It’s been almost three months since my book When Shame Gets Real: A new way to talk about sex, porn, and masturbation was released. Over that time I’ve received quite a bit of feedback from people who read it, and one common theme that keeps coming up is this:
People find it refreshing to hear someone talking about these subjects openly and honestly rather than just ignoring them.
As I share in my book, it may seem odd that a boy who had two parents and grew up in a Christian home, hardly ever missed church, went to Christian school, attended several Christian summer camps, and was part of various youth groups, grew up to be a raging porn addict.
But statistics from multiple studies over the past decade continue to evidence that my own story is relatively common as compared to other Christians. And it’s really no wonder.
After all, when reflecting on my own life, I can honestly say that throughout all the Sunday sermons, youth group meetings, special speakers, and “Bible” classes I attended… I heard the topics of sex, porn, and masturbation talked about less than a few occasions (and that’s being generous).
No wonder we are all such a helpless lot at times?
Sexualized messaging and media assaults young (and old) minds around the clock, and when these experiences create tension and questions for us… no one wants to talk about it or provide any solutions.
Not even our spiritual leaders or communities.
Recently I took the time to review the sermon archives of several very prominent and influential mega-church pastors to see if these guys, because of their massive audiences, might have tried addressing these areas of pain and need and guess what?
The results were less than inspiring.
Here is what I found:
First I checked out North Point Church led by Andy Stanley. I went back to April of 2019 and gave up after finding not one sermon on the subjects of sex, sexuality, or sexual brokenness. However, for what it’s worth, over that same period he did address the matter of “influence” thirty times.
Then I pulled up the sermon history for megachurch pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church. And same thing, nothing going back to the beginning of 2020.
After that I visited Bishop T.D. Jakes’ website and again, I found zero messages on any of these subjects when combing through the library of his weekly program “The Potters Touch.”
Finally, being a glutton for punishment, I headed over to Lakewood Church’s site thinking maybe Joel Olsteen might have broached one of these topics over the past few years.
In fact sex, sexuality, porn, masturbation, fidelity, or any topic/keyword related to these real world issues were strangely absent as a choice on their search drop-down.
Now admittedly, this is just a small sampling of the churches out there. And, it’s entirely possible that any of these guys may have slipped something into their message about sex, porn, or sexual integrity via a cursory mention.
But the point is pretty clear.
Despite the fact that many men and women in our churches struggle with questions and concerns related to sex, sexuality, and sexual brokenness, the commitment to answering these needs is lacking (and that’s being nice).
We have to do better. Seriously.
Because if we don’t we create many problems and leave people feeling helpless and hopeless.
- First, we increase the shame people experience when facing sexual challenges.
- Second, we continue to send the message that the church may be a safe place for some, but not all.
- Third, we communicate a lack of urgency or concern for those who are sexually hurting or broken.
- Fourth, we provide no or little direction to those who might actually want some help.
And finally, and perhaps most tragically, we open up a void in teaching that then can be filled by those who communicate a message that’s ineffective at best, and damaging at worst.
That’s why this month we are getting a little aggressive, taking off the gloves, and tackling teaching and messages that are very commonly heard in the church world but are downright toxic and harmful.
Not because we are hating on anyone or because we are jerks and that’s just what we do.
Rather, we are doing this because…
There needs to be accountability.
There needs to be clarity.
There needs to be honesty.
Quite frankly, there needs to be some sanity.
Because the only thing worse than staying silent on a topic or refusing to address it, is offering an ill-informed or theologically flawed opinion that’s counterproductive and harmful.
Folks, we have to do better.