Tag Archives: pornography

XXXChurch::Reaching the Porn Generation

23 Feb

By Amy Sondova J.R. Mahon isn’t your typical pastor. Instead of preaching at the same pulpit every week, Mahon bides his time talking at various pulpits. Some are in churches, others in conference rooms, and a few weekends he even stands on the showroom floor at pornography convention handing out Bibles to passersby. His flock is a bit different than most pastors across America. It includes Christians of all ages as well porn addicts, pole dancers, erotic movie makers, and more. No, J.R. Mahon isn’t your typical pastor; he’s a porn pastor, speaker, and writer with the XXX Church. I had the privilege to talk to Mahon about his work, pornography, and the affect of pornography on youth.

The X3 Church was starting in 2002 by Craig Gross and Mike Foster. J.R., your company, Gate Creative came in and became involved with the national outreaches that the XXX Church did—Porn Sunday, Porn & Pancakes, the Podcast, and all that stuff. So you were working with the XXX Church through Gate Creative, but how did you come on staff with XXX Church?

“When Craig and I met three years ago or so, it was like we were separated at birth. We thought the same way; we wanted to move the gospel the same way. So the Gate office went from doing a few things with the XXX Church to running every major outreach from the porn shows to the Porn Sunday and all that stuff. Finally, Craig just kind of looked at me and said, “Look, in order to grow this thing we need people to be attentive to this thing all the time.” And I agreed and we all came back to the table and said, “You know, God really wants this thing to happen so why don’t you come on full time. At that time I walked away from Gate as one of the primary owners became a consultant. Now my role is the guy who runs the thing day-to-day, a porn pastor, and one of the speakers of XXX Church.

What happened to Mike Foster?

“Mike is a builder and Mike’s got so many great things going on right now and one of this is ThePornTalk.com. It’s a great new resource for parents. Obviously, he’s one of the great creative forces and founders behind things like XXX CHURCH. As XXX Church got going and needed more attention paid to it, Mike saw the opportunity to build other great things. Ministry is what ministry is and the great thing is that people can keep creating and remain friends at the same time.”

Pornography is such a huge issue in youth ministry and with youth pastors. So, how do you, Craig, and the rest of the crew keep temptation at bay when you attend porn conventions?

“How do we stay pure at a porn convention? When we hit a porn show floor, we’re not looking to buy anything. We don’t want anything to do with the porn world but we want to bring Jesus—a big, fat light if you will—to those people that are walking that show floor or working that show floor. It’s a matter of us just truly putting our best foot forward with Christ and our faith, knowing that we don’t want what they’re selling but knowing that they need what we have to have.

A porn show is disgusting and ugly. There’s nothing glamorous or beautiful about a porn show when you’re inside of it. That reality quickly hits you. It’s like you’ve taken man’s nakedness, blended it in a blender and poured it out on the floor. There’s nothing attractive about it once it’s in front of you like that.

Now we’re not stupid. Yes, there are beautiful women there. Yes, there are beautiful men there. We have a huge sense of accountability while we’re there. If there’s one of those big flat screen monitors across the aisle from us that’s shoving out porn continually we’re all gonna say, ‘Hey, everybody, keep your back to that monitor or simple ways of diverting your eyes.

I say this all the time and people think I’m psycho when I say it. It’s easier to present the gospel of Christ at a porn show than at the mall in the regular course of the day. That’s because everyone at a porn show is out; they are out in the open amongst their sin. A homosexual can go and completely be free in being a homosexual, a lesbian, the same thing. A guy who’s struggling with porn can just go be free and go struggle with porn. A porn star that is caught up in her own or his own immorality can just be free and let it loose. That’s why it’s such a great area to go to share the gospel because all these ideas are out in the open for everybody to see.

The temptations that you think that are at a porn show are no greater than the temptations you would have standing at the magazine rack at a Target check-out counter while you’re staring at the National Inquirer or any other magazine that has naked chicks on the front of it.”

That’s a great answer…really. I mean, all the follow-up questions were just answered in that sound bite right there. So, now the XXX Church has grown to a ministry that includes information on those addicted to pornography as well as reaching out to those in the sex industry. Who are the people typically visiting XXX Church.com, what’s the demographic?

“Our audience is quarters. A quarter are struggling with porn, a quarter are literally just finding it because they’re searching for porn, a quarter of our audience are people who are involved in the body of Christ in some capacity—the leaders looking for help and the other part is just Christians who are checking out our site. We have a good Christian following, both for and against us. Generally speaking, the new people that are coming to XXX Church are women that are struggling with the issue and are trying to find a way out.

So women struggling with porn? I read that 1/3 of everyone struggling with porn are female. A lot of people would be surprised at that statistic.

“Yeah, I mean, there’s another stat that says 35% of the women out there are now admitting to porn struggles. The biggest groups out there struggling with porn are now women and the elderly. The elderly are struggling because of the proliferation of the internet and women are struggling because of the proliferation of the internet. The internet has done an absolute great job of launching this problem out into society.

