A couple of months ago, I spent the better part of 2 days on the road traveling across the central and western parts of North Carolina, and that means I saw a TON of billboards. Those things are EVERYWHERE and most of them have a picture of a WOMAN on them. Ever wonder why?
It isn’t because the advertisers have a bias toward females (although they may), and it definitely isn’t because they’re advertising stuff that females want. It’s because the people paying the money to fund the ads know that the best way to secure revenue is to throw sexual images on a billboard because, while the actual product being advertised may not get the male driver’s attention, that woman probably will.
And it isn’t just billboards. Lately every Hardee’s commercial is less about the food and more and more just some girl’s 30-second audition tape for a career in soft-porn. From NFL cheerleaders to swimsuit editions, sex sells. Sure, we protest most of it while we watch it (“Man, can you believe how little she’s wearing?” or “Victoria’s Secret should NOT have a prime-time special. Good thing my kids are in bed. They’re way too young to see this!”), but it’s not going to change anything for one simple reason:
Too many men are worshiping their penis.
I’m sure there’s a nicer way to say it, but maybe it’s time to just be brutally honest. Maybe it’s time to stop blushing about a problem that has grown into an epidemic.
Did you know that the porn industry rakes in more revenue every year than the major professional sports leagues COMBINED?
Did you know that the average age of a guy’s first exposure (pun intended) to porn is ELEVEN?
Did you know that 1 in 3 PASTORS are actively viewing this stuff?
It all starts out so innocently, doesn’t it? A Hooters billboard here, a Hardee’s commercial there, and before you know it, you’re ticked at your wife or girlfriend because she doesn’t look nearly as good as the last AIRBRUSHED and FAKE PICTURE of a woman you looked at while you worshiped at the altar of your pleasure.
At some point, especially for you GUYS THAT LOVE JESUS, this insanity has got to stop.
There’s a verse in the Bible that comes to mind whenever I think about the pervasiveness of porn and the apparent inability of Christian men to bring it under control.
If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5:29)
“Are you serious? You want me to cut off what??”
Relax, men. I don’t think the point of that verse is castration, but I do think that there’s something extremely important that Jesus was trying to get across.
What captivates you?
What consumes your time, your money, your attention? What so moves you that it motivates you to look harder, look longer, and look no matter what the cost? Whatever your answer is to those questions is what you’re worshiping.
The answer, of course, for Christ-followers, should be Jesus, and for MALE Christ-followers, it better be. If Jesus isn’t consuming us, we’ll never be able to look at our wives, girlfriends or girl friends with the eyes of heaven because our eyes will be clouded by the manipulated images of man.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, especially if you’re a church-going male. You’re thinking it isn’t that big of a deal and that if I was a “real” pastor I wouldn’t even write something like this. That’s like me saying if you were a “real” Christian you wouldn’t struggle with this. But the truth is that Jesus spoke about it because He knew that purity in this area was something that would be a real struggle for real men who really love Him.
Did you notice that the amputation verse is smack-dab in the middle of Jesus’ teaching about lust and adultery? Did you catch the connection between the eyes and the heart? Jesus told the men of His day what advertisers of our day already know: the eyes capture what eventually captures the heart. That’s why the top 100 advertisers in the United States spent over 100 BILLION DOLLARS last year alone. It’s because they know that IF YOU LOOK AT SOMETHING LONG ENOUGH, EVENTUALLY YOU’LL END UP LOVING IT.
We don’t want that to be true. We want to believe that if we just love Jesus enough, it will all go away. Yeah, and how’s that working for you? Not only is the issue not going away, but it’s getting worse, and so it’s time for Jesus men to MAN UP and LOOK UP.
It’s time for Jesus men to take seriously the wisdom that David wrote about after his eyes almost cost him a kingdom.
I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me. (Psalm 101:3)
David learned the truth he wrote about after a forbidden peep show led to murder (you can read it for yourself starting in 2 Samuel 11). David didn’t wake up one morning and put “being a murderer” on his bucket list anymore than you woke up this morning hoping to be an unfaithful husband to your current (or future) wife. It never ends as small as it begins, and according to Jesus and David, it begins with a distant gaze that grows into a consuming blaze.
The question, then, is what will we look at and what will consume us?
For some men, the answers will be tragic. They will choose to place worthless things in front of their eyes through screens of all shapes and sizes that will spark a wildfire that will burn and never be satisfied. In its wake will be broken families, trafficked women and bankrupted souls.
But for others – for the Jesus men who recognize the fight and refuse to shy away from it – the answers will be transforming. Everyday we will live out the truth of Hebrews 12 that begins with our eyes fixed on Jesus and ends with our hearts worshiping a God Who is a consuming fire. In our wake will be a generation who knows more freedom than failure and lives more as victors than victims.
Will it be easy? No. Swimming against the current of culture never is.
Will there be mistakes? Yes. No war was ever won without lost battles along the way.
Will we win? Every single time we choose to keep fighting.
If you’re choosing to fight, let me leave you with a few practical steps that can help you as you do.
ONE, tell somebody. I love James 5:16…”confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” There is tremendous strength in honesty. I love how Tyler – one of our elders at The Gathering – says it: “Porn is such a big secret for most because of the shame it brings. To nail it to the cross requires one to be completely open, completely honest and submitting to godly leaders that hold you accountable. It’s not easy denying yourself by yourself.” That last comment is why the second step is so important.
TWO, find community. This almost needs to go hand in hand with number one because accountability is nothing without community. At The Gathering where I pastor, we’re working hard to create a community where people are encouraged to grow in grace. You’ve got to have people in your corner who understand that grace takes time and grace gives time. That’s so important when we’re fighting sin because some days are better than others. Community reminds us that the grace of Jesus doesn’t change with our wins and losses.
THREE, go public. No, I don’t mean tell the whole world. I just mean move your computer to a family room and/or get a filter for your browser or device that alerts others about what you’re viewing. The folks over at XXXChurch can probably come in handy here.
Those are just three that come to mind, but I’m sure you’ve got some, too. Feel free to share them in the comment section below.