Porn-Again? The Rising Problem of Pornography among Filipino Pastors

May 22, 2023

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Pornography is a crippling problem among the Filipino pastorate. Many Filipino pastors have been struggling, albeit mostly quietly and hidden from their church members, with pornography. For many, this has affected their personal spiritual lives and enslaved them. For some, pornography use has led to dysfunctions in their marriages, and at times has led to sexual immorality that has in turn led to departure in the ministry. This struggle is one that is common yet almost unavoidable in today’s culture.

Pornography is defined as an addiction to viewing or interacting with visual imagery or medium that illicit sexual pleasure or arousal within the viewer. Most of the time it is accompanied by self-pleasuring acts such as touching oneself’s private part, or even masturbating, with the supposed resulting pleasure of which is the goal of the viewing of the material. The problem with pornography is that it is clearly an activity in the realm of harbouring and nurturing lustful thoughts, which Scripture makes clear is prohibited and dangerous.

Pornography is defined as an addiction to viewing or interacting with visual imagery or medium that illicit sexual pleasure or arousal within the viewer.

Scripture on Pornography

Though in Scripture we won’t find words such as pornography (the word being a much more modern term), the essence of pornography is however discussed much: lustful thoughts. Pornography by its structure, has viewing pornographic visuals as the means by which lustful thoughts are nurtured and harbored – leading to actions that elicit sexual pleasure.  In essence, the motivation for the viewing of images is to get that pleasurable feeling through the imagination of the interaction with the images – which by definition, is what lustful thoughts are.

Scripture is clear in its stance of harboring lustful thoughts. The book of Proverbs is filled with warning after warning of walking in the pathway towards the “forbidden woman”. Proverbs 5:7 narrates this clearly:

“And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless,”

Phrases such as ”Keep your way far from her” and “do not go near the door of her house” communicates to us vividly the danger of being merely in the presence or having visual distance with a “forbidden woman.” Yet who is this forbidden woman? She is described as one that brings pleasure, but in the end leads not to life but to death. She is describe as one that a man will encounter along his path, hence the warning of keeping far away from her along the path. She is contrasted with the woman who is meant for the man (i.e. his wife), with the label of ‘adulterous’ being placed on her.

Scripture also is filled with exclamations of consequences that will occur if one will walk down that path through its stories of men falling into the trap of lust. David fell into much trouble and into further sins when he saw and lusted after Bathsheba while she was bathing. The consequence of his untempered lust was the death of Uriah, his loyal soldier and Bathsheba’s husband, the death of his child with Bathsheba, and the downgrade of the stability of his kingdom. His son Amnon destroyed his familial relationships by lusting after his sister Tamar – resulting in Amnon being killed by Absalom and later Absalom rebelling against David. In the New Testament, Paul rebukes and calls the church to discipline one who is calling himself brother but is sleeping with his father’s wife – calling such actions absurd and not becoming of a follower of Christ. Yet, in Jesus, we see the heart of the problem of lust.

Jesus makes His clearest stance on lustful thoughts in His Sermon on the Mount, that one who entertains lustful thoughts and intent are in fact violating God’s command against adultery. In Matthew 5:27-29, He says:

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. "

The Filipino Pastor’s struggle with Pornography

How is pornography then dangerous to the Filipino pastor? If we allow the Scriptures to speak, then we hear that the Filipino pastor struggling in pornography is on one hand, a servant of God, yet on the other – he is an adulterer at heart and a man on the path of destroying his life, and the lives of his loved ones.

The pastors’ struggles with pornography are manifested in different ways and circumstances. In terms of duration, some have struggled before starting in the ministry and have brought the struggle with them. In terms of gravity of addiction, some view porn only when triggered by stressful or painful situations, others view it regularly as part of a developed yet deterioriating habit. In terms of viewing materials, some settle with images in magazines, newspapers, and internet images, other

Yet many Filipino pastors have tried to deal with their problem with pornography, albeit with varying results. Most of them have tried to deal with it by seeking help from others, some go through counseling or begin participating in programs by organizations specializing with such problems. Some have tried to keep it to themselves, hoping that a special work of God is on the horizon that will deliver them. Others, particularly those who have have grown accustomed to this problem, are refusing any longer to deal with this. Accepting this as part of their burden and bane, they continue in the ministry, hoping for the best that their addiction will not destroy their relationships, will not lead them to ‘worse’ sins like physical sexual immorality, or will not disqualify them from the ministry.

Accepting this as part of their burden and bane, they continue in the ministry, hoping for the best that their addiction will not destroy their relationships

If this is the problem that many Filipino pastors face, how can we help them overcome this persistent problem?

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