BY DR. SAM SERIO
In a recent nationwide survey of churches, both pastors and parishioners stated that porn is the top sexual issue in their churches, both collectively and personally. That same survey reported that almost half of todayís churchgoers want more Scriptural teaching on sex.
Most say their pastor only brings up the topic only about once a year. Thereís room for improvement and thatís the purpose of this article. Below are sermon ideas for pastors to use and develop. If youíre not a pastor or counselor, give this to them so they can use these resources. Also use this article to help your friend, neighbor, co-worker, family or church member.
Speaking against porn is rather easy and doesnít require too much tact or intelligence. Preaching to sexually-addicted or wounded people requires much more skill and wisdom. We need a biblical balance here. Personal ministry, not public controversy, is a pastorís goal. We can follow the example of Jesus. He was at His absolute angriest at the religious leaders and not at the sexual sinners.
One of the greatest challenges in preaching about any sexual issue, like porn, is to turn the heart of your hearer towards you and not away from you. Ask yourself, "Would I be more likely to come for counseling after hearing those words I said?"
In the Bible lessons below are carefully constructed sentences, segues, ideas and transitions that tell your churchgoers, neighbors, and friends not only how to repent but also how to be restored. Millions of Americans ó men, women and families ó are daily affected by porn.
In my counseling practice, I often see ladies whose husbands are deeply immersed in pornography. Their hearts ache as theyíve been told that theyíre inferior or second best. Theyíve been told that something is wrong with them since they arenít willing or able to do what he saw other women do on those Web sites or in movies or magazines. They desperately need healing, and what will help them more than Godís Word? We must address the man who abuses ó and the woman who is abused ó by porn.
Christians should be the ones who most easily understand how porn can overpower any individual. Godís people should be the least surprised at this appetite we have for sexually stimulating or explicit materials. God tells us over and over that we will be tempted by our eyes. (Job 31:1; Psalm 101:3-8, 119:37; Proverbs 4:25, 6:24-29, 27:20; Eccl. 1:8; Isaiah 3:16-25; Matthew 5:8 & 28-30, 6:22-23; 2 Cor.4:18; Hebrews 12:1,2; 2 Peter 2:10-19; and 1 John 2:16-17.)
God knows how easy it is for people to get
addicted to porn. He came to set the prisoner free ó yes, even from porn.
More than anyone else, God is not shocked nor surprised by pornography
addiction. (Ephesians 4:17-19, 5:3-14; Galatians 5:13-19 & 24, 6:8;
Romans 7:5-25, 8:5-14;
1 Corinthians 5:9, 6:12,13; Colossians 3:5-7; 1 Thessalonians 4:5; James 1:13-16; Titus 2:12-14, 3:3; 2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Peter 2:11, 4:2-3; 2 Peter 2:18-19.)
Scriptural contexts for counseling or preaching on porn
Joshua 6:17-19, chapter 7, esp. verses 21-25
No one would have suspected Achan of privately sinning against the Lord. He was a member of the congregation of Israel, a fine upstanding citizen and an excellent soldier. No one suspected him of this sin; he blended in with all the others.
But God singled him out. He knew what Achan did and what he hid. It was something he was not supposed to have and thatís why he hid it. Achan had a secret he thought no one knew about but he was wrong. God knew. God always knows our secret lives.
Achan got caught. And when he did, he confessed with the simplest of words: I saw, I wanted, I took, I hid.
These same words and his same story can be repeated every day. Iím talking about pornography, magazines, adult movies, videos, bookstores, computers, Internet, pictures, chat lines, dirty talk.
Many men today are much like Achan. They see and want something or someone that they cannot or should not have. But it doesnít end there. They think they must have it, so they take it.
Some want it so badly that they take ó or rape or molest ó innocent children, teens, or women in order to have what they saw on the computer, in the movie, or in the magazine. What Achan saw was not enough ó he decided to take and hide it. Men, you know where youíve hidden yours. Like Achan, you think no one knows, but God does. God knows everything about you. Heís in your hard drive or in the closet.
Achanís whole family was affected in verse 25. Maybe you donít see what your habit has done to them or to yourself. But your wife probably knows. She pays the price by being told how inferior or inadequate she is. Other people also pay the price for what you are doing.
It was too late for Achan. But itís not too late for you. Come clean now; confess your secret today before your world comes crashing in as Achanís did.
Wives and women, if you know that your man is hiding something like this, go speak with him first and if he doesnít listen, consult a trusted counselor or pastor. Donít allow yourself or your children to continue to suffer.
The new believers at Ephesus
What a wonderful day that must have been at Ephesus as the community there watched the public burning of books and scrolls. What a relief it must have been to be rid of these books that had caused so much headache and heartaches.
