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Equipping the church to handle sexual addictions

Man staring at screen

Eight counts of murder. Eight. Seven women and one man lost their lives on March 16th, 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Of these horrific deaths, most victims were Asian, and mainstream news outlets everywhere declared that these deaths were due to the rise in hate crimes against Asians. According to NBC News, last year, Asian hate crimes increased by nearly 150%. Due to this supposed surge, news outlets directed their attention to the victims’ race after the Georgia shooting rather than the shooter’s motive.   

The killer told police his reason for committing murder was due to a “sexual addiction” and that he went into the parlors to “eliminate his temptation.” As off-putting as this may sound, the disturbing reality is that it is quite likely the truth.

And it needs to be addressed.

Across the United States, countless men and women are struggling with sexual addictions. Addictions range from pornography to participating in an act. While most don’t commit murders, some do sit in service every Sunday with happy faces.

People trapped in any addiction are like the kid with his hand in the cookie jar. He would be free if he would release the cookie, but he refuses to do so. Instead, he persists in trying to retrieve the cookie, hurting himself and those around him. 

The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity defines sexual addiction as “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others.”

Those “patterns” are played out in these shocking statistics below

  • 7% of internet users view pornography.
  • 72 million worldwide internet users visit adult sites per month.
  • The National Council on Sexual Addiction Compulsivity estimated that 6%-8% of Americans are sex addicts, which is 18 – 24 million people.

Sex is paraded on every screen in the world. Exhibit A would be the Grammy performance last weekend. Popular rappers performed atrocious sex acts on prime-time television. So, why are we really surprised that this type of behavior is happening? I mean, as long as no one hurts anyone, and it’s consensual, it’s all good, right? 

Wrong. 

There are so many ramifications for such addictions. A few of its consequences include human trafficking, STDs, broken families, and wounded souls. But in such a depraved world, we shouldn’t expect anyone to handle these issues alone. Rather, there needs to be a way out, and I believe the church is a perfect place for rescue to happen. However, before that can take place, the church must acknowledge there is an issue.

Within the congregation of most churches:

  • 68% of church-going men view porn regularly.
  • Of young Christian adults, 18-24 years old, 76% actively search for porn.
  • Most pastors (57%) and youth pastors (64%) admit they have struggled with porn, either currently or in the past.
  • 21% of youth pastors and 14% of pastors admit they currently struggle with using porn.
  • More than 1 in 10 youth pastors (12%) and 1 in 20 pastors (5%) said they’re addicted.
  • A survey reported 50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography.               

A little unsettling, isn’t it? 

Even more troubling, 93% of pastors see porn as an increasing problem in the church, but only 7% have any plan to deal with it. Regardless of why there aren’t more plans in place, we should be working towards finding ways to help those struggling, instead of looking at what’s happening. 

Too often, individuals see the church as a place where one has to be holy instead of seeking the same type of forgiveness we all need. And that may be due to the lack of teaching and discipleship classes that help deal with real-life situations. 

A few ways the church can help are as follows

  • Classes dedicated to addressing the issue and holding others accountable.
  • Have a list of online filters to offer struggling families.
  • A ministry dedicated to couples who have been hurt by porn or sexual addiction. 

Until churches, leaders, and pastors step up and take a stand against these issues, those suffering in the pews may not ever break free from the chains of addiction. We know that there is freedom and forgiveness found through the blood of Christ, but sometimes it takes more than just saying that. Often, there are consequences for our choices. In standing up for what’s right and changing the course of local churches, there is hope for a better tomorrow. 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2). 

Covenant Eyes is a phenomenal resource for handling the effects of pornography in the church, families, and individuals. To find out more about them, visit here.

This blog was originally posted on AFA.net/thestand

Hannah Harrison

About the author

Hannah Harrison

Hannah is a staff writer for American Family Association. She writes for the AFA Journal print magazine, AFA's blog The Stand and Engage Magazine. She has a heart for victims of sexual exploitation, and much of her research and writing focuses on issues related to human trafficking. 

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