Last spring I had the opportunity to attend and speak at a breakout session at the National Center for Sexual Exploitation Global Summit in Washington D.C.. Leaders from organizations all over the U.S. and the globe gathered to learn, collaborate and discuss strategies to put an end to all forms of sexual exploitation. Sex trafficking, prostitution and pornography are all heads of the same monster and are destroying lives.

I was particularly grieved to hear from one of the speakers about the date rape epidemic happening on college campuses. She gave several examples, from disturbing slogans on T-shirts and banners hanging from frat houses, to very specific stories of girls being raped while unconscious. In one particular instance, guys put special bracelets on girls as they came in the door of a frat party as a signal for their drinks to get spiked with a date rape drug so that they could have sex with them later while they were unconscious. While shocking and disturbing, this is only the tip of the iceberg. The perversions coming down the pipeline are nothing short of frightening and demonic.

When you look beneath the surface of this growing violence and abuse, you find that we are facing a porn epidemic that is unlike anything the world has ever seen. What’s more disturbing is how violent and perverted porn has become, and yet how widespread and accepted it is. We are only just beginning to see the effects of a generation that has grown up being assaulted and infused by the porn industry. Research shows that the average age a kid sees porn for the first time is 11. According to a survey by Covenant Eyes, 93% of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to Internet porn before the age of 18. Shame keeps many kids from saying anything, and as they keep watching and get in deeper and deeper, that destructive seed gets nurtured and grows into something very destructive. Kid on kid assault is increasing all over the world as kids act out on siblings or neighbors what they see in porn. Porn trains boys to see girls as sex objects rather than people to be valued and treated with honor and respect. And while not every person who looks at porn is going to act out in violence, what has become very apparent is that we are seeing the devastating effects of a pornified culture.

The Church must awake to the enemy’s schemes and sound the alarm so that we can take seriously the high calling we’ve been given to walk worthy of the calling we’ve received in Christ Jesus. The enemy is devouring hearts, but God is coming after them to redeem and restore. You and I must not lose sight of the spiritual battle we are in and the truth that Jesus is the solution to every evil in the world.

Perhaps some of the most lasting grief for me has come from watching even those so adamantly speak out against the effects of pornography, remain so blindly adherent to the philosophy that opens to door to its use. I can’t get out of my mind the tentacles of Satan’s teaching, his false philosophy, on “freedom”. This root is not being touched. Many who hate the porn industry, trafficking and other forms of exploitation, at the same time adhere to moral relativism. Many in academia applaud women standing up for their self-worth, while teaching students that there is no such thing as absolute truth and that right and wrong are subjective. The recklessness and danger of abandoning all logic and truth, blind to the connection between this philosophy and the evil and oppression in the world, is tragic. Underneath the reckless abandon is the false belief that moral relativism produces “freedom” for all. People believe that sexual “liberation” and the pursuit of pleasure at any expense leads to freedom. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rom. 6:16. That pervasive lie, from the Father of lies, is unleashing all sorts of hell on earth.

It is a troubled history repeating itself. The book of Judges is the history of God’s people neglecting God’s Word and turning away from His commands to do what they want in the name of “freedom”. Judges 21:25 says, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” God kept sending judges like Deborah and Gideon to rescue His people from their enemies and lead them back to the Lord. But the downward spiral continues, and by the end of the book something grotesque happens (see Judges 19). The truth is that everyone doing what is right in their own eyes does not lead to greater freedom and happiness, it leads to the exploitation, destruction and oppression of people. Proverbs 12:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” In other words, not every path leads to God or to life. Lots of people are on the path of their truth, their choosing, but the Bible says if it’s not God’s path, in the end it will lead to death. This is weighty. There is too much at stake to embarrassed or afraid of speaking God’s truth in love. Souls are at stake, and lives are being crushed by the devastation of sin.

The Church has always been God’s plan A for redemption in the world. The Church has by no means been perfect. We are saints who were former sinners, who still have the capacity to be deceived and walk in the flesh. But it is important to understand that in the wake of The Church what you find are orphanages, hospitals, schools, freedom fighters and much more. This is because of the Spirit of God who indwells His people and fills them with love, compassion and a passion to see righteousness and justice fill the earth.

In the time of Rome, perversion and depravity was the norm. The Romans valued pleasure above all else, and they put no restrictions on their appetites. Excavated household items like bowls, cups and utensils, reveal drawings of all kind of sexual acts, many very obscene. Pedophilia was common. Nero had a young boy, named Sporus, castrated and then married him. This was not an uncommon practice in that day. Seriously, anything went, no matter how barbaric and grotesque, and sadly the women, men and children who were the sexual objects of the day, suffered immensely. When the Christians came along, they had entirely different values on sex and marriage. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Paul told the believers, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God” (I Thess. 4:3-5). He also reminded them that their bodies were “a temple of the Holy Spirit” (I Cor. 6:19). Many of the early Christians were coming out of that lifestyle, which is why Paul talks so much about sexual immorality and the need to flee from it and pursue purity. The Holy Spirit lives in us and we’ve been called to walk in the light and in purity. We’ve been called to love one another and lift people up, not use them to get our desires met. As Christians, we believe that every women, man and child has inherent value and dignity because they are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27).

We must heed the warnings of the apostle Paul to not be deceived by the many false teachings and philosophies of the world. In America, as I’m sure elsewhere, we tend to bottle up things that are evil and package them as light. Scripture says the days are going to get darker before Jesus returns. We are not to put our hope in anything but the Lord. The enemy counterfeits everything God does. We must be committed to doing things God’s way, and to know God’s way we must be men and women of the Word, cherishing God’s every word and holding it close to our heart. He is leading the way to life and happiness, or as God puts it, to “love life and see good days” (1 Pet. 3:10).

The good news is that Scripture says that where sin abounds, grace abounds more (Romans 5:20). We have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to overcome sin. Many men (and women) who have been in bondage to porn and sexual immorality are walking in freedom. Men are telling their stories and encouraging others to walk in freedom. Bringing light into the darkness. It will take a commitment to fight and rigorously renew, re-train, the mind (Rom. 12:1-2), and it will take accountability (James 5:16). We cannot walk in real freedom alone. Let’s encourage each other to not grow weary doing good. Let’s keep fighting the good fight. Let’s keep encouraging one another to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1). Let’s continue to fight oppression and injustice with spiritual weapons like prayer, obedience, and grace. Let’s be a voice of truth is a world of lies. Light in an ever-darker world. May the Word of God, not empty philosophies, be the “lamp unto our feet and the light unto our path.”

You are so loved by God, and He wants you and I to walk in abundant life today. Let’s press on!