Nashville, Tenn. | The first Leadership Summit hosted by the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission kicked off this afternoon at the SBC building in Nashville. The meeting of 180 church leaders is focused on how the Gospel applies to human sexuality, especially in a culture that’s changing fast.
“So many of the questions that pastors grapple with today deal with situations that would not even have been possible a generation ago,” ERLC President Russell Moore said when the summit was announced a few months ago. “As technology advances and the culture changes, the questions that we have to grapple with are often increasingly complex.”
The meeting’s first speaker, Heath Lambert, tackled one of those digital age issues with a keynote address on pornography. Lambert, executive director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and a professor at Southern Seminary, said porn is a “silent killer” in churches.
“I think that pornography represents the greatest moral crisis in the history of the church,” Lambert said. It is “something that evangelicals can do in a dark room behind a shut door after they’ve railed against homosexual marriage and talked about conservative theology.”
Redefining marriage is a threat to the church, he added, but “a greater threat to the church today is the Christian pastor, the Christian schoolteacher, the Christian Bible college and seminary student, who exalts sound theology, who points to the Bible, and then retreats to the basement computer to indulge in an hour or three of internet pornography.”
Using Proverbs 7 as a backdrop, Lambert likened pornography to the Scripture passage’s “forbidden woman.” The Bible gives strategies for dealing with sexual temptation, and the church should too, he said. But the first call is to cling to the Gospel.
“I’m pleading with the church to have practical strategies…but those behaviors won’t be enough if we are not teaching people to draw near to Jesus Christ,” Lambert said.
He closed his message with three charges to church leaders concerning pornography: First, pursue accountability. 75% of pastors are accountable to no one for their internet activity, Lambert said.
Second, address your people. “If your job is to preach the whole counsel of God, here it is,” Lambert said. “You’ve got to talk about it. If we do not share this, if we overlook it, it’s folly. It’s foolishness.”
And third, awaken the world to the problem. “Evangelicals have tenderly and tenaciously taken up many causes…I want to ask that together we would begin to take up this cause, that we would begin to say, ‘Enough is enough.'”
Marriage, purity, human trafficking, and pastoral care for sexual sin are among the topics the Leadership Summit will explore through large-group sessions, breakouts and panel discussions. Check back here for updates, and watch it at live.erlc.com.