40 years ago, the American Family Association began under the name The National Federation for Decency. Its aim was to call people of faith in America back to moral conviction. Brother Don Wildmon operated under the assumption that we (believers) were all on the same page with regard to what the Bible has to say about what is right and what is wrong. But he quickly learned he was wrong.
Christians in America were asleep in the midst of a declining culture. To these, the Bible was not the governing authority or the gatekeeper of morality; these Christians were just good people. They wanted to live peaceful lives full of church attendance and success defined as the American dream. They were neither stirred nor shaken by thoughts of the future or future generations. Brother Don learned that in order to call people to decency, we had to have some sort of measuring stick by which we could all align, but for many professing believers, there was no straightedge.
Nearly 10 years after the founding of this ministry, Brother Don pinpointed the greatest enemy Christians faced in calling the country back to decency: Christians. As he put it in 1986, "We are our worst enemy."
"There is a war going on unlike any war we have ever fought in our society," he continued. "It is a spiritual war, a war for the hearts and minds of mankind. Many Christians are either unaware of indifferent to that war."
In the 31 years following his observation, very few of us can claim ignorance. Today, what we have allowed on our watch is the result of indifference.
When Hugh Hefner died in September, to my complete shock and disbelief, Christians acknowledged him on social media with posts of "R.I.P. Hef!" I couldn’t conceptualize it. As a result of his disgusting contributions to sexual depravity, not only are millions of men and women addicted to pornography, but Christian men and women outpace those who are without God in this world. That's right. Not only are Christians included in the troublesome numbers of those who by every definition of addiction cannot stop viewing pornography, but they also (in some age demographics) make up a larger number of those addicted.
A Barna study conducted two years ago found, for example, that "18 percent of self-identifying Christian women view pornography 'a few times a year' – a rate that is higher than non-Christian women (15 percent)." Additionally, among the men surveyed, 12 percent of Christian men admitted to viewing it "at least once daily," compared to 10 percent of non-Christian men. In other words, a greater number of Christian men are viewing pornography daily than non-Christian men. And while our nation has largely ignored this week's White Ribbon Against Pornography (WRAP) awareness, Christians should overwhelmingly care.
We may shake our heads at the news that a Hollywood actor pleads guilty to child pornography possession charges. We may also read in disbelief that a week-long Florida undercover sex sting operation led to the arrest of 277 men and women. And we may pretend that sexual promiscuity and indecency have nothing to do with the Church. I would just remind you of Brother Don Wildmon’s words: "We are our worst enemy."
To our shame, "[m]ost pastors (57%) and youth pastors (64%) admit they have struggled with porn, either currently or in the past," a Barna report found just last year. "Overall, 21 percent of youth pastors and 14 percent of pastors admit they currently struggle with using porn," the report also pointed out.
When teenagers and young adults view "not recycling" as more immoral than viewing pornography, we have lost our ability to define decency. And when Christians can open the Bible app on their phones one hour and view pornographic images and videos on it the next, we're in a downward spiral. The believer must take the lead in pointing to that which is decent. We actually know what decency is. We shouldn’t ignore what is going on in the world, and we can’t continue to ignore what is going on in the Church.