Let’s S.T.O.P. Pornography!
I Peter 2:7-19
Ever since I was a little boy, I have idolized preachers and preaching. I continue to find it almost unbelievable that I now have the privilege of standing in this pulpit week after week doing what I love to do. I love to preach. Only today I wish I didn’t have to preach this sermon. I honestly do. I wish this morning’s topic was prayer or handling doubt or getting along with your neighbor. I wish we were taking one of the wondrous stories from the life of Jesus and drawing from it some energizing lessons. I wish we were addressing any subject but the one which is before us. I wish I didn’t have to preach this sermon. But I must. The command of God and the circumstances of our world will not let me do otherwise. I must preach this sermon because pornography is at war with us, with our souls, with our families, with our nation.
I say “war” because when others seek your destruction, whether you like it or not, you’re at war. And the goal of pornography is to destroy our individual souls and the soul of our families, particularly the souls of our women and children, and the soul of our nation. In the first epistle of Peter, Peter is encouraging Christians to live their faith. He says that we are aliens, exiles, visitors, on this earth. We are, as it were, tourists passing through life. Our real home is in heaven. He goes on to say that since our home is in heaven, we must live in such a way that we honor God and honor our heavenly home. Then, very specifically pursuing this line of thought, Peter says: “Beloved, abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against your soul.” Pornography appeals to the desires of the flesh. It is, as Peter says, at war with our souls.
You see, pornography has changed. It’s not what we used to think of it as being—now it is as deadly as a snake or a bullet. We are no longer talking about “nudity in good taste.” We are no longer talking about Betty Grable’s legs or Marilyn Monroe in a bathing suit. We are no longer talking about air-brushed beauties on the centerfolds of slick men’s magazines. Pornography has changed. It is not what it used to be. In the last few years we have seen an almost unstoppable progression toward the morbid, the degrading, the neurotic, the filthy, the twisted, the perverse, the nauseating, the totally obscene—and it is quite literally wreaking havoc in family life and ripping apart our national decency. The research has been done, friends, both of secular and Christian studies. The research has been done. The jury is in. Pornography is deadly and it is out to destroy that which we hold dear.
Please forgive me for what I am about to say—I will describe it as tastefully and as clinically as possible—but you need to know that soft porn, mild porn, the kind you and your children can purchase at the corner store, includes women being bound, gagged, raped, whipped and abused. It displays multiple sexual partners in perverted heterosexual and homosexual poses. It glorifies domination and violence. The very popular “slasher films” watched by our children in theatres, in homes, and even in school, expose those children to violent murder, unending gore, and even cannibalism. Hard porn is infinitely more severe, depicting scenes of gang rape, torture, and bestiality. There is an entire sub-culture of the sexually perverted, nourished in their sickness by a steady diet of 250,000 different child pornography magazines published in this country. There are more pornographic outlets in this nation than there are McDonald’s hamburger stands—20,000! And from these places pour the sewage of our culture. And virtually all of it is made possible by and feeds the coffers of organized crime—the Mafia and other such heinous groups.
The syndicated columnist Jack Anderson, forever a crusader for free speech, involved himself in a voluntary three-month study of pornography available to the general public. At the end of that study, he said that the producers of this filth have the morality of Sodom and Gomorrah. He said that the Caesars would be repulsed by the things he saw. He said that this stuff could destroy our society. And Jack Anderson is hardly “a Christian prude.”
Pornography is deadly. It is at war with us. To underscore the point, I would like to suggest to you today that pornography addicts its users. It assaults its victims. It attacks our values. Let me spell that out…
Pornography addicts its users.
Of course, the pornographer will say that the material he produces does not affect human behavior. That’s a lie. Repeated scientific studies have shown that exposure to pornographic material does affect behavior. Forty-one percent of the sexual crimes perpetrated in this country were immediately preceded by the use of pornographic materials or took place while the pornographic materials were being used. A whopping 88% of sexual crimes against children were tied to the use of pornographic materials.
