If there was an elephant in the pews, you'd probably notice it.
And if you noticed it, you'd probably want to get it out of the church.
But there is one "elephant" that has been ignored by many churches for years, according to one online ministry.
The pornography "elephant."
"So many churches are so afraid to even talk about this issue," said Brian McGinness, a 33-year-old construction worker who recently attended a breakfast of "Porn and Pancakes" organized by XXXChurch.com, an online ministry created to get Christians talking about their X-rated addictions. "It's a dirty little secret."
Craig Gross, a pastor with XXXChurch.com, refers to the widespread use of porn as "the elephant in the pew" that many churches ignored for years because they didn't know how to deal with it.
"We realize churches want to talk about porn now," Gross recently told The Associated Press. "Even if they don't know how to, they've got to, because it's in every home."
And not just every home, but it's in the workplace and even in schools.
As an AP reporter recently noted, "Porn used to be relegated to a video hidden in the bottom drawer, or a magazine under the mattress. Today, it's part of everyday life."
And amid an increasingly sexualized culture, porn addiction in the church is escalating, according to a recent survey conducted by ChristaNet.com, a popular Christian marketplace website.
In the poll of 1,000 respondents, 50 percent of Christian men and 20 percent of Christian women were found to be addicted to pornography.
"We are seeing an escalation to the problem in both men and women who regularly attend church," concluded ChistiaNet.com President Bill Cooper.
And while 73 percent of U.S. adults – according to a 2006 survey – think that viewing pornographic websites and videos is morally unacceptable, Americans were estimated to have spent as much as $8 to $10 billion on pornography by 2003.
"Technology (the Internet) has allowed pornography to flood the market place beyond a controllable level," commented Clay Jones, founder and president of Second Glance Ministries, which partnered with ChristiaNet.com to evaluate the recent poll responses.
But as XXXChurch.com's Gross acknowledged, "We're not going to shut down the porn industry."
"It's a $13 billion-dollar-a-year industry in the United States," he said.
What believers can do, however, is be more conscious and active about the problem.
As embarrassing or as uncomfortable as it may be to talk about a problem that you would not typically associate with a churchgoer, the fact of the matter is pornography is a problem that does affect believers, and therefore affects the Church.
So as porn is becoming more easily accessible in society, churches have to make themselves more active and approachable to help lead believers away from temptation or deliver from evil those already fallen into temptation.
Closing your eyes to the problem won't make it disappear. But rather, like leaving an illness unattended, ignoring the porn problem could cause it to spread and affect an even larger portion of the body of Christ. Then, you might find yourself with not just an "elephant" in the pew, but a stampede.
Surveys like ChistiaNet.com's should encourage all churches to stop dodging and start tackling.