It is with a bit of trembling that I approach the topic of pastors today. Part of me wonders if I am crossing into the territory of those who will be held to a higher standard (James 3). I think so. To be further sobered, that whole chapter is about how the tongue is lit by the fire of hell (or the keyboard, in this case) and that we should not act out of selfish ambition.
But that selfish ambition lives in my heart. It wants you to read this blog and be very impressed by my sacrifice, my boldness, my wisdom. It is not that interested in God getting credit or glory. Oh no, it wants to make sure that all of the honor goes to Chip.
I am not fit to preach or to lead the church. I want my own glory too much. But I don’t think that means I have no contribution to make. By the grace of God, I hope to encourage the church. To God be the glory.
I want to approach the pastors today. You are men called by God to lead his people. This is a heavy burden and I fear I am going to add to it today. I don’t want what I am about to say to discourage you. Quite the opposite, I want to encourage you.
As my recent posts have pointed out, there is a crisis in the world and the church. Sexual sin is disintegrating our homes, communities, and churches. The gateway drug for this sexual sin is pornography. It starts and fuels most of this destruction. So, pastors, I plead with you.
Confess Your Own Sexual Sin
Somewhere in the range of 1/3 to 1/2 of pastors have recently looked at pornography. If this is you, you must confess this sin to God and to another believer. It is useless to fight this without the church helping you. Don’t think that because you are a pastor that you are above the need for support and community. If anything you need it more than your people because you are being held to a higher standard. God is watching you and he expects you to lead well. Confess your sin to another believer.
Also, look at your heart. Are you emotionally drawing close to a woman in your church? When you preach, who are those girls that you always know where they are sitting. You need not look are porn to lust. Confess this sin to another believer as well. You need to be “in the light, as he is in the light.” Otherwise, don’t be surprised that you are living in darkness.
Now, go flirt with your wife.
Have a Ministry in your Church for Sexual Sin
If there is no forum for discussing sexual sin in your church, then you are overlooking an area of huge need. Around half of your men are regularly looking at porn and maybe a quarter of the ladies. If they were snorting cocaine, you would say something. Have a place for these people to go to have the gospel speak to their addiction. Maybe you partner with another church’s ministry, but you need a place for your people to get support for their sexual sin.
Be Ready to Address the Spouses of Porn Addicts
I struggle to recommend this because I have never known a group for spouses that I thought was really helpful. But part of the problem is that groups for spouses are quite rare. For almost every porn abuser, there is a struggling spouse. If you don’t have a plan for what to say to them, you will say something stupid. I have seen way too many pastors put the addiction back on a spouses shoulders. It’s not that these pastors meant harm, they just weren’t prepared. Be prepared.
Be Biblical, not Victorian
If you haven’t read my article Porn and the Christian Guy: Part 2, How Did We Get Here, then please take the time. I explain how many of our views of sex are not biblical, but cultural. We have overly stigmatized discussing sex and that has meant that the only people who are talking about it are the sexual sinners. Satan was very clever to set us up like that. Until we get over our reluctance to talk about sexual sin, we can never expect to overcome it. No one in the Bible is shy about it, why are we?
You Must Address Sexual Sin from the Pulpit
I don’t mean that you should occasionally mention sexual sin. I mean that you should be specific and be ready to address specific questions. There is a whole book in the Bible about how great sex is in marriage (Song of Solomon). Jesus had a three year ministry and had several specific and controversial teachings on sexual sin (Matthew 5:32, 15;19, and 19:9). Paul had several letters read from pulpits that were very specific about sexual sin and commanding sex in marriage (Romans 13:13, 1 Corinthians 5, 7:1-3, 2 Corinthians 12:21, Ephesians 5:3-5, 1 Thessalonians 4:3). The author of Hebrews (Hebrews 13:4) and Jude (Jude 1:7) both discuss sexual sin and the judgement that comes with it. Finally Jesus comes back to John in Revelation and has specific sexual sins at specific churches that he addresses (Revelation 2:14-21).
So, I will argue that if you are not being specific about the sexual sins that your congregation is facing from the pulpit, you are not loving your people well. You are not being biblical. You are more afraid of the critics in your congregation than you are in serving that mass of people who need you to have the courage to address their sin. Be bold, dear brothers, be bold.
I do have a couple of good examples of this. Pastor Kempton Turner at Bethlehem Baptist did a wonderful job of facing sin and proclaiming the cross. He did a seminar called Pure Pleasure and he is an example to us all of how to approach this issue. Also, Pastor Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church has spoken on sexual sin numerous times, but I like this one the best of them all.
I don’t want to add burdens to you. I want you to be fruitful. This article may be discouraging to you. Please, know that I love you and I want you to be successful. God has given me this grace and I want you to share in it. There is a fountain of joy for both of us, but obedience is necessary and I believe God is calling us to boldly correct sexual sins of all kinds.
Brother, I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together.