Made for intimacy, not promiscuity
    May 5 2014 by Rob Pochek, Guest Column

    I am a pastor, and I am concerned. Increasingly the dominant issues in my pastoral counseling sessions and inquiries from church members revolve around sexual issues. A mother finds porn on her son’s tablet. Parents are not sure how to respond to their child “coming out.” A wife contemplates divorce due to her husband’s indulgence in pornography.
    Because I want to be better equipped to respond to these issues in a biblically informed and pastoral way, I recently attended the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) Summit on Human Sexuality in Nashville, Tenn. I anticipated the primary focus would be on the issue of same-sex marriage since this topic dominates much of the news. What I received instead was a well-rounded, biblically-based theological framework for applying the gospel to all matters related to human sexuality.

    In reflecting upon the event, there are a few things that stand out to me, particularly as I consider how to apply the lessons to the flock to which I have been called.
    The first subject that gripped my heart was the issue of pornography. Once relegated to seedy bookstores, back alley movie houses and “that” uncle’s garage, today pornography is as easy to access as a few keystrokes on a computer. And apparently, it is accessed often. The average age of the first viewing of hardcore pornography is 12-years-old. Twelve. That’s a sixth grader.
    I had understood pornography as a struggle for many men and an increasing number of women. But, I had not realized the extent of its destruction. At the Summit, we learned about the global scourge of sex trafficking and the destruction of women for the sake of so-called entertainment. My heart broke hearing about the women in these films who are often beaten or drugged in order to “perform.” Afterwards they have to deal with the inevitable effects of the behavior they are forced into – sexually transmitted diseases.
    Not only are the “performers” abused and mistreated, but the viewer is not exempt from the painful and inevitable results of consuming this “product.” Men who engage in pornography over long periods of time are often unable to experience a real-life, intimate relationship.
    As a pastor my heart breaks at the thought of an entire generation of men (and women) who have been raised in a porn-saturated culture. When the debilitating effects of prolonged pornographic exposure are fully realized, it may be too late to recover genuine intimacy in human relationships. Indeed, we may be raising a generation that does not even know what it is like to experience a genuine, intimate human relationship. 
    The second thing that gripped my heart was the way in which we have devalued marriage. By “we” I am not referring to those in our culture who approve of same-sex marriage. Rather, I mean those of us in the church who prioritize college education, job security and financial stability over God’s good gift of marriage. Consider how often we encourage our young adults to finish college and get a job before they consider marriage. The point is that we – evangelical Christians – have devalued marriage, and in so doing, we have sent a mixed message to our students. We rail against same-sex marriage, yet we treat marriage as a capstone of a life well lived, rather than a cornerstone to build a life upon. 
    The final observation that stands out from the ERLC Summit is the need to speak with both conviction and kindness on matters of human sexuality. We speak with conviction because we have been given a message by God that we must share. It is not “our” message as if we had made it up. Fundamentally, God’s design for human relationships is neither culture specific nor culture limited, but it is a message that must be shared as concomitant to the gospel.
    But we must also speak with kindness. Whether we are speaking to the man (or woman) caught up in pornography use, the parents of a child who has “come out” or those with whom we disagree on the issue of same-sex marriage, we must do so with a kindness that emanates from a heart that knows God’s grace is sufficient for their struggle, just as it is sufficient for our own. Indeed, there is no place for arrogance, condescension or a lack of empathy in such discussions.
    Although my heart breaks for where our culture is headed regarding human sexuality, I am encouraged. I am encouraged that men like Dr. Russell Moore speak to these issues on behalf of Southern Baptists. I am encouraged that pastors like J.D. Greear, David Prince, Matt Carter, Jimmy Scroggins and many others speak with a consistent and helpful voice on the gospel and human sexuality. But, mostly, I am encouraged because God has woven human sexuality into our being in such a way that every deviation from God’s design for sexuality allows us an opportunity to point people to the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Rob Pochek is the pastor of Raleigh Road Baptist Church in Wilson, N.C.)
    5/5/2014 1:27:56 PM by Rob Pochek, Guest Column | with 0 comments
    Filed under: ERLC, sexuality

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