More on the XXX Church

I have had more than one person object to my last post with something like the following: “You cannot come down on these guys for going to the porn convention because they may not have a struggle with lust like most other men do. Besides, we have to take the Gospel to sinners, and sometimes that may mean going to porn conventions.”

I want to respond to those objections with a few thoughts.

To begin with, I don’t want to question their motives so much as I want to question their wisdom. I’m sure that they have a genuine desire to reach these people, and I hope that they do. I just think that biblically speaking they have stepped over a line that wisdom would keep them from crossing.

The Psalmist says “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me” (Psalm 101:2-3). I would argue that the kind of discipline described in this text certainly applies to anyone thinking about going to a porn convention.

If there is a male of the species who doesn’t have serious and ongoing struggles with lust, I simply haven’t met him yet. Moreover, I can’t find any godly man in the scripture (writer or character) who deals casually with sexual temptations.

So it’s difficult for me to take seriously the suggestion that some men just don’t have to worry about this sin. Because even if one believes that some men don’t need to be vigilant, the Bible and experience seem to indicate that all men should.

Besides, even if one thinks that lust isn’t a struggle for him, I would remind him of the apostle Paul’s admonition: “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12). Lust is such a pervasive threat to Christian men that I think going to a porn convention would be like playing with fire.

I don’t think it’s accidental that when Jesus warns against lust He talks about “gouging out the eye” if need be to avoid committing sin (Matt 5:27-30). If one can attend a porn convention and not see porn, then I guess there would be no problem. But I think that’s very unlikely to be the case here.

The scriptures command men to flee from sexual temptation (2 Timothy 2:22), not resist it. Solomon told his son that when it comes to the adulteress, “Keep your way far from her, And do not go near the door of her house” (Proverbs 5:8). Over and over in the Bible, men are commanded to run like crazy when they come upon a situation that might tempt them to sexual sin. This theme is pervasive in both Old and New Testaments. The patriarch Joseph modeled this when Potiphar’s wife tried to get him into bed. He took off running, left her holding his coat, and didn’t look back (Genesis 39:12).

Some have defended attending a porn convention by citing Jesus’ habit of associating with “sinners” (e.g., Matthew 11:19). Still, I don’t know how one could make these texts the basis for going to a porn convention. Yes, Jesus would publicly let a prostitute wash his feet with her hair and tears (Luke 7:36-39), but you don’t see him poking around in her brothel. Sure he extends mercy to the likes of the adulterous woman (John 8:1-11), but you don’t see him lurking in the shadows of people’s bedrooms so he might find some adulterers.

I think the point is that we need to take the Gospel to everyone, and we need to get out of the walls of the church building and go to the hard places. This is a part of the Great Commission, and it’s exactly what Jesus did. But going to hard places (biblically speaking) means going to those places that may cost us materially, bodily, etc. It doesn’t mean going to places that might cost us our integrity.

After all, Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” It sure would be the height of hypocrisy for us to pray for one thing and do another.

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5 thoughts on “More on the XXX Church”

  1. From contraception to porn conventions! Of course the two are intimately connected. At its root we’ve got the issue of technology (from internet porn, magazines, videos to surgical procedures, condoms, the pill) hijacked by fallen man and employed to create that which is a false, twisted and unnatural sexual experience over and against that which God intends to be lived out and embodied between husband and wife within the covenant bonds of marriage. A covenant bond God has created with procreative potential to be fruitful and multiply.

    Re: the porn convention in particular, I read the Christianity Today article with much interest. Here are my thoughts:

    First, as Christians I think we should heed Denny’s biblical advice with humility and seek to live lives of repentance and purity, always fighting to cultivate imaginations enticed by the person and work of Christ. Any Christian many has a log, no, has a forest in his own eyes. We’ve all got some “lumberjacking” to do before we go to pick up any rocks.

    Second, as Christians we should on stand up strategically and prophetically against the institutional and organizational evil of the porn industry. It demeans women, men and children created in God’s image. It demeans God.

    Third, as Christians we should offer to our culture an alternative and creation-affirming vision of the intended goodness of embodiment and sexuality.

    Fourth, as Christians we should reach out with the love of Christ to those “sinners” in our midst who live on the margins – in the gutters. This must include, of course, reaching out directly to those who make their living from their rebellion against God (“tax collectors” and “prostitutes”). What this looks like will be different for each of us.

    Of course, we all know that Jesus -Holy, Holy, Holy in the flesh – did not recoil from dwelling in a sinful world with sinful people, to call those who need a physician (Matt. 9:9ff; Mark 2:13ff, etc.).

    To be sure, while Jesus shared a meal with Matthew and his friends (i.e “hookers” and “whores”), we do not read in the Gospels that he attended a temple prostitution convention in Corinth. As Denny said, Jesus didn’t go “poking around in a brothel” so to speak.

    At the end of the day, perhaps God has really called these XXXChurch guys to a unique mission. Let’s face it, few of us will be martyrs in Muslim countries, and few of us will be missionaries to the porn industry.

    We might question methods here and there, but we simply can’t question their mission. As Jonah learned the hard way, who are we to claim private property rights on God’s love for fallen, broken, sinful, hurting and perverted people.

    Shucks, we all come to Christ with empty hands and naked…Some might just be a bit more naked than others! Who better than porn stars to be objects of God’s mercy and to be clothed, finally, with His righteousness?

  2. Denny –

    I think this is turning into a helpful discussion. I have linked to you from my blog. Good stuff here.

    However, what are we to make of an instance like the one recorded in Mark Driscoll’s book, The Radical Reformission, where he writes of a time he went to a gay bar to minister to a gay man, seeking to become “all things to all men?” Is this a similar situation?

  3. Well stated Denny…being a guy who has struggled with such things in my past, I know how easy a sin it is to get dragged down by. And before you know it, it effects your life in everything you do. you find yourself not being able to look at any girl without lust in your heart…clothed or naked. And even though this is part of my past, it still effects me today.

    Even if these guys are strong in their walk…they also walk a very dangerous line by being involved with the convention.

    I will also second a thought you have above…if these guys want to reach the porn stars of the world…they can do it in other ways besides going to the conventions…sinners that need the love of Christ are all over.

    The thought to be “in the world and not of it” (which I think has been mentioned by you or in a comment from the last two entries) applies here. being at a porn convention can easily draw a male to be of the world.

  4. You don’t know me, but as a woman who has had to live with the impact of porn in her husband’s and father’s lives, I wanted to say something. I agree with what you say about these men playing with fire. They may think that it won’t affect them, but it does. Although my husband no longer looks at pornography, he still has problems at times with comparing my body to other women’s bodies. I try my best to be attractive, but let’s face reality…we live together and that means seeing the good and the bad. So, be encouraged to stand on this issue and to encourage other men in this. Y’all aren’t the only ones who bear the consequences of this sin.

  5. As a woman, seeking a godly mate, I would have a difficult time supporting these guys in ministry. I often wonder from reading this, how they guard themselves as they reach out to this porn community. I pray to be a submissive wife one day, but if my husband chose to go this route, it would be very difficult, knowing the way the enemy can infiltrate our home.

    I appreciate the post from the anonymous woman who is living the results of this in real life. From a woman’s perspective, I truly hurt for her.

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