It’s obvious when you think about it. Our whole educational system is based upon the premise that if you give youngsters good books, they will in reading and studying those good books, develop into good young men and young women. Now if good books deliver a good impact, is it not patently clear that an evil book will have an evil impact? Or think about how our media exist. They exist by what they sell in advertising. And what do they say? They say: “Advertise your product with us and people will be influenced to buy what you have to sell.” By what strange logic can we argue that an ad on one side of a page will influence someone to buy the product promoted there, but the filthy photograph or story on the other side of the page will not influence those who see it? Such a suggestion is absurd on the face of it. We are all influenced by what we see.
Furthermore, studies have shown that those who begin to use pornography find themselves having to use even more perverse materials to give satisfaction. The centerfold that brought much excitement yesterday becomes boring today, and tomorrow we have to seek something more explicit and graphic to stir those hormones. Read the studies yourself. Or better yet read the letters I get. Let me share two of them with you—one from a woman, one from a man—both are members of our church.
First the man. “Dear Dr. Edington, I fear that I am becoming an emotional invalid. My addiction to pornography is paralyzing my spiritual life and destroying my personal life. Yet I can’t stop. I resolve never to buy these materials again, but then I can’t pass them up in the store. Lust eats me up, yet it does not satisfy. It has caused me to lose sight of my wife as a warm attractive woman so that she has become only the object of my physical necessity and not of romance. I am sure she senses it. Pornography promises me everything, but actually gives me nothing. Can you help me?”
Now the woman. “Dear Pastor Edington, I know that pornography destroys. It destroyed my first marriage and nearly destroyed my mind and spirit. My minister-husband (that’s right, he was a minister) was addicted to this form of self-entertainment. I couldn’t stop the magazines from coming into our home and taking up residence on the night stand by the bed, but more tragically setting up a stronghold clutching my husband’s heart and mind. It was a sick, sick desire of his that he acted upon regularly, not just Playboy, but a slow progression to the expensive hard-core magazines that were so revolting I can hardly to this day bear to think about them. Thankfully now a loving, supportive new husband and the Holy Spirit are the gifts God has given me to help me begin to heal from this cancer that destroyed a relationship’s intimacy and a woman’s dignity. With tears of pain I write…”
Those who are the purveyors of pornography, don’t suggest to me that pornography does not influence and ultimately addict its users—don’t dare say that to me. “Beware of the passions of the flesh,” Peter wrote, “for they make war upon the soul.”
And pornography assaults its victims.
Women, pornography degrades and is attacking your gender. Rape has increased over 500% since 1960 and nearly two-thirds of serial rapists admit to imitating scenes found in pornography. Alaska and Nevada lead all states in the readership of pornography. They also lead all states in the number of reported cases of rape. Coincidence? Come on, don’t insult my intelligence. Only occasionally do I get angry, but I must tell you that I am angry that the feminist movement in our country, which purports to be in favor of women’s rights, has largely refused to attack pornographers. How can they ignore what pornography is doing to the women of this land? I believe that if all the women of America stood together and said “Enough!” that the obscenity trade would be banished. And men, it ought to stir up our deepest and most righteous anger that women—our daughters and wives and mothers and nieces and friends are being portrayed in such a demeaning way. Enough, I say, enough!
But perhaps the greatest victims of this crime are children. More than half of the porn magazines produced in this country are “kiddie porn.” Child pornography is a 3 billion dollar business in this country. 80% of all child molesters admit to modeling their sexual behavior by child pornography. A study done by the University of Arizona declares that as many as 600,000 children from age 3-16 are kidnapped or seduced and photographed to produce pornography every year. 600,000!
Pediatrician Elizabeth Holland, who has worked with many cases of child molestation, says: ” I can cure venereal disease; I can stitch up wounds; but I cannot heal the damage and the scars inflicted on the minds, hearts and spirits of these little ones.” Do you remember what Jesus said? “If any one causes one of these little ones to sin it would be better for him to have a millstone hung round his neck and be drowned in the deepest sea.”