Here’s something crazy that we just learned about. AVN-Adult Video News, a big company inside the industry, if you will-did their executive summary on the business—2005/2006 they actually said that video rentals, magazine subscriptions, DVD rentals, DVD purchases are down like 4% and the one area that was up 7% was internet sales. Now if you go a step further from that stat and understand that 12-17 year olds are the largest of users of internet, that speaks significantly to a generation of kids that are now growing up with porn in their lives and normalizing it in their everyday lives.

We’ve got a huge problem out there—not just men, not just women, but the kids are just getting killed with it. We are literally growing a porn generation; a generation that think it’s cool to have porn stars inside of their brains. Man, we always say we hate to think what marriage is going to look like in ten years. These 14-17 year-olds are gonna get married in 10 years and God knows what’s going to happen to marriage.”

What I like about X3 is that you don’t simply just offer information about pornography, you offer solutions. You don’t just point your finger and say, “Hey you! Don’t look at porn!” you offer a way out of a life addicted to porn or a career wrapped up in producing porn. You have the X3 Watch, which once downloaded onto one’s computer, monitors his or her web activity. Questionable site visitation is then e-mailed to an accountability partner, is that correct?

“Yeah, correct. And it’s free accountability software, too. Here’s what’s funny about X3 Watch. We’ll get millions of hits a month on the site, but we only have 600,000-700,000 downloads of the software. People understand what the accountability means. For us, that stat should be in the millions, but it’s not. We’re always pushing accountability. If you’re a Christian man or woman out there and you don’t have accountability for what you’re doing online, you need to get it today.”

You guys also have something called the Esther Fund the offers financial support to men and women leaving the sex industry?

“The Esther Fund is set up specifically for people in the business that need out. The thing is that when you’re in the business and you want out, the first conversation you have with yourself is, ‘How am I gonna pay the mortgage? How am I gonna pay the rent? How am I gonna make my car payment?’ Porn has afforded a lot of people interesting, if you will lifestyles by way of money and things. A lot of times that’s hard to shake when you’ve built up your life and worth around stuff.

So the Esther Fund says, ‘Hey if you want out, we can help you by getting you some cash, getting you employment, maybe getting you some rehab if you need it by physically meeting your needs right off the bat. Then we can have those conversations about God and Jesus and church and faith and all those questions that need to be answered. Yes, people need the prayer and good counseling and they need to get off drugs and off the booze. But there are physical needs that need to be met if you’re gonna get out of porn. The Esther fund is a great way for us to answer back to the business that we really do want to help.”

That’s powerful. I love that. I think out of everything that’s one of my favorite parts about your ministry. The XXX Church is still met with a lot of criticism from churches. In fact, it was in your book, Starving Jesus, that XXX Church’s biggest critics are Christians themselves, which is certainly confirmed by the hate mail on your site. So often it seems that the church fails to see what you’re doing as missional, so let me ask—how has the church failed the sex industry?

“The church has definitely failed the sex industry. Here’s what’s going on—the last thing we want to talk about at our churches is sin. No one wants to get up in our churches on Sunday morning and talk about sexual immorality or alcoholism or lying or cheating or stealing or name-sin-here. All we want to do is park our nice cars in the parking lot and get out with our nice clothes and smile our toothy grins at everybody and ‘Praise the Lord!’ and hold our hands up and make sure our neighbor saw the 50 bucks going into the bin. Then we call it a day and go home so we can drink our booze, yell at the wife, and kick the dog and make sure nobody sees it. But the bottom line is that if you’re not getting out of your pew and back into your community and praising the Lord, then you’re full of crap.
I’ll say that and you can write that and people will get all mad at me, but that’s the truth.

Until the church gets that sin is dirty, they will continue failing the sex industry. I think the best way the church can combat its failure is by simply opening up their mouths on Sunday morning and looking back at their congregants and being able saying, ‘Where are you with the porn issue? Are you watching it? Do you know somebody who is watching it? Is it already in your house? What measures are you going to take to keep your family accountable?’ If you want to shut the porn industry down, it’s not about picketing, petitions, prayer meetings, dinners with people speaking. It’s about the American church being accountable with what they are watching viewing and buying.”

Going along with what you’re saying, youth workers often encourage their youth to remain pure—in thought and deed. However, some youth workers see nothing wrong with eating at places like HOOTERS, what do you think about that?

“If our youth workers and leaders are eating at Hooters, there’s a problem. That’s all there is to it. I say this all the time–The American Church needs to pull its pants up. But if our youth workers are going to Hooters to eat food, that’s just stupid. If someone says they’re going to Hooters for just the wings, that’s garbage.”

I’m right on with you. Okay…so one of the reasons the Youth Ministry Exchange wanted to talk to you, J.R., is because we want to be open with youth about issues of pornography, masturbation, and sexuality. What’s the best way for a youth worker to initiate this type of conversation with his or her youth group?

