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Healing Pornography in the Church

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“When today’s children see porn online, they do not see the common nudity of yesteryear. Instead, they witness hardcore, demeaning, humiliating, and often violent videos that create a lasting impact,” shares Sam. Some of the dangers of prolonged pornography exposure include: the belief that promiscuity is the natural state; the belief that marriage is sexually confining; the abandonment of the hope of sexual monogamy; and the lack of attention to family and child raising.

Porn is a struggle for many men, boys, girls, and women. It can be a means of escape especially true when dealing with fear, anxiety, neglect, or abandonment in childhood. Some of the people you would not expect to struggle with this sin include those who serve the most in the church. Many of these individuals don’t feel safe revealing their struggles with porn, therefore they don’t ask for help and are afraid they’ll be rejected if they do. 


Compulsive porn users are typically exposed early in life. Another reason this addiction has such a stronghold on an individual is because they have experienced some type of trauma early in life (divorce, violence, sexual abuse). Repetitive use of porn creates a habit that becomes engrained physically and mentally within the brain. In fact, there are several reasons people remember their first exposure to sexually explicit material: (1) Imagery can turn on neurological responses. Nowadays boys and girls are exposed to hardcore online porn. The neurochemicals released make it hard to look away; and (2) Repetitive use of porn physically changes the neurocircuitry of the brain which creates pathways that crave the neurochemical rewards of sexual excitement.


People fighting porn on their own usually fail. Sam says, “Many Christians have a deep desire to live an abundant and holy Christian life but aren’t open and honest about their sin for fear of rejection.” This is where the Church needs to step up and make people realize they are not alone by becoming an ally to those seeking freedom. In the company of allies or a support group, allow those battling porn an opportunity to open up and discuss their struggles so they can find healing and one day be able to help others with the same struggles.

Confronting pornography in the church is difficult for many pastors. Church leaders often get negative feedback from their congregants (both male and female) when discussing this topic. Pastors cannot meet with each person individually that might be struggling with pornography, but they can equip the body with tools and resources to help individuals overcome their addictions. A great resource for men is the Sampson Society. This group keeps men accountable which is a key part of the recovery process. SheRecovery is a great resource for women. Pastors and leaders can also help people in their church by: suggesting software (Covenant Eyes) or educational recommendations to combat porn, training their leaders on a course of study, or hosting a recovery/discipleship ministry that deals with many different issues. The Victory app by Covenant Eyes is free and provides a library of courses to help people live in freedom.

Church leaders can also struggle with porn. In fact, a 2016 Barna research study reveals that “57 percent of pastors and 64 percent of youth pastors said they struggle with porn currently or have in the past.” Often times if those in church leadership are discovered to be struggling with porn they are removed from their position and sometimes even ousted from the church. Those with a truly repentant heart can be corrected and restored instead of the Church abandoning the individual in their struggle. 


Sam is the Director of Life Change Education for Covenant Eyes. He is passionate about helping people live life free from pornography. He worked as a journalist for eighteen years prior to joining Covenant Eyes. He has edited seventeen books on the impact of pornography and is a speaker for parenting, men’s, and leader’s events. 

At 10, Sam was exposed to porn. His brother and a friend were looking at a magazine which piqued Sam’s curiosity. “And though I grew up in a Christian home I didn’t step away,” says Sam. The early exposure, fueled by a violent and controlling hypocritical Christian father, sent him spiraling into a pornography addiction that he did not understand or conquer until after he married. Sam recalls a time when he was working with his dad to coil a rope. He was not able to do it as his dad was instructing him. His dad would hit him on his head, back or face and call him “dummy” or “idiot.”

The act of coiling the rope was one thing among many that would cause him to seek pornography in his teens and adult life. With therapy, over time he became more aware of social, emotional, and environmental triggers (SEE Triggers) that made him tempted to view porn. He says, “With the support of men, good reading, a lot of understanding and growing, I began a pathway, a journey – that did not come overnight but came with that kind of support – to live in freedom.” He continues to stay accountable by meeting once a week with a small group of men through the Sampson Society.

For more information about Sam Black's ministry, please visit: and

To get your copy of Sam's latest book, "The Healing Church," please visit: The Healing Church.

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