There is a 3-ton, bright green elephant standing in the middle of the Church. Almost everyone pretends it isnít there. If they do notice it, they refuse to talk about it. We walk around it, we ignore it, and we say it isnít really there. Occasionally, somebody gossips that they saw somebody that has something to do with the elephant, or that maybe the elephant is that personís fault. It is very rare that anybody ever admits that they have been around the elephant. The elephant has caused the downfall of ministries, destroyed marriages; it has caused tremendous damage to millions of lives since the beginning of human life. If the truth was known, many in the body of Christ have and have had trouble with the elephant.
The elephant is sexual sin and it is one of Satanís favorite hooks. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, ďBut I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.Ē We have to really look at what Jesus is telling us here. It isnít good enough that you donít commit the physical acts; the problem lies in our heart, what we think.
There are many people in the body who are being affected by this problem. There are millions more outside the body that are being attacked and plagued with it. For the most part, the church is not being effective at reaching out with a healing hand to those in and outside the church. We are not being relevant to our culture and we are doing a lousy job of getting to the root of the problem.
Officially, churches almost universally denounce pornography. Premarital sex and cohabitation is also rejected as acceptable behavior. If this is true, why then, according to pastors (Christianity Today, Winter 2005) do 57% of the members of their congregations struggle with an addiction to pornography? Why are 34% of never-married adults sexually active? Why is there a 30% adultery rate among married adults and a 14% pregnancy rate for single mothers? Remember, these statistics are among our congregations.
A recent survey of 81 pastors showed that 98% of them had been exposed to pornography and 43% of them had intentionally accessed a pornographic website. A few years ago, a convention of youth pastors resulted in the host hotel having the highest rate of pay-per-view rentals of adult movies that it ever had. Our leaders have trouble ministering to a sin that they are enslaved to.
The sexual content in our culture is over the top. Music, television, magazines, movies and advertisements all glorify sexuality. There is sexual innuendo all throughout primetime TV, there isnít a family hour any more. Magazines in the checkout lanes of grocery stores almost scream their sexually related headlines at us. A high percentage of convenience stores carry hard-core pornographic magazines, where a five year old can see the nudity on the covers as Mom and Dad pay for gas. Our culture screams SEX, SEX, SEX at us from every imaginable direction, and it is affecting how we think.
We need to modify our thinking: to stop thinking like the world and start thinking like God wants us to. God has laid guidelines out for us. They are not there to take the fun out of life, but they are there for our own good. I donít have a problem with a world in which women are more than a collection of body parts, a world in which there is no sexual abuse, a world without broken marriages, a world in which we live as God meant us to. God isnít against sex; He invented it and tells us a good bit about it in His word.
We have to start first in our churches. Our menís ministries have to be about more than meeting for breakfast. We need honest discussion about what the thought lives of many of our men are really like. We need to know that we are not alone and we need a biblically based game plan on reprogramming our minds. We need honest accountability to each other so that iron can sharpen iron. Our womenís ministries have to be about more than fashion and gardens. There are a lot of women who have become victims of sexual abuse and there are also women who have bought into the lie that their main attraction is sexual. If you donít believe itís a problem, then pay attention to how some of them dress. We have to catch the attention of our youth and teach them about the sexual lie permeating the culture before it is an automatic way of thought for them, the way it has become for many of us.
A pastor of mine often taught on how our thoughts go on to affect our way of living. If we want to make a difference in this problem, then we have to change how we think.
Thoughts become actions.
Actions become habits.
Habits become a lifestyle.