John Buckeridge on why it’s time to address the toxic problem of Internet porn

Statistics suggest that half of all Christian men use Internet pornography.

These numbers will probably surprise you – largely because it is a subject which is just not spoken about in churches. Men are not that good at opening up at the best of times. But to confront an issue as taboo as this would be beyond embarrassing – it would be shameful. The silence from the pulpit of most churches on this subject certainly doesn’t help.

Instead it makes the church complicit in this conspiracy of silence. Huge numbers of Christian men, and a lesser number of women, struggle and fall under a crippling burden of guilt, fear and selfloathing because of Internet pornography.

The figures for church leaders aren’t much better. One American survey estimates that one in three ministers have an Internet porn addiction. A third of those who stand in the pulpit on a Sunday are struggling under the shame and spiritual oppression of pornography. This helps explain some of the silence.

Whether that figure is completely accurate or not, only God knows. Let’s hope it is a wild overestimate. However, some figures speak for themselves…there are 55 million pornographic websites – more than a third of the total websites on the net. Here’s another figure to make us shudder – 20 per cent of users of porn websites are aged 55 or over. This isn’t a problem just among the young or middle-aged. The white haired man is not immune from an Internet porn habit.

Our lead article this month faces this massive problem head-on and identifies some of the huge damage to relationships, church life and personal spirituality this entrapping plague of pornography is inflicting. I commend Martin Saunders’ feature (page 22) to you.

It’s not a comfortable read, but it’s important that together we break the silence around this thorny issue that binds so many believers.

It’s time that we all started talking to one another about this issue, and stopped pretending that porn is not a problem within the Church. It’s time we became open and accountable to others who will not gossip but who will ask us the hard questions, who will show compassion, love and a listening ear rather than rushing to judgement. It’s time we stopped demonising sexual sin over other sins. But it’s also time we confessed our sins to each other and to God. It’s time we proclaimed God’s forgiveness and power to cleanse and restore. And it’s time we armed ourselves with strategies and resources to fight back. I hope this feature will go some of the way.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, let’s stand up for real love, God’s truth and rugged purity.