Killing Fields, Part 1--Pornography
This is the first of several lessons entitled "The Killing Fields." They are referred to as The Killing Fields a la World War I because so many men who should be in the eldership today are not able to do so because they were "killed" by Satan's temptations before they were old enough to serve. When the children of the 50s like myself look around in 2009 and see how incredibly few are able to serve, we realize that our generation has been through the spiritual killing fields, and Generation X is going through those fields right now. The next several lessons on The Killing Fields are written so that (1) some will not sin--regardless of whether they are ever ministry leaders, deacons, or elders; (2) more will survive and be able to serve when they are old enough; (3) to spare the human misery that comes when men fall in The Killing Fields.
Pornography. Because of the sheer availability of pornography, this sin may become the one that keeps the most men from the deaconship or eldership of any of the killing fields in the years to come. At last word, pornography was a $20 billion dollar per year industry in the U.S., eclipsing even Hollywood's budget (and that is treating Hollywood like it didn't produce anything pornographic in any way).
Note: This lesson, originated in 2009, was re-visited and revised June 24, 2019, with content added below this line.
The concepts about modesty and what believers should look at and listen to was spelled out in brutal, direct language in the Old Testament in Leviticus 18: 6-30. Anyone who reads that passage and thinks that it only had to do with incest should read again, this time with their eyes open, because the prohibitions specifically include parties beyond the immediate and distant family. There are intimate things about the people around us that we are not supposed to know, except in the specific case of one's one and only mate. See also Leviticus 19; 29; Leviticus 20: 10-21; Deuteronomy 22: 13-30; Matthew 5: 27-28--Don't even think about it what it would be like to have sex with someone else's wife. Fornication, by context defined as sex with anyone you're not married to, is condemned in a host of New Testament passages such as I Corinthians 6: 9-11, Galatians 5: 19, Ephesians 5: 3; Revelation 22: 15. Fornicators are not going to heaven. Be careful how you try to play dumb about what this sin consists of.
Pornography is the first step down that road to Hell. The visions and sounds themselves are an impurity that the Christian should avoid. They are sinful within themselves. But the insidious threat of pornography is the comparison. Pornography enables people, including married people, to compare their mates to other people in ways that may not be favorable. This puts the mate, who must live with a married partner in an everyday setting, at a disadvantage. It is unlikely that anyone does all of the behaviors depicted in pornography on each and every intimate occasion.
Pornography enables unfavorable comparisons. Pornography can be made in deceptive ways. Video can be edited so that what is depicted as one casual encounter between a couple was really "cherry-picked" from perhaps a dozen or more photographic settings. Only the best of each occasion is edited into the final version. Then what is presented to the unsuspecting viewer is the impression that "a real man" or "a real woman" always does all of the behaviors depicted in the movie, each and every time. This gives some very unrealistic expectations to the unsuspecting viewer, male or female. We love our wives and husbands, but it it important to remember that our mates are people--ordinary people. Sometimes ordinary people feel like having an intimate session "with all the trimmings" while at other times all that is needed or wanted is just the basics.
For couples who don't participate in pornography, the comparisons never happen. And thus there is no reason to unfavorably compare one's mate. We are happy with what we have. This is how marriage was intended to be. What the couple next door does in their private moments is irrelevant to our needs. There are things we do not need to know about our neighbors.
Elders and deacons in the Lord's church are expected to be the husbands of one wife. The easiest way to meet that expectation is to marry once and always be faithful. If that happens, congregations will not have to go through tedious selection processes to try to "qualify" someone with a questionable past. The marriage that does more than survive--that thrives, rather--is a glory to God and to His Church. The children in such a home can be relieved and thrilled that their parents have done the right thing. Heading off pornography is an important first step to accomplishing that.
Books that have been useful in preparing these lessons include:
Anderson, L. (1993). They smell like sheep. West Monroe, Louisiana: Howard Publishing.
Gangel, K. O. (1984). So you want to be a leader! Camp Hill, Pennsylvania: Christian Publications.
Grimsley, R. W. (1964). The Church and its elders. Abilene, Texas: Quality Printing Company.
Lewis, J. P. (1985). Leadership questions confronting the church. Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate.
Lewis, J. P. (2008). The question of instrumental music in worship. Searcy, AR: Truth for Today World Mission School.
Sanders, J. O. (1989). Spiritual leadership. Chicago, Ill: Moody Press.
Strauch, A. (1991). A study guide to biblical eldership: An urgent call to restore Biblical church leadership. Littleton, CO: Lewis and Roth Publishers.
White, J., & Blue, K. (1985). Church discipline that heals: Putting costly love into action. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press.
Yeakley, F. R. jr. (1980). Church leadership and organization. Arvada, CO: Christian Communications.
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