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iBAHN-HotelRoom091A gentle word of warning for the thousands entering Orlando this weekend for next week’s Gospel Coalition Conference: what you do in the privacy of your hotel room can be a witness against the gospel. Seriously.

From Steve Farrar’s Finishing Strong:

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.

I wondered if this was not a bit of an urban legend of sorts, so I asked my friend Justin Holcomb to help me look into this phenomenon, and recalling from his own research, he wrote in an email to me:

I interviewed hotel managers about this when I was teaching in the sociology department at Univ 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.”

Friends, this should not be.

We may flood to the area hotels next month and outwardly demonstrate a solid witness for the gospel, and then put a black eye on the church, thinking viewing pornography in our hotel room is easy, confidential, and inconsequential. Will the church stun the managers of the Rosen Shingle Creek with its porn consumption next month?

If you believe you are susceptible to this, take precautions now. Secure a roommate, have your TV removed or stations blocked, whatever you have to do. Don’t assume now it won’t be an issue, especially since if you already have filters and accountability software on your personal devices, you may in the moment think viewing PPV porn is “safe.”

And of course you shouldn’t not view porn next week merely because you could contribute to a black eye to the bride of Christ. You should not view it any time because it dishonors God and because the joys of Christ and his gospel are stronger and more fulfilling than lustful indulgence.

Blessings, TGC’ers. Watch your life and your doctrine closely, because your private life gives public witness, whether you realize it or not.

And a final warning for those convicted by their succumbing to this temptation or the lure: Don’t give in to despair. Christ is for you. Repent and cast your cares on him, because he really does –  truly and really — care eternally for you.


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15 thoughts on “They Will Know You Are Conference Christians By Your Porn?”

  1. G A M says:

    Hmmm. Shouldn’t be looking at erotica period. But the privacy issue stunned me though. Very interesting. Thanks for the shock and awe hit.

  2. Sarah Gilliland says:

    This seems like a strangely light treatment of the serious sin of pornography viewing by professing Christian men. “Blessings TGCers…” sounds a little feminized to me. What about “And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.” Why all this soft tiptoeing around?

    1. A E says:

      What do you want them to say? Viewing pornography is a sin. Why do you seem to want to rank it higher than others? Furthermore, it isn’t just a “male” problem as studies have shown approximately 1/3 of pornography consumers are female. I don’t understand how you could construe this straightforward plea as “soft tiptoeing”. You seem to be confusing “civilized” and “feminized”.

  3. K-anon says:

    Might want to check out Sexaholics Anonymous.

  4. Worker says:

    I work at a major hotel chain front desk. We see when a guest has purchased adult movies on their checkout bill because a certain numerical digit appears beside those movie purchases. This is should not be a surprise to anyone. Nothing is really secret.

  5. In no way is this an endorsement of sin. In no way is this an endorsement of porn. But if my witness for Christ is banking on me than it was hurt before I even started my day. My witness is about telling people about Jesus. If the success of Christianity is based on how “better I am at living my life” then Christianity is a failure. The success of Christianity is based on how well Jesus lived His life and that He offers His life to sinners. That is our story. Jesus. Not us. This makes me sad, but it is not a shock to me that Christians are sinners to. The shock is when we Christians believe that we are pulling off this Jesus thing off. Let us forever be a people who point to our need for Christ. Jesus is not grossed out by our mud. As a matter of fact, muddy people are the exact kind of folks He came for. I wrote about being a witness here https://zackjamescole.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/whac-a-mole-episode-1-can-i-get-a-witness/…I hope it helps….I pray for everyone and I pray that you stand in awe of Christ and that God’s grace will overwhelm and capture you. Grace and peace to you all.

  6. supergerg says:

    This doesn’t even touch on the fact that the majority of the pastors that are attending those conferences are staying in those hotels on the church’s dime. In many cases then we can presume that the porn is being paid for by the church.

  7. So much for Christians having the mind of Christ.

  8. Ken McLain says:

    Great Article – Direct – God-Focused – Grace-Driven – Thanks Jared

  9. Paulie says:

    Do you mean to tell me that many of the thousands of Puritan boys who will flock to Orlando to hear John Piper and other TGC speakers may not actually be Desiring God more than they desire porn? Surely The Gospel Coalition’s STRONG emphasis on progressive sanctification will prevent such shenanigans. Surely.

    But really…it boggles the mind that an organization that has become OBSESSED with sanctification would even think of worrying about such behavior from within their own ranks. I am not going to concern myself with worrying about the situation. I believe that Reverend Dimmesdale will be on his best behavior.

  10. Ken McLain says:

    I left a comment on this article – thanking Jared for his post, but it does not appear here. I have let comment previously that did not appear. Is there a reason for that?

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      Ken, sorry. The only reason is that I manually approve comments and I’ve been on vacation and unable to keep up in a timely fashion

      1. Ken McLain says:

        No problem Jared – thanks for the response.

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Jared C. Wilson


Jared C. Wilson is the Director of Content Strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, and author of more than ten books, including Gospel Wakefulness, The Pastor’s Justification, and The Prodigal Church. You can follow him on Twitter.

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