Porn's pitfalls

You can join the fight without being tainted yourself.

B. W. Hambrick pastors the Church of the Nazarene in Logon, West Virginia.

Several years ago in a moment of inspiration that came during a sermon, I said to my congregation, "There are some unbelievable things happening around us. It is time you took a look at the books and magazines appearing on the racks in your grocery and drug stores."

Believing that I should practice what I had preached, I began to investigate for myself. I was not prepared for what I saw or for what I experienced as a result of my research. The events of the next few months changed my life.

I was horrified by what I found. On almost every rack, magazines like Playboy, Penthouse, Oui, and Forum were dis played in plain view, without protective coverings, and in easy eyeshot and reach of children as well as adults. These magazines showed not only nuditywhich the old "girlie" magazines offeredbut were suggestive of sexual intercourse, bestiality, sadomasochism, and homosexuality.

My research took me further. With the materials being sold in the groceries and drugstores this shocking, I determined to find out what was being sold in hardcore pornography outlets. I found in these places an unbelievable assortment of sexually explicit materials. Not only were there magazines pandering to every imaginable sexual perversion, but books that described everything from Sex. 100 Different Ways to manuals on the seduction of children. There were also displays of sexual aids, from artificial vaginas and penises to ropes, chains, and ointmentsthe collection seemed endless.

The shock was certainly one important aspect of my experience. However, more important was what the porn was doing to me. First, although I was morally opposed to the materials, I still found them sexually stimulating. Second, I was never satisfied with what I had found. Although I wasn't sure why, I wanted to see what else was available. Third, throughout the process of researching the problem, I felt guilt, more guilt than I had ever experienced before. Finally, though I had seen the magnitude of the problem, I had no platform for telling what I had seen, nor would I have dared to tell its effects on me. I felt that telling what I had done and what I had seen would endanger my credibility as a minister and my credentials to preach.

So for more than seven years, as hatred for porn burned within me for what it had done to me as a minister and as a Christian, I wrestled with the question of what I could do about it.

Then one summer I received an invitation to the National Consultation on Obscenity, Pornography, and Decency to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio. There I learned that what I had experienced while examining pornography is common to almost all men who become involved  in iteven those who fight against it! When you deal with porn, it is easy to be destroyed by the moral disease you are fighting. At that consultation I also discovered that there were otherspastors, politicians, prosecutors, feminists, psychologists, and physicians who were angered by pornography and what it was doing to individuals and to society. There I learned what others were doing and how I could fight pornography in my own community.

Since then I have spent many hours praying, writing letters, and preparing speeches and sermons against one of the worst blights our society has known. After I preached a series of sermons on pornography and similar social issues, my own congregation became involved. They were instrumental in seeing a retail chain pull pornography from six of their stores and several other individual merchants stop selling porn.

God used me to help establish a local chapter of the National Federation for Decency (NFD) that now has more than 50 active members. Our local newspaper published a five-article series I wrote on their editorial pageswith an unbelievably positive response from the entire community. Two merchants in the city pulled their porn as a direct result of the articles and the public outcry. I am privileged to be working with our mayor and city council to see an anti-porn law passed for the city. The local NFD chapter is working with the county government to see additional laws passed for the county, and with the law enforcement officials to see that the current laws are being enforced.

These efforts have not been without incident. Within the first 24 hours of each of the newspaper articles, I was contacted by two of the pornographers in our area one by phone, the other personally. There were unkind words and threats. Some people I have great confidence in were very vocal in their opposition to what I have been doing. But it has been worth it. We are winning the battle in our area as it is being won in communities all over the country.

I'm glad that God would not allow me to remain silent on this cancer of society any longer and that He helped me gain the expertise to fight effectively for morality and decency. Here is how you too can join in combating the moral decay brought on by pornography:

1. Contact the national organizations involved in this battle for information about the pornography issue. Four of the leading organizations are: National Federation for Decency, P.O. Drawer 2440, Tupelo, Mississippi 38803; Morality in Media, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, New York 10115; Citizens for Decency Through Law, 2331 West Royal Palm Road, Suite 105, Phoenix, Arizona 85021; and National Christian Association, P.O. Box 40945, Washington, D.C. 20016.

2. Attend a seminar such as the National Coalition Against Pornography, held in Cincinnati, Ohio (write P.O. Box 24K, Cincinnati, Ohio 45224), or one sponsored by one of the other national organizations. Doing so will allow you to see and hear what is happening in the porn industry in a clinical setting rather than having to go to the pornography outlets personally.

3. Preach sermons about our apathy toward this social evil and the destruction that has come as a result.

4. Use your influence to get other ministers involved with you to fight the battle locally.

Even if you have to go it alone, you can make a difference.

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B. W. Hambrick pastors the Church of the Nazarene in Logon, West Virginia.

July 1989

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