By Jonathon Van Maren
Earlier this week, I spoke to a pro-life banquet in the little Saskatchewan town of Estevan, population 10,000. It was one of those prairie small towns where everybody knows everybody, where many people still live within shouting distance of where they were born, and where the local pro-life dinner was advertised everywhere from the leisure center to the storefront window of the local pharmacy. Both radio and TV reporters were at the dinner—160 people is a big crowd for Estevan, after all—and a local family sang a few beautiful songs accompanied by the violin and piano.
After I finished my speech, I took a few questions from the audience. One question from an elderly woman near the back of the church struck me as I considered it. How, she asked, do we find the hope to keep going when so many things in our culture seem to be going so wrong? With online pornography threatening our churches, marriages, and communities—I’d addressed that threat early on in my speech—and governments across the country that operate with contempt for parental rights and freedom of speech, how can we avoid despair?
The answer to that is a simple one: We don’t have a choice. Many decades ago, perhaps we did. We could raise our kids, go to church, build our own Christian schools, and the government would largely leave us alone. Ensuring that our homes remained porn-free could be as simple as some serious conversations and a decent sweep under the beds and through the closets once in awhile. Nobody demanded that Christian schools change their curriculums to advocate for unchristian ideas or lifestyles, and nobody demanded that people either approve of the latest progressive project or be damned as a bigot.
But that was then, and this is now. While Christian communities minded their own affairs, fundraising money for their schools and organizing church events and raising their children, the progressives were hard at work transforming the society around us. Now, progressive politicians in some provinces are determined to force Christian schools to implement curriculum that lauds unbiblical lifestyles, or face possible shutdown. Christian politicians are accusingly interrogated by progressive journalists as to whether or not they still believe in traditional marriage. Anti-Christian politicians demonize social conservatives in order to tar squishy conservative politicians with the same brush. Insinuations, if not assertions, are made in the press that to hold to the Judeo-Christian values of the last two thousand years makes you a hatemonger.
And then there is online pornography. As I said in my speech in Estevan, if Christian communities fail to get out in front of this threat, nothing else will matter. It is impossible to exaggerate the scale of this plague: in 2016, 4,599,000,000 hours of porn were watched on PornHub alone. That translates into roughly 524,641 years worth of porn—or 12 porn videos for every man, woman, and child on Planet Earth. Porn is poisoning our Christian schools. I know—I speak in these schools, and I talk to the students, and I get their emails. Many of them start looking at porn around the sixth grade. Many of them have seen their view of girls and women transformed. Some of them hate themselves for it.
Porn is infiltrating the churches, too. Over half of evangelical pastors surveyed admitted to looking at porn in the past month. Marriages are collapsing at an unprecedented rate, as young men raised on a diet of porn enter relationships they are not equipped to sustain, poisoned by the selfishness and twisted ideas about sexuality that they have consumed virtually since childhood. Again, I could tell you dozens of heartbreaking stories that I have heard firsthand from young men and women who saw their fairytale collapse under the weight of ugly pornographic fantasy. Porn is ruining the churches, communities, and families that we rely on. Without them, what do we have? What would we have left?
We under attack from both without and within. From without, left-wing governments are presenting us as hateful, misogynist, homophobic wretches who deserve nothing but social contempt and should be driven from the public square. Listen to what our leaders are saying, and listen closely: They are laying out the justification for the abrogation of parental rights. Some, like Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP, are already saying that children need to be shielded from their parents. From within, the toxic waste oozes from the glowing screens of cell phones, tablets, iPads, laptops, and computers, ruining our souls and our capacity to love and sacrifice. These things are happening here, and they are happening now.
And so what choice do we have? I have a beautiful little daughter, and I want her to be able to attend a Christian school just as I did in British Columbia, and my wife did in Alberta. I want her to be part of a thriving church community, and to be able to grow up and find a partner unpoisoned by pornography if she should decide to. But in 2018, I can’t take any of those things for granted anymore. These things used to simply happen—now, they must be fought for tooth and nail. These threats are not going away. They are growing.
So it is not hope that we need, not really. At least, that’s not the most important thing that we need. What we need is resolve, determination, and the awareness that for traditional Christian communities, these battles are existential ones. We fight because we have no choice. As Golda Meir once noted, we do in fact have a secret weapon: No alternative.