SBC ethicist addresses online porn

The temple prostitutes warned against by the Apostle Paul are alive and well on the Internet, ERLC head Russell Moore tells students at Southwestern Seminary.

By Bob Allen

The temple prostitutes that tempted some in the New Testament church in Corinth have been “digitalized and weaponized” today in the form of Internet pornography, Southern Baptists’ top spokesman for moral concerns warned seminary students Sept. 5.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said in chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary that online porn brings an “illusion of anonymity” that the first-century pagan temple prostitutes could never promise.

russell moore mug“The strategies of Satan have become so crafty that they are able to promise a cover of darkness, including to ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in a way that is able to communicate with alarming regularity ‘you shall not surely die,’” Moore said.

“As you are headed out into the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ, if you are not arming yourself right now to recognize what is happening with this demonic strain of sexual immorality, you are not going to be able to stand,” Moore said. “You are living in the kind of world in which there are digital harems of prostitutes, available and pushed upon every single population in the United States of America and increasingly every single population in the world.”

Moore said Internet porn promises the same thing the Apostle Paul confronted in First Corinthians 6 when he wrote:  “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.”

“There is a promise that this is merely physical,” Moore said. “There is a promise that this is something that might not be moral, but the consequences can be navigated.”

Moore said in reality “what is happening is an act of idolatry.”

“There is every bit the act of worship in the pornography epidemic taking place in our churches as there is in those who are wandering into the lands and the houses of the temple prostitutes,” he said. “You cannot pretend that this will not utterly transform and destroy your ministry.”

Moore said pornography is an “especially dangerous form” of sexual sin because it brings with it a “sham repentance.”

“There are many of you who believe yourselves to be struggling with pornography, because after some incident with pornography takes place you promise yourself this is never going to happen again,” he said.

“Nobody loves pornography after a pornographic incident,” he counseled. “Even pagans see this as something kind of sad and pathetic and lonely.”

“Until you come to the place where you recognize and you know: ‘God have mercy upon me. Lord have mercy upon my helplessness in this situation’ -- until you run to the gospel and until you allow yourself to be spoken to and transformed by the word that Jesus is giving, that redirects your life, you are not experiencing repentance,” he warned. “You are not struggling with anything. You are being led by the satanic powers like an ox toward the slaughterhouse, step by step by step by step by step.”

Moore, who taught at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary before replacing Richard Land as head of the ERLC in June, also had advice for wives and future wives in the audience who will have husbands who are tempted toward Internet pornography.

“The answer for you is not to simply wring your hands,” Moore said. “His body belongs to you.”

“Your answer to this is not to simply suffer in silence,” Moore said. “Your answer to this is to raise the issue with your husband, and if your husband will not repent — Matthew 18 — you take this outside of your marriage to those within the community of Christ, all the way through, if necessary, to the congregation, in order to say the spiritual integrity of our marriage for the sake of the gospel is worth fighting for.”

Sexual immorality does not make a person sexy, Moore said, but rather pollutes and dilutes a healthy sex drive that makes it possible to experience intimacy in marriage.

“The sexless, pathetic marriages going on in our churches — including sometimes among 25- and 26-year-old newlyweds — is a testament to the promises of the devil in giving the illusion of intimacy in a way that only comes to kill and to destroy, with the promise of a glowing screen that rips to shreds,” he said.

For some people, Moore said, true repentance might require they come to the point of throwing their computers away.

“People have lived for thousands of years without computers, and if what it means for you to cut your hand off or to gouge your eye out is to say, ‘I will have no digital technology around me,’” he said, “then that is exactly what you should do.”