Among clergy, a 2009 study conducted by Texas Tech University of 460 male ministers revealed over 20 percent accessed pornography at least twice monthly. Older statistics on Christian clergy showed anywhere from 35 to 50 percent of ministers consider pornography a personal struggle, whether currently or in the past.
As Christian leaders these stats don’t really tells us anything we don’t already know. Porn is a significant issue for both Christian men and Christian leaders alike. And that’s just about pornography. This says nothing about our sexual integrity struggles with prostitution on business trips, strip clubs, affairs, masturbation, unbridled fantasy and checking out the sexy jogger in the rearview mirror.
At some level sexual integrity is challenging for all of us…. (13)
In Unburdened: The Christian Leader’s Path to Sexual Integrity, Michael Todd Wilson begins to address these challenges and provides guidance for those who happen to be Christian leaders and are seeking greater sexual integrity. Rather than asking “Do you struggle with sexual integrity?” he asks “How do you struggle with sexual integrity.” He takes an approach which recognizes that sexuality is an inherent part of our humanity and that at least some part of our sexuality has been marred by the fall. However this book doesn’t just say “change!” This book encourages Christian leaders to find growth in light of God’s grace.
Wilson encourages Christian men to take small but intentional steps toward integrity. He encourages men in leadership to take the risk of forming relationships with safe men who can encourage them toward greater sexual integrity. He encourages the reader to learn from others who have experienced victory in this area. He also encourages honesty and confession.
Ultimately what I like the most about this book is that he encourages the reader towards a grace-based approach rather than a duty/works based approach to growing in integrity. He argues that doing the right thing simply because its what we ought to do or because we feel guilty won’t sustain lasting change. He says that we need to be motivated by grace and not law. We need to be fired up by a passion for what’s right rather than merely the call of duty. His Grace-based approach is what makes this book stand out above other books about sexual purity.
I highly recommend this book for any Christian leader who wants to grow in their sexual integrity (there is always room for growth). But the group I would most highly recommend this book to is small group leaders (especially of men’s groups). I can see this resource being used to great effect in men’s small groups or as a resource being used to equip small group leaders who are constantly faced with the sexual integrity issues in their small group.
Note: I received this book courtesy of IVP in exchange for an impartial review.