The Goals: Standing Up For Purity and Creating Healthy Boundaries
According to xxxChurch.com, 70% of Christian men and 35% of Christian women struggle with pornography. As pastors and Christian leaders, you’ve no doubt seen the damage this issue has caused in families and churches all over America. It’s taking out marriages, ministers, and young people right and left. And with the average age of first exposure to pornography at 8-11 years old, we are facing a battlefront that is getting younger and younger.
But it’s not just pornography that poses a threat to our families and children online. The accessibility kids have to Internet-enabled devices and the lure of social media have been our undoing. From connecting to strangers (even predators) online, to looking at pornography and sexting, our connected world has given rise to secret addictions, insecurities, and unhealthy relationships. In order to address these hidden issues, we must shine a light on them.
How can you help families in your church maintain purity of heart and mind? How can you foster healthy boundaries online and offline?
It’s very important to start talking about the dangers of pornography and other issues online within church communities, and these talks need to include parents and children. We should not be deceived to think kids are “safe” just because they go to church. Parents can sometimes be naïve, but if so, it just means they need support and education. Churches have an incredible opportunity to unite their parents by training them to know how to fight for their kids’ minds, hearts, and eyes while training them to use wisdom online. We would love to help you! For more information on bringing a Parents Who Fight seminar to your church, click here.
We believe a huge reason pornography has been able to gain so much momentum among people who consider themselves Christians is the fact that this topic is largely under-discussed in ways that move beyond “thou shalt not” directives. As church leaders, it is unwise to assume that parents within congregations are talking to their kids about dangers online, when the topic itself is rarely addressed from the podium. With so many stories filling the headlines of families being affected by sexting, pornography, suicide and inappropriate online relationships, we can not remain silent about the importance of having healthy boundaries and protecting kids online. When these brave conversations happen, context is created for families and individuals to truly find help and even prevent dangerous situations.
A key factor for building a community where healthy people grow is having authentic relationships where people are able to hold each other accountable to live by the standards they ascribe to. For the Christian, that standard is God’s Word. True accountability requires being able to have gut-level honesty with one another about real-life struggles, without fear of judgment or ridicule. That level of transparency requires emotional intimacy, and that level of intimacy can handle truth spoken in love to a hurting brother or sister. Building church communities where people are able to be emotionally honest, truthful, and full of compassion is essential to supporting families in a connected society.
With so many Christians and even pastors struggling with pornography and other dangerous behaviors online, it is necessary to evaluate if there is something about these communities that keeps people silently fighting a losing battle. No Christian would argue with the notion that sin is deceiving, and those who have been deceived can certainly be consumed even in the midst of healthy community. But, in the absence of accountability and community, this deception grows like a cancer. This is why having truly authentic and honest relationships within the church is foundational to purity of heart and mind.
The Role of the Church
In John 11, Mary and Martha were nervous about rolling their deceased brother Lazarus’s tombstone away because of the impending stench of death, but Jesus said, in effect, “Do it anyway.” He also commanded that those who loved Lazarus be the ones to remove his grave clothes. Jesus gave resurrection power, but the family had to get involved in order for Lazarus to be free. The church is a family as well, and in order for people in the church to overcome destructive behaviors, this family must be engaged.
The church has a role in this fight against pornography and other dangers online we find through our far-too-connected online social structures. We need leaders to take a stand for the purity of homes and congregations. We must educate and come alongside families and hurting individuals with brave conversation, accountability, and healthy community. We have great faith that churches and leaders can make a history-making difference in this fight!