There is an epidemic of large proportion that has infiltrated Christian society today. It is in the lives of our congregations, our leaders, our church staff, our missionaries, our teachers, and even our pastors. According to Internet Filter Review, every second that goes by there are 28,258 people viewing pornography. According to ChristianNet Poll reported by Marketwire.com, 50% of all Christian men are addicted to it. And while this epidemic has been widely addressed and even publicized concerning men through organizations such as Promise Keepers and Setting Captives Free Ministry, it is quietly gaining ground in the female population in our churches, and, sadly….it remains unchecked.
Did you know that for every 3 visitors to a pornographic site, one of them is a woman? That means every second 9,419 women are viewing internet pornography, and 9.4 MILLION women are accessing adult websites each month. According to The Janus Report on Sexual Behavior taken in ‘92, 10% of women reported masturbating frequently, and that was almost 20 years ago, before shows like Sex and The City, before movies like Pleasantville, before songs like Touch of My Hand by Britney Spears, or before primetime sitcoms like Desperate Housewives made masturbation a mainstream activity. The thing about women and this struggle is the secrecy; 70% of those 9.4 million women keep their cyber escapades a secret. This means that there are 6,580,000 women out there carrying around a heavy load, and because of the nature of their sin, cannot tell a living soul. That is more than the populations of Los Angelos, Philadelphia, and Dallas – combined!
Where did it begin?
We would be remised to think that this generation is the first ever to stoop to this level of licentiousness; Rome’s history would quickly prove us wrong (Romans 1). There truly is “nothing new under the sun.” However, topics like masturbation and pornography are hitting mainstream now more than they were 50 years ago, and this makes us stop and ponder the reasons. The first thing that comes to mind is first wave feminism and the sexual revolution of the 60’s. This idea that women could be free of men in every area of their lives, including their sexual conduct was revolutionary. Today it has sadly become the norm. Feminism, while it may have paved the way for a women’s right to vote and develop a successful career, has been exceedingly detrimental to our society and the boundaries on sexual conduct set forth in God’s Word.
The Church’s Response
The church, as a whole, has been a decent proponent in dealing with men in this issue of sexual addiction with organizations like Promise Keepers, Setting Captives Free, and Covenant Eyes paving the way for men to live with accountability in their lives. But what about women? With the staggering 70% of women keeping silent about their internet activities, it’s no wonder the church seems to have their head in the sand when the women are joining in their sand-digging activity by pretending the problem doesn’t exist and not dealing with it. To best understand what the church’s response should look like, two questions must be asked:
First, what are we not to do?
First, we must not ignore the issue. Proverbs 28:13 says, “The one who covers his transgressions will not prosper, but whoever confesses them and forsakes them will find mercy.” (NET) These issues must be dealt with, and we, as ministers of God’s grace, must open our eyes and face the issues 9.4 million women are dealing with on a monthly basis. Statistics don’t lie. They are based on concrete numbers, and for every number there stands a woman with a heavy load, wishing to God that someone would help her deal with it. Ignoring the issue or pretending that it doesn’t exist is not an appropriate response for the church. She must face these issues and deal with them head on if she is to prosper.
Secondly, we must not judge the issue. When facing a woman addicted to sexual sin, how quickly we forget that ALL have sinned, ALL have fallen short of the glory of God. So what grounds do we have to judge her for her addictions? Are my sins “less bad” or “less addicting” because they are accepted by Christian society? When looking comparatively between her sin and the pride of my own heart, I must ask these questions. How long have I had this pride in my life? How often do I feed it? How often do I justify it? How often do I protect it? How often do I nurture it? Pride is sure sounding like an addiction, isn’t it? And yet this is what we do. When we look down our noses at the women struggling with masturbatory practices and pornographic addictions, it’s no wonder 70% don’t speak a word of it to anyone. Let’s stop this cycle and start dealing with the problem without passing judgment.
Second, what are we to do?
For the 9.4 million women out there, you need to know there is a way to lift this burden you secretly carry, but I must warn you, it requires courage. Psalm 32 is a beautiful psalm that speaks directly about achieving freedom from guilt. Verses 1-5 give a paralleled picture of a person’s life: living in right communion with God verses willfully choosing their own way.
