This past summer I was invited to speak to the British House of Commons about the impact of exposure to sexually explicit material on children. Premier Christian Media, an organization that is lobbying for legislation designed to protect children from Internet pornography, extended the invitation. The legislation under consideration targets Internet service providers, and requires them to include a default option to filter sexually explicit sites when enrolling new subscribers.
My research on first exposure to pornography indicates that most children inadvertently access it, and rarely disclose this to their parents. Premier had asked me to share this research and frame it alongside brain development research. As a disciple of Christ, I would be able to advocate for protection of the innocent in this historic place. When the Q & A was finished, I caught a glimpse of London through the conference room window. I discovered I was at the top floor of Parliament, and the sight was breathtaking. I remember reflecting that Christ is Lord even in this place of international influence and power, and we are commanded to be his disciples wherever we are.
Soon after I returned from London, I left for Thailand to meet with two kindred spirits—Jim ’79 and Judy Olson Larson ’81. Their ministry, Servantworks, is located in Bangkok and was created to give Thai women in the sex industry an escape, and an opportunity to support themselves with dignity and honor. During my time with the Larsons, I encountered the beauty of Thai culture. I also watched the Larsons grapple with how to embrace the Great Commission in urban and rural communities devastated by the sex industry.
At the end of my trip, I visited two interns working with Youth with a Mission’s MST Project in Thailand. Michael Campanale and Scott Minter share the gospel with men soliciting prostitutes in the red-light districts of Bangkok. We ate together, then headed to the world’s largest outdoor sex market, Nana Plaza, where we spent the next hour on a prayer walk. We navigated the raucous three- story plaza praying for the men and women, and ended at the top floor of the facility. I looked down and saw the refuse from the sex industry littering the tin roofs of the lower levels. I was struck with sorrow, but aware that even there, our God is at work. From this top floor, so very far removed from Parliament’s top floor, I could see that there are disciples waiting to be made. I was encouraged by the heritage of those faithful to Wheaton’s mission even in these dark places.
I suppose it is easy to get lost in the views of the world—to be enamored or to despair. My guess is that is why Christ’s last instructions were clear: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20, NIV).
Dr.William Struthers has conducted extensive clinical research in the area of compulsive sexuality and pornography use. Author of Wired for Intimacy—How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain, Dr. Struthers recently conducted a seminar at the House of Commons titled “What’s the Harm? The Impact of Pornography on Adolescent Brain Development.”