Porn: crack cocaine for Christian men?

No, this post isn’t a totally blatant attempt to drive up pageviews by including “porn” in the title.

It’s only partially about that.

Seriously, The Daily Beast ran a news-feature last week on a Baptist pastor who has launched an Internet campaign to recruit 1 million men to say goodbye to smut.

The lede:

Pornography will destroy your life. It is as addictive as crack cocaine. And your child’s cellphone can be a tool of Satan.

These are among the boldest of claims from a Florida pastor who has launched a campaign to find 1 million men willing to do what many may find unnecessary, if not unthinkable: quit porn. Cold turkey. Forever.

Baptist Pastor Jay Dennis of the Church of the Mall in Lakeland, Florida, never thought he’d find himself taking sexual addiction classes, he told The Daily Beast. But staff members were approaching him with concerns about pornography in the church: wives who’d caught their husbands, moms worried about their sons. He knew it would be an awkward conversation, taking on pornography as a mission, and he knew he’d face critics who would tell him the church is no place to deal with sexual issues, he said. “But my heart believed this is the very place to deal with it.”

So Dennis launched a glossy website, Join 1 Million Men, where he asks men around the world to add their first names to a wall, pledging to say goodbye to smut. There’s an iPhone app with related scripture, tips, and tools. Videos about how to “destroy your porn stashes.” Testimonials from men who’ve found themselves in the clutches of Satan’s ubiquitous tools. And some pretty jarring claims, like this one:

“I believe as many as 80 percent of men in the church are struggling with viewing pornography,” Dennis says in one video, adding that drastic action may be necessary to truly rid yourself of it. “You may even need to destroy your present computer. I realize that can be an expensive move, but it may be necessary if you are serious about living porn-free.”

Now, the idea that Christian men struggle with the temptation of pornography isn’t exactly breaking news. I remember reporting in 2004 about a Dallas-area ministry targeting the “secret sin” of porn with billboards. A few years after that, I wrote an in-depth feature on “A minister’s escape from sexual addiction.”

But when the mainstream media cover Christians and porn, they tend to focus on the “novelty” factor, as opposed to giving serious treatment to the issue.

How’d The Daily Beast fare on that front?

Certainly, there’s a bit of a “gee whiz” element to the story by Winston Ross (no relation to this media critic). But overall, this report impressed me, mixing a small amount of R-rated humor with important context (you’ll have to click the link to read the paragraph that precedes this one):

Yuk, yuk. But sex therapists say the pastor has a point, and along with feminists who object to pornography’s objectification of women, Dennis could become the third in an otherwise unlikely trio of interest groups fighting the same scourge.

The pastor’s rationale for excising porn from your life is rooted in Romans 13:14: “Put on the lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lust.” Porn, Dennis says, “is a place your flesh in a moment of weakness will run to for relief or medication from pain or stress.”

If I have a criticism of the piece, it’s that it relies entirely on this one Baptist pastor to assess how other Christian leaders view the anti-porn movement.

Take this paragraph, for example:

The most reluctant recipients of his message, he says, are other pastors. They tell Dennis they’re convinced the church just isn’t the right place to talk about sex in general, or they say it’s not necessary—a recent survey found that pastors believe less than 10 percent of Christians view pornography on a regular basis. But Dennis says he thinks there’s another reason he can’t get other churches to get involved with the pledge: some of those pastors are porn junkies, too.

“There are a lot of pastors struggling with it personally,” he said.

At this point, I’d love to hear from a few other pastors. My perception (which could be wrong) is that pastors increasingly see a need to address porn from the pulpit. I’m not sure I buy this one source’s notion that most pastors are afraid to talk about sex. But from a journalistic perspective, it would be nice to hear from a few additional Christian sources instead of relying on just one.

Another journalistic quibble: Exactly what recent survey found that pastors believe less than 10 percent of Christians view pornography on a regular basis? I don’t buy that number. And I find it difficult to believe that a credible survey came up with that number from pastors. Again, the story needs to provide some attribution and detail to help assess the information provided.

But overall, The Daily Beast deserves kudos for its treatment of this subject — and for (perhaps) driving up GetReligion pageviews.

Image via Shutterstock

About Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning reporter and editor with a quarter-century of professional experience. A former religion editor for The Oklahoman and religion writer for The Associated Press, Ross serves as chief correspondent for the The Christian Chronicle. He has reported from 47 states and 11 countries and was honored as the Religion Newswriters Association's 2013 Magazine Reporter of the Year.

  • Alice

    Destroying a computer? Seriously? An internet filter and accountability software is a lot smarter idea. It is very difficult to function in our society today without a computer and internet access. Even many people who don’t own them use them at the library. Plus most workplaces have computers, and plenty of employees use those for porn even though there is a higher risk of getting caught. However, if people feel they have no other option, they could always cancel the internet service and/or sell the computer. And they would have to do something about their cellphones, maybe get a cheap one that doesn’t do internet. Would the pastor tell men who are addicted to going to strip clubs to destroy their cars? If the strategy works for some people, more power to them, but it sounds generally impractical, wasteful, and ineffective. And before someone says it, yes, I know Matt. 5:29-30, but that was hyperbole.

  • Steve Pokorny

    I know just how addictive porn is. I was hooked for 12 years. Simply getting rid of the computer, or using a web filter, is a band-aid over the bullet — It’s not going to solve the problem. The answer lies in killing the desire, which lies primarily in learning how to see the body correctly and to find ways to attain healthy intimacy. If you’re interested to be done with an attraction to porn for every, in a relatively short period of time, check out freedom-coaching DOT net.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X