Sunday, February 17, 2008

Would Jesus Have a Blog? Purity Retreats and Triple X Church

In a Fox story (April, 2004), Paul Boutin, contributing editor at Wired magazine said, “ ... I really think that if Jesus were around today, he would have a blog.” [Check out this Wired article: What would Jesus Blog?]

Boutin added, “To kids today, the Internet is what rock ‘n’ roll was to another generation and TV was to the one before that and swing dancing was to the one before that. Kids aren't going to go to some stuffy church with stained-glass windows. They want to get online.”

My Space and Facebook are not exactly cutting-edge topics, but I think we forget what a great tool an online presence is for reaching kids.

We who blog know that there is indeed a new type of community on line. It can't (shouldn't) replace face-to-face contact (I've got another post brewing on that), but its relevance cannot be denied. I consider so many of you real friends, even if friendship is getting a bit of a definition redesign in this respect.

If you want to reach kids, you've got to get on line. It's where they live.

Does your youth staff have a blog? If so, I'd like to hear about it.

In another vein of communicating with youth, I have a friend who said she has texted her son from the other room in their house, and not in a jok-ey way, but to really ask him something. We laughed about it, but it's a reality. Again, it's where they live. My husband and I have found out that texting our son at college is a much more reliable way of reaching and getting a response from him than emailing or calling. Can't explain, just know the empirical evidence.

One danger of ministering to kids online is abuse, of course. That's a whole 'nother topic.

Speaking of the precarious Internet, my daughter went to a purity retreat this weekend at Oneighty, where among other topics, Brandon Piety from spoke about addiction to p*rn.

It was kind of funny because when my husband dropped her off, there as loud as Joan Rivers on the red carpet was a xxx vehicle emblazoned with ", the number one Christian po*n site." Somehow, you just don't expect to see that at a purity retreat. But it has to be addressed in a way beyond the traditional: "It's so bad for you."

Not everyone likes the organization's methodology. One critic at said,

Having recovered from pornography myself I understand that one of the basic tenets of Biblical and even worldly addiction recovery is radical amputation. A person in recovery must completely remove all reminders and triggers of their old life in order to be successful. These pastors are bringing triggers to the pulpit.

I do not question their faith or their motives. In fact, I like these guys. Who wouldn't? Combine the irrefutable nobility of their cause with their hip, affable nature and you have a winning package. Unfortunately I think their allure blinds some people to the error of some of their strategies.

Do you think xxx Church's method is too brazen and gimmicky? Do you think the organization is trying to be sensational?

Recently I read that in one survey of 1000 Christians, 50% of males view por*n and 20% of women do. How depressing.

Many, many pastors are ensnared in this sin, one of the last taboos to be addressed from the pulpit. The result is, they go deeper and deeper into secrecy because there is no grace anywhere for a pastor ensnared in this stronghold.

All of this is so hurtful and sad and maddening. But it's not going away. We have to face it without flinching. Because the p**n industry doesn't bat an eye at destroying our families and children.


Donny Pauling said...

If only the numbers were that low. Our surveys show more than 50% of Christian women and 90% of Christian men admit to porn consumption. In fact, before I was a Christian I was a porn producer and adult website owner. Christian email lists were preferred because Christians always clicked through at a higher percentage than non-Christians.

Melanie said...

I cannot really comment on what they say or do not say because I haven't heard them. But if they indeed bring triggers along with them, I agree with their critic.

We as a church need to show people Truth and let that be in their minds- no matter what sin we are speaking of. Jesus needs to be the focus, not the sin He is freeing them from. Ask any person who is a recovering alcoholic. He will tell you that holding a bottle of beer up there isn't going to help him. Holding the Word of God and preaching the victory it gives will.

KarenW said...

It's a huge problem today but I think that it's a symptom of larger issues - the breakdown of family values and relationships and the lack of a good relationship with Jesus Christ. I don't know the heart of the people doing the xxx church but it does seem to be sensational. Seems like the pendulum has swung from boring stuffy churches to the sensationalism of organizations like that. We need a balance.

