I just returned from a Regional Summit of the IMB at FBC Arlington. The closing panel asked for prayer that more men would become Journeymen, as presently women outnumber men 2 to 1. The startling fact was revealed that about 50% of male applicants are turned down . The primary reason is the use of internet porn. In fact, the problem is so pervasive that the application question has changed from "Have you ever used internet porn?" to "When was the last time you used internet porn?" A repentent attitude demonstrated by a significant time of "abstinence" would allow candidates to still be considered. I think this is a wise stance.
However, all this got me to thinking: You mean past use of internet porn won't bar you from the mission field, but a private prayer language will?
An Unnamed Pastor
Let me be the first to say that I am in complete agreement with the work of our candidate consultants of the IMB and the modification of the questionnaire regarding the past viewing of internet pornography. I have learned in over a quarter century of pastoring that some of the most valuable servants in the kingdom are those who have been truly broken of their private sins of the past.
However, the pastor's specific question to me was "You mean past use of internet porn won't bar you from the mission field, but a private prayer language will?"
I think it would be good to understand the new policy, adopted by a majority of the IMB trustees, but opposed by the IMB President, on November 15, 2005 regarding a 'private prayer language.' Point four of the new policy prohibiting a private prayer language states (emphasis mine):
In terms of general practice, the majority of Southern Baptists do not accept what is referred to as “private prayer language.” Therefore, if “private prayer language” is an ongoing part of his or her conviction and practice, the candidate has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the IMB of the SBC.
The pastor's question seems to indicate he thought that somebody could serve as an IMB missionary having viewed pornography on the internet in years past, but a missionary candidate would be rejected if he had used a private prayer language in the past. In other words, he seemed to think viewing pornography was treated differently than using a private prayer language.
That's not so.
Viewing pornography and using a private prayer languages are treated the same. You may have viewed pornography on the internet in the past, and you may have prayed in a private prayer language in the past, but you must renounce both, in terms of 'conviction' (i.e. 'it is wrong') and in terms of practice (i.e. 'I will not do it again).
So, under the new policies both pornography and a private prayer language are seen as similar activities from which a candidate can be forgiven, redeemed, and ultimately restored. I am making no comment or statement in this post on whether or not these two activities should be treated the same, just an observation that they are treated the same as far as the screening process goes. Both pornography and a private prayer language are treated as activities from which a person must repent in order to serve as a Southern Baptist missionary.
I trust that answers the pastor's question.
In His Grace,