Child pornography is utterly unprotected by the Constitution. It must be eliminated from our society to the maximum extent possible. If we can find no other reason to object to pornography, we must object to it for our children. Indeed, my beloved, enough is enough!
And pornography assaults our values.
The only way for immorality to exist is to block that which is moral. There is no way that pornography can live as long as purity lives. So the forces behind pornography attack our values. And as is the case in any war, they use propaganda. For example, the pornographers say that anyone who speaks against pornography is violating the First Amendment right of freedom of speech and is engaging in censorship. That’s a lie. We have never believed in America in total free speech—that’s why we have libel laws and slander laws and perjury laws and conspiracy laws. That’s the reason we have laws against false advertising and inciting people to violence. The commercial exploitation of obscene materials is illegal in this land. Therefore, in spite of all the propaganda to the contrary, we are called both by the Word of God and the word of the State to fight against it. You see, when you’re in a war, you either surrender or you fight. There are three ways we can fight. Note them in your heart.
Number One: For the heavy user, get help. You may not be physically addicted but you could be psychologically and emotionally addicted. Talk to me, talk to one of the leaders or pastors of this church. We care deeply about you and we will hold everything in confidence. So talk to us. We will put you in touch with counselors and with groups of people who meet weekly to help each other stay away from this problem. It is not easy. But you can, with God’s help, break the stranglehold of pornography upon your life. Get help soon.
Number Two: For the occasional user, get out. Don’t flirt with it. Flee it. Paul told Timothy “Flee immorality.” Get away from it. When you check into a hotel, tell them to turn off the cable to your room. When you see it in a store, walk out. And keep your children away from it at all costs. Men, teach your children and your grandchildren that “real men don’t use porn!” A child who sees his father treating his mother with love and respect is well on his way to becoming a man who will treat all women with respect. A son who watches his father take pleasure in reading Playboy and Penthouse is unlikely to think of women as anything other than objects for pleasure. Get the stuff out of your house.
Number Three: For all of us, get active. The Greater Orlando Coalition Against Pornography is soon to be based in our church building. There is a brochure in the pew. Enlist in the battles they are fighting. It’s time to become informed. It’s time to write letters. It’s time to boycott stores. It’s time to be heard. You respond as the Holy Spirit leads you, but please respond. Maybe it means demanding that the newsstand on Orange Avenue clean up its shelves. Maybe it means finding ways to keep the “slasher films” out of the hands of our children. Maybe it means writing to the advertisers on network television shows to complain about the intrusion of soft porn into prime time. Maybe it means when you see obscene materials reporting it to our city and county authorities. My friends, the law is on our side and we need to use it. Don’t let anyone fool you into believing that it’s censorship. You’re smarter than that. You know that keeping 600,000 kids a year from being dragged into child pornography is not censorship. You know that stopping the rapid rise of rape against women and molestation against children is not censorship. You know that cutting off the flow of money to organized crime through pornography is not censorship. It’s time to get active.
A few years back, Jack Eckerd walked into one of his drugstores and saw it proliferated with pornography. Jack Eckerd is a Christian and so he thought to himself: “I can’t have this stuff in my store.” He called the Chief Operating Officer of his company and said that he wanted it removed nationwide. The C.O.O. replied that it would cost the company several million dollars a year. Eckerd said: “Alright, let me think about it tonight.” He thought about it. The next day, he ordered all such materials removed.
Now, you’re not Jack Eckerd, nor am I. What we do won’t make a difference nationwide. But you are a citizen. You do vote. You do buy. You do make a difference. Edmund Burke said that governments are not controlled by gigantic generals, but by tiny platoons of citizens who finally speak up when they have had enough. Jesus said the same thing. He didn’t call them tiny platoons. He called them salt and leaven and light…