Fort Wayne is often called the City of Churches. These days, many people add, “and strip clubs.” With a church for every 700 residents, one might conclude that the number of clubs featuring nude or semi-nude women would be on the decline, but the Summit City now sports 11 establishments with topless dancers. That’s one for every 23,000 residents, or roughly 4.4 clubs per 100,000 people. To place these numbers into perspective, consider that, per capita, Fort Wayne’s strip joint ratio falls somewhere between Las Vegas and San Francisco.
Perhaps this can be explained by the fact that the most heavily attended church in town is St. Mattress, a.k.a. Bedside Baptist, with an impressive two out of three residents in (non) attendance. But is it quite that simple? Are people in Fort Wayne oversexed because they don’t attend church?
Alarmingly, many statistics point to a more obvious trend: American Christians are addicted to virtual sex. The following is a much quoted excerpt from Finishing Strong, by Christian men’s leadership icon, Steve Farrar: “A number of years ago a national conference for church youth directors was held at a major hotel in a city in the mid-west. Youth pastors by the hundreds flooded into that hotel and took nearly every room. At the conclusion of the conference, the hotel manager told the conference administrator that the number of guests who tuned into the adult movie channel broke the previous record, far and away outdoing any other convention in the history of the hotel.”
Justin Holcolm, a Seattle area pastor, author, and sociologist, recounts some of his own research into the subject: “I interviewed hotel managers about this when I was teaching in the sociology department at University of Virginia. All managers said that porn rates increase during conferences in general. That’s normal because they have more guests. A few admitted that it seems to be the same or a bit more when Christian conferences come to town. One manager was a Christian and he said a line I’ll never forget: ‘Unfortunately, ‘they know you are Christians by your…porn consumption’ is more truthful than ‘love’ when it comes to this.’”
There exists a statistical consensus that says at least 50% of Christian men view pornography, and that somewhere between 30-50% of church leaders view porn at present. The Barna Group notes, “29% of born-again adults in the U.S. feel it is morally acceptable to view movies with explicit sexual behavior.” The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said that the Internet was a significant factor in two out of three divorces.
There have been many high-profile Christians and leaders from the greater Fort Wayne area that have fallen sexually in the last twelve months. There have been multiple pastors carrying on serial affairs as if God couldn’t see or didn’t care. How can the bride of Christ be so given over to the flesh? Because the American church is like Lot, sitting in the gates of Sodom. And what does the LORD say that Sodom’s sin was? “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49) Believers in the U.S. are full-bellied and proud. We spiritualize luxury, seeking after prosperity rather than purity. We occupy ourselves with Christian entertainment and Christian subculture, rather than Bible study or outreach.
The time has come for Christians in Fort Wayne to start doing the work of the kingdom. The harvest is coming soon; how much fruit are believers able to bear in the Corn Belt if we’re wrapped up in porn? We should be pulling our weeds, tilling our soil, and watering ourselves with the word, for the branch that does not bear fruit will be thrown into the fire. (Matthew 7:16-20)