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17 May 2013

Why I'm tackling porn from the pulpit

Why I'm tackling porn from the pulpit

Dan Harman is a pastor, husband, friend and father of two. He leads City Life Church in Portsmouth and despite being only 29, has been in pastoral ministry for almost half of his life. He explains why he is dealing with porn in the pulpit...

It was a typical school day and I was innocently enjoying eating my lunch with a few of my mates, when all of a sudden an open magazine was thrust in my face. "Check out the pair on her Dan!"  It was 1995 and I was aged just 11 years old when I was first exposed to pornography.

I came from a good, solid Christian family background and in fact my parents were both ministers, yet this didn't stop me encountering explicit 'R-rated' images.  Unfortunately that wasn't a one-off experience, and during my time at secondary school (a faith-based one I might add) porn magazines and videos were not uncommon and were regularly circulated.

To get hold of a pornographic magazine 30 or 40 years ago, you would have to have sheepishly reached up to the top shelf in a newsagent and then queue up hoping that no one you knew was nearby to see what you were about to buy.

Nowadays, with the inventions of mobile phones, laptops and tablets it's easier than any other time in history to obtain pornographic material, with porn being readily available, accessible and mostly anonymous.

Even as I'm typing up this article, I've just had to turn the TV channel over because a programme called Sex on Wheels came on; the reality is that you don't have to look for porn to encounter it.

You could be driving down the road and see an underwear advert that is not only sexually-suggestive but is in fact soft porn.

Facebook can be another potential offender too, as explicit photos are posted with no apparent shame or sensitivity towards those seeking to stay pure or not wishing to see such images. Google images is another culprit, such as when searching for images for a sermon PowerPoint presentation I've happened to come across images that were disrespectful towards both men and women. I honestly believe that God's not best pleased when He sees His children dishonouring themselves and others, abusing His creation and leading people astray down a dark path. Porn is a major and growing problem in the world today that is distorting perceptions, cheapening sex and ruining lives. Porn is not a respecter of persons, and has victims bound both inside and outside of the Church.

With this sobering reality, I passionately believe the Church has a responsibility to raise awareness about the dangers of pornography and to offer hope, healing and wholeness through the non-judgemental love of Jesus.

In the past, the Church - widely speaking - has buried its head in the sand and shied away from dealing with taboo topics such as 'porn'. And the result? The world has gotten its megaphone out and shouted all the more loudly, and the porn industry has experienced explosive growth.

I sense God is calling the Church of this generation to take a bold stand in bringing this serious issue into the light, and offering practical advice to help those caught in addiction.

This week our church will be holding an event we are calling Porn Sunday in which we seek to do just that, tackle the issue head on.

The event is not about condemning people, but it's about lovingly leading them to the ultimate solution…Jesus. I've got a challenge for you: will you make a stand on the issue of porn, face it head on with boldness rather than burying your head in the sand. Join us in making a difference to the Church, our communities and our society.