. I wonder if the following is something each of us need to adopt as a mantra for Dads in our youth ministries?
From David Riffel to a student in our ministry
Dear Student: As you become a man:
1. Make it your pursuit to mortify lust at all cost. Know that lust is merely self attempting to usurp God for the #1 position in your life. “Satisfy ME!” is lust’s mantra.
You cannot mortify lust on your own. Christ died on the cross for ALL sin, including lust. He can kill it in you. You cannot on your own. I knew a young man (19) who tried to mortify lust on his own. Every time he tried to defeat it, lust reared its ugly head and consumed him. Jesus is your mortifier of lust. Turn to Christ every time you are tempted to lust. Lust wants immediate gratification. Break its desire by telling yourself you will wait 48 to 72 hours before acting on that lustful temptation. When you do that, you will find the temptation can feel like it is raging inside of you, desperate to be satisfied. Don’t give in! Resist the devil and he will flee from you . 2-3 days later, you will look back and wonder why you were so worked up over that temptation. Christ gives you future grace to defeat the temptations of the moment.
2. Memorize Scripture. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s Word is supernatural. God uses His Word to change us. It penetrates deep into our souls where lust likes to reside. The Bible is true when it says, (Hebrews 4:13), that we all stand naked before God and will give an account. Verses to memorize include:
a. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8. This is a classic passage on knowing that God’s Will is your sanctification; that you learn how to control your own body in holiness and honor.
b. Galatians 2:20. Speaks to the fact you no longer live, but Christ lives his life through you. When you fall for lust, you are not yielding to the Holy Spirit. Learning to yield to the Spirit brings victory.
c. Proverbs 1-7. These are classic issues that young men face, including lust and the seduction of flirtatious women.
3. Understand the biblical view of women. One of the reasons guys easily give into lust is they are afraid to, or don’t know how to relate to women. God’s Word has tons to say about what godly women look like, and act. Proverbs 31 is a classic passage on godly women. Related, learn to treat women with gentleness and care. Open doors for them. Let them go first. Step behind a woman, not in front of them. Be considerate. Appreciate their mind and what they have to say. You will be amazed at the things you can learn from them! One time, in my twenties, before I met Sandy, I was dating a girl in our church’s college/career group. I needed to buy a washing machine for my bachelor house. I took her with me. It was a “test” to see how she did in that situation and in making decisions. Needless to say, she didn’t pass the test. I got a much better prize in Sandy, and was glad I waited as long as I did! I am not sure how your parents view dating, but I do agree that dating (one on one) in high school is not healthy. Group dates have their place and allow both genders to get to know each other more. Keep in mind that girls also feel awkward around guys at your age. Do not let those awkward feelings keep you from building healthy relationships.
4. Seek Godly Accountability. I am totally convinced that as awkward as it may seem at first, a young man who is serious about defeating lust and building into himself a healthy, biblical view of his sexuality and marriage will ask for accountability. Seek out your dad first of all. Have many talks with him. Tell him where you are struggling and allow him to help you work through those valleys. Celebrate with him your victories. There will be many! You can also find a peer or another older person (male of course), who can hold you accountable. Not just, on occasion, but regularly. When you know that someone is going to ask you how you are doing in this area of purity, it will make you think twice before giving into temptation.
5. Value Christ more than anything else. Purity is not just about mortifying lust, but about exalting Christ. Value Him more than anything in life. Sandy is amazed that I really don’t know who movie stars are, or know certain songs on the radio. I may have seen an actor before or heard that song, but it frankly isn’t important to me. Why? Entertainment has its place, but which is of greater value, a half-hour watching The Office or a half hour in the Word pursuing Jesus? Or, how about a half hour giving into lust and self-sex or a half hour helping someone draw nearer to the Lord? We worship what is important to us and it is manifested in how we use our time.
Value Christ over anything else.
Psalm 119: 9 and 11. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to thy Word… I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
Now, I want to write just a few things to YOU, the youth worker. God has given you an incredible platform to stand on with parents, students, and their families. If you are struggling with internet pornography and addiction in that area, there is freedom. There is freedom from that, so that you might help others escape from the bonds and shackles of this damaging lifestyle. Literally, the future of the local church may rest on this issue as we confront with love the dads that lead the families in our ministries and as we disciple them to lead in ALL areas including areas that we have been far too silent on. May God bless you and may he keep you in his arms and may YOU live out what David Riffel says, "Value Christ over anything else" and follow Jesus to help others follow Jesus.
I recently got done counseling a former student in this area and he has freedom. He will always struggle with the rewire of his brain, but God is bigger and God's grace is sufficient for him. There is complete restoration because he is willing and open to making radical decision because of his valuing Jesus Christ.
If you wouldl like more resources or counsel in this area, please email me. I would love to hear from you.
About Me, Chris Rollman
My name is Chris Rollman. I am married to a wonderful woman, Cassie, and we have two pretty cool kids. Isaiah is a handful but a wonderful handful and Evy is a bundle of joy and alot of fun!
My mission is 1. Lead my family well and 2. Multiply churches that multiply churches to saturate our county with the gospel and reduce the lostness. I am the "Pastor of Church Planting" at West E. Free Church in Wichita, KS.
I grew up in Central Iowa, North of Des Moines in Ankeny, Ia. I realized at a young age that church could be a real dangerous place to be and went through high school going to a solid 'safe' church. But the extreme experiences that I had with church was only mirrored with the extreme experiences that I have and had with God. He seemed distant sometimes and so close other times. I realized that discipleship and following him wasn't about whether it felt good, but whether or not I was consistent and obedient all because I was madly in love with him. I want others to experience this growth in their lives. I want those that don't know Christ to come to know him through the relationships that they have with people that know and follow Jesus!