Since 1983, Jerry
R. Kirk, founder of the Cincinnati-based National Coalition
for the Protection of Children & Families, has led efforts
against child pornography, adult obscenity and sexual exploitation.
NCPCF is an alliance of representatives from businesses, foundations,
citizen-action groups and faith groups working to educate the
public about the effects of pornography and the sexualized messages
of the culture. At 72, Kirk, an ordained Presbyterian minister,
still works full time for the organization. He recently spoke
with Evangel News Editor John W. Kennedy.
PE: By some estimates,
pornography has grown to a $10 billion-a-year business in this
country. Is there any way to stop it or at least slow it down?
It’s actually grown to $10 billion to $15 billion in America
and close to $50 billion worldwide. Because I believe in a sovereign
God and a victorious, risen Savior, I believe there is a way
to slow it down. There is not a way to stop it because of the
sinful nature of man and how deeply pornography appeals to something
inside of people. But the power of the Holy Spirit can touch
individuals and lead them to have passion for sexual purity.
We know of victories in marriages and congregations. But we
think we can win a whole lot more.
PE: Local citizens
in Cincinnati have effectively limited pornography, both on
cable TV and in video stores.
Cincinnati has done far more than that. Since 1983, the Cincinnati
coalition has closed down all adult bookstores, X-rated theaters,
X-rated videos and escort services in 16 of 17 counties. The
coalition is still the strongest in the nation and 95 percent
of “soft-core” pornography has been eliminated.
PE: Is it simply
a matter of a community’s will to make this happen?
People are dependent on community standards, but during the
[previous] administration [in Washington] there was almost no
prosecution of obscenity. Subsequently there has been a desensitization
of the population that has made the prosecution of pornography
much more difficult. But coalitions are emerging and growing
in places like Salt Lake City, San Diego, Dallas, Memphis, Atlanta,
Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Long Island. If they will commit
themselves to sexual purity and help build a broad-based, diverse
coalition, they can still win in many, many areas.
In recent years has the federal government stepped up its fight
Yes, we’ve been working with the director of the Child
Exploitation and Obscenity Section (in the Department of Justice)
and we’ve met with the attorney general. They are committed
to tackling this problem. It takes 18 to 24 months to build
a case — gathering the information, bringing it before
a grand jury, and then making an indictment. They’re working
on indictments in various parts of the country now. The pornography
industry is clearly aware of their efforts and has pulled back
in significant ways.
PE: What are the
dangers to society and the church if pornography is ignored?
The addictive nature is the first danger, to laypeople and pastors.
Teenagers are among the largest consumers because of the availability
of pornography on the Internet. It’s not just pornography
that has desensitized our population. Consider the false messages
of pornography — sex any time with anyone in any way you
want and it has no negative results; women only have value from
the neck down to satisfy the sexual desires of men; marriage
and children are the enemies of good sex; all relationships
are sexual. All these messages are now promoted every night
on regular television, on cable and satellite programs, in the
majority of movies, in a massive amount of music lyrics and
in a lot of mainstream magazines. This desensitization has led
to the sexualizing of America. We believe this is Satan’s
primary strategy to destroy the family, and to undermine people’s
passion for the gospel, evangelism, worship, the study of Scripture
and prayer. It is absolutely critical that the body of Christ
rise up and commit itself to sexual purity.
PE: How has the
First Amendment and the right to privacy been used to license
The First Amendment has never protected adult obscenity, child
pornography or material harmful to minors. They are all still
illegal. It’s a smokescreen to say this material is protected
speech. The laws are on our side, but they aren’t being
enforced in many venues. They won’t be enforced unless
citizens rise up and join together and reasonably, but passionately,
communicate to their elected officials that they want the laws
enforced and strengthened.
PE: How are children
being robbed of innocence in a culture awash in inappropriate
The average youth of America sees 14,000 sexual images a year,
and less than 2 percent have anything to do with abstinence,
self-discipline or sexually transmitted diseases. In the Cold
War the communists taught us that if you tell a lie often enough
and passionately enough, people will believe it. Non-Christian
kids and Christian kids alike are being brainwashed.
PE: What can churches
do to combat pornography?
We have materials at the National Coalition that help a pastor
know how to lead a congregation to make sexual purity a priority
for the whole church. We have developed materials that help
parents talk to their teenagers about sex. Christian young people
need help. How often do they hear from the pulpit or from their
Sunday school teacher or their youth leader about the importance
of sexual purity in such a way that engages them openly and
honestly about what they think? The materials are available
through our Web site: www.nationalcoalition.org and www.filterreview.com.
been in this fight a long time.
I was first exposed to what pornography does to people as a
pastor. I counseled men who were having affairs, women who had
been molested as girls but never told anybody, and teenagers
who had been raped or who had sexually transmitted diseases.
Indignation rose up in me and I couldn’t believe the degradation
of these pornographers and the way they were using sex as a
means of seducing and destroying lives. I had to do something
about it and looked for the people of God with whom I could
partner in battle.
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