As pornography seems to be getting more popular every day, churches seem to be at a loss as to how to deal with this problem. No one is exempt from the dangers of pornography. Males, females, youth, elderly, married, single, ministers, pastors and deacons can all get caught up in this sin. The problem really isn’t that Christians are justifying the sin of pornography. It is freely admitted by most that lusting with the eyes is sinful (Job 31:1; Prov. 6:25; Mt. 5:28; etc.). As someone who has been guilty of this sin in the past, I can tell you what I know and share some ways to defeat it for good.
First, we must acknowledge the problem and begin talking about it in a safe environment (Prov. 28:13; 15:22). Pornography is a major problem…not just in the “world,” but also in the church. Therefore, we need to quit acting like it doesn’t exist. I was counseling a young man not too long ago who is a leader in his youth group, holds Bible studies among his friends and is active in leading others to Christ. Yet, for years he has fallen victim to pornography and still does. He is struggling and doesn’t know what to do.
I remember when I began to learn of others I looked up to and admired who were open about their past or current struggle with pornography. Creating an open environment and discussing in detail with those who have overcome or are overcoming this sin will automatically produce hope in others (Ja. 5:16). Depending upon how addicted one is, he or she may need to seek professional counseling. There are also great sites with software that can help monitor your progress and hold you accountable (see: http://www.covenanteyes.com/).
Secondly, we must quit making excuses. I believe that pornography has become such an “excusable” sin because of the privacy of it. “I can quit anytime I want, I’m not addicted” is a popular excuse and one I used to use. Of course, if you could quit anytime you wanted then why haven’t you? “Well, the next time I will.” This is typically the repeated cycle. Commit the sin, say a prayer. Commit the sin, say a prayer…and on and on the cycle continues. Instead of getting help, the individual ignorantly continues to believe this time will be his last only to say that every single time he engages in this sin.
In reality, it isn’t necessarily just the viewing of pornography that is wrong, it is the lusting that takes place in the mind that is sinful (Mt. 5:28). Lusting in the mind can take place at anytime and anywhere. You don’t need a computer, a smart phone or a television. All you need is a mind that hasn’t been “brought under captivity to the obedience to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). “Everybody does it” seems to be the popular excuse today. In fact, some women have made excuses for their husbands. I once saw where a woman on a blog said that she doesn’t mind her husband looking up pornography because it is “natural.” She said that as long as she is his only sex partner she has no problem with it. While we need to acknowledge the weakness of our human nature and the weakness of those around us, we must also strive for self-control and realize the danger of downplaying this sin (Titus 2:11-12; 1 Thess. 4:3-7; etc.).
Third, we must realize the reality of our consequences. Unfortunately, one reason why some turn to pornography is because they feel that there is really no consequence. Especially as a teenager, it is easier to feel justified when looking up pornography because “at least you aren’t having sex.” No one has ever had to worry about getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant as long as they just view pornography or stick to camera chats. No worries about diseases either. Besides, you aren’t hurting anyone and nobody ever has to know. It is just a secret sin between you and you alone. There is really no consequence…or is there?
Christian teenagers often times find a more “righteous” outlet by sending pictures of each other because it helps them from “not actually go all the way.” Sadly, it is often these same teenagers condemning their friends for “going all the way.” In situations like this, I can’t help but think of the Pharisees because this is the same type of reasoning they used. Jesus pointed out that lusting is just as sinful as the actual act of adultery because it is a heart issue (Mt. 5:28). Jesus pointed out that one can’t lust in their heart or hate their brother while claiming they are righteous just because they haven’t committed actual adultery or murder. If one has sin in their heart/mind, then they are still wrong (Mt. 5:21-28; 1 Jn. 3:15). Yes, there may be different consequences, but there are still consequences.
For example, not only is there the spiritual consequence of realizing that lusting is a sin, but there is also the consequence of what pornography will do to the mind if not defeated. This can include but is not limited to the following: addiction, the way men view women, the way women view men, unrealistic expectations in marital relationships, desensitization to sexual abuse, cravings for more graphic material, depression, anxiety, paranoia, broken relationships (marital, friend, work), guilt, loss of job, etc. etc. (http://yourbrainonporn.com/physiological-and-psychological-effects-modern-day-pornography-2013). Furthermore, lust can end up leading to the actual act of sex (Ja. 1:12-15). One has never committed adultery in the body without committing it in the mind first. Take David for example (2 Sam. 11:1-27). His sin started with just some “innocent lusting” (2 Sam. 11:2-3). Then that lust led to the actual sexual act (2 Sam. 11:4). Yes, there are consequences and we need to realize them.
In conclusion, there are many answers and solutions to the problem of pornography (e.g., group counseling, professional counseling, internet software, accountability partners, proper education of the dangers, etc.). However, I believe the biggest barrier is ourselves. If you are struggling with this sin and want to defeat it, then do not try to do this by yourself anymore. Get help and get help immediately by letting someone know you are ready to defeat this sin. Until we are willing to openly and honestly discuss this issue, we will continue to have church members, leaders in our youth groups, preachers in our pulpits and elders at our churches struggling with this problem while at the same time acting as if it doesn’t exist. Let’s deal with this problem and let’s deal with it now.
– Kevin Pendergrass