Thursday, November 3, 2011

'Engaging' pornography

Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, occasionally receives searching questions on Christianity and ethics from his students and parishioners. The following question by a distressed bride-to-be caught my attention. What biblically/theologically-informed advice would you give a woman in such a situation?

Dear Dr. Moore,

In the middle of my premarital counseling with our pastor, I found out that my fiance has had, what he calls, ongoing struggles with pornography. I was kind of floored by this because I hadn’t known anything about it until now. One of the things that drew me to this man was his call to gospel ministry....Can you help me know what to do? Should I just go forward, or what? How will I know that this is sufficiently addressed? And I don’t have much time because the wedding is right around the corner.

Engaged and Confused


Anonymous said...

Some concerns:
1) This is the first she heard of it. Can she still trust this man?
2) Pursuing the ministry yet the struggle is "ongoing". What does it mean when leaders are called to be "above reproach"?

Marriage is not a guessing game. Take the time needed to determine if you can still commit the remainder of your earthly life to submissively following this man as your leader.

Covenant isn't about the performance of the other person but rather a promise made to God that we will rely on His strength to serve each other until death.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous-1:

If this is the first she's heard of it, there are some serious communication and honesty issues. Perhaps also with herself if it has never crossed her own mind to discuss related subjects with her fiance.

However, it is difficult to say more than that because we don't know exactly what "ongoing" means. All men struggle with sexual favor and I would seriously doubt that there is a single male (or female) leader in the ministry who has remained "above reproach"...since all sin, sexual or otherwise, is first conceived in the mind.

I would definitely say that it would be foolish to get married just because the wedding was "right around the corner." There is entirely too much pressure and shame in postponing a wedding. It may be that all issues can be resolved in a healthy manner, but I would consider the very lack of communication over such a serious issue greater grounds for postponing the wedding than the issue itself.

Marriage is not a guessing game, true, so use the time and the information you have at hand to do the best you can.

Marriage is also not a guarantee either and ultimately only God can take you both where so many have foolishly dared to go it alone.

Anonymous said...

* Sorry - I meant all men struggle with sexual failure!....

Ben said...

Is this the first she'd heard of it due to him trying to "keep it" from her? Or is this the first she heard of it because this was the first time the subject came up? The fact that he was willing to discuss it in front of a third party suggests the latter. In my opinion, our attitude should reflect a degree of charitable judgment.

Additionally, the statistics on pornography are astounding. Statistically speaking, almost every male has seen it, about 80% of Christian men "struggle" with it, and even amongst women the number hovers at about 50% (and climbing!). Of course, this does not detract from the sinfulness of pornography. However, the projection that the guy is a low-down-good-for-nothing-apostate-and-all-around-creepy-slimeball is unfair. Unless, of course, one is prepared to label approximately 80% of Christian men, and 50% of Christian women, in the same manner.

Marriage is a union of two sinful people. If you expect perfection in your partner you will first find yourself with an unrealistic expectation, and second, prove yourself a hypocrite - for no one, including self, is perfect. On the one hand, any of the sinful tendencies in either partner can be a reason to walk away. On the other hand, some sinful behaviors and/or attitudes are more egregious and acutely damaging to a relationship. Perhaps this sin, or more specifically, the man's attitude towards this sin, is a deal breaker. Or maybe not. We aren't privy to all the details of what transpired in that counseling session, or others. Beware a legalistic, graceless, unforgiving attitude that is quick to pass judgment before all the information has been understood.

In my opinion this young woman did not provide enough information - at least in the published version of her question - for anyone, Dr. Moore included, to give definite prescriptive counsel.