Reality Check

 

Two Tennessee ministers caught in prostitution sting

Embarrassing….

Recently the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation conducted a sting operation focused on sex trafficking and prostitution of underage females. Thirty-two individuals were arrested on various charges, among them were a youth pastor and associate pastor. I’m don’t know if these men are the wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15) Jesus warned us about (they fit the description) or men who allowed  sin to capture them and take them to places they never should have gone. Most of the comments I read were harsh, critical and directed at the two pastors involved, Christians and the church. It was painful to read.

It was embarrassing because these men, while not typical of the church and Christians, became the face of it and provided ammunition for those who are looking for reasons to distrust and degrade Christians specifically and the church in general. A youth pastor soliciting sex through prostitution with a fifteen-year-old is about as bad as it gets.

While this behavior is unacceptable for anyone, let alone a professing Christian leader, it is becoming all too common. This growing problem points to the fact that our country is facing a crisis. Many sexual behaviors which used to be considered taboo are now social normative and, in some circles, even celebrated. A committed, monogamous relationship used to be the standard for our country, and now ubiquitous self-indulgence is the standard. As our country scrambles to deal with the problems our lack of sexual self-control has created, one of the major players goes largely unnoticed.

Pornography.

Pornography is often the gateway to many of the deviant sexual behaviors we are seeing, and even the sexual crimes that are ravaging our society. If the truth were told, you would probably find a history with both of these men of accessing pornography as well as the other twenty plus that were arrested on the same charges. Almost daily we read about public officials, celebrities, athletes and everyday people, people who might be your next door neighbor attempting to act out the fantasy they see on these sites leading to crimes like the ones the men in Tennessee were charged with. This multi-billion dollar a year industry has an even darker side: sex trafficking, slavery, prostitution, drug addiction, abuse and even murder of young girls and boys.  This is not the Playboy pornography you might have found in your dad’s dresser drawer.  It’s violent, degrading, and popular. Many of the sites advertise “barely legal” and similar titles with female actors  portrayed as younger than they actually are.

The case could be made that these two men made a choice to do what they did, and I would not disagree with that. However, the influences that would encourage acts like these cannot be overlooked. Nor can the increase in sex crimes and worldwide human trafficking for the purpose of prostitution to satisfy these fantasies, that coincides with the free access and availability of online pornography be disassociated with it.

danger 2

And I’m not trying to be unkind or judgemental (I love my church and my pastor) but the Church corporate has largely ignored and done a poor job of addressing this problem that affects a huge percentage of Christian men, and increasingly women.  Many of the Conservative and Christian hot button issues, abortion, human trafficking, divorce, child abuse are a direct result of sexual immorality, encouraged by hardcore pornography and soft-core pornography using food, clothing, perfume as a medium that has saturated the media and our world. Yet the percentage of those who identify as Christian and regularly view pornography is almost unbelievable.

In 2014 a survey was commissioned by Proven Men Ministries (www.ProvenMen.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping men break free from pornography, conducted by Barna Group, among a nationally representative sample of 388 self-identified Christian adult men.

The statistics for Christian men between 18-30 years old are particularly striking:

  • 77% look at pornography at least monthly;
  • 36% view pornography at least daily;
  • 32% admit being addicted to pornography (and another 12% think they may be).

The statistics for middle-aged Christian men (ages 31-49) are no less disturbing:

  • 77% looked at pornography while at work in the past 3 months;
  • 64% view pornography at least monthly; and
  • 18% admit being addicted to pornography (and another 8% think they may be).

Even married Christian men are falling prey to pornography and extra-marital sexual affairs at alarming rates:

  • 55% look at pornography at least monthly; and
  • 35% had an extra-marital sexual affair while married.

We need to focus on the problems inside our doors and stop pretending it’s not there. When we do we ignore the reality for those who are alone in darkness with this sin. And allow this dangerous activity to continue unchallenged As someone who struggled with pornography most of my adult life, I can tell you it is a very real battle, but one that can be won.

danger

Confession and accountability that brings this sin into the light are effective weapons. Along with a healthy Biblical view of sexuality that discourages sexual sin and allows the power of the Holy Spirit free access to change us. The church has a great opportunity to take the lead in this, through ministries that speak to the issues instead of ignoring them.

