MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: an excerpt from Listening In. This week, Warren Smith visits with author and teacher Steve Arterburn.
Now, for those of you listening with young children nearby, this is one for which you may want to hit the pause button. The subject is sensitive and perhaps better left for another time, when little ears aren’t listening.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Twenty years ago, Arterburn started helping men dealing with pornography and temptation. In two decades of ministry, he’s seen the problem get worse as internet access has made it even easier to fall into addiction. Smith and Arterburn talk frankly about how the church must address this problem to help believers find victory through Christ. Here’s Warren Smith.
WARREN SMITH: Maybe some of us are, you know, church leaders or leaders in our community and maybe we don’t struggle with this personally but we’re all affected by it. I mean this has become so pervasive in our culture. Got any thoughts about that?
STEVE ARTERBURN: Well, a couple of things. One is that the most recent Barna research says 63 (percent) of the men that are there on Sunday morning struggle with pornography. There’s no other problem that so many folks are struggling with. And if they’re struggling with it, then there’s a woman around there: sister, girlfriend, wife, that’s also impacted by that.
SMITH: Yeah, victim of some kind or another, and these are these are men in church.
ARTERBURN: Right. And the sad thing is that it also revealed that only 7 percent of churches are doing anything about it. Where I’m a teaching pastor we’ll have on any given week 300 people in groups for Every Man’s Battle and the wives of them in groups that help them and help them grow. So we got to talk about it.
I was in a city doing a pastor’s appreciation luncheon. And I asked: “Hey, what’s the big problem around this city.?” And they said, “Well, everybody wants to grow, but they don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings.” So they don’t talk about these big problems like pornography and all that. I said: “Well, you know I’m a teaching pastor at the third-fastest growing church in America, we’ve got 13 campuses—three in prisons—and our favorite, favorite series that we do are on the real problems: divorce, homosexuality, abortion, things like that.” I said: “You’re making a big mistake.”
So you need to address it, talk about the problems. But here’s something really important. I didn’t write this book, but when my kids were 6 years old, we got this book called Good Pictures, Bad Pictures. I wish I’d written it, but it helps a young child understand that when something shows something more than you would see at a swimming pool on somebody in their swimsuit. That’s pornography, and to call it out, show it and do something about it, versus have these images and you kind of think well maybe that’s not so.
So you really got to start working with kids young. You have to talk about this, and the good news is, once you talk to your kids about pornography and other things. You can talk to them about anything.
BASHAM: That’s Steve Arterburn talking to Warren Smith. To hear the whole conversation, look for Listening In wherever you get your podcasts. The episode goes live tomorrow.