Shelley said...

I whole heartedly agree that we need a balance. I don't know anything about the xxx church, so I can't really comment on them. I do know that the problem of p**n is a big one. Satan will use whatever he can, and right now in our society, this is gold to him.

Different subject...

I finally posted a pic of the mailboxes. Their not very fancy, but when you have to make 22 of them, you keep things simple!

Cindy Swanson said...

Linda...totally off-topic...but thanks for your comments on my NIU post. I know that you and I both have children in college, so this really hits close to home for us. All we can ever do is put them in God's hands, knowing He loves them even more than we do.

Melanie said...

Thanks for the forum! You are brave to take on this issue in discussion. :>)

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Recently Gary Thomas, who wrote Sacred Marriage and Sacred Parenting - my favorite book on parenting - came to a conference at our church. He asked the parents to raise their hands if they had boys between the ages of 11-18. Then he said to go home tonight and ask them what - not if, but what - P**n they had seen online. And he said to multiply the number the sons gave several times (can't remember the exact and don't want to misquote him) and you would have a more accurate portrayal of what your boys had seen.

The other facet that he put to this is that, these boys, even the "good" Christian boys, have seen so much by the time they married, that as a father of daughters, it broke his heart to think of the expectations of normalcy that these guys will be bringing with them to their wedding nights.

Makes me long for the "innocent" (by comparison)days of Pla*boy, you know?

Susan said...

This last commenter has such an important point. It's in their (the kids') faces all the time and for any of us to believe resistance is easy is WRONG! And it's different than when we were little and maybe caught a seductive picture in a magazine...they can watch whole videos for nothing. It's sickening!

And, Linda, I think we'd all be SHOCKED to know how many pastors struggle with this.

I think this group is being radical...because it's going to take radical to get the message out there in a way that our kids will respond to it. To think we can keep doing battle the way we've always done is wrong.

Thanks for a very thought-filled post.


Linda said...

Jorge and I were discussing this, and he pointed out to me that xxx church's goal is to reach people where they are. I know that Oneighty has been misunderstood before as they've endeavored to reach kids. Our head pastor would consider the criticism and then ask the critic, "And what are YOU doing to reach youth?" I may be weirded out by some of triple x's methods, but I have never reached out to anyone embroiled in the industry or lifestyle.

Debbie said...

I tend to think that this is such an "ostrich" (hiding our heads in the sand)subject that anything that gets information out there about the problem, the risks, and the consequences is good. Does the xxx church use gimmick to draw people in and their attention - yes. Is that a bad thing? Probably not. Obviously they could potentially go to far but Christians need to be culturally relevant, we need to go to the "houses of tax collectors" or we just become Pharisees.

As far as triggers, I understand the point but I also know from dealing with people addicted to different things that almost anything can become a trigger based on how they perceive it. For example, it is virtually impossible for an alcoholic or recovering alcoholic to not see alcohol or images of alcohol-they'd have to avoid the grocery store, any road that had billboards, etc. They will either have to learn to "bounce" their eyes & thoughts away from the images that trigger them or teach themselves to associate the trigger with something negative (ie. seeing a beer bottle makes them think of puking their guts up).
I think a group that has the courage to tell people that p*rn is as addictive,if not more addictive, than alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs should get our thanks. They are dealing with something most of us can't, won't, or struggle to, deal with and there are certainly no p*rn public service announcements or warning labels on the products.

Sorry this is so long.....

Ann said...

I have a feeling that the survey that stated 50%/20% is not entirely accurate. I bet it's higher than that.

I don't really have a comment on the organization you mentioned, but the slogan on their vehicle really threw me off. I'd have to see them in action to really decide.

