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Smartphone generation 'raised on hardcore porn,' church must address coming 'tsunami': expert warns

Smartphone generation 'raised on hardcore porn,' church must address coming 'tsunami': expert warns

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Due to the ubiquity of smartphones, the up-and-coming generation has been “raised on hardcore porn to a level that’s never been seen before,” and there will be a massive “reckoning” within the Church if the Body of Christ fails to address this issue, the head of an addiction recovery program has warned. 

“We may think that the porn situation is bad now, as we’re seeing pastors like Ravi Zacharias come out, but this younger generation has been raised on hardcore porn to a level that we've never seen before,” Ted Shimer, founder of The Freedom Fight, an online addiction recovery program, told The Christian Post. 

“The Bible tells us that we're going to reap what we sow. Those of us who work with college students, we’re seeing porn addiction like never before. These are our future Christian parents, mothers, fathers, church leaders. If the church doesn't deal with it, there's going to be a massive reckoning that is unfortunately not going to look well on the name of Christ.”

Shimer, who has mentored young adults for nearly three decades with the collegiate ministry Student Mobilization, said the rise in porn addiction is directly related to accessibility to technology. In 2007 — the year the iPhone came out — Shimer and his wife and ministry partner noticed a significant increase in porn addiction among young people.

“We really identified pornography and addiction to it as the single biggest obstacle to our vision and mission of building spiritual leaders for Christ,” he said. “So in 2007 is when we really took a deep dive into this topic.”

Shimer revealed that he’s heard firsthand accounts of children — both boys and girls — becoming addicted to pornography as early as seventh grade.  

“When a mom hands her seventh grader an iPhone, she's not realizing she’s handing her child 24/7 access to pornography,” he said. “And yet, that's what's happening. It’s the private access at such young ages that’s really the driver behind why we're seeing so many young people with such deep addictions. It’s getting worse every year. It’s a massive, massive issue.”

Statistics show that Christians — and even church pastors — engage in viewing porn at almost the same rates as the secular world. And the problem is particularly relevant given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with Pornhub and other sites “capitalizing” on the lockdown, Shimer said.

“This is such a massive issue in the church, and we need more people who understand it and are equipped to help others break free. Because this next generation of believers that are going to be entering the church — I promise this is going to be a huge issue in their discipleship. If we haven’t been equipped to address this effectively, we’re going to be offering shallow and ineffective solutions.”

Shimer acknowledged that talking about porn in the church is “awkward, uncomfortable, and surrounded in shame,” but stressed that it’s “not going away.” 

“Pastors and church leaders need to address it with effective, Gospel-centered, scientifically-informed solutions because it’s not simply going away,” he said, adding that only 7% of churches say they have the resources to assist their members with this addiction.

To help equip parents and church leaders to fight this epidemic, Shimer’s organization, The Freedom Fight, provides a free program that can be used by individuals, small groups and churches. 

Shimer has also penned an accompanying book, The Freedom Fight: The New Drug and The Truths that Set Us Free, where he explores the destructive nature of pornography and examines its six root factors. He also identifies biblical, practical methods to overcome porn addiction and find true freedom.

“When addiction is only dealt with on a certain level, it's more awkward and shaming than it should be,” he explained. “When we start understanding it from an addiction factor and look at the brain science piece and address it from a holistic and discipleship standpoint, we become more equipped to deal with it.”

The forward to Shimer’s book is written by Josh McDowell, who has dedicated a considerable amount of time and use of his platform to address the issue of pornography.

When it comes to combating sex addiction, Shimer offers a method based on scientific research and God's Word called B.R.A.C.E.: Breath, Remember the truth, make an Accountability Call and Escape the temptation.

“It’s a simple and yet powerful tool that has really been effective,” he said. “Temptation doesn’t always have to be your downfall. It can allow you to build a new pathway and a new direction, built on God's Word. Through this book, I want to both educate and equip.” 

The father-of-four also encouraged parents to have the “porn and sex talk” with their children at earlier ages, warning that the “world will fill in the blanks if we don’t.”

“It’s important for parents to show the relevance of the Scriptures and use God’s Word to frame the topic of sex,” he explained. “Jesus wants us to have an abundant life. The thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy, and that's what we are seeing with the negative consequences of going outside of God's boundaries.” 

Parents and church leaders, Shimer added, must understand the “brutal reality of pornography and how it impacts a person's brain and impacts their relationships, their marriages, their spiritual life.”

“But there is a pathway to freedom, and addressing this issue in the Church is an opportunity for revival,” he added. 

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