6/1/11

A Lesson from Bin Laden's Porn

It's not surprising that the press mocked and Christian leaders wrote about the porn stash found at Osama bin Laden's compound, but it is surprising that bin Laden even had the stash. After all, some years ago he attacked the US for its lax sexual standards.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote about bin Laden's "stash"and quoted bin Laden's "Letter to the American People" back in 2002. Bin Laden wrote: "You have brainwashed your daughters into believing they are liberated by wearing revealing clothes, yet in reality all they have liberated is your sexual desire."

While pointing out bin Laden's hypocrisy, Mohler was also quick to note the truth in bin Laden's words. America does export considerable pornography to the world, and the Internet has made it available to every home. Mohler's warning was especially to Christian ascetics who deny themselves in some areas, but then believe they can indulge in other "satisfactions" ... "sinful enjoyments."

"Bin Laden and his associates must have been convinced that Allah would forgive them their sexual sins," Mohler said, "because of their faithfulness in carrying out acts of terrorism in the name of Islam. Christians had better see this as a warning lest we allow ourselves the same kind of rationalization."

Sadly, some Christians have become closet porn addicts. According to a blog post, "Pastors and Porn," Patrick Means, in his book, "Men's Secret Wars," revealed a confidential survey of evangelical pastors and church lay leaders, and 64% of the surveyed Christian leaders confirmed that they are struggling with sexual addiction or sexual compulsion or secret sexual activity. According to "Porn Again," an article by Mark Bergin in World magazine, "One in seven calls to Focus on the Family's Pastoral Care Hotline is related to internet pornography."

What might be shocking to some is that women, even young girls, are caught up in the ugliness of viewing pornography. It's not just a male addiction anymore. I read about a woman recently, in Dirty Girls Come Clean, who struggled with it. She grew up in a Christian home, but found an Internet site and her curiosity led to deeper and deeper levels of smut until she was hooked. She continued all her Christian activities and ministries, but knew that, deep in her heart, she was "dirty."

Dirty Girls author Crystal Renaud ~ who claims the average age a child first sees pornography is age eleven ~ quotes from Ramona Richards' article, "Dirty Little Secret: Men Aren't the Only Ones Lured by Internet Porn": "One out of every six women, including Christians, struggles with an addiction to pornography" and "17 percent of all women struggle with pornography addiction." Seeking relationship, they start with cybersex and online chatrooms, but eventually progress to deeper levels.

Porn's availability is one factor. In 2005, reporter Mike Musgrove wrote in The Washington Post, "Pornography is spreading from the computer desktop to the small screen, to pocket-sized devices such as cell phones, digital music players, and portable game players." He noted that the sale of adult entertainment for downloading to cell phones was already a multi-million-dollar business in Europe, and now it has spread around the world as porn peddlers take advantage of every technological advancement.

Gilbert Herdt, director of the National Sexuality Resource Center, explained how porn has made inroads into Americans' everyday lifestyle: "What we once called porn is just mainstream sex now, and what we think of as pornography has shrunk to a tiny, tiny area. We've expanded the envelope of normative sex so much that there's not much room for 'porn' anymore."

The scriptures teach us to be careful in regard to what we see ~ what becomes etched into our mind. The patriarch Job said, "I have made a covenant with my eyes" (Job 31:1a), and the Psalmist said, "I will not look with approval on anything that is vile" (Psalm 101:3). Our mind is to be transformed and renewed (Romans 12:1-2a).

God's grace and forgiveness are rich, and there is victory for the one who walks the hard path to overcome porn addiction. It begins with a surrendered heart, but also includes sincere repentance and confession of sin, accountability, and a plan for responsible choices. Renaud includes "sharing" as part of the healing process.

My deepest concern is for Christians caught in the enemy's traps, hiding pornography addiction. There is hope in Christ. It is real. I admit that I'm not an authority on the topic. While I do not endorse any ministry, readers may find Renaud's book and ministry helpful, as well as Pure Intimacy (Focus on the Family). Winning Edge Ministries is dedicated to restoring fallen pastors and religious leaders.

Healing must begin in the heart ~ not only desiring to be free, but willing to surrender to God and make the choices necessary to overcome sin's control. My prayer is that Christians will not be like bin Laden ~ espousing purity and strong moral choices on one hand, and embracing the filth of pornography and sexual addiction on the other. The Bible exhorts Christians to look for their returning Savior, and we are to be pure, as He is pure (1 John 3:3).

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