[a pike is a medieval spear]
I wish I could say that I never looked at pornography. Most of my exposure was ancient and before the days of online porn. I bought a couple of magazines, and I went to 5 movies. Not sure why I can remember that number from about 36 years ago when I can’t remember where I parked the car but…, there you go.
I love/hate pornography. Love it because like most men I have a male drip of testosterone the size of a fire hose soaking my brain with sex. What’s the old joke? Men think about sex every 30 seconds? (That’s when you’re young and virile. At 57…!)
But I hate porn–especially the DIY online version, because it simplifies lust and makes it so convenient. Like earlier versions, it too mocks God (Ephesians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5). I hate porn because it destroys. And for the record, doesn’t deliver any better than a slimy salesman in a cheap suit who talks too fast.
I’m preaching on Revelation 12 right now which showcases God’s antagonist, the devil hisself: dragon, angel of light, accuser, demon commander, people abuser. And liar. You can’t believe anything he says. Like, “God’s depriving you of the good stuff.” Puh-lleese! It’s the same tired line he used on Eve. Thousands of years later it’s still the best he can do: “God is against you, I’m for you. God’s trying to limit your fun, your future, your fulfillment. Run with me and I’ll make all your dreams come true.”
Lies. Try selling that garbage to worn out veterans of crime, drugs, and indiscriminate sex. Lying is the native language of the father of lies (John 8:44). What tells more lies and is more deceptive than pornography? Savaging marriages and destroying children, men, and women for fun and for profit. Statistics a couple of years old put the pornography industry proceeds at over $13 billion just in the US (and about $100 billion worldwide). The volume is understandable when 70% of men 18-24 are watching porn at least monthly. That includes 50% of the men in churches and 20% of the women. Tragically, pastors are watching too. And in every shadow of the porn empire lurks the devil.
Hidden by night’s darkness, a user caresses his mouse in a monitor’s low glow and buys the lie again and again: click, click, click. Various states of undress, intertwined bodies doing things he has only ever fantasized about, makes the heart pound, the pulse race, and promise…
…what’s ‘s never fulfilled. Lies. Finding no enduring satisfaction the user keeps upping his dose: more time, more sites, more exploration, more hardcore. Maybe this time, maybe this site, maybe this woman–or man, will show him something he’s never seen before. Something that will make his quest worthwhile. He hopes.
Of course it never does. Ever. But there’s always tomorrow.
The preacher of Ecclesiastes could have easily been a porn user: I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. (2:10). Looking back he admitted his indulgence brought him nothing but emptiness. Satisfaction sought in pleasure never satisfies. The real thrill of married intimacy (clicking a mouse may be a lot easier than working on this, but it sure isn’t as satisfying) can never be reproduced, or surpassed. Satan is nothing but a bad counterfeiter of God’s promises. His “hope” is a toxic lie which too often destroys before being recognized.
God offers the porn user hope in the gospel. In fact, I think it’s where the only hope exists. Is that where you expect to find it? Maybe all we need are some fences, some borders. Each month an elder looks me in the eyes and asks me if I have looked an anything pornographic in the last month. If I say “yes”, he’ll expect an explanation why it was an accident. Or wasn’t. I’m grateful for the grilling. It’s a practice I initiated with all of our elders 17 years ago.
I think friends who care and confront and pray are valuable, and so are tools like Covenant Eyes to help a person trying to get off the treadmill of empty sin. But all the accountability in the world doesn’t really change the heart. That heavy lifting is the work of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without a changed heart, at some point the person pulls the plug on Covenant Eyes; no longer cares if he’s caught. He will throw under the bus his marriage, his job, his self-respect, his sleep, and his dignity. Nothing matters more than the rush.
Spiritually, why? Some porn users are just lost. I mean they do not have Christ, they are facing His full judgment, they are headed for hell. I wonder if we may be reluctant to entertain this possibility because so many church members are doing porn and we’re afraid to make such a sweeping indictment or to offend. If I’ve discovered one thing as a pastor it’s that folks don’t like to have their salvation called into question. But please, let us offend if it might rescue a soul from eternal death. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery…, orgies and the like. I warn you…that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).
I once asked a porn user, “When you’re looking at porn on the screen, do you have any sense of shame before God, that you’re embarrassed at what he sees looking over your shoulder?” He said “no” and I asked him to explain.
“I guess I don’t think it’s really all that big of a deal.” Jesus scratched his head and asked, Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46). We should not reassure porn users who lack any conviction of sin, who have no sense that they are defaming God, and who are crucifying Christ all over again (Hebrews 6:6), that they are truly born again.
Obviously, hope for lost porn users is in receiving the forgiveness and the power found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. …our old body was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin–because anyone who has been died has been freed from sin (Romans 6:6-7). Repentance & faith. Changing one’s mind about his/her love affair with sin, and then turning the other direction. The Holy Spirit moves in and then provides the most addicted the power to break the bondage.
It’s really no different for the person we think is regenerate: repentance and faith. Wanting some confidence he is saved so any efforts wouldn’t be as pointless as trying to dress a corpse, I’d look for a brokenness over his sin, a longing for deliverance, perhaps even enveloped by a sense of despair. That’s good. I think that’s the normal anguish served up by the Holy Spirit when we willfully and persistently defy him. Repentance over our sin–with indications we mean business (confession, seeking help, seeking accountability), and then faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who bought us with His own blood. Trusting him to forgive and cleanse. You see, he died for the sin of lust too. Wiped the slate clean. Even the slipups that lie ahead, He died for!
All the world’s satisfactions–good or bad–are either cheap or destructive substitutes for Jesus. “I am the bread of life, I am the living water.” Offering Himself to those who turn from anything else, he promised, “You’ll never be hungry again, never be thirsty again.” That’s His gospel: “I starved to death for you; I died of thirst for you. My loss means your gain.” Jesus came to solve our #1 need which is not a job, or purpose in life, or happiness, or a boyfriend or a bigger house. It’s sin: breaking its power, bearing its price. Just like stealing, coveting, lying, or idol-worship, lust is a sin. A SOOOO addictive one. But not even addictions reduce the power of the gospel.
I’m not saying embracing the gospel of Jesus Christ will make porn withdrawal easy. It just makes it doable. After all, the power provided is God’s, Maker and Breaker of the universe. It’s not the dragon’s lies that set us free, it’s the Messiah’s truth. It’s the good news of Jesus Christ and the grace/power he imparts to the believing sinner.