The Harvest is Plentiful, but the Laborers are Addicted to P*rn: Part 2
The “tsunami” of destruction from porn addiction is headed towards us, looming over our nation, our churches, and our society. The shame of porn usage is destroying young believers and sidelining them from ministry. An entire generation of leaders is being wiped out, and many don’t see the devastation coming. Considering 90% of men and 65% of women under the age of 30 regularly look at porn, it’s safe to say most of our future fathers, mothers, church, business, and political leaders are consumed by an addiction that began when they were children.
Some don’t have a conviction to quit yet, but those who do can’t stop on their own.
They need help.
Who is in the best position to help this generation of young men and women battle pornography?
Campus ministry leaders.
Because of the access we have to our nation’s future leaders at colleges across the country, campus ministry leaders have the best chance to destroy this threat. Our level of trust with students offers an unbelievable opportunity to not just influence and redirect one young person’s life, but entire churches, communities, states, and nations.
When a young man or woman gets freed from this addiction they are on fire for the Lord! I have seen it. They have experienced God’s grace, they are humble, they have experienced what it is like to be vulnerable with others, they don’t have shame holding them back, and they are ready to disciple other men and women!
Can you imagine a nation full of men and women who have been freed and are now ready to run? Ready to stand up and lead?
I recently told a group of college guys that when they get free from porn, they will stand out among their peers. They will be a light in a dark room shining brightly! People will notice something clearly different about them and will want what they have.
What an amazing opportunity we have before us! Everybody loves a good comeback story. You cannot come back unless you once struggled. What an exciting opportunity for campus ministers.
But what do we do? How do we help these guys and girls and take advantage of this opportunity?
Here are three steps you can start taking right now:
Get educated on what it takes to actually stop looking at porn.
In my opinion, every campus minister needs to have a baseline answer to the question, “How do I stop?” The answer can’t be as simple as the ones I gave guys for years: “Pray harder. Memorize this Bible verse. Just confess it to someone.” I knew I didn’t have a solution, but I could say confidently those were good things to be doing. The problem is I was offering an incomplete answer. So when a guy prayed harder and memorized another verse and even confessed it to someone, he would still end up relapsing–even after he did everything I told him to do! So now he feels even more shame and thinks something must be wrong with him. Nope, I just didn’t give him everything he needed to actually get free.
Most of us have not been trained in this area. It’s not something they teach in seminary.
The Endurance, an online men’s community, has a 30 day challenge which offers guys a daily lesson on what it actually takes to overcome porn. Resources specifically geared for women are harder to find, but here are some options. BeggarsDaughter.com, TheGraceSpot.com, and The Desire Series by Cru are other great resources.
Create a safe community to get free.
People do not want to talk about their sins, addictions, and especially not a porn habit. We are always asking ourselves, “What will people say?” “How will they respond?” “What’s going to happen to me?” People assume they are going to be shamed.
If you took a poll of your ministry staff and students right now asking this question: “What would happen if you shared that you are struggling with porn?” What would the answers be?
The answer you want is: “I know I would be loved, and they are going to help me get free. I would be applauded for having the courage to confess, because everyone knows how hard that is to do.”
If the answer is anything from, “I would probably get kicked out of the ministry” to “I don’t know,” you have a problem. If people don’t know what would happen, they are going to assume the worst. They aren’t going to risk it. We have to go over the top telling our students what will happen, and then we have to actually live it.
I asked a group of guys in my small group if it would be hard to confess that they looked at porn this past week. They said yes. Then I asked them, “What if you confessed it this week and then looked at porn again the following week? Would it be hard to confess two weeks in a row?” They shook their heads yes. I actually played this out until I got to 4 weeks in a row.
Here’s what I told these guys: “Of course it would be hard! Nobody wants to admit when they mess up. But you absolutely have to do it if you are going to overcome this. I expect you guys to mess up. You have been training your brain to look at porn since puberty. You don’t retrain your brain overnight. It takes time. The average is 6 months – 2 years for a guy to get free. And every guy is different. So you can’t compare yourself to anyone else. And every time you confess here’s what we’ll say to you: ‘Great job on sharing that with us. That took a lot of guts. So,good job! Now let’s talk about what happened so we can see what triggered you. What was happening emotionally in your life? What time of day did this happen? Were you using your phone?’”
And then for the next semester that’s exactly how we responded when a guy confessed.
If you want to read more on how to respond you can read my short ebook:
You have to get free yourself.
If we are going to help this next generation of students get free, we have to be free ourselves. Let’s not kid ourselves. Everyone is susceptible to falling into this trap. And it’s really hard to get out. According to experts like Dr. Patrick Carnes, they’ve never seen anyone get free on their own.
That leaves anyone in ministry in a really tough place because it’s especially hard to tell people we need help. We are supposed to have it all together right? We have to talk about it with someone. Someone we can trust. It sounds so hard, but there are thousands of people who can back me up on this…it feels so good to talk about it and come out of the shadows! You need to know that you can get free, but you are going to need some help. There are great resources out there like The Freedom Fight, Pure Desire Ministries, and the online men’s community that I help run, The Endurance.
A lot of Christian leaders are saying this is the greatest threat the church has ever faced, and no one is talking about it. We can change that. People don’t talk about it because they don’t know how. And they are ashamed.
But I’m excited for this next generation. In my campus ministry experience, I have noticed this younger generation begin to be more vulnerable and open about this topic than any other generation. The high accessibility of porn has made the topic less taboo. They aren’t as afraid to talk about it because they all know they’ve been looking at porn since junior high. There is no sense in pretending that they haven’t. So what was the biggest threat could be the biggest opportunity. What Satan meant for evil, God can totally redeem and use for good. That’s my prayer. I’ll invite you to make it yours as well.