Thoughts On Josh McDowell’s Recent Comments on Porn

imgJosh McDowell4
By Beau Ouellette

 I enjoy Josh McDowell’s work and passion for Christ.  This is no way is a critique of the ministry that the Lord has given to Josh.  I instead hope to inject a different perspective into the quotes from a talk that he gave at a recent conference.  At Running Light, we work with many different people on this topic, so it is of interest to us.

Christian Apologist Josh McDowell: 3 Cultural Changes That Create the ‘Perfect Storm’ Against the Church
In reading Josh McDowells comments in the above article my head was spinning, thinking, “I’ve blogged on these issues before,” but I find in blogging you have to re-tell your opinions over and over in the hopes that you make head way. When the American Christian Church river get’s running it is hard to go upstream.
I will copy some of what is quoted in the article that I wish to comment on then immediately respond. Here we go!
  • During his message, he also told pastors they cannot pastor the same way they have been for the last 20 years while telling parents they cannot raise their children the same way they were raised because the Internet has changed “everything.”
  • “Twenty years ago, the phrase was, ‘if you don’t reach a young person by 18, you probably won’t reach them. Now, atheists and agnostics have the same access to your kids as you do, it’s just one click away. The internet has leveled the playing field and now if you don’t reach a child by their 12th birthday, you won’t reach them.”
This is not necessarily a bad thing.  I have raised and continue to raise my two kids.  The internet has been in there life the entire time.  Having Atheist and agnostics in there ear through the internet means that as a Father I get to be more engaged in the debates as they are!  How cool is it when you kid comes out of there room to have a huge talk with you about metaphysics or the reliability of the Bible etc…!!!  Even as a student Pastor, you have students that are challenged all the time for their faith at younger ages!  This bombardment of information makes the student Pastor have to make sure he is growing in his knowledge of issues as well.  Game time in student ministry won’t cut it!  I think I am on Joshes page in that light.
But back to the internet; It’s not the internet’s fault here, it’s the parents.  From Jesus view point, everyone in the world living during his time was of corrupt mind and action.  Sin’s influence was everywhere.  Is that any different than today with our technology?  I think today as then people are exposed everyday to sinful behavior or idea’s that vary.  What the internet is doing is moving the parents who have not studied at all to realize their kids are challenging them and making sense!   Two things you can do at that point.  Start studying and talking with them in open dialog, or get mad at the internet because it’s influencing your kids away from your blind belief.   Too many parents do the second.   This brings the kid or teen to a place of realizing the way a Christian parent deals with ideas that are against the faith is through avoidance of them.  The problem with this is you can’t avoid forever!  At some point our kids will think for themselves and realize we don’t know what we believe or why we believe it.  We’ll lose them at that point.
2 Timothy 2:15
King James Version (KJV)
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
He also advised parents to not shelter their children from “what’s out there” but rather prepare them for the first time they will inevitably encounter information overload on the Internet and porn.
Josh is speaking of porn now.  Sex education is something that starts with us.  This is not a new problem because of the internet.  Watch movies from years ago (say the 30’s) and you get the idea that people still wanted sex and allot of it.  Even in Biblical times sex was happening all the time and in all ways!  David didn’t teach his kids about sex well, and so they too had lust issues.  Again porn on the internet means that parents need to be engaged in their kids’ lives!  Bummer or good?  It seems to me the internet is making people have to be a bit more of a parent and less self-fish.  Get a filter on your home system or gaming console!  Talk to your kids about the purpose of sex and what happens if we abuse sexual conduct.  And by the way this is where it gets really dicey.  How many Christian marriages have joy in their sexuality?  How many see sex as a beautiful act?  How difficult it is to educate our kids if we ourselves do not view sex within our marriages as a glorious act representing Christ and His bride!
To many times over the 24 years of my time in the Christian Church I have heard couples talk about sex as duty and not joy.  It is no wonder that today’s students look at the supposed happy people of the world having sex and find pleasure in it.
In the same manner, McDowell emphasized that young people are increasingly becoming addicted to pornography, adding that it is the greatest threat to the body of Christ in 2,000 years.
Pornography has been around thousands of years.  Read Ezk 23 (or the entire book).  The world is distorted  from a Biblical worldview and does not know the purpose for sex.  So sex is pornified.  Follow me here.  The greatest threat to the body of Christ is that we don’t know see the joy of confession, repentance, amputation, accountability.   Let me ask a question about the conference; Did any speaker get up and share their sin of lust and show the people how to joyfully move away?    It’s a great threat to the body when I as a Pastor share the Word but do not practice it before my brothers and sisters.  Let’s be genuine.  We all stumble in many ways the Word tells us.  All sin is common to mankind it also says.   The Church does not know how to impact their congregations to move out of a pornified view of sex, not because of porn, but because there is not many leaders willing to lead in this area of joyfully confession.  The Christian Church can easily fall into desires to be Strong, yet Jesus wants us weak and in need of Him.  This is tough to do when amongst our peers, but necessary.  It has always been necessary, from the book of Acts to today, in the Church.
This point is what I feel is not being understood by many of my fellow ministers.  I need to show people what a Christian walk looks like.  If I say to the congregation, “I used to lust back in the day,” that is not much of a help to the person out there in the seat who feels like God will never come to his rescue (like he did with that Pastor).  But when the Pastor admits that today there is a struggle with lust, but yet today, by grace, he has learned how to use the Word in His fight, Confession for the diminishing the enemies army, Accountability as a strength against him, Amputation of sin as a offensive tool there is an empowering to his congregation of how to have victory!
He added that 50 percent of fundamental, evangelical pastors watch porn while 80 percent of youth pastors have a problem with porn as well. McDowell pointed out that porn provides only a momentary satisfaction and porn addicts often seek other opportunities to satisfy their sexual desires.
