1 Samuel 2:12-25 (Part 1) – Porn in Our Pews: Ignoring It Only Makes It Worse

Posted: November 15, 2017 in Book of 1 Samuel
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1 Samuel 2:12-25 (Part 1 of 6)
Eli’s Wicked Sons

One of the quiet sins that plagues men today and even among men who consider themselves Christ followers is pornography. It is rampant to the point of being a disease on our culture. According to a survey taken by the Barna Group for Proven Men Ministries back in 2014 among a representative sample of 388 self-identifying Christian men from around the country, the problem is real and yet it is one that is rarely talked about among Christian men. Among survey participants between the ages of 18-30, it was found that 76% of males in this age group view pornography of some kind at least monthly. In this age, group 36% of the survey participants admitted to not only viewing it monthly but also on a daily basis. Almost 1/3 of the men in this age group admitted to being addicted to pornography. Among 31-49 year old men in the survey, 77% admitted to viewing pornography in some form during the past three months, 64% view it monthly, 18% admit to being addicted to it. Joel Hesch of Proven Men Ministries, who commissioned the survey, says, “”It’s abundantly clear that pornography is one of the biggest unaddressed problems in the church.” Even among pastors, the problem is real. In a 2016 survey of 770 pastors by the Barna Group for Josh McDowell Minstries, they found that 57% of pastors and 64% of youth pastors admitted to having had a struggle or were in active struggle with pornography. Of those that gave that now or in the past response, 21% of youth pastors say they are currently in struggle along with 14% of pastors. Ten percent (10%) of youth pastors and 4% of pastors admit to being addicted to porn.

Most churches ignore the problem because it is not an open “in your face” kind of sin. It is a hidden sin that eats away at the soul of a man. It is one of those sins that a man thinks that he can dabble in and no one will know. With the advent of internet pornography, men can more easily access and more easily hide their sin more so than ever. It used to be before the internet that you had to buy pornographic magazines and such magazines had to be purchased in somewhat of a public setting such as a magazine store, a convenience store or whatever, but now, a man can sit behind a computer screen and hide his sin so easily. Some men claim that it is harmless fun. Some men claim that it makes them want their wives more because of the arousal. Some men claim that pornography is simply an art form about one of the most beautiful creatures God created, woman. Some men claim that viewing pornography is better than them going out and having an affair with a woman who is not his wife. Some men claim that pornography is keeps down men’s sexual aggression toward women, through masturbation over the naked women in a magazine, instead of going out and having forced, non-consensual sex with a woman (this includes rape or sexual encounters are borderline to rape). Some men, thus, argue that pornography is almost like a public service serving the public good. Pardon my French, but that’s all bullshit! We always dress up our sins as being OK and justifiable and we make arguments as to why our sin is OK. In our mind, it makes sense. In our mind, we develop these perfectly logical arguments as to why pornography is not a sin. Anything that causes you to lust after a woman that is not your wife is a sin, plain and simple. Jesus said so himself. Anything that you have to hide because deep down in your soul you know it is wrong is a sin. Anything that you have to develop significant amounts of arguments and think on it a long time as to how to justify it, it is most likely a sin. Just as the reams of paper and court cases that have been devoted to why homosexual marriages are OK and of benefit to society kind of tells you what the deal is. In contrast, no highly skilled lawyers writing sophisticated and lengthy technical briefs as to how and why heterosexual marriage is OK and right. There has never been a court case as to the validity of male-female marriage. It is just the way God intended things. Anything that is a sin must be justified with layers and layers of arguments to convince us of its rightness. Pornography is the same way. No matter what, layers and layers of arguments have to be made to make it seem OK and it’s just not. It’s just wrong. It’s just sin no matter how you slice it. If you have to think like a lawyer as to why a sin is not really a sin, it is a more than likely a sin.

Ignoring pornography will not make it go away for the church. It is an integrity problem for the men of the faith. We are called to be examples of Christ in this world and nothing taints our testimony than sitting in the garage or back room of our houses looking at porn. Our wives should be the source of our sexual pleasure in a loving and devoted relationship. It is hard in our society to stand firm against porn because even television shows and commercials can offer up soft porn right in our living rooms without us even intending to be exposed to it. As the church, we must address this sin or it will continue to destroy our families. Pornography violates our bond with our wives. Pornography is the first step on the road to adultery. Pornography leads to divorce. We cannot ignore this sin any longer in the church. We must address and address it hard and address it now.

It is the silent rot of our social fabric and social morality that porn is today that I thought of when I read about how Eli was handling the sin of his sons. He kept sweeping it under the rug instead of dealing with it and it would lead to disastrous consequences for his sons as well as the people they served. Let us think about the silent social killer than the swept under the rug sin that porn is as we read 1 Samuel 2:12-26 for the first of six reads of this loaded passage today:

12 Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord 13 or for their duties as priests. Whenever anyone offered a sacrifice, Eli’s sons would send over a servant with a three-pronged fork. While the meat of the sacrificed animal was still boiling, 14 the servant would stick the fork into the pot and demand that whatever it brought up be given to Eli’s sons. All the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh were treated this way. 15 Sometimes the servant would come even before the animal’s fat had been burned on the altar. He would demand raw meat before it had been boiled so that it could be used for roasting.

16 The man offering the sacrifice might reply, “Take as much as you want, but the fat must be burned first.” Then the servant would demand, “No, give it to me now, or I’ll take it by force.” 17 So the sin of these young men was very serious in the Lord’s sight, for they treated the Lord’s offerings with contempt.

18 But Samuel, though he was only a boy, served the Lord. He wore a linen garment like that of a priest.[a] 19 Each year his mother made a small coat for him and brought it to him when she came with her husband for the sacrifice. 20 Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.[b]” 21 And the Lord blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

22 Now Eli was very old, but he was aware of what his sons were doing to the people of Israel. He knew, for instance, that his sons were seducing the young women who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle.[c] 23 Eli said to them, “I have been hearing reports from all the people about the wicked things you are doing. Why do you keep sinning? 24 You must stop, my sons! The reports I hear among the Lord’s people are not good. 25 If someone sins against another person, God[d] can mediate for the guilty party. But if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede?” But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the Lord was already planning to put them to death.

26 Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew taller and grew in favor with the Lord and with the people.

In this passage, we see that Eli knew that his sons were evil but he did little to correct or stop them, even when the integrity of the tabernacle was threatened. As the high priest, Eli should have responded swiftly and severely as required by Mosaic law. He feared losing his sons more than he feared confronting their sin and the effect that it was having on the nation. Eli let his sons ruin their lives and the lives of many others. There are times when serious problems must be addressed even when the addressing of the problem will air out all our dirty laundry and dirty little secrets. We must lead in the confrontation of sin and we must confess our sins instead of hiding them. Ignoring sin does not make it go away. It only allows it to fester and grow to the point that it consumes us, our families, our nation.

Today, pornography is just such a sin. As a person that grew up in the middle of the sexual revolution of the 70s, pornography was seen by me as an innocent diversion even up until about a 7 or 8 years ago. God has convicted me of this sin and I purposely try to avoid it whenever possible. God has taught me that letting go of pornography shows respect to my wife and honor to God. Yes, women are still the most beautiful creatures God created, but pornography plain and simple disrespects my wife and our marriage. This is a sin that we need to address broadly in the church and address hard. We need to bring this sin out in the open and deal with rather than hide it. Ignoring the sin will only continue to destroy our families that make up our churches and lessen the integrity of our witness to the world around us that is drowning in sexual sin.

Amen and Amen.

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