The following has been in the news recently.
9/1: The Texas law requiring age verification of 18 or older to access porn websites was struck down, a day before it was scheduled to go into effect. The adult entertainment industry had filed the suit. When I read this my initial response was anger as this proves that the porn industry is going after our kids.
9/1: In the United Kingdom, the Advertising Standards Authority approved the placement of 4 pornographic billboards, which are now on display in London.
And the long line of professing Christians whose lives are being destroyed by the porn epidemic continues:
9/7: Child under the care of a youth pastor coached to produce porn.
8/28: A Georgia megachurch is facing allegations it failed to warn their flock about a youth pastor arrested for trafficking a 16 year old female on the dark web.
8/26: Youth pastor arrested twice for child sex crimes.
8/24: Christian school employee paid students for sexually explicit videos.
8/23: A 20 year old woman was kicked off the worship team after reporting that she was sexually assaulted by the worship pastor.
8/20: A dozen clergy and staff from a large church in Germany, including one senior clergy member, were exposed for viewing porn using church computers. There were 1000 attempts to access porn websites in one month alone.
You’d think churches everywhere would be pulling out all the stops and talking about sexual issues, no holds barred, with a sense of urgency.
You would think.
I received this email just yesterday:
“I’ve regularly attended at least 7 plus churches over the 27 years of being born again and I’ve only heard 3 messages dedicated to talking about sex.”
I hear stories like this all the time, that churches rarely, if ever talk about sexual issues, including porn. Screwtape must love it. What should put us to shame is that the outside world sees all of this wreckage. It’s hard to make stand for holiness when your people are corrupted and in bondage to the things you claim not to struggle with. The word hypocrite comes to mind. This is probably why Nick Vujacic recently called the American church delusional.
Cough choke. I know, I just said “holiness.”
“We must continually remind ourselves of the purpose of life. We are not destined to happiness, nor to health, but to holiness. Today we have far too many interests, and our lives are being consumed and wasted by them… The only thing that truly matters is whether a person will accept the God who will make him holy. At all costs, a person must have the right relationship with God.”
– Oswald Chambers
US churches reportedly spend upwards of 600 million dollars a year on audio equipment and instruments. At least we can blast worship music like no other generation.
The problem is that God demands holiness, even for worship or a church service.
“When you come to appear before me,
who has required of you
this trampling of my courts?
Bring no more vain offerings;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
Your new moons and your appointed feasts
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.
– Isaiah 1:12-16
How can any church that is corrupted with sexual and other forms of sin worship in good conscience? Talking about sin must be avoided (let alone hell or the judgement seat of Christ); park on the love of God, or keep it heady with ample doses of doctrine. Make sure everyone is comfortable and no one gets upset. There’ve been moments when I’ve been in church after having sinned and felt so completely torn up I could barely speak. What we really need is a worship leader or a pastor to step up and say “We’re not going to worship today. No sermon either. We’re going to get our hearts right before God.” Then lead them in confessing their sins, individually to God, and then break them up for some James 5:16 time of sharing and prayer. That service would be more spiritually powerful than the biggest mega church with the loudest mega-watt sound system and the coolest celebrity pastor.
Satan is taking new ground in the sexual arena at will and we’re not even putting up a fight.
“The world is not stunned at the power of the church today. They’re making fun of us. You can build a great church without the Holy Spirit, put up buildings, raise a lot of money, take in a lot of members. But we must learn that they who are in the flesh cannot please God no matter how cultured or religious… We’re afraid to shock the world with a miraculous Christianity. We’ve developed a brand of religion as much like the world as possible so the worldlings won’t feel embarrassed when they join the church; there isn’t enough difference to embarrass them. They don’t need a miracle. They just need to join the church.”
– Vance Havner
We desperately need to talk about these issues with a sense of urgency, beginning with the sexual arena and then moving on to the other areas people are struggling with.
We all fall short of God’s unyielding standard of holiness, with daily battles against our flesh and a spiritual enemy who hates us. We’re not talking perfection here. This is where grace and the cross come in. But until we face our sin and do the hard work of turning away from it, the best we can hope for is our current state of lukewarm apathy.
So we begin, as always, on our knees, crying out to God, inviting Him to convict us of our sin and purify us. Why wouldn’t He answer such prayers if they come from the core of our heart?