If Jesus is not most satisfying to us, and we snuggle up to lust.  This has always been a fact.  Check out the hall of fame of faith in Hebrews 11!  Those guys and gals are saved by grace!  Creating an environment in your Church where a person on staff can’t talk to the senior Pastor because they are afraid of getting fired for watching porn will not suffice, but will create a bunch of staff that do watch porn and are afraid to face it head on.  Grace man!  Grace!  Staff Leadership, show your own struggle and confess that to your staff so they understand that we are to joyfully confess to one another.  That is our better pleasure and God’s glorification.
Is it any surprise that Pastors would be affected by what is on the internet?  Let me give you a stat.  100% of Pastors sin!  And here’s another, 100% of Pastors struggle with pride, lust, reputation, jealousy, envy, boasting and much more.  Pointing out a Pastors struggle with sex and not your own struggle with pride, lust, reputation etc… is a hypocritical judgment.  As a leader and Pastor I understand sin.  I understand that there is a battle in me, and in all my fellow Elders, Deacons and Leaders in the Church.  They are no different than me in this regard.  Creating an environment where we can confess our sins to one another, and so be healed is so needed.  Not just for them and I, but for students as well.  Confession in leadership is not just a dumping of what I did, but it is the first step of showing others how to come out of the darkness of hidden sinful behavior.   If this is true confession in grace, then we will not only do this, but then show how to move away from behavior as well.   This should be ongoing in the Christina life!  Over and over and over again this should be happening in the Church.  But people are deadly afraid to confess.  And why would they when I am sharing from my pulpit about how bad sin is (especially sexual sin) and those that practice such things.  How can God love these people?  Yet, the really sad truth of the matter is that we Pastors and Leaders are one with them!  We too need grace.
Mark 7:  “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
“The average person starts with heterosexual sex then after a while, that no longer satisfies, then there’s anal, from anal there’s oral, from oral to homo, from homo to bestiality then to children,” said McDowell.
He continued, “The sad thing is, after child pornography doesn’t satisfy, where do you go? Pornography is why sex-trafficking, sex abuse and rape are major issues, they (addicts) end up living it out, it becomes a reality.”
I’m not sure what Josh means by “average.”  Millions upon millions of people have had a non-biblical view of sex weather in this modern porn era or past times as well.  Today’s porn certainly influences people, but before it was today’s porn culture it was yesterday’s porn culture!  Again from a Biblical world view no culture has had a good view of sex.  We are all in the sex distorted boat.  And check this out, even two Christian couples who engage in sex don’t necessarily have things right!  What makes sex right is not that you are having face to face intercourse with your Christian spouse, but it is that you seek to glorify God in your enjoyment of God in the joy of your bride.  Another way to put it is that agape love is present in the marital bed.  So just because you’re a Christian couple and your having sex means nothing if our hearts are set to honor God in representing Jesus love for His Church in the act.  And how many Christian married couples engage in sex that way? Also when Josh says the average porn viewer goes from this to that to harder core stuff until he is at oral, anal etc…  My question is this: has this been his situation?  Is this a confession?   I can only talk about me here and those that I have been personally involved with for years now.  Some people do progress in more hard core porn, others do not.  Some people will self gratify to Victoria Secret adds in the mail, others to the back of a newspaper.   Still others like to smell a person walking by and that is there vise.  If Josh was right and the “average” person was progressing like he says, then the “average” person would get to child porn.  But so many do not!  Though some do.   I do not have all the answers but what I do know is that porn is not the problem.  Lust is.  You can throw away all the porn the world has and we would still be in the same problem.   We would still have to teach our kids how to honor God in sex and its purpose from a Biblical Worldview.  Just because porn is eliminated does not get the parent off the hook.  I have no doubt that as young people view porn they will want to see porn that is for their own age at some point.  That makes sense to me and is troubling to ponder in our society.  So I can see how young people will search for younger and younger porn.  I have read articles where young people have criminal records for downloading under 18 porn!   No doubt lust has found its target for so many and that’s pornography.  I have lead many porn recovery groups for the past 7 years.  There is no rhyme or reason as to why some go so far or get into what they get into.
The quote from Josh also makes me think he has not been into porn or on the websites much at all.  Those of us who have fallen into sexual sin have visited many websites.  And the interesting thing about porn sites is that there are many categories of porn to choose from.  So much of it is disgusting to me.  I find it repulsive and sad as well.  But there is always something there on the site that causes me to fall.  What I want to help you understand is that when a person goes to a porn site, they are lusting.   They are looking for something that will fulfill that desire, but not everything on the porn site is going to do it.  For some it is homosexual porn, for others it is orgies and the like, and for others it is simply one man and one woman having intimacy.
It is a misunderstanding to think that people get on these sites and just click, click and click anything and everything.  Sure it can and does happen, but I tend to think the categories on the sites are there to reveal what is already in the heart.  And it seems to be a gross exaggeration to think that the average person will move from one to another.  I think I’m average and I have never wanted to watch homosexual sex.  I grew up with homosexual babysitters in the San Fernando Valley.  I have been around bi-sexuality and homosexuals my entire life.  I have never watched men with other men porn.  I don’t like it.  Go figure?
Josh also seems to get something mixed up.  Heterosexual sex can include anal and oral sex (Not that I subscribe to one or the other).  Or am I missing something here?  Maybe it was mis-quoted in the article.
I feel the  Christian church all too quickly eats up the strong voice that declares how porn has ruined everything, yet this Church, to which I am a part, fails to see other reasons why there is failure (Josh does do a great job of pointing out some of these issues in his books). There’s more to the story. Grace is to bear with one another and to live lives of open confession, vulnerability, repentance and accountability.  Are our eyes open to this?