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What’s Your Porn?

September 11, 2009

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Pornography is a major problem in our society today. Technological advancements have allowed every kind of communication to become cheaper and easier, including sexually explicit messages and images. The rapid growth of high speed internet networks had only magnified the problem. But the problem is not new. We get the prefix porn from the Greek word pornea. Paul uses this word in 1 Corinthians 6:18 when he tells us to “Run from sexual sin!” Notice that he does not try to list specific acts that are or are not sin. Both the Old and New Testaments list a few specific sexual practices as sin, but the lists are by no means exhaustive. The word pornea is a generic word for all kinds of sexual sin. It is like the “junk drawer” of sexual sin. I think God had Paul use that word because if He just tried to list everything, we are just twisted enough to figure out something that was not on the list and make the claim that it is not sin. “Run from sexual sin!”

I want to use pornography in a wider sense. One of the problems of pornography is that it creates a lust or desire in us for something that is not ours or that we are not supposed to have. Often the desire is for something that is not even real. It is a desire for a false reality (if there can be such a thing). That leads to false or unrealistic expectations. This only sets us up for pain and disappointment. When used like this, all pornography is not sexual. Put another way, there are many things in our culture that we treat, and that affect us, like pornography.

Christians are hardly exempt from this. There is seemingly unquenchable desire for “Christian porn”. One example is the Gosselin family, or former family. First we set them up as this ideal picture of a godly family raising a large family. What we saw on television was assumed to be reality. Now we know nothing could be farther from the truth. It was a highly edited, “photo retouched” image, little different than the women in magazines that spur the desire of the men that look at them. But it is not over when their marriage fails and they are shown as less than ideal parents. It may actually be that we want to look even more. This was observed in no less than the Los Angeles Times. At latimes.com on September 20, 2009, Meghan Daum wrote:

“Bad parenting has emerged as its own entertainment genre. From the round-the-clock gawk-fest provided by the Gosselin family (whose reality show is now less about the challenges of rearing eight children than their dissolving marriage) to the curiosity surrounding Michael Jackson’s children, it seems that there’s nothing more satisfying than cluck-clucking at poor decisions made by other parents. … We read about these folks in such magazines as People and US Weekly and watch them on TV (entire forests have probably been decimated for the tabloid coverage of the Gosselins alone), then we express disgust for them and for the media outlets that enable them, and then we read and watch some more. Indeed, bad-parent voyeurism is addictive and sort of like pornography—albeit a markedly sexless form—in the same ‘I was only channel surfing’ guilty-pleasure mode.”

But it is not just Christian housewives hooked on Jon and Kate. This problem of lust and desire, “unreality” and expectations, extends to every area of the church. Even pastors. That’s right, I am talking about “pastor porn”. While there is definitely a problem with pastors who are addicted to sexually explicit media, what I am talking about is not sexual in nature.

Allow me to preface these remarks with a disclaimer. Every pastor needs to read/listen to/ watch the messages of other pastors. This is a habit that can definitely improve the skill of the pastor. It is the whole “iron sharpening iron” thing. That being said, there is a big difference between listening to learn and lusting after what that more successful pastor has. Preachers around the country, and likely the world, listen to Mark Driscoll and try to build what he has. You are not Mark Driscoll. Put on a dress shirt and stop making crude remarks. You are not, nor will you ever be Andy Stanley, Craig Groeshel, Matt Chandler, Louie Giglio, or any other of these high profile pastors and preachers. God gave them the power and influence that they have. If He wants you to have that he will work that out. Don’t lust after theirs. It will only set you up for disappointment.           Be the pastor God called you to be to the congregation God called you to lead. Avoid “pastor porn”.

As I prepare to go into ministry, I am trying to be conscious of this danger. I want to be the leader that God made me. I want to pastor in the context God places me in. If I am in a large city, I want to lead appropriately. If I am in a rural setting, I want to lead appropriately. I want to lead the church God calls me to lead.

What’s your porn?

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2 Comments
  1. I am so proud to know you!! Seriously. I know you will be a great pastor. It is good you recognize this trait in pastors and are aware of it’s potential for harm.
    I have to say…. that post title really grabs you. You had me. Had to click over and see what you were writing about.. LOL!

  2. Wow. You got the shock factor w/ the title here. Way to go! People will definately be reading to see what on earth John Collier is talking about! 🙂

    Like Lisa said, I know you’re going to be a great pastor. I know you’re excited & ready to be done w/ school. I remember that time all too well just a few years ago for us.

    I’ve never thought of porn in this sense, so thanks for thinking it out (in writing) for me. Interesting reading!

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