Pornography Behind the Pulpit

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This is an excerpt from the article “Dear Young Seminarians” in the January Issue of the Seminarian Student Magazine of Toronto Baptist Seminary.

Dear Young Seminarians,

I have been around seminary and Bible college long enough to know that some of you are frequently engaged in pornography. My heart is broken by this reality and I wish it were not true. Pornography is a dark sin that can hide even under the shadow of steeples. The pulpit is not immune to the sin of pornography.

There are students who are going to graduate this year who know more about God than the majority of Christians and yet are farther away from Jesus than the average church member. If nothing changes, several of you will receive a diploma for Christian ministry but only proceed to preach a foreign gospel for the rest of your days. If this describes you, I plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. There truly is matchless power in Christ to change your life. I am thankful that you are reading this and want you to know that several steps must be taken.

You probably have fears that abound in this season. What if someone finds out? What will my fiancee think? What will my pastor do? How will this affect my marriage? What if I can never be free?

If you are serious about your relationship with the Lord and about your future ministry, then serious action must be taken. You do not want to turn over in bed next to your bride and search for porn on your iPhone. You do not want to stand up to preach just after gazing at naked women the night before. You do not want to shrug off this sin and then turn over in the flames of Hell. Hands must be cut off and eyes must be gouged out. Pornography is not a pet to stroke, but a snake to crush. Realizing the severity of this sin is life or death. Yet there is a greater reality we must realize.

Brothers, many men do not realize the power they have been granted to fight even the darkest desires. When Christ screamed in agony on the wooden tree, He did not scream in vain. The strength that surged through the veins of Jesus now surges through the Spirit in you. Christ has come to set you free and you can be free indeed. There is no porn pit too deep that the light of Christ cannot reach. Christ is risen from the dead and He gives immeasurable power to those who believe (Ephesians 1:19). Come into the light and believe there is power in the precious blood of the Lamb.

I am a seminary student looking at pornography, what should I do?

The first order of business is to bring in a wise counselor. I am not involved enough in your daily life to give hand-tailored advice nor able to hold you accountable. You will need someone who can speak directly into your life, assess the scenario, examine your fruit and help you grow in holiness. You need a referee on the field rather than a commentator from the stands.

But from my aerial viewpoint, here is what I have noticed. There are two kinds of people who struggle with pornography. Those who are are slaves to Jesus and those who are slaves to Satan. Those who have the Holy Spirit in them and those who do not. You must examine yourself and take inventory of your soul. Are you enslaved to pornography and making little to no progress? Or are you struggling but growing in grace and gaining victory? If you are consumed with porn and know it, stopping seminary is the best option – or – at least postponing it until you are able to get adequate help. For the man who is enslaved to porn, ministry is not the answer- Jesus is.

However, if you struggle hard but fall occasionally, quitting seminary might not be the best counsel. In order for you to qualify for ministry, you must be fighting this sin vigorously and see Jesus giving you victory in battle. The pulpit and the pastor are called to be above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2).

Discovering a tumor and excising it is painful and frightening. Yet everyone would trade the short pain of surgery for a cancer free body. Sin thrives in secret. Mold, bacteria, fungus and all manner of porn fester in the dark. True confession may be a brief pain, but it brings sweet relief.  Every broken porn addict who comes to Christ will never be turned away.  He creates a clean heart and renews a right spirit (Psalm 51:10). Confess your sin to God and then confess your sin to a mature Christian leader in your life. God has given us pastors and mentors to help us grow in godliness. They will welcome you with open arms and then hopefully strengthen you in the faith.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands you sinners and purify your hearts you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to sorrow and your joy to gloom. Humble yourself before the Lord and He will exalt you.” (James 4:7-10)

This is an excerpt from the article “Dear Young Seminarians” in the Seminarian Student Magazine of Toronto Baptist Seminary. You can read the full article along with other helpful articles on Pornography and Purity here