Pornography and me, my family and the church
By Brad Burkholder
I was introduced to the world of pornography in sixth grade. Walking home from school, my friend asked me to come to his house to look at some magazines he found in his dad’s closet. Some would say it was boys being boys. Curious. Ignorant.
Porn wasn’t a “problem” for me until my mid-20s when suddenly it was free and anonymously available on my computer. I knew I needed help to fight the lie Satan repeated over and over to me: “You can’t tell anyone about your addiction to porn! You’re a pastor’s kid. You’re a missionary. They’ll never forgive you.” Ignoring that lie, I finally talked to my wife. That was one of the best choices I have ever made.
Porn and you
It’s difficult to lead your family toward purity when you have your own struggles. Premarital sex. Fantasies. An affair. Masturbation. Homosexuality. Lust. Pedophilia. Porn. We all have our intimacy issues. They have different consequences, but God calls them all sin. To the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), Jesus offers love and compassion, not condemnation. He leaves her with, “Go. From now on sin no more.”
We all need someone to talk and pray with about purity. If you don’t have that someone yet to hold you accountable, start asking God for someone. An anonymous place to begin is the Christian Web site www.xxxchurch.org.
Porn and the family
I have amazing parents. At a young age my dad talked to me about the “birds and the bees.” But that’s where the conversation ended. Here are some ideas to keep the conversation going:
Early and often: As appropriate, take the opportunities life provides to talk about the uniqueness God intended and made in boys and girls. Jim Burns has written an amazing book, The Purity Code, which should be a requirement for all parents with children of any age. Check out Jim’s ministries: www.homeward.com.
Purity vs. abstinence: Decide what you and your family are going to define as “purity.” This will take you way beyond simply porn and cause your family to consider movies, music, magazines, etc. Teach purity, not just abstinence.
Location, location, location: Have your computer in an open area where anyone can walk up behind the user. Have a computer curfew. Install a SafeEyes program. Don’t forget that smart phones have taken porn to a whole new location.
Porn and the church
We’ve taught abstinence and shame at the price of purity. Sex isn’t bad. God made sex. Sex is good. When it comes to sexuality and intimacy, there are three areas where I think the church could do a better job of communicating God’s design:
- Transparency. As church leaders we need to talk honestly about lust, sex and intimacy. Follow Jesus’ example (Matt. 5:27-30).
- Small groups. There are some great resources from guys like Chip Ingram and John Eldridge that deal with marriage, intimacy and lust. Start a group. Join a group.
- Seminars. Parents need to be equipped and encouraged to teach their children about sex, porn and intimacy. I’ve now held two seminars on the subject. Parents loved being able to talk openly about how to connect with their kids.
My prayer is that God will use my past sin and current struggles to encourage us all to talk about purity, intimacy and our dirty little secrets.
Brad Burkholder has been youth pastor at Hesston (Kan.) MB Church since 2002. Prior to that, Burkholder and his wife, Sally, were missionaries for eight years with Avant Ministries at Echo Ranch Bible Camp in Juneau, Alaska. The Burkholders have been married for 20 years and have two teenage children. Burkholder can be reached at email@example.com