Pornography Use and Its Inverse Relation to the Great Commission

The silent epidemic of sexual impurity is not only harming the spiritual health of the church—it is also preventing the church from sending out more laborers.

I just finished reading (“audiobooking”) 1984 by George Orwell.

Of course I was struck by the “Why didn’t I appreciate this more in high school?” feeling. But that happens a lot these days.

One of the many themes that Orwell brilliantly constructs is how prepackaged pornography is liberally supplied to keep the party-worshiping citizens in line. Heads down, marching forward, productive. Very productive.

How does this affect our efforts in world evangelism?

Orwell illustrates how the totalitarian secular government—led by Almighty Big Brother—is successful in producing pornographic content that keeps the people from thinking clearly and keeps them productively plodding forward, expending all their energy on a fake war. It’s absolutely apparent the citizens of Orwell’s world were working hard. But toward what end?

Having returned from our field of service “for a time” and being here in America longer than expected due to COVID-19, one of the main things I do with my time is one-on-one and small-group discipling with men. And the more guys I meet with, the more I realize a tragic theme. Pornography keeps them fruitful and working hard in their earthly pursuits, but leaves them fruitless for the kingdom of God. In the eternal sense—the one that really matters—they’re being choked out (their words, not mine). So many are living a binge-purge cycle with pornography that no one knows about except those who are brave and loving enough to ask the hard questions.

Pornography wears down the souls of its prisoners. Young and old Christian men all across our country are not only short-circuiting their brains by way of secret online voyeurism (or worse), they are dishonoring the Lord Jesus and totally surrendering to the enemy any resolve for true fruitful ministry. They rarely consider missions. They rarely consider standing up for their beliefs or witnessing to the hope and joy of knowing Christ crucified. And soon, some won’t even consider worshiping on Sunday morning.

They have their secret private release, and that will be all, thank you.

Men and women who are living on mission, by the grace that God supplies, know the blood-earnestness that it takes to kill private sin and bear effective testimony for Christ in the face of religious, cultural, and spiritual opposition. And we should praise God and honor these men and women. But those who send need to approach this issue with the same earnestness. Leaders and church members from the wider household of faith need to also remain vigilant in these areas as well if we are going to see this upcoming generation play a fruitful role in the Great Commission.

First, we need to realize there is a tidal wave of secret sexual sin crashing against the church right now. If you don’t believe me, ask the young adults in your church if they’d like to give a sermon on sexual purity and carefully observe their reaction. This tidal wave is crashing against us from outside via the sexual revolution, and from the inside via our near capitulation to it. Unless we act with something like the urgency of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 5, the undercurrent is soon headed back out to sea and is going to take most of our values with it.

Second, we need to be sure to teach and champion the topic of the Christ-honoring power of purity. If you scan the New Testament while specifically looking for the warnings and consequences of sexual sin, you will find a sobering word in almost every book. My plea to pastors and church leaders is that we be as vocal as the word of God is on this issue. Nothing less. Our young men and women should see missions and ministry as an extremely noble and profitable calling. But they likely won’t even consider it if they are already compromised.

Finally, we need to have a discipleship culture in our church that is not afraid to address the biblical expectation of Christ-honoring, fruit-producing passion and purity. I assume most churches have a structure for discipleship and leadership training. If sexual purity isn’t a built-in component of that ministry, it needs to be. Quick. Those who are struggling in our flock need to know that we know what’s going on, that they are loved, and that there is hope!

We are not prudes. We love God-honoring sexuality, and Jesus has graciously redeemed many a missionary from a past of gross sexual sin (myself included). But if we do not continue to help our flock harness their passions under the authority and leadership of Christ, we will have young people working hard and making money—not unlike in Orwell’s extremely regimented and productive dystopia—but they won’t be considering the mission field. And soon, they won’t even be considering the church.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Radius International October 8, 2020. Used with permission.