“It’s real easy. This is real simple. It’s just bringing it up and saying, ‘Hey, who’s watching porn?’ Youth workers would do their groups justice by sitting down with a group of young people and saying, ‘Who’s looking at porn? Is porn affecting your life? How is porn affecting your life?’

We know that 12-17 year-olds are the largest users of internet porn. This is a fact. This isn’t going away. With that said, nothing like a Wednesday night to crack that bottle up and say, ‘What’s porn doing to you all?’ Youth workers are in the perfect position to start rolling these conversations out. We need to say that rolling out a generation of kids addicted to porn is wrong.”

I’m pretty thin-skinned, so when I get criticized a lot, it hurts. What happens, when those of us who aren’t thick-skinned, receive criticism for talking to youth about porn? Do you have any encouragement for us?

“Yes, when you’re a youth worker, so there’s an authority you have to answer to and that you have to have respect for, but I would also encourage you to have those voices behind closed doors when it comes to the authority and the leadership of the church. What I mean is that you’re constantly fighting for the youth. So as a youth worker I would really hope because there’s a passion for the youth and what they’re looking at, hearing, ingesting, that we would stand up behind closed doors and say, ‘Hey leadership, elder board, we need to talk about this!’ and not stop until something gets done about it. Twelve to seventeen years, the largest users of internet porn, are getting slaughtered.

A lot of people at YMX are really excited about this interview with XXX Church. And we want to know–what are some things that youth workers can do support your ministry?

“Youth workers can support our ministry in a couple ways. The first and foremost thing is by prayer. We ask everyone to pray for the families that are connected to this ministry and the people that we touch or the people in the industry. The second way is to be able to take the bullhorn for this problem and take it to your church. Also, we’re a parachurch ministry, so we don’t have the basket going around every week if you will. So we ask people to do fundraisers for XXX Church—the money will go to either buying Bible for porn conventions, the Esther Fund, or keeping the lights on here at the XXX church office.”

Also, hosting events, booking speakers…

“Absolutely. We speak every weekend. Bring us in!”

Anything you’d like to add?

xxxchurch.com. If you’re struggling with porn, go to our website instead of struggling alone.”

J.R. Mahon is also your typical 40 year-old male, who loves his wife, adores his three children, and plays fetch with his two black labs. He’s an active member at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI. He listens to Keith Green, reads John Steinbeck, and has an older brother. Mahon’s dream is to end the nightmares of others, and he’s running into hell on earth to rip others from grips of pornography, sexual deviancy, and spiritual complacency.

Print copy of article.


Pornography Raping Minds of Parkland Students

27 Jan

Imagine my surprise seeing one of the local high schools being “featured” on major news networks–for spreading student porn via their cell phones. Yes, Parkland High School (PHS), a proud and robust establishment with an excellent academic, athletic, and arts program is the scene of a scandal (full story).

The pornographic material includes one female student engaging in sex with an unidentified male and the other image is one a girl sent of herself exposing her breasts. Officials say that the images had only been transmitted to about 40 students, but they’ve got to be kidding. The pictures were sent a few months ago, so I can only imagine all the places in the world they’ve been by now. Students have until Tuesday to have the images deleted off their phones or they could face prosecution.

By the way, did you know the school’s mascot is “the Trojan”? Yup, the Parkland Trojans. I’m sure that causes a few giggles because of a similarly named brand of condoms.

Having worked with kids who have graduated from or attended the high school, I have been to the campus of PHS many times. It’s a nice, clean school with normal high school kids from affluent neighborhoods. People are balking at the teens and shaking their heads in disbelief that something so heinous could happen at PHS.

First, if this is what the students are sending each other via pics messages, what do they send each other online? I mean, maybe PHS should start taking a look into their students’ MySpace accounts. Oh, wait, they probably don’t care unless it happens on their campus. Believe me, what parents could find on their own computers is much worse (and on the computers of some of Parkland’s teachers).

Second, this is what some high school kids do and they think it’s funny. While I believe the behavior is unacceptable and should not be tolerated, what do we expect in a culture that bears all on television and movies? And what do we expect when parents allow their kids to watch all that crap without explaining that type of behavior is scandalous? Plus, we’re a culture of sex, and this is one more example of how teens are products of their culture (read my post “It’s a Sexually Explicit Day in the Neighborhood” for more of my thoughts on this topic.).

Third, I hope this helps Parkland and other high schools to start educating teens about pornography and sexuality. I used to volunteer for a pro-life organization and part of my job was selling merchandise. I had these bumper stickers that read, “Pornography rapes the mind.” At one concert event, I sold out of these stickers, which was awesome because it raised money for the organization. Then I realized the kids bought them so they could rip out the words “pornography” and “rape” to stick on each other. It made me puke…literally.

Let’s get serious in teaching teens about pornography and sexuality (even abstinence). Stop putting off that important talk and start tackling these issues with the teens in your life today…or we’re going to have much bigger scandals than this in the high schools throughout our nation.

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