A word of warning for the thousands entering Chicago next month for The Gospel Coalition Conference: what you do in the privacy of your hotel room can be a witness against the gospel. Think this is unwarranted?
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.
My friend Justin Holcomb helped me in looking into this phenomenon, recalling from his own research 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 Chicago hotel managers 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. Thinking longer term, utilize Internet filters or accountability software, or seek out help with a pastor or counselor if you need it.
And of course you shouldn't not view porn next month 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.