by Brad Huddleston
Several months ago, I received a shocking request from Duet Church in Potchefstroom, South Africa. They asked me to do a 5-part series on pornography with essentially no holds-barred in terms of content. The shocking part was that two of those messages were to be presented on consecutive Sunday mornings.
I have to be honest. When I read the request, I said, “This would never happen in America.”
Sure, the word “pornography” is sometimes used from American pulpits, but never in the manner that was being requested. In my book The Dark Side of Technology, I go into the very dark and perverse side of how the pornography industry treats women when porn is being filmed and I hold nothing, and I mean nothing, back (See Dark Side of Pornography). This chapter had already caused me grief from some who thought it was just too descriptive. Now I was getting a request to present this material on two Sunday mornings and three additional meetings in between.
Why would a church request such a thing?
For starters, children as young as 10 were being brought in for counseling for severe porn addiction that is being fueled by tablets and phones. If you’re an American, you might be thinking something ridiculous like, “Well sure, that’s Africa. We don’t have problems like that here.” The truth is, we Americans have had the technology longer which means we’ve had the porn problem longer. I think we’re just better at hiding it.
While there are numerous political and social problems in South Africa, the spiritual hunger throughout the nation is incredible and inspiring. In this instance, Duet Church exhibited the humility to admit that there is a widespread problem with pornography and then sought to obey God in repentance is causing God’s hand to move in ways that we are simply not experiencing on a large scale in America.
Lizelle Liebenberg is the Children’s Ministry Leader at Duet Church in Potchefstroom, South Africa. Lizelle and the ministry team at Duet Church invited Brad to do a 5-part series on pornography. This is the opening of the upcoming video series from those messages.
The word Porneia is transliterated from the Greek and is the source for our English word “pornography”. It appears 25 times in the New Testament. At its heart, porneia means “to sell off or surrender our sexual purity.” Porneia has a wide range of meanings that include fornication, adultery, homosexuality, incest, bestiality, and pedophilia. All of these are of course popular genres of pornography. And, these horrific perversions are being discovered at younger and younger ages.
The organization Human Life Alliance (humanlife.org) recently distributed some shocking statistics regarding young people and pornography:
- 9 out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography before the age of 18.
- The average first exposure to pornography among boys is 12 years old.
- 83% of boys and 57% of girls have seen group sex online.
- 69% of boys and 55% of girls have seen same-sex intercourse online.
- 32% of boys and 18% of girls have seen bestiality online.
- 15% of boys and 9% of girls have seen child pornography.
- 71% of teens hide online behavior from their parents.
- 28% of 16-17 year olds have been unintentionally exposed to porn online.
- 20% of 16-year-olds and 30% of 17 year-olds have received a sext.
Each year I speak to tens of thousands of students all over the world in both private and government schools. Because I’m not their parent, many students feel free to talk to me about numerous issues. Topping the list are pornography, self-harm and video game addictions. The root of these issues of course is a sinful heart in need of redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ.
On a practical level, access to porn, video games and instructions on how to self-harm are the Internet connected devices that are kept in the bedroom overnight.
In this picture, I’m on the stage asking an auditorium full of students grades 8 to 12 how many of them are allowed to have an Internet connected smart phone in their bedroom overnight. The response is the same around the world. Nearly 100% of the hands go up and there is no difference between public and Christian Schools.
I recently spent time swapping information with a prominent psychologist who specializes in pornography.
We both agreed that 100% of male students and 60% of the female students in these auditoriums who have smart phones in their bedrooms overnight are looking at pornography regularly.
One of the most frustrating things I hear from some parents is: “My child is a good child and would never look at pornography or do anything bad on the Internet.”
I submit to you that these children are playing their parents like a good hand of cards.
In one Christian school and youth group after another where I speak, it has become painfully clear that pop culture is having a far greater influence on the students than the Church. One simple, but very powerful place to start is to change our thinking (repent) about allowing technology in our bedrooms. We are supposed to be counter-culture people.
Another principle to remember is that God has called dads and moms to be parents and not friends to their children. They need strict boundaries. I observe that most parents allow their children to do as they wish because they don’t want to lose the friendship of their children and they avoid conflict like the plague. Conflict should never be a staple of our homes but we can’t rule it out when discipline is required.
We must also instill the words of our Master into this generation. The Word of God teaches us that sex is absolutely wonderful once we’re married. Regarding pornography, we must teach them:
Mark 9:47 (ESV) And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell.
On the final night of my 5-part series on pornography at Duet Church, over a thousand students from the local University were in attendance. Before I could even finish giving the invitation for salvation and repentance, students began standing up all over the auditorium. By the end, approximately 700 were on their feet acknowledging their need for help and forgiveness. People all over the world are hungry for freedom from this global tragedy. Will we lovingly deal with this issue head-on or continue to dance around it with tolerance? God waiting for us to decide.