I believe most pastors love God and want to honor him with their minds and bodies. Some have given up by giving in.
Over 20% of male clergy accessed porn at least twice monthly (Texas Tech, 2009). Older studies say 35-50%. I don’t put a great deal of stock into what pastors tell pollsters because of our propensity to be overly optimistic (exaggerate). If I’m right, the numbers are worse than we read.
Because most men are fighting to stay pure, including pastors, I want to encourage you by sharing who has helped me the most.
My wife’s name is Janet. She is my number one advocate in the fight for purity. No only my love and commitment to her, but also her love and commitment to me. Our physical relationship is crucial to my being able to maintain purity. Scripture addresses this very directly:
But because sexual immorality is so common, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman should have sexual relations with her own husband. A husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. A wife does not have the right over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband does not have the right over his own body, but his wife does. Do not deprive one another — except when you agree for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:2-5 CSB)
If you are married and not experiencing consistent sex with your spouse, you and your marriage are unnecessarily vulnerable.
This may sound cheesy and even a little weird, but pastors are a significant motivators for me. I believe God has called me to equip and encourage you and other church leaders like you. I’m not a celebrity, or even a particularly good writer or speaker, but I do have a national assignment that puts me in front of pastors and seminarians. If I were the devil, I would go after me because of how much he hates you.
Only God and I know the true condition of my heart. I know who I am when no one else is looking. I have heard many fallen pastors say they never thought it would happen to them. I am going to assume that I’ll only be out of the woods after my funeral.
I suggest that you take some initiative this summer to control technology before it controls you. You can take a digital fast for a week or month to clear your head and your heart. Use this time to allow God to restore your soul, renew your mind, and rekindle your love for him.
Integrity issues often only get addressed after they are exposed.
Why not expose potential danger preemptively by sharing your struggle with someone who loves you and can help you win? Self-regulation is important (integrity), but it is much harder to lie to my accountability partner of 35 years, Paul Coleman, than to myself.
Paul and I just had our weekly accountability call a couple of hours ago. If the devil wants to take me down, he will have to go through Paul and Janet to do it.
Everything I wrote up to this point can be chalked up to moralism or humanism without the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The devil lost the battle for my soul on June 12, 1980—but he wants to taint my testimony and shortchange my ministry, so he keeps shooting arrows.
Jesus is our first and best defense against any attack of the enemy. Our spiritual maturity and moral integrity are intrinsically connected to our walk with him. Jesus reminded us that without him we can do nothing (John 15:5), and with him we can do anything (Philippians 4:13).