The peril of porn

Pornography is addictive, but there is hope to break free.

Pornography is the global elephant in the room. We all know it exists. We refer to it in conversation, often jokingly or in passing. But generally it is much easier to leave it as the ‘Great Unspeakable’. An issue best left alone, and perhaps it will go away.

The facts about porn

Porn isn’t going away. It’s growing bigger.Online pornography

The latest stats are disturbing.

  • Every second 28,258 people view porn
  • The global porn industry rakes in $4.9 billion annually
  • Porn sites comprise around 12% of the internet
  • Two-thirds of Australian men admit to viewing pornography
  • One-third of all porn users are women
  • 64% of Australian children learn about sex from pornography

Why is porn a problem?

In our hyper-sexualized culture, porn is increasingly seen as normal, and perhaps even good.

But far from being helpful, porn provides false intimacy and destroys the fabric of real human relationships.

Dr. William Struthers, an American biopsychologist, says:

“Repeated exposure to pornography changes the way our brains see each other. Repeated exposure to any stimulus results in neurological circuit making. Pornography is the consumption of sexual poison that becomes part of the fabric of the mind.”

Porn addiction

Porn literally rewires the brain to a state of sexual hyper-sensitivity. This means that a person will crave increasingly explicit and exciting sexual images. A seriously addicted person can spend hours and hours at a time viewing image after image, often late into the night, ever searching for the one experience that will truly satisfy their longing. But that satisfaction never comes, and so the process is repeated within a day or two. Dr. Struthers quite reasonably suggests that pornography addiction is biologically and practically similar to cocaine addiction.

Porn is inherently destructive. It destroys marriages by driving a relational wedge between spouses as one begins to prefer porn to actual sex, and the other feels like they cannot compete with the computer screen. It destroys singles when they become trapped in the cycle of pornography, inhibiting them from healthy relationships with the opposite sex, and forcing them to deal with the guilt and shame of leading a double life. It objectifies the women and men who act in porn films, and supports an industry rife with corruption, sexual abuse, drug abuse, sex trafficking and suicide. And most seriously, it destroys relationship with God through worship of a twisted counterfeit of the good gift of sex, instead of the gracious Giver, God himself.

The sin issue

More than anything, pornography is sexual immorality, idolatry and an offense against God.

In his judgment of the nation of Israel, the prophet Jeremiah struck right to the heart of their sin, and is entirely applicable to pornography.

My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (Jeremiah 2:13)

Any sexual immorality is an attempt to find ultimate satisfaction in something other than God – the fount of living water.  Pornography is a ‘broken cistern’ that cannot hold water, and the water it does hold is poisonous sewage. Drinking from it will never satisfy – only destroy.

But more than this, viewing pornography, whether frequent or infrequent, is idolatry. It takes a good gift of God – sex – and distorts it into something detestable. God takes such things seriously and we need to take it seriously too. Paul provides a dire warning to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

There is hope!

Thankfully, the story does not end there. Paul continues in verse 11:

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Those who are in Christ need not continue to live enslaved to porn, but can experience true freedom! We have been washed, sanctified and justified by Christ’s sacrifice. He paid for all our sins on the cross, including pornography. He offers us a relationship with Him that transforms our entire life, including our sex life. Through the Gospel we have a new identity and a new way to live – as redeemed children of God.

God calls us to repent and turn from all our sin, and strive for holiness and purity in all areas of our lives.

A hidden life

However, I know from experience that in a dark place repentance does not seem to break the cycle of sin. This is because sin thrives in darkness.

Porn is generally kept hidden from others, as part of a secret life. Indeed, the very thought of our sin coming to light is enough to provoke terror in our hearts.

But this is exactly what needs to happen! Sin has to be brought out into the light. James says that we should “confess [our] sins to one another and pray for one another, that [we] may be healed” (James 5:16). Sin out in the open loses much of its power, and can be much more easily dealt with.

If you are reading this and you are hiding the sin of pornography, then bring it to light!  It will probably seem like the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do, but be of good courage. You might tell your community group leader, a pastor, a Christian friend or mentor, a Christian therapist or psychologist, even your spouse. Tell someone you trust and who knows you well. This won’t be the only step towards freedom from porn, but it is the first.

The time is right now to declare to yourself and God, ‘Here and no further!’

Helpful resources

XXX Church
Covenant Eyes
Captured by a Better Vision – by Tim Chester
Wired for Intimacy – by William Struthers
Porn Again Christian – by Mark Driscoll

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