I have decided to change the opening line of this post from “This post is for men only” to “read this if you use porn, it will help you build the desire you need to kick the habit.” Why have I changed the opening line? I’ve realised that many women use porn as much as men. If you are a woman struggling with porn use, this post might help, though it is written for men by a man. It might be better if you visit Dirty Girls, the new porn addicts which is written by women for women.
A Care newsletter this week states that an estimated 40% of UK internet traffic is pornographic and that the issue cripples Christian witness, because many Christian men and women are caught up in porn. These Christians feel their guilt and so can’t talk to others about leaving the ways of sin and following Christ their Saviour. Care is running a campaign to tighten laws on pornography, because if access to porn is restricted then men can’t use it. But the problem, as with all sin, is the human heart. God’s solution to this problem is the death of Christ for our sins and the affect it has on the hearts of those who believe. If men and women really get Christ in their heart, they won’t need to go looking for pictures of naked people.
What do you worship? A brief theology of pornography
Where does porn use start? The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 1 that God has made us to worship; humans are worshipping beings, and so everyone worships something or someone. The question is not whether we worship or not, but who or what do we worship? The surprising thing is this: according to the bible, the use of pornography is an act of worship. The emotions, feelings and desires generated by lingering over pictures of naked women (or men for gay or ssa men) are a mixture of sexual desire and worship, and worship comes before desire:
Romans 1:23 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man
For any man using pornography, the alarm bells should be ringing. Using porn is what happens to men when they stop worshipping their creator God. It is a straight swap: God gets kicked out and something made in God’s image takes God’s place. The bible tells us that human beings are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and so images of people attract our worship.
This worship of the human body is the start of a slippery slope, because it does not stop at images resembling mortal man (pornography) it continues to generate lust which, when acted out, leads men and women degrade and abuse each other in gross sexual acts.
Romans 1:24-25 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator
The heart of the matter is this: the use of pornography is idolatry (idolatry is the worship of something other than God). God hates idolatry (Exodus 20:4). If we worship naked people, we must then either face God’s perfect, eternal judgement or turn to Christ and live (John 3:36). It is as stark and straight forward as that. Having turned to Christ to escape God’s righteous justice for our worship of naked women (or men) we need to keep on worshipping Christ. Stay focused on him.
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 John 2:4-6 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
The war is won, now win the battles
There are three spiritual keys to fighting porn use.
First, if temptation to use porn arises, men must recognise it as an act of idolatrous worship and instead turn their thoughts to Christ on the cross, and worship him for dying in their place for their sin. Worship includes biblical meditation and prayer.
Second, active faith in Christ (hating sin and loving him as Saviour) makes sinners right with God. Jesus makes filthy, dirty sinners brand new, clean and pure; children loved by God.
1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
Think seriously about what John wrote and you’ll want to stay pure. Purified, justified sinners, won’t want to get filthy, dirty and guilty again. Imagine a clean, white England rugby jersey before and after a match with South Africa, or a Tottenham strip before a match with Arsenal (if you not British, think of a sports team that wears white). Before the game, the jersey is pristine, fresh out the packet, crisp, clean and sweet. Then 90 minutes later it’s stained, muddy, torn, stretched, sweaty and perhaps covered in blood. The amazing truth of the gospel is this: when we see with our eyes what Jesus did on the cross and our hearts are touched by his love and sacrifice, when we grieve the sin than made him go there for us and put our trust in him as Saviour, we become like a rugby jersey which has never been worn. Totally clean and good. That’s the amazing grace of God which saved a wretch like me.
Using porn only stains the people that God has made pure through faith in Christ, so be what you are in God’s eyes and don’t mess it up.
Third, men must realise that the battle is a spiritual one, as idolatry is a spiritual act, and so they must turn to prayer. When temptation begins to arise, ask God to deliver you from evil (Matt 6:13). Resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7), pray something like “Satan, I tell you in the name of Jesus, to flee from me, leave me alone.” Or, “Jesus, keep me from temptation”.
Walking in the way that Jesus walked comes about by the process of sanctification. Don’t expect to be instantly free from using porn. Practice makes patterns. Keep turning thoughts to Christ, what he’s done for you, what your new status before God the Father, because of Christ, pray, worship and adore Christ. Over time your worship of Christ will increase and temptations to worship with porn will diminish. Persevere for the sake of the gospel of Christ, he died for you so that others might know him as Saviour too (Romans 15:8). Live in the blessing of God’s good commands.
James 1:23-25 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law (who is Jesus, as he kept the law perfectly), the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.