There's a Pink Elephant in the Church

Dr. Jay Dennis | Pastor | Friday, June 22, 2012

There's a Pink Elephant in the Church

There is a pink elephant in the church — every church; yes, even your church! The term "elephant in the room" has long been associated with something that is obvious, yet no one wants to admit or discuss. But what is this pink elephant in the church? Like an elephant, the issue is mammoth, even a pandemic. Pink is associated with women, so the topic focuses primarily on women. "In the church" defines the place one would least expect there to be a struggle of this magnitude. The pink elephant in the church is Christian men viewing pornography.

A majority of men in our nation are struggling at some level with viewing pornography. As leaders we know this is destroying marriages, negatively impacting children and silencing the male leadership in the home and church. But talking about it whether within the stained-glass walls of a traditional church building, a warehouse-turned-worship-center, or school-transformed-into-a-weekly-place-of-worship setting is uncomfortable. While many churches continue to fight wars about styles of music and preaching, this pink elephant is waging a silent war on men who love God, love their wives, love their children and love their church. It’s a brutal war, vicious in its intent and destruction, and taking prisoners from every church across America.

So how is the church responding to this battle for the souls of men? Mostly the war is being met with an obvious silence. Christian men looking at porn is embarrassing to broach, and awkward to discuss. Yet the casualties of war continue to escalate. So while pastors and Christian leaders fittingly fight the good fight for sacredness of life from the womb to the grave, the sacredness of the marriage vow between a man and a woman, hunger, poverty, injustice, human trafficking and exploitation, child advocacy issues and abuse, it is past time to look within our own churches and admit, “Pornography is a problem among our members.” The statistics are staggering. The church can simply no longer ignore the pink elephant any more than we could ignore the Bubonic Plague. The average age of a male’s first exposure to pornography is between 10 and 11. Many pastors themselves are personally struggling with viewing pornography with statistics indicating a range from 30 to 50 percent! There have been few surveys taken in churches regarding the number of people struggling with pornography, more than likely because we simply don’t want to talk about the pink elephant. Hoping this will go away or get better is hoping against hope. This will not go away and it will not get better if we remain silent.

Ed Stetzer (Lifeway Research), in a survey of 100 pastors in America, discovered, “When asked to estimate the percentage of men in their congregations who view pornography on a weekly basis, 43 percent are unable or unwilling to respond. Of those able and willing to estimate, a majority (62 percent) says less than 10 percent, 24 percent say 10-24 percent, 10 percent say 25-49 percent and 4 percent say 50 percent or more” [1]. The unawareness and unwillingness of a majority of pastors to respond to the survey is cause for great alarm.

We have answers. However, the freedom available as a result of applying the truth of Christ’s resurrection has been replaced with shame, guilt, and a sense of isolation among men in the church. If we are unwilling to admit the problem, the chains will remain. For Christian men who are struggling, there is no quick fix or one-time-commitment solutions. Neither are there age limits on this struggle. I talked with one 81-year-old Christian man who said to me, “I broke free at 80!” There is hope. Freedom is a process that requires discipline, accountability and personal responsibility, all virtues espoused by our Founder.

Perhaps we should begin by focusing within the walls of our churches and then as the first-century church demonstrated, to take the Good News to the culture with believability. What if one million men in churches of all denominations and sizes committed to living pornography-free and daily kept that commitment? What if one million women in those churches committed to praying for those one million men? When godly women pray lives are changed, the atmosphere is transformed, and truth has an opportunity to free.

Pastors, we cannot afford to remain silent anymore. The pink elephant is in the church and we need to address it.

Jay Dennis is pastor of the megachurch Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla., and is leading the charge to challenge 1 million men in churches of all denominations to live pornography-free lives and 1 million women to pray for 1 Million Men Pornography Free. For more information, go to

[1] David Roach, Pastors: porn a big problem among members, (November 10, 2011).

Publication date: June 22, 2012