Pornography in the Church

Pornography isn’t just something unpleasant going on in the world; it’s right at the heart of our churches. -Martin Saunders

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. -Genesis 2:24

Sexuality is one of the best and most powerful things God ever gifted humans. He created it to glorify his name and to illustrate how human life was to be lived—a beautiful expression of love and intimacy, male and female dwelling together in faithful harmony and joy. With the “Fall,” this precious gift, among many good gifts, was affected, wrongly redirected, and used for evil. 
Pornography is a twist or corruption of sexuality. “It’s not that wrong,” comes the smooth, persuasive voice. Evil opens a door and slowly shepherds the Christian mind to accept the horrifyingly unacceptable. “It’s not like you’re actually doing it; it’s just a mental exercise. No one gets hurt.” But, according to Grove City College professor Carl Trueman, it is a “deadly disease” that reorders the brain and destroys the possibility of having healthy relationships (UTube video, The Deadly Disease of Pornography ).

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. -Romans 12:2

Today, pornography is an epidemic destroying lives—hurting families, adults, youth, and children. Not only does it harm all those whose lives it touches, but, more importantly, it also destroys your faith and relationship with God.

Instead of calling it an evil, destructive force, we hear it is a positive experience for men and women. Polls reveal the appalling fact that roughly even over half of all church-going men use porn, with some pastors even promoting it as a good thing—as long as it is consensual.

Pornography falls within the Bible’s definition of sexual sin—in particular, by the Greek word porneia, from which we derive the word pornography. It is a one-word umbrella for all sexual sin, ultimately stopping the endless debate regarding whether this or that form of sexuality is an offense against God. It means, without exception, any forms of divergent sexual expression that fall outside God’s intended purpose. It is stated in the first book of the Bible (Genesis 1:17, 28; 2:4-24) and reaffirmed with unwavering consistency throughout both Testaments.

Jesus intensified God’s moral law by locating offenses first in the heart and mind: You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28). Every evil begins in the thought of it. If you yield to it, it begins a downward spiral leading to ever lower forms of perversion. 
 
The heartbreaking story that emerges in counseling is typically the same. What so many addicts discover is not only the progressive nature of the enslavement but also a sort of reverse hierarchy where there seems to exist a descending order into more darkness, despair, and shame.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. -Psalm 103:8-12

The Christian addict’s first impulse is to hide their involvement in pornography from their spouse, friends, and even God—just like Adam did in the Garden. They justify their actions by pretending to themselves that they aren’t really addicted or harming anyone—it’s just a phase. But when you have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, you have that overwhelming sense that “this is not right.” This is the Christian’s experience regarding any form of sinful thoughts, actions, or addictions. To ignore the voice is to take another step down the spiral staircase. The escape from this plight is through divine deliverance that is promised to us by a gracious and loving father through the death and resurrection of his son, our Lord and Savior.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. -Ephesians 4:32

In God’s eyes, all sin is sin. We can’t point fingers like the Pharisees and consider ourselves better than others. Christians are called to embrace Jesus’ plan of love and compassion and to help others out of their addictions. If you are consumed by pornography (or addicted to anything else), turn to your Father in Heaven, repent of your sin (as many times as it takes), and share your struggles with someone whom you trust.

 For he has not despised or abhorred    the affliction of the afflicted,and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. -Psalm 22:24

The exit from the cords of entanglement is recognition of your addiction, admission that what you are doing is wrong, and turning away in repentance, repeated as many times as it takes. Share your struggle with another Christian friend or two, family, pastor, or counselor. Join a group facing the same addiction, who meet regularly for Scripture study, prayer, and holding one another accountable. Talk only with people you trust. And walk away from those who encourage the addiction.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” -Jeremiah 31:3

In my years of counseling, I have seen people healed from this addiction—some miraculously overnight, some through the years. It is a difficult journey that needs God’s power. Call out to him, and pray constantly. Again, ask for help and accountability from someone you trust. Above all, remember that God loves you. He’ll never stop loving you, no matter how far you feel from his love. And he is the only One who can deliver you from this evil power. So don’t stop begging him for his rescue and mercy.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. -1 John 1:9

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Suggested Helps:

Resisting the Power of Pornography
How to Quit Porn Addiction: 3 Surefire Ways from A Christian Perspective
How I Overcame My Porn Addiction
Is Porn OK for Married Couples? 
Are We Failing Women in the Battle Against Porn?

 

-Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

John I. Snyder