This article was originally published on December 15th, 2016.
For January’s 2017 Minimester at Church of the Atonement, we will learn about a worldwide industry with estimated annual revenues of $97 billion. That’s according to Kassia Wosick, assistant professor of sociology at New Mexico State University. The industry is pornography. It is a huge maze of legal and illegal enterprises that mutually serve each other to exploit and distort human sexuality for profit. Pornography is a worldwide enslaving enterprise.
No one is immune. And “immune” is the term to use because pornography, like tobacco or heroin, is both addictive and destructive. Its disastrous effects extend beyond the users to the most trusting and innocent. Pornography is toxic to the soul, the mind, the body, and to everything good in human relationships.
The days are long gone when porn consisted of dirty pictures peddled by greasy vendors in seedy neighborhoods. Porn is on the leading edge of communications technology and enhanced graphics. Telecommunications giants are leading porn providers.
The purpose of the 2017 Minimester, simply put, is to foster purity at Church of the Atonement. Purity is beautiful, godly, and freeing. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” This goal will not be accomplished by spending four weeks denouncing porn. No, we want to strengthen our congregation as individuals, families and a corporate body: To resist pornography personally, to communicate with and support others who are vulnerable, exposed or prone to pornography, and to oppose pornography outright.
Since last July, a team from Atonement has been working to put the minimester together. Members include Peggy Cairns, Teri Centner, Mike Kenney, Dawn Molloy, Carol Parent, and Seth Philbrick. They’ve assembled a strong curriculum, expert speakers, and great resources that can serve to reshape our understanding of pornography and how we respond to it. Here is our outline for each Sunday.
Jan. 8 — The Brain on Porn: Porn as a public health crisis and the effect of porn on the brain. Our guest speaker will be Haley Halverson, Director of Communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
Jan. 15 — The Impact of Porn on Relationships: How porn affects attitudes, sexual function, and relationships. Our guest speaker will be Kevin Schick, Director of Emmaus House Counseling, Fourth Presbyterian Church.
Jan. 22 — Our Children and Pornography: Ways to protect our children and youth from exposure to porn. Ways to prepare them to recognize porn and how to respond when they are exposed. Ways parents can speak with children who are exposed to porn. (As a companion ministry to this session for our adults, Children and Family Ministries and the Atonement Youth Ministry will provide complementary, age-appropriate instruction to our children and youth. Parents are being consulted.)
Jan 29 — The World on Porn: How porn feeds into sex trafficking. Our guest speaker will be Candace Wheeler, Founder and Director of “Restoration One Ninety-Nine.”
At the end of each of the four sessions, you will be given “next steps” that you can take to learn more, to foster purity in your own life and the lives of others, and to become part of the active resistance to pornography.
In complementary fashion, throughout our minimester, our sermons will underscore how the great truths of God’s Word speak directly to pornography. We know them the creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.
Let’s pray for the 2017 Minimester, participate together, and promote purity at Church of the Atonement. It’s a matter of safety and health. It is for Christ’s honor!