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Read John Woodhouse's Indepth article Avoiding pornography's perils.

Read Archie Poulos' encouragement to men to look after each other, Porn: breaking the stranglehold

It is difficult to address the issue of pornography in Christian circles. Even discussing the subject can lead to suspicion and tainted careers. This week looks into a temptation to which Christians are not immune. We also find that Moore College is establishing a model for protecting Christians, their ministry and their relationships from pornography's perils.

The increasing availability of sexually explicit material available on the internet proves an enormous challenge for society. Society at large has never been more swamped with overt sexual imagery, and the ease and prevalence with which pornography can be accessed via a personal computer and a domestic internet connection means even Christians have a significant temptation sitting in their homes.

That Christians and those proclaiming strict family values are not immune from giving in to the temptations of pornography is evident in the recent scandal surrounding Family First Party member Andrew Quah. The 22-year-old was dumped as a candidate for the western Sydney seat of Reid last month after photos of him exposing his genitals appeared on pornographic homosexual websites and were emailed nationwide.

Although Mr Quah believes political opponents may have set him up, accusing them of altering aspects of photos and emails, he admitted to downloading pornography as recently as two weeks prior to the incident.

Early this month, another report surfaced of a Family First candidate confessing to using pornography.

University lecturer Ben Jacobsen told The Australian, “I have looked at internet pornography" but not for five years.”

While Mr Quah was dumped from the Family First ticket for his indiscretions, party leader Senator Steve Fielding said Mr Jacobsen would not be disendorsed as a candidate despite Family First's campaign against pornography.

“The candidate knows it was wrong and admits he made a mistake in the past, and I accept that,” Mr Fielding told The Australian.

Senator Fielding stated that he had dealt with the two candidates "immediately' and stressed that Family First still represents family values.

Dealing with such transgressions quickly and responsibly is certainly admirable but Christians must be vigilant about avoiding such sinful behaviour in the first place.

Moore College has turned its attention to the pornography problem that can and has infiltrated the lives of Christians, with the idea that prevention is better than cure.

Moore makes a difference

Moore College principal John Woodhouse has addressed College students in recent months and advised that the community is embarking on a partnership program to strengthen people against the assaults of internet pornography.

While some may assume that pornography should not be a problem for Christian leaders and that an intervention in this area is overly intrusive in an individual's personal life, Mr Woodhouse wants those in the Moore College community to care for one another and protect each other from pornography's temptations.

"First, pornography does hurt people. It affects your attitudes to something that is in fact good and wonderful, namely your sexuality," Dr Woodhouse says.

Dr Woodhouse even cites the secular press's reporting of the effects of pornography on society as proof of its dangers.

"Did you see the account in The Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year of a study that apparently demonstrated that pornography was bad for marriage relationships? The journalists seemed perplexed at such a finding. Most Christians, I think, were perplexed that the journalists were perplexed! Pornography does hurt people."

The stigma associated with pornography use and addiction, particularly in Christian circles, can make it difficult for a person seeking to break the habit to do so, according to Dr Woodhouse.

"The shame means that a person who has been or is suffering from pornography can find it difficult to seek help, indeed difficult to do anything that might suggest to anyone that he or she has a problem in this area," he says.'

However, Dr Woodhouse insists there is hope for such people.

"It can be a desperately lonely problem to have, although many will testify that the act of seeking help was the most liberating thing they have ever done."

Creating a a community covenant

Dr Woodhouse insists that Christians have a responsibility to do all that is reasonable to create a safe environment for those who live and work among them.

"Internet pornography is a serious problem in our environment that I believe we can do something positive about. In this world you can never create an entirely safe situation, but we can take steps to limit the power of potential dangers to people, and therefore potentially protect people from harm," he says.

In light of this, Dr Woodhouse wants to see the Christian community take steps to diminish the power of internet pornography and thus reduce its potential to harm people, marriages and ministries.

"We are inviting our community to join in creating a "culture' in which this force is largely neutralised."

Dr Woodhouse is asking all students and faculty to register and install a software program on their computers called The Covenant Eyes.

The software logs all internet sites visited by the computer and reports to a person nominated by the user.

"The internet has given the pornography pushers much more power because of the secrecy that it offers. By taking away the secrecy of internet use we will take away much of the power of the purveyors of pornography," Dr Woodhouse says.

"Involvement in the program is voluntary, and no one will be checking who has and who has not joined up. However, I am encouraging all to be involved to help us create a culture where this (the program) is "what we do around here'."

Mr Woodhouse believes he will have no trouble persuading those who have experienced pornography addiction that such measures are good and worthwhile, and he hopes that those who have never struggled in this area will still choose to be involved in the exercise.

"It would be naïve to assume that temptation will never touch someone, even while at Moore College. Second, out of love for others they can play a part in making this "what we do around here', so that it is that much easier for a struggling brother or sister to receive help."



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