“Don’t lust in your heart for her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyelashes. For a prostitute’s fee is only a loaf of bread, but the wife of another man goes after a precious life.” (Proverbs 6:25-26)
Sex sells. That trite saying has not lost meaning over the years. Sex sells and it sells everywhere and to anyone willing to consume. Some people consider prostitution the oldest profession. Today, we still have prostitution--selling your body sexually for financial gain--though mainly in the more acceptable format of online pornography.
One thing’s for certain, if you are looking for sex, you don’t have to look far nor do you have to look for long. The porn industry has made itself into an establishment worth over a billion dollars. Men and women, old and young, most people have encountered porn in their lives. Children as young as seven had laid eyes on the sexual content. In the past, dial-up internet and dirty magazines inside sketchy shops were once the only ways people accessed porn. Now, we can simply open up our smartphones in the privacy of our homes to find explicit content. No wonder young children find themselves face-to-face with porn.
Like the rest of the world and our communities, Christians have been affected by the rise and accessibility of adult content. Porn has given way to addiction, broken-down relationships, and led to many of us misappropriating God’s gift for man and woman.
“Marriage is to be honored by all and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.” (Hebrews 13:4)
Porn puts on full display what occurs in the privacy of a marriage bed. Not only that, porn showcases sex between people who aren’t married, and does not encourage them to do so.
Therefore, if porn is against God, then we as Christians must be against porn. Before we can act though, we need to know some things first. Here are 5 things every Christian should know about pornography.
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1. Pornography Is Addictive
“‘Everything is permissible,’ but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible,’ but not everything builds up.” (1 Corinthians 10:23)
Unlike prostitution (in most places), porn is legal. There are some studies that show porn reduces rape. Others advocate for porn as a way of discovering what people enjoy physically.
While people can make their cases for supporting porn, the industry has a very apparent consequence - one that some still deny. Addiction.
Much like prescription or illegal drugs that stimulate the body, porn too has a very strong effect on human physiology. Not only is the body stimulated, but the brain is greatly impacted as well. Viewing pornography leads to dopamine (the pleasure hormone) being pumped immensely.
Making the problem worse are these three traits of pornography:
Affordability - porn can be acquired and downloaded for free
Accessibility - find images and videos on any device able to link to the Internet
Anonymity - no one has to know what you looked at or for how long
For Christians struggling with pornography addiction, we have to keep in mind that the bad habit doesn’t make anyone a bad believer. There could be faith issues at play, but some of the problems are definitely physical. Much like a sickness, we fight illness with medication and healthy behaviors.
And much like a habit, we break the bad ones by replacing them with something good. Porn affects men and women, tho0ugh mostly men. Either can become addicted but the solution remains the same.
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2. Pornography Creates Objectification
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness, how deep is that darkness.” (Matthew 6:22-23)
If the eyes are the lamp to the body, then pornography must have a profound effect. One example would be the objectification of other people. Viewing pornography does not help us see others as fellow image-bearers of God. When we look at the people on the screen, we don’t observe humans with likes and dislikes, hopes and wishes.
In pornography, people’s bodies are tools used by each other and the viewer for physical pleasure. There is no care for them as a person.
Imagine what those actors must go through, especially the women, after leaving the industry. Do men pursue them for genuine relationships? Do they come across as people loved by their families, or raised in a two-parent home? Do they struggle with loneliness and purpose?
All of these are questions that break the process of objectification. The more we see people as people, the more Christ-like we can treat them.
3. Porn Creates Isolation
“One who isolates himself pursues selfish desires; he rebels against all sound wisdom.” (Proverbs 18:1)
The anonymity of pornography allows for a great deal of isolation. Porn is not mostly viewed in the company of others, but in the privacy of homes when people are by themselves. This sense of isolation separates us from community with others and from God. The more we consume pornography, the more we lose confidence to go out and meet people. Those desiring a spouse may opt for porn instead.
We may even give up on fostering friendships that we currently hold. In isolation, there will be a growing sense of selfishness as we put our “pleasure” before others and God.
Christians should and must choose differently. Just like Adam, God does not want us to be alone (Genesis 2:18).
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4. Pornography Separates Us from God
“I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
No matter who porn affects, man or woman, child or adult, the outcome is the same. We feel separated from God, spiritually, emotionally, even physically. Though this is not true, that is the consequence of sin, especially habitual deliberate sin.
God has not called us to be apart from Him. His Word makes clear, He wants us in community, sharpening one another through word and deed. Moreover, God wants us to worship Him in the same manner. Porn steals away the time we could spend praying, serving, and all other good deeds.
If we don’t want to be separated from God, we have to end the isolation that porn creates and seek connection instead.
5. Pornography Can Be Overcome
“No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
While every idea on this list is important, there is no doubt that overcoming addiction is difficult. Ask anyone recovering from alcohol, food, and yes, porn addiction. They can attest to the “hunger” or “itch” you feel. Even when you want to do the right thing, sometimes you don’t. Even when you want to say yes to God, sometimes you don’t. The flesh wins, but this does not have to be true.
Christians struggling with addiction should know that God promises a way out. He will provide you with the wisdom needed to change, and the accountability to get you there. That being said, we also have to remember, we have a choice. God does not force us to follow Him, we made the choice.
He can guide us to sobriety, but we have to say yes. If you are a Christian struggling with pornography, then say yes to God today and believe--pornography can be overcome.
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Originally published Thursday, 23 September 2021.