Ted Wislon : Greetings, friends. Today we have a very serious and delicate topic to discuss with you, and I am glad that my wife, Nancy, is here with us as we address this important topic together.
Nancy Wilson: Every year the Women’s Ministries department of the General Conference coordinates the worldwide enditnow® Emphasis Day, which will be held on Sabbath, August 28. This year, the focus is on youth violence and pornography. These are not issues normally discussed, and we know that some will be uncomfortable with the topic. Yet it is vital that we recognize the problem.
TW: Pornography is a problem infecting the world, and unfortunately, it also exists even within the church. Satan is seeking to trap people–especially young people, into this vicious and terrible vice. We must find ways to help them deal with the destructive and harmful effects resulting from pornography. With God’s help we will make a difference in their lives and help the healing process to begin.
NW: We cannot ignore the problem of pornography. Its use has become rampant. It affects men and women of all ages. It doesn’t stop at the church doors, and it doesn’t stop at the doors of the family home. Silence and shame only perpetuate the cycle; we cannot be silent about it.
TW: An official public statement on pornography was released on July 5, 1990, by then General Conference president, Neal C. Wilson, (my father), after consultation with the 16 world vice presidents of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. That statement can be found here.
It reads in part: “Diverse courts and cultures may debate the definitions and consequences of pornography (the literature of sexual deviance), but on the basis of eternal principles, Seventh-day Adventists of whatever culture deem pornography to be destructive, demeaning, desensitizing, and exploitative.”
NW: “It is destructive to marital relationships, thus subverting God’s design that husband and wife cleave so closely to each other that they become, symbolically, “one flesh,” referred to in Genesis 2:24.”
TW: “It is demeaning, defining a woman (and in some instances a man) not as a spiritual-mental-physical whole, but as a one-dimensional and disposable sex-object, thus depriving her of the worth and the respect that are her due and right as a daughter of God.”
NW: “It is desensitizing to the viewer/reader, callousing the conscience and ‘perverting the perception,’ thus producing a “’depraved person,’” as described in Romans 1:22, and 28.
TW: “It is exploitative, pandering to prurience, and basally abusive, thus contrary to the Golden rule, which insists that one treat others as one wishes to be treated,” as indicated in Matthew 7:12. “Particularly offensive is child pornography. Said Jesus,” as recorded in Matthew 18:6, “’If anyone leads astray even one child who believes in me, he would be better off thrown into the depths of the sea with a millstone hung around his neck!’”
NW: Today we will share with you a few points from an excellent presentation prepared by Erica Jones, assistant director of Women’s Ministries for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. You may download her seminar, “The Problem with Pornography: Addiction, Abuse, and Affliction,” along with many other helpful materials here.
NW: The use of pornography is not a small problem. The average age that a young person is exposed to porn is a mere 11 years old. Daily, there are 68 million searches for porn on the internet, and sadly, 47% of those who identify as Christians are involved with porn. Interestingly, according to research 1/3 of women use pornography regularly.
TW: Studies have shown that viewing pornography has negative effects on the brain.
- A 2016 study examined MRI brain scans of porn viewers and showed enhanced activity in the part of the brain that plays a key role in decision making and reward-related behavior. The viewers’ brains were releasing dopamine in response to viewing erotic images.
- The continued release of dopamine that occurs when someone chronically and compulsively watches porn actually alters the reward system in the brain.
NW: Addiction literally changes your brain. Studies of the brain show that if someone is addicted to pornography they tend to have problems at work and with carrying out matters of daily living. The more hours per week someone uses pornography, the less gray matter volume they have in their brain.
TW: Research shows that addiction can happen within eight weeks. It may begin with simple curiosity, but as one experiences the effects of the dopamine, they become absorbed. Just like a drug, the viewer builds up a tolerance and needs more—and what began as curiosity turns into an addiction, usually accompanied by guilt and shame. Shame is the most toxic. Shame is different from guilt. Guilt says “I’ve done bad” but shame says “I am bad.” There is self-loathing and a sense of worthlessness at the core of shame.
NW: Feelings of loneliness often trigger a person to medicate with porn, and today’s younger generations are the loneliest in history. A recent survey in the United States showed that 30% of those born between 1977 to 1994 say they are lonely and 22% say they have no friends. Those born after 1994 are even lonelier. Additionally, studies show that if a person is chronically lonely, they’re far more likely to use porn on a regular basis.
TW: These are just a few of the many devastating effects of pornography and as a church we need to be aware of this situation and provide direction for hope and healing through a variety of means. Again, many good resources can be found on the Women’s Ministries website. women.adventist.org/enditnow-day.
TW: Only Christ can bring true healing. We are told in Romans 12:2 to “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” If you are struggling with pornography, when temptation comes, stop, and think. Recognize it for what it is and take it to God, asking Him to give you the strength to resist and run away from the temptation.
And Paul tells us to “fix” our thoughts on what is true. In Philippians 4:8 we read: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Our thoughts can be very powerful, and we are told here to fix our minds on what is pure, true, and right.
NW: If you are struggling with a pornography addiction, there is no shame in getting help. Healing is found in recognizing the problem, calling it by name, and finding restoration in the grace of God.
TW: In closing, I would like to share a very encouraging promise with you from the pen of inspiration. If you feel you have fallen too low for the Lord to save, this promise is especially for you: “None are so low, so corrupt and vile, that they cannot find in Jesus, who died for them, strength, purity, and righteousness, if they will put away their sins, cease their course of iniquity, and turn with full purpose of heart to the living God. He is waiting to strip them of their garments, stained and polluted by sin, and to put upon them the white, bright robes of righteousness; and He bids them live and not die. In Him they may flourish” (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2, p. 453).
Friend, I invite you to reach out to Him today. Let’s pray together. Father in heaven, we thank you that you are the source of all power to overcome sin in our lives. When temptation comes, help us to turn to you immediately, for temptation is not sin on our part, but yielding to temptation. And so Lord, we place ourselves in your hands, asking for the power to resist temptation. Lord, I ask for those who are struggling with the terrible debilitating sin of pornography. Help them to find relief and salvation and hope in you as they resist this terrible tendency. Lord, help them to realize they are never out of your reach, unless they cut you off completely. So Lord, help them to seek you and each of us, for we are all sinners in need of the grace of Jesus Christ, and his justifying righteousness, and his sanctifying righteousness to help us to become more and more like Christ. Thank you for hearing us in this prayer. We lean completely upon you. In Jesus name we ask it, amen.