“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”(Ps. 32:1-5)
There are two contrasting characters seen here: The first (verses 1-2) lives life in the forgiveness of his sins, being open before the Lord, the latter (verses 3-4) hides his sin and tries to cover it up. Consequently, the first is blessed; the second wastes away. Although their contrasts are stark, did you notice there is ONE similarity? You see it when comparing verses 1 and 5. “(Verse 1) Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. (And verse 5) I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity;” In the first instance, the sin is covered and the sinner described as blessed. In the latter, when the sin is covered, the sinner is wasting away. The difference lies in who is doing the covering, God or you? There is only one thing that covers my sins, the blood of Christ. Apart from that, any attempt on my end at hiding sin compares to that of a child who thinks he disappears when his eyes are closed, and it must stop. If this describes you, there is something you must realize. You must see that you are clearly living for yourself and you aren’t looking at your sin the way God does. You must.
There are three basic steps one needs to take in an effort to uncover and overcome this type of sin in their lives:
1. Seek the Lord! Psalm 32:5-6 says, “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.” This means you confess your sin to God, seeing it the same way He does, bringing it out of the darkness and into the light, knowing that you are forgiven and will find mercy. This happens through prayer, through quiet and alone times in His Word, and through consistent attendance at church. Seek out the Lord!
2. Seek accountability. James 5:16 speaks of this: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” This means you find someone to talk to about this, someone who is NOT also struggling in the same area. This builds your prayer support. To have godly people praying over you and for you is one of the greatest assets you can have in your spiritual life. Seek it out! Psalm 32:7-9 says, “You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.” In other words, don’t be stubborn. Don’t be like that horse that needs a piece of metal shoved in its mouth just to conjure up obedience. Be teachable. Allow others to come into your life and help you in this area of weakness. Allow the Lord to rebuke you when you need it. Allow Him to be your hiding place. Psalm 25:9 says, “He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way.”
3. Seek Radical Amputation.Now I’m not talking about actual amputation, although Christ’s words are strongly pointed in that direction, but I am speaking of going to great lengths to get rid of something from your life no matter the cost. This part can be a little scary, and courage to do the right thing plays a key part in radical amputation. The level to which you seek God on this will be reflected in the amount of courage you have to count the cost. And cost can come in many different forms; it does not always look the same. For some, the cost may be monetary; maybe you need to purchase software blocking certain sites and flagging someone else as accountability when those sites are accessed. For others, that cost might be an embarrassment; maybe you need to step down from whatever level of leadership you are at in an effort to deal with the struggle in your life. For some of you, the cost might be the risk of being judged by others; maybe you need to open up to a godly woman in your church despite the chance that she could judge you for it. I don’t know what the cost will be for you, but regardless, the point is you clean house. You make hard decisions. You fight for purity in your life. For whatever you feed, will win.
Galatians 5:16, 17 says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” There’s a story of a man that owned two cage fighting dogs; one was white, the other was brown. Every time the man’s dogs fought against each other, he would bring in winnings on the game. Sometimes he would bet for his white dog, and other times he would for the brown one. But no matter which one he put money on, he always won. A boy once asked him, “Sir, how do you know which dog will win that day?” To which the wise master said, “Well, it depends on which one I feed and which one I starve that week.” Our Spirit and flesh are much like those dogs in that match in complete opposition to each other. And we are that master feeding one while starving the other. We cannot expect the Spirit to win if we continually feed the flesh by the places we go, the people we see, the shows we watch, the music we hear, the jokes we tell…(the list could go on!). For whatever you feed, will win.
Sexual sin is no respecter of gender, position, age, or status. Whether male or female, this is a common struggle. Maybe you’re sitting there and you feel as if these words are jumping off the screen and hitting right between the eyes. This is you, and you feel as though your heart has broken. If you are like 70% of the women out there, you haven’t told anyone about it, and it’s controlling your life. We want you to be encouraged – Today can be the day you break free from this consuming monster that has monopolized your life. Seek God! Seek accountability! Seek radical amputation! We would love to help in any way we can. Email us at email@example.com.
Maybe you’re reading this, and a sense of pride washes over you because you have never struggled with this area of sin. Be warned. Pride comes before a fall. Genesis 4:7 says, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Scripture describes Satan as a roaring lion stalking its prey (1 Peter 5:8) and warns Christians to be serious when it comes to Satan’s ploys of temptation.
Maybe you’re reading this and your mind immediately goes to that family member or friend that you know is struggling with this. Pray for them. Be kind to them. Create a safe environment for them to be honest with you. When James encourages us to confess our sins to each other it is for the purpose of prayer. Be that prayer support and accountability to them.
God is calling all of us to lives of holy living (1 Peter 1:13-16). Let us as women serving the next generation start proclaiming TRUTH loudly. Let us not bury our heads in the sands of denial any longer. Let us as women commit to living our lives marked by holiness and purity. With the truth of God’s Word as our banner, let us stand against our culture and say, “I will be pure! I will be holy! So, help me, God!”