These people really were converted. They became new creatures in Christ. They began to obey His commands and change their lifestyles. They didnít keep their books and scrolls stashed away at home; they knew they had to destroy all of them. If they kept them, they would have been tempted to return to them. So they burned their bridges behind them by burning these bad books. What a pleasing aroma went up to heaven that day. God was pleased and honored by this.
The same needs to happen today. Some books need to be burned. How so? Some of your pornographic magazines, videos, DVDs and movies need to be burned. You know which ones, the ones that donít help with your walk with the Lord. The Ephesians knew this; do you? Are you willing to destroy the things that are destroying you? Are you willing to go get that matchstick right now?
You might think of all the money youíll waste if you do that. The text here says that the value of these scrolls and books was about 50,000 drachmas. A drachma was a silver coin worth about a dayís wages. Get your calculator out, as I did, and you get 137 years of money that was burned as a love offering for the Lord! I donít know how much money youíve spent on your porn Web sites or print materials. It doesnít matter. Your walk with the Lord is worth more than any amount of money.
You also need to burn them from your mind and memory. That wonít happen overnight, just like these believers didnít forget their years of having their books. But you need to make a start, and God will honor that act of obedience. See verse 20 where the fire of the Holy Spirit descended when the fire from those evil books ascended. Isnít that what you really want today? Isnít that what you really need to do today?
Mark 6:21-29; Matthew 14:6-12
Yes, Salome danced for Herod but the Greek word here implies a sensual or suggestive dancing. Herod lusts for his dancing centerfold here and says heíll give anything in return.
What he sees, he wants. Heíll give away anything to get it. He is hooked and now Herod becomes a slave instead of a king. Heíll do whatever she wants as long as he can look and lust. He gives away someoneís life as a result and was willing to give away half of his kingdom. Herod becomes a slave to his passions and to pornography.
Many men today are like King Herod. Women dance in their heads and beautiful bodies remain in their memories from the magazines and Web sites. Like Herod, the are enslaved to a lifestyle of looking and lusting and will give away anything to look ó their money, time, wife, innocence, job or marriage.
A lot of innocent people get hurt, too. John the Baptist was punished unfairly here. Today, many others end up like John the Baptist and suffer as a result ó women, wives, children, younger boys and girls.
Oh, the news headlines wonít tell you that the man who molested that child had pictures of children in his magazines or on his computer files. Youíll never hear that the rapist imitated behavior from the movies he rented at the video store. Maybe youíve been seriously hurt or victimized because of a manís lust. You identify with John the Baptist in this text. Seek help from someone you trust.
Maybe you identify with King Herod here. You know youíve gone too far and made promises or done things you wish you could take back. Itís not too late. Give it all up and ask Jesus to give you the self-control you need. He can change you and forgive your sin.
The Moabite Women
In this story, we see men of Israel engaging in sexual immorality with pagan Moabite women. The women invited the men and they quickly went, hook, line and sinker. Instead of remaining with their wives, they went after other women. Zimri even brought Cozbi, a Moabite woman, back to his family and into his own home.
I see this story re-enacted with men in our churches today. Pagan women seduce them, too, and now these men of God are bringing them into their own homes and hiding them wherever a magazine, DVD, disc or video might fit. They try to hide them deep inside their computers.
They bring Cozbis into their homes through the computer, TV, VCR, or DVD player. And like the family who ended up seeing the adultery of their dad in Numbers, the children happen to stumble upon those magazines or movies and see their own Cozbis that Dad brought home.
They forget that these women who appear in their videos are Moabite pagans and enemies as verse 18 says. Have you hidden those women in your home? What do you watch on TV late at night? God knows about the Penthouse and Playboy women in your life. Are you so infatuated by them that you bow down and worship the goddess of lust they represent? Who is your Cozbi? Might your name be Zimri?
Instead, you need to be a Phinehas. He was not seduced or tricked by those women. He stood strong. He was angry and did something about it. He didnít sit around complaining about pornography.
How can you be like Phinehas? Start at home. Clean out your house first. Get rid of the Web sites, magazines or movies. Cancel that cable channel. Go talk to owners of local stores that degrade women. Maybe you need to tell your husband, father, or friend about the dangers of bringing those women into his house. God approved of what Phinehas did, and Heíll also approve of your courage. Get help for your son, boyfriend, father, husband, or for yourself ó for whomever you know thatís ruining his life through pornography. God can restore any ruined life.
As leaders, we must ask God to give us the words that will help people confess their sexual sin, pain or suffering. God is surely able to tear down any sexual strongholds, bondage or addictions.
Heís also able to comfort those who mourn and heal broken lives. Pornography is powerful stuff. But Godís power is much greater. Preach both messages.
Dr. Sam Serio has pastored churches in Pennsylvania, Maryland, South
Carolina, and Georgia. He is currently involved in business and is the
director of Heal My Hurt Ministries, www.healmyhurt.com. He and his wife
live near Atlanta, Georgia.