LAST YEAR, 711 million hard-core pornographic films were rented in the United States. What does that have to do with prayer and revival in the church?
Ask the mother who finds her Sunday-school-heeled son stashing Playboy magazines under his bed. Ask the wife who stumbles onto raunchy pictures stored on her husband’s computer. Ask Christian counselors about the epidemic of sexual addiction among pastors. Ask demographer George Barna, whose research verifies that the pursuit of pornography by evangelicals parallels the culture at large.
Ask Dr. Jerry Kirk, founder of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families (formerly the Coalition Against Pornography), and a member of America’s National Prayer Committee. He decries the destructive impact of pornography on the church because it: (1) breaks up Christian marriages; (2) encourages pre-marital sex among teens; (3) distorts our view of women; (4) weakens our hearts for the things of God; (5) deadens our desire for personal holiness; (6) undermines our motivation for evangelism; and (7) destroys our prayer lives. That’s just the beginning, according to Kirk.
Consider this sobering reality, recently summarized in a New York Times article entitled, “Wall Street Meets Pornography” (read it by visiting www.nytimes.coniI2000/10/23/technol-ogy/23PORN.html): The sale of sexually degrading images has become a $10 billion-a-year industry in America. Thirty years ago, the total retail value of hard-core porn was less than $10 million. Today, that much is spent on a single sex-related website in one year!
Pornography has saturated our culture as age-old bafflers between consumer and product have collapsed through the proliferation of the VCR, pay-per-view T~ and the Internet. As a result, the Times observes, in America, pornography is easier to order into the home than pizza. Millions of children are unwittingly exposed to graphic debauchery as a result. Already we are paying a heavy price for their loss of innocence, including nearly 35 million abortions in the past 25 years, the majority among teens.
In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that obscenity can only be defined as whatever the average citizen considers obscene by “applying contemporary community standards.” So what do our “contemporary communities” tell us? LodgeNet (annual sex video sales at $180 million) is a major employer in its home base city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Says one executive: “We feel good about what we do. We’re good citizens. We contribute to local charities, too.” Should LodgeNet set the standard? One of the most conservative areas of our nation, Utah County, Utah, is, percentage wise, one of the largest markets for porn videos. Should they decide what’s appropriate for the 21st century?
Clearly, the church and the nation are under attack. Dark forces are working, not only to destroy the moral and social cohesion of our culture, but also to take our churches captive and weaken our spiritual fiber. They are driving multitudes of Christians into sexual forays and addictions that so grieve, quench, and offend the living Christ among us that many of us are immobilized for kingdom work in our generation.
That’s why Jerry Kirk recently concluded, “We are absolutely convinced that the battle against pornography, like all other social evils, will only be won through the body of Christ, which needs to be strengthened by a general awakening. Our nation needs revival, and, ultimately, that is how we will win the day. That’s why I believe so strongly in, and am so committed to participating with, the National Prayer Committee.”
So how can we pray? Recently I’ve been stirred by Romans 1: 18ff, because it parallels what’s going on in America right now. In it, Paul paints a picture of “revival-in-reverse” as God’s wrath is revealed. What if we took this dark picture and prayed for “judgment-in-reverse”?
We might find ourselves petitioning God to awaken the church (and through us, the nation) to the fear of God, righteousness, renewal of our minds, whole-hearted service to Him, deliverance from sensual desires and impure acts, and lives filled with every manner of godliness. We might appeal to Him to help us honor our bodies as God’s temples, desire Him over fleshly lusts, and maintain healthy, fulfilling, God-designed sexual relationships.
These are revival prayers! These are prayers that bring victory over the pale of licentiousness because they engage in the battle against pornography at the spiritual level, where it is most vulnerable.
Read, study, and pray over Romans 1:16-32. Pray that we all will be revived and fully converted by the message of the bondage-breaking, soul-purifying, body-sanctifying, all-consuming Lord of every passion.