In Greek mythology, the Sirens were beautiful demonesses who sat perched upon the rocks of the sea shore, lying in wait for unsuspecting sailors. When ships passed by, the Sirens would sing their enchanting songs. Bewitched by the double lure of beauty and melody, foolish sailors would veer their vessels too close to the rocks until they ran aground, only to be devoured by the cruel creatures. Homer described their sinister seduction in The Odyssey: “If any one unwarily draws in too close and hears the singing of the Sirens, his wife and children will never welcome him home again, for the Sirens will warble him to death with the sweetness of their song. There is a great heap of dead men's bones lying all around, with the flesh still rotting off them.”
While the Sirens may be figments of human imagination, they depict the doom and drama of sexual sin in disturbingly vivid colors. Homer’s Hebrew contemporary, Solomon, wrote something eerily similar of the adulterous woman, the personification of sexual sin: “Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death”(Proverbs 7:25–27).
The Sirens are singing. And no song has proven more subtle and savage than that of internet pornography. This digital scourge has destroyed individuals, torn families apart, and resulted in the hideous mutation of our culture. We now live in a “post-50 Shades” America. A recent survey published by Covenant Eyes revealed some alarming statics relating to this unprecedented spiritual epidemic. Here is a sampling:
• 25% of all internet searches are for pornographic material.
• 51% of boys and 32% of girls are exposed to pornography before their teenage years.
• 56% of divorce proceedings include pornographic use of one of the spouses as grounds.
• 64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women view pornography monthly.
• 75% of parents have never talked about internet pornography with their teenaged children.
Secularists and Christians alike acknowledge the links between porn use and depression, suicide, aggression, anxiety, promiscuity, disease, unwanted pregnancy, sexual deviancy, and divorce. Additionally, the way in which pornography fuels the sex trade and human trafficking syndicates throughout the world has led lawmakers in Arkansas, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Florida to declare pornography to be a public health crisis.
How can believers endure such a dark plague? How can Christians, male and female, young and old, married and single, have victory over such a powerful enemy? How can those bearing the seared scars of a painful past run out of their “shameful failure and loss and into the glorious gain of Christ’s cross?” How can the church be both a hospital for sinners and a bastion of truth?
We can start by:
1) Talking about it. Like mold, sin grows best in darkness. The first battle to be won in the war against pornography is the creation and conservation of a church culture that is honest about sin.
Parents- talk to your children (boys and girls) about the dangers of pornography before they find it or it finds them. Pray with and for them. As it is helpful and appropriate, be real about your own sin so that your children know you’re safe to go to in both the hour of temptation and in the ashes of failure.
Spouses- talk to each other. Today! Tertullian’s admonition is no less true today than it was in the 3rd century,
How beautiful, then, the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in hope, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, one in the religion they practice. They are as brother and sister, both servants of the same Master. Nothing divides them, either in flesh or in Spirit… They pray together, they worship together, they fast together; instructing one another, encouraging one another, strengthening one another. Side by side they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations. They have no secrets from one another…
Elders- Work hard to create relationships with your people that are firmly founded on grace, trust, and respect. Don’t be unwilling to ask hard questions in love.
Preachers- The pulpit can’t be so prim and proper that the you avoid the dumpster fire of depravity in which we all live. Paul pulled no punches when he named sin…and neither should we. But naming the sin is only half the battle. Charity begets clarity. Only a church marked by grace will be marked by transparency.
2) Fighting it together. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). It is impossible to overestimate the “great power” of accountability. Your accountability partner is someone to whom you can bear your soul and confess your sins, your partner in prayer. I recommend these guidelines:
Your accountability partner should be a Christian. “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Your accountability partner should be a member of the same sex. While spouses are called to struggle together in their war against sin, the most effective accountability relationships involve a third party.
Accountability should be mutual. Accountability relationships between “saint and sinner” usually don’t last long. Both partners need to be in the fight, but very careful not to cause the other to stumble in their quest for holiness and obedience.
You should utilize effective tools. Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. Our enemy has armed himself with digital weapons, so… DIGITIZE! There are a host of online accountability softwares and filters for computers, tablets, and phones. I recommend Covenant Eyes!
The church will not be finally freed from sin until Jesus takes her home. But until then, she must be the church militant, whose ranks are comprised of sinners saved by grace, through faith, in Christ, unto holiness, for the glory of God.