FIRST-PERSON: Launching a 'Hardcore Battle Plan'
LAKELAND, Fla. (BP) -- Exhilarating yet very challenging -- that was my experience of the Join One Million Men launch at the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston.
The reception to this initiative to combat pornography exceeded expectations. This could not have happened without the enthusiastic endorsement of Richard Land of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and Wanda Lee of WMU. They are heroes, along with Andrea Mullins of New Hope Publishers who have made Join One Million Men resources available and John Sullivan, executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention who opened the door for me to discuss the strategy with state Baptist convention executive directors and newspaper editors in Oklahoma City this past February.
Now, the heroes will be the pastors and lay leadership who say to their congregations concerning pornography: "Not with our men. Not with our women. Not with our sons and daughters. We will be 1 of 1 million men committed to a pornography-free life. We will be 1 of 1 million women praying for 1 million men to live pornography-free lives." Thank you, Southern Baptists, for once again leading the way in addressing the hard issues.
At the Join One Million Men booth, hundreds of people came through to visit, ask questions, share stories and pick up materials. Each conversation was enlightening and at times emotionally taxing as we addressed what pastors and churches are experiencing as their members battle the new Bubonic Plague -- Christian men and increasingly Christian women struggling with viewing pornography.
I came away from the week with at least 10 conclusions:
1. We are past time in addressing the issue of pornography in the church. There must be an urgency about doing everything possible to start the discussion in every church. No church and Christian home is unaffected by pornography.
2. Pastors must understand that this issue is destroying the men in their church along with their marriages, and that every young man is in danger of believing that the images in Internet pornography are normal. God's standard of sexual health must be promoted from the pulpit.
3. Internet pornography is the perfect trap for men. With its accessibility, anonymity, affordability and addictive nature, one look can hook. Then men struggle in shameful silence feeling they are alone in the struggle. A pastor's silence on the subject underscores that shame.
4. Pastors are fearful. They are fearful of confessing their own struggles and fearful of the response from the congregation if they dare to broach the subject of pornography. The fear of God must replace the fear of man.
5. Evangelism and revival are integrally connected to personal purity. Jesus told us, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8). If we want to see God work in our churches we must address the issue of pornography's attack on purity.
6. Women in the church, specifically wives and moms, are the key factor in bringing this issue of porn among Christian to the forefront of discussion in churches. When women pray about and discuss issues, eternal things can happen. We need for the women to declare, "Not in our church."
7. The stories are heartbreaking, shocking and clear examples of how effective Satan is in using this tool against Christian men. I thought I had heard most everything, but what we heard in our discussions at the booth has burdened me even more that we must do something now. A pastor would have to put his head in the sand not to know that this is one of the most devastating attacks ever on the very souls of men.
8. Increasingly Christian women are struggling with viewing pornography. This will continue to escalate and have detrimental effects on marriages and motherhood. Resources are desperately needed.
9. Materials addressing a Christian's pornography struggle are needed in Spanish. We heard this over and again of this need. We are committed to making this happen with our key resources -- "Our Hardcore Battle Plan," "Our Hardcore Battle Plan for Wives" and "Our Hardcore Battle Plan DVD" -- to reach out to our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters.
10. On a Christian university and seminary classroom setting, we absolutely must train our young men and women going into ministry to address the plague of pornography that is affecting every home of the people they will lead. Curriculum and resources dealing with how pastors can address those church members struggling with viewing pornography need to be a top priority for ministry training.
An African American lady with five boys told us the story of their tearing down a house in order to rebuild on the same property. When a jackhammer was put to the old foundation, it was discovered that when it was originally poured someone had put pornographic magazines there. Her then 6-year-old son found it. Pastors and Christian leaders must use the jackhammer of God's Word and expose what is all too foundational in the lives of our young men and women -- the presence of pornography.
Freedom begins with a choice. It's time to open the door to have the discussion. We have a Hardcore Battle Plan.
Jay Dennis is pastor of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla, and founder of Join One Million Men (Join One Million Men), a movement challenging 1 million Christian men to commit to living a pornography free-life and challenging 1 million Christian women to pray for 1 million Christian men to live pornography-free lives. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).