As far as the online community goes, oh yes it is an entirely different community. I'm no longer in youth ministry, but I saw some of the girls from youth saying things on their myspace pages that they would NEVER say face to face, and somehow their parents didn't know about their pages (or at least the girls didn't think they knew, I don't think they'd be putting inappropriate comments and pictures up if they knew their parents could see). I personally have a bad taste in my mouth from myspace. I used to tell the youth that their parents could have monitoring software on their computers that can track and record every single instant messaging conversation they have, record their email, and what they say/do on Myspace. I hope it helped the kids think twice before being hurtful or destructive to others or themselves online.

I personally will probably use monitoring software as my kids get older. I won't keep it a secret from them.

Also, gaming is another issue (online role-playing games, etc). I used to play a couple different games, and the only sense of community a lot of those people had was with the other gamers they interacted with through the game. They didn't leave their homes or have "real-life" relationships, and they were definitely seeking community and fellowship.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but I am really glad that the topic of p*rn is being addressed with the youth. It's so so dangerous and destructive.

PJ said...

Thought provoking. We know a pastor and family who have recently been devastated by the accessibility and secrecy provided by the internet. A tragedy. However, the internet is a tool to be used!!

Cyndy said...

I there such a thing as being too relavent?
I agree with Melanie that what or rather who we need to hold up is Jesus.
I went to the xxxchurch site but didn't investigate too far because of the large use of the word p**n. I was a little nervous about what I might find! But then again I'm not exactly a youth anymore.
Certainly this is a sin we need to help our youth steer away from.

Julie said...

I came across a woman a few months back whose son is a friend of my son. She had discovered his porn viewing and was appalled. She never monitored him on the computer. He had no filter or protection. He was the administrator on the computer. Should she be surprised?

And what about the kids who have computers in their bedrooms, no filter system, full administrative rights, no parental authority, etc. & TV's with cable stations unblocked with adult shows on them. Should we be surprised there is a porn epidemic with our kids?

How many parents even know what their kids are doing on myspace? Their kids tell them it's blocked except to their friends. They believe it, it's not true.
No one bothers to check. It's just a kid thing.

We give our kids unmonitored indulgences and then get disturbed at the epidemics around us? I'm sorry being a parent of 3 teenagers I have a responsibility to guard over my kids and be aware. None of my kids have administrative rights on our computers. I won't have a computer in my house without a filter or some type of protection. Whether they can get around it or not, I am going to make it as difficult as I can for them to find porn. If they still find it, then I have done what I could to protect them.

I just looked at the video on the website. The man being interviewed on the video says over and over, "I was looking for something". "For a while I didn't need it in my marriage and then it was there before me again."

Porn is just the manifestation of a greater issue.
Man/Woman are trying to fulfill a place in their lives. They are trying to find something that gives them comfort. There is a void in their lives and they are filling it with porn. It's not about sex, according to John Eldredge in Wild At Heart. I believe he is right. At least the men that I know who have struggled with it have said that.

I am so sick of religion, the Pharisees that condemn and judge, calling people heretics. I wonder what the church today would have done with Jesus. After all He broke many of the rules of His day, healing on the Sabbath, overturning the tables in the temple, eating with sinners, talking to a Samaritan woman, fellowshipping with a harlot.

Maybe if the churches hadn't let those with addictions down, there wouldn't have to be a side ministry, like this. Isn't this what we are supposed to be about with each other we are in community with. How many churches do you see dealing with it up front? Our pastor talked about porn one Sunday and he got all kinds of flack over it. Some said it shouldn't be talked about from the pulpit. HUH? What the heck? What is the church for then? To talk about praising Jesus, giving money and being a good disciple?

In my opinion, it's about time something came along to help bring the hidden things out into the light for people living in the shame of this thing.
We have made this sin much worse than other sins like overeating, or indulgent shopping, or heck
self-righteousness. After all self-righteousness looks pretty on the outside. It's all the same to God.

If we are looking for perfection in those around us and how they offer Christ, don't we then become the judge? Seems like that is God's job to me.

They are reaching people, changing lives....isn't that enough?

God's got this thing, I'm convinced. If He doesn't like what is going on, I have confidence HE will shut it down.

Sorry, I guess I got riled up with this one!