The church I attend has a small group setting available for men who are struggling with pornography and sexual immorality. Providing accountability, Biblical principles and encouragement. It is led by a former pastor whose ministry and marriage was almost destroyed by pornography that led to sexual immorality. And not just men are affected.  There is an increased focus by the pornography industry on women as an untapped market

Every church pastor should take a hard look at the efforts being put forth to combat this increasing problem and if it’s not happening it needs to begin. In the case of the two pastors caught up in this darkness, a vibrant  aggressive focus on the dangers of pornography and ministry directed toward prevention might have changed the trajectory of their lives. If you are a pastor struggling with this sin, do not let pride keep you from reaching out and getting help.

We sometimes forget who the church belongs to and the price that was paid for it. It’s not ours even though we have the privilege of being part of it. We are the caretakers and the representatives of it and we must do a better job. The shame and embarrassment of what occurred in Tennessee and other places cannot be erased.

But we can begin to do something to prevent it from happening to others, now, today.

For the good of His church, through the strengthening of His people and for His glory.

 

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About HCliffCraig.com

“Now at last they were beginning chapter One of the great story no one on earth has read: which goes on forever”. I love this line at the end of the Last Battle by C.S. Lewis. Everyone has a story to tell and ultimately we are all part of a greater story that someday will be revealed in full. “ For now, we can only see a dim and blurry picture of things”. ( 1 Corinthians 13:12). My story is not remarkable, although the events I have had the privilege in my life to witness have been. I grew up in the south “the land of cotton” and the old times there were definitely not forgotten. I remember where I was and what I was doing when JFK and Martin Luther King were murdered in Dallas and in Memphis. I remember the Civil Rights movement, a time of great unrest and change. I remember the dawning of the “Age of Aquarius” in the late 1960’s. It was also the dawning of my love for playing music, a love that has stayed with me throughout my life. If my life were chapters in a book one would tell of my precious bride of 20+ years who endured so much and stood beside me through the good and the bad. One would describe the blessings of being a father and a grandfather. One would tell about how despite being “the wretch” the song sings about God was able to change me, and use me to make a difference in others lives, make me a servant in His church, and surround me with friends all because of His goodness. All part of a story that has had many twists and turns. I think of the words Jimmy Buffet wrote in one of my favorite songs "As a dreamer of dreams and a travelin’ man I have chalked up many a mile Read dozens of books about heroes and crooks And I learned much from both of their styles" And so it is true for me. But in all of my travels and all I have read and experienced nothing compares to where I am headed. The place where my story here ends and the story that goes on forever begins! "" I am confident that He who began a good work in you will carry it on until completion until the day He returns". Philippians 1:6 My hope is that as we all run our race that in some small way my words will encourage and speak to you, as your story is being written. And draw you ever closer to the One who loves you. Further up and further in!
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9 Responses to Reality Check

  1. The True Light! says:

    Lust of the flesh is one of the evil one’s most effective weapons against believers and non believers alike! He uses it to keep the unbeliever away from Christ and the believer stumbling in his walk with the Lord. Much help is needed to break this sin once it has taken hold in a person’s life…good post!

    Steve

    • Sue Cass says:

      Absolutely true.

      • The True Light! says:

        The Lord has allowed the evil one a good bit of power in this world. And he travels about using this power in every way he can think of on everybody!

        But we know that he will be defeated like a weakling on that day of final Judgement, and all of our temptations will amount to nothing by that time!

        Steve

  2. Pingback: Reality Check | Daily Bread

  3. Sue Cass says:

    I just heard a report on our news the other night that sex trafficing in Atlanta brings in 300 million dollars a year and that’s why little is done to put a stop to it. Atlanta is the largest sex trafficing city in the country! Our politicians have sold their soul for the dollar and in more ways than one.

  4. Sue Cass says:

    Reblogged this on Sue's Pen2PaperBlog and commented:
    Pornography, sex trafficing, go hand in hand and can lead to devastation. We have an Almighty Healer who will help.

    • It is time for the church particularly the men of the church to stand up and be what we are called to be. Light and salt. It is past time to be done with this work of darkness. We should speak out against homosexuality, gender confusion and other sexually motivated sin, but it is complete hypocrisy to go online and indulge in one of the biggest money makers our enemy has going. You are right in saying sex trafficking and pornography are partners. Yet there is a disconnect when it comes to personal accountability.
      Thank you for reading, your comments and your prayers.

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