In the COVID-19 pandemic some evangelicals are talking about pornography. 9 Marks pastor Garrett Kell has as has EFCA Pastor Benjamin Vrbicek at Community Evangelical Free in Harrisburg. The writer of this blog is a burned out evangelical who is mostly done. This post is some thoughts about evangelicals, pornography and sex.
“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.”
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[a]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
John 10:28-30 NIV
Benjamin Vrbicek of Community Evangelical Free Church Harrisburg
In March I noticed that Garrett Kell of 9 Marks Del Rey Baptist here in the Washington, D.C. area tweeted about the COVID-19 pandemic and pornography. Garrett Kell once wrote a post about a pastor’s struggle with porn at The Gospel Coalition a few years back. You can see that tweet above. I also noticed that Benjamin Vrbicek of Community Evangelical Free of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania also did a blog post about pornography on the current pandemic shortly afterward.
What Benjamin Vrbicek Wrote About Porn and the COVID-19 Pandemic
At his blog Fan and Flame Benjamin Vrbicek published a chapter from his book on pornography called, “Struggle Against Porn: 29 Diagnostic Tests for Your Head and Heart Kindle Edition.” The book which was published in 2019 was endorsed by Tim Challies, Tim Chester, Drew Dyck, Garrett Kell, and Jeremy Linneman. The national EFCA promoted Benjamin’s book at the national blog in October of 2019. You can read that post in, “Struggling Against Pornography, Not With It.” Benjamin published a chapter from his book at his blog dealing with triggers and stress. You can read Benjamin’s blog post in, “Conquer Lust During the COVID-19 Lockdown (and a Free Audiobook).”
During these times there are often situations and emotions that may make it harder to combat lust. In other words, there are certain things that pull the pin of your sexual grenade. These triggers do not cause immediate detonations, but they make damage nearly inevitable; it’s only a matter of time. Perhaps it’s a trigger for you to lie alone in bed on a Saturday morning when you’ve nothing else to do. Or maybe it’s traveling alone on business trips. You’re tired from travel, you miss your home, and television is a way to escape and experience fantasy. For others it’s working out at a certain gym.
We need to know our situational temptations and take precautions accordingly. When the alarm clock goes off, force yourself off the bed and out of the bedroom. To accomplish this, it might mean scheduling something early on Saturday mornings so you’re not idle in the first place. If work gets out of control, find healthy release. If your gym is a problem, buy some dumbbells for your basement.
For me, in those seasons where sexual activity in my marriage has been less frequent—whether because of my own health challenges with severe food allergies or because of my wife’s pregnancies or some other reason—I’ll occasionally have a wet dream. The desire to masturbate the next morning is strong. I know this now and can pray accordingly.
Nevertheless, triggers aren’t merely situational; they’re emotional too, often primarily so. Emotions such as stress can build up a desire for calm and release. When we’re hungry for advancement at work or some other change in our life situation, we get antsy and yearn to feel powerful and in control. When we are anxious, we feel like we’re failing at something. When we are angry, perhaps it is because our pride was wounded. When we’re lonely, sexual sin looks like a shortcut to companionship. When we’re bored, we want something new and exciting. When we’re just plain tired, our defenses are down.
Considering a Previous Post on Evangelicals and Pornography
I have written previously a while back about pornography and accountability. I have to say that this blogger finds evangelicalism to be depressing and often is focused on what one should not do; especially in this area. Evangelicalism often criminalizes sexuality and uses the topic of pornography as a hammer against people. The experiences I have had have led me the conclusion that talking about porn or anything sexual is a hangup for many evangelicals. This doesn’t just apply to porn but dating, sexual relationship between dating couples, being gay and more. The other factor is that all too often many of the places that talk about porn are also unhealthy and toxic and use the topic to control people. I learned that at Fairfax Community Church here in the D.C. area. A men’s accountability group encouraged me to talk about my life. Meanwhile the person running the program was on the Virginia sex offender registry, and had a history of molesting his daughter. Good thing I walked away when I did and why I avoid church today. Churches or ministries can have a history of collecting information and using it against people. Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) has done that as well as Harvest Bible Chapel, Sovereign Grace, 9 Marks, and Acts 29 have done that in the past.
It can’t be denied that the COVID-19 pandemic is stressful but to raise a topic and pound the drum can only add to stress during a time as well. In the past I have posed the question if Evangelical Christian culture can drive men and women into pornography and unhealthy relationships. I would say yes it very well can. Evangelicalism can hound people for making mistakes and many people can have a hard time forgiving themselves or moving forward when they do makes mistakes. Many people learn from error. I have heard a couple of stories as to how some men that come out of evangelical churches can’t maintain an erection or perform in sex because of how guilted they feel from religion. And this is years after they left. When I think of the sex obsessed culture of evangelicalism I would contend that the secular world can be healthier than the evangelical one. In no way do I mean to be disrespectful to Garrett Kell or Benjamin Vrbicek. I just look at this topic differently based on being burned from evangelicalism. To be fair this blog has respect for both Benjamin Vrbicek and Garrett Kell. But if you want to read that older post about pornography and accountability you can do so in, “Does Evangelical Culture Contribute to Pornography? Plus the Torment Accountability has Left in My Life.”