As sexuality continues to be explored within Western culture, things that scripture warns us to avoid have increasingly become commonplace even in the church. We have all heard of or maybe even seen the destruction that Moral failure from our Christian leaders has on a church or ministry. But sometimes we don’t consider how it affects the expansion of the Gospel among the nations. I would like to help you see it from that perspective today. Here are 5 ways our private practices with pornography negatively affect the mission of our Lord.
Decimating our single male candidates:
Since Paul took Timothy & Titus under his wing in Acts (or Barnabas taking Paul for that matter), part of the missionary experience has involved young single men passionate about the Gospel, going to the nations under the guidance and mentorship of an elder missionary. Today that is increasingly necessary, as most of the remaining Unreached People Groups are culturally Paternalistic. Meaning that they are male driven societies and thus the most effective and culturally appropriate gospel presentation will be transmitted by men to men. Then as those men follow Christ they pass it on to their families and the whole culture is transformed. Currently in our organization when we get viable single candidates there are 8 females to every 1 male. Getting single male missionaries has become near impossible in this climate. The reason: most have been disqualified because of pornography addiction. If we follow this to its natural conclusion we must conclude that the expansion of the gospel (at least among these Paternalistic groups) has been greatly hindered because of the sexual sin within the church today. Imagine that, there are men, women and even whole cultures that will not hear the Gospel because we could not control our sexual impulses. We must repent of this behavior and commit ourselves fully to His purpose for us as a church.
Lowering character expectations:
“Our Character is what we do when no one is looking.” I am convinced that pornography is not the core issue, but only a symptom of a much greater problem. As our culture has become increasingly private and individualistic we have developed private personas that are different than who we present to the rest of the world. And with the expansive world of the internet there are so many places to hide and live out your fantasies seemingly without consequences. Today most westerners are living double lives, even followers of Jesus Christ. We know the Light (Jesus Christ) he reveals our sin, but promises to transform us. But we loved the Darkness more than the Light because our deeds were evil. (Jn 3:19) If we do not train young believers to have character and live as though everything is in the light, these secret lives in the darkness will continue to hinder the Kingdom of God from advancing in this generation.
Hinders accountability and true mentorship:
As long as these uncomfortable topics are avoided we will never be able to move forward and experience the growth and freedom that comes in Christ. All of us are fallen and sick. We all have tendencies that lead to death and destruction. But I have learned that secret sins control us. We are afraid of being found out, so we adjust our lives to compensate. In doing this we miss out on the freedom that Christ intended for us, and we may never see the victory that he promised. If you are struggling with porn, don’t hide it. Tell someone and seek help. There are missionaries on the field and pastors in the pulpit who are struggling with pornography addiction. Ask yourself, how does their addiction affect the way they proclaim truth? Let’s get serious about accountability and helping people walk out of this darkness and back into the Light.
Opens missionaries up to complete moral failure:
David moved from looking, to committing Adultery and hiding his actions to finally committing murder to cover his sin. As we give ourselves over to sexual desires with someone who is not your spouse, the perversions grow and evolve. Sin always causes spiritual death, but it causes destruction as well. Destruction takes place over a period of time usually caused by decay. As we desensitize our eyes, minds and spirits to sexual sin it takes more and more to tantalize our minds. Before long, looking at porn isn’t enough. Due to years of looking at women as sexual objects the next step is acting out your fantasies in real life. I know you think, “There is no way my missionary would do that!” and in most cases I would wholeheartedly agree. But, the level of stress that most of our missionaries live under is extreme. Under that level of stress and cultural strain, you see things come to the surface that are normally kept under control. So, what I’m saying is “Don’t go down this road! It is the beginning of the decay that will destroy you, your family and ministry.” The effects of moral failure on a cross cultural ministry are so devastating and long lasting that no one wants that on their conscience. Stop before you start.
It Defames the name of Jesus and grieves His Spirit:
There is a rapidly growing movement among non-believers that is rejecting porn because they recognize it is wrong and it objectifies and abuses women. If non-believing people understand how wrong it is how much clearer would it be to someone who believes in Jesus, the one who brought us true freedom. We are representations of Jesus here on this earth.. Remember, Jesus was the first religious leader in history to accept women and they were a vital part of his ministry while he was on this earth and after. Why? Because he created them and he knew the beauty and nobility found in every single one. They are his children and he knows them and loves them, he hates to see them abused and defiled, they are precious to him. When we in the church ignore this terrible hidden practice within the church we grieve Him. He came to give us freedom, not bondage. He is love, let us not choose lust. The world needs Jesus and it needs the Church, we should live in a way that is worthy of the calling we received or else we are defiling the testimony of Jesus himself.
If you are struggling with this issue, I implore you to seek help. It is easy to convince yourself that it is a victimless sin, but that simply is not true. The name of Christ is tarnished by our lustful eyes and greedy desires. The advance of His kingdom into the unbelieving nations is greatly affected by the character of the church. If you truly believe that Jesus is who he said he is, then you must reflect that with all of your life. No double life! No Compromise! Out of the darkness, no more hiding! Into the light, Let Jesus give you freedom and break those chains!
Parents, do your best to guard your children from this temptation. Be zealous for their purity. Talk to them about it. Lead them by your example. Maybe if we strive for holiness in this area with our children the next generation will press forward and take the Gospel to the nations without this stain on the banner.
I am not saying that all missionaries or pastors struggle with these sins, but I have seen it happen and I believe it will continue to happen until we get serious about our response. I am including a few links that might be helpful.