He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named

Porn.

Everyone in your group is affected by it, most are watching it, and statistics say you are too. Why aren’t we talking about it together as men, women, and even teenagers or kids? How is this still a taboo topic? Maybe it is because we like it that way.

Let’s start at the top. We know now that clergy are vulnerable to sex-addiction because of the shame, loneliness, anger, and boredom rampant among pastors and priests. But even in the face of constant evidence to the contrary, humans still find it comforting to think that there is something that separates political leaders and celebrities (religious leaders are both) from the rest of us. We put the burden of sinless divinity on people and crush them (I know even some of you comGroup leaders get a taste of this). So leaders, especially religious ones, hide and the sin festers in a cauldron of shame and eventually incarnates into something more. We can’t label this a Roman Catholic problem, this is a Catholic (“universal”) problem. “Whatever your elders are, your church will become.”1 But it doesn’t have to be this way.

So what do we do? Some sins you can’t run from; you have to kill them. And the only way to kill them is by bringing them out into the light. Sin is like mold: it hates the light and thrives in the dark.2 It really, really wants to stay hidden. Sin is proud. It wants to be “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” only spoken of in hushed tones. It dreads nothing more than being dragged out of shadowy corners into the street and laughed at for its absurdity in the noonday sun.

And this is crucial: it’s not only that porn trains your mind to objectify others and lust after their bodies, though it does do that. Hiding trains us even more. Treating your sin like a big deal makes you feel like a big deal. It makes you entitled. It makes you feel weird and gross but kinda special. Hiding it leads to justifying it. But exposing it exposes all of us and we are healed together in that light (1 John 1:7). We learn to take ourselves lightly and take others seriously.

Obviously porn is a big deal. The sex-trafficking industry that porn supports is a big deal also. Watching porn is a failure to love your neighbor and therefore a failure to trust God. Fantasized lust is a habit, a spiritual discipline that will eventually deaden your heart to every other wonderful thing God wants you to see and experience and do. It must be deliberately replaced by other spiritual disciplines like worship and confession and solitude and fasting. We are our habits. You won’t “rise to the occasion” and just magically stop one day. Love doesn’t work that way. You must train. We must train. Together. And the surprise is that this training is actually quite liberating and even fun, with loads of joy and laughter along the way.

John says that this is the message: God is light, and in him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). Paul says it this way: There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). None. Come out of the dark, little-faiths! You don’t belong there.

Stepping vulnerably into the light is the path to healing. The light of Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Shame and guilt will never work, not ever. They are powerful, but they are not powers that come from God. We silly Christians have done this with doubt, depression, divorce and so many other taboo topics. Shouldn’t we have learned by now to address our elephants with hope? So let’s stop “honoring” porn by making it he-who-must-not-be-named. Let’s kill it by learning to laugh at its absurdity. Riddikulus!

Some verses and quotes to consider:

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity. (Proverbs 28:13-14)

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalm 32:1-5)

Led by the Spirit, VCC is currently in the early stages of creating a ministry for sex-addiction because we know comGroups alone will not be enough to battle this issue that is a massive barrier in the way of so many men and women’s pursuit of the Jesus life.

  1. Ray Ortlund
  2. “A man alone with his sin is utterly alone…Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
Dane Olney

Author Dane Olney

Dane Olney is joyfully married to his high school sweetheart Brittany and they have a son named Levi. He is the Discipleship Pastor of VCC and is pursuing an MDiv in Christian Ethics from Fuller Theological Seminary.

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