Living Above Lust
The Curse of Pornography

An Illustration

Around forty years ago, I picked up a truck load of material at a plant in Toronto. It was lunchtime, so I sat in the office where the shipping department workers gathered for their lunch break. Several other truck drivers were there, and as so often happens in settings like that, the conversation turned vulgar. Various men tried to outdo each other in describing the raunchiest, dirtiest scene they could come up with. They were discussing their favorite “performers” and some of the strip-tease sights they had seen in their favorite night clubs. Eventually, the discussion became too rancid for me to handle and I stepped outside until they had finished their lunch.[1]

Today, you don’t need to go to a night club to watch the sights those men were bragging about. If you have an internet connection, you can pull them up right on your computer. If you want more privacy, you can get the same thing on your smartphone. Or, if you prefer hot flesh and face-to-face interaction, you can still find it in the night spots and red-light districts of most cities.

A Scourge

Pornography is a symptom of a deadly process that is destroying mankind, strangling us from the inside out. When men and women give complete rein to the base passions of their bodies, everything around them starts to degenerate. Men no longer respect and honor the beauty of womanhood. Instead, a woman’s body becomes a commodity, something to vent their passions on and then throw aside. Women no longer admire the strength and the manliness of men as their protectors. Instead, they judge a man by the level of passion that he can generate within them.

Beyond that, too many adults today take out their passions on the innocent children within their sphere of influence and power. Children grow up thinking that sexually abusing the weak around you is normal. Police struggle in vain to protect these little ones but too often the authorities don’t find out what is happening until the damage has long been done.

Historically speaking, we are rapidly approaching the same place where most nations caught up in the same bondage have fallen from power. The sex-mania of our time will soon weaken our nation to the extent that it will start to crumble around us from the inside out. Society will party until it is too late, and then they will wonder what happened.

Someone has said that pornography is our nation’s 7th largest industry. This indicates how deeply this heinous scourge has fastened its talons into our society. The deeper we sink into this cesspool, the more people lust after porn. The more porn that publishers produce, the deeper we sink into the cesspool. It is a vicious and seemingly irreversible cycle.

It is over sixty years ago that Hugh Hefner began publishing Playboy magazine, one of the first North American platforms deemed “acceptable” by Americans who were losing their Judeo-Christian moorings. But a lot has changed in the last sixty years. People are no longer satisfied with just viewing scenes that are immoral.  Porn has been sinking to even lower depths and often includes violence and torture. The pagan practices of torturing their victims to death are no longer as far removed from our society as we would like to think.

But, But, But…

I know, I know. Not everyone fits the description I have just given. Indeed, you can find many respectable people in society. But we are learning that even those we thought were “good” people are not immune to this. Respected fathers end up in court for molesting their daughters or a neighbor’s daughter. Even men and women who wouldn’t think of molesting a child admit to looking at porn for personal enjoyment. The problem is much bigger than we like to admit and touches the lives of more people than we can even imagine.

Just to help you get a picture of the problem, here are some statistics given by Covenant Eyes.

  • 9 out of 10 boys are exposed to pornography before the age of 18.
  • 6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography before the age of 18.
  • 15% of boys and 9% of girls have seen child pornography.
  • 32% of boys and 18% of girls have seen bestiality online.
  • 39% of boys and 23% of girls have seen sexual bondage online.
  • 83% of boys and 57% of girls have seen group sex online.
  • 69% of boys and 55% of girls have seen same-sex intercourse online.
  • 51% of male and 32% of female students first viewed porn before their teenage years (12 and younger).
  • 64% of college men and 18% of college women spend time online for Internet sex every week.
  • 67% of young men and 49% of young women say viewing porn is an acceptable way to express one’s sexuality.
  • 68% of young adult men and 18% of women use porn at least once every week.
  • 64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women say they watch porn at least once a month.
  • Regular church attendees are 26% less likely to look at porn, however, self-identified “fundamentalists” are 91% more likely to look at porn.
  • The porn industry generates $13 billion each year in the US.

What Does the Bible Say?

Middle-aged King David fell into sin with the young wife of one of his soldiers. When she told him that she was pregnant, he had her husband killed and he married her supposedly to protect her reputation. (Or was it his reputation? I wonder…)

When his sin came out into the open, David wrote Psalms 51 to express his repentance. Later, he also wrote in Psalms 101:3, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.”[2] Maybe he remembered the evening when he had watched Bathsheba bathing on her housetop. Certainly, much of today’s immoral conduct and thought processes are provoked by the evil porn people gaze at.

Jesus said, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). To lust for a woman is to crave her in an inordinate way. This is how many rapes come into being. But you don’t need to rape someone to violate the law of God as taught in the New Testament. In God’s eyes, all you need to do is use your imagination, and the deed is done; the sin is committed.

The Bible doesn’t just talk about men lusting after women or women after men. It also speaks to today’s same-sex craze. Consider the following passage from the book of Romans.

“Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,  who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.  For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting” (Romans 1:24-28) [3]


The Real Solution

Evil imaginations and inordinate affections (fantasies and illicit passions) make a lot of trouble for some very respectable looking men and women. Married men and women, and a lot who aren’t married, have a good idea how every person they meet would look if they didn’t have any clothing on. Many women would be horrified if they knew what thoughts some men struggle with about them. This can also be true the other way around. At its root, that has nothing to do with the internet or Playboy magazines. It comes from not letting God deal with our sinful hearts.

If we have fallen into this trap there is only one real answer. We need to fall at the feet of Jesus and repent of our sin. We need to repent of the looks we sneak at women walking by. We need to repent of the pictures and videos we have viewed on our smartphones. We need to repent of our evil thoughts and our lusts. Once we have accepted Jesus as the Lord of our life, God can help us to find our way out of the trap we are in.

Accountability Groups

Secrecy often makes it harder for former porn addicts to gain or maintain victory over their sinful habits even if they are Christians. It is often helpful to enter an accountability covenant relationship with someone else or a small group of people. Knowing that you will either need to confess that you have failed or lie to protect yourself will often help you to find victory. The prayers and encouragement of your accountability partners will help as well.

You may also need to install a filter or accountability app on your computer and cell phone to keep you from failing in times of weakness. If nothing else works, you may need to eliminate technology with internet access from your life completely. Though this may sound extreme, let’s not forget that the goal is complete victory not occasional victory over the desires brought on by porn and everything that goes with it.

It really comes back to a few simple questions. Do you really believe that watching porn is sin? Do you really want to have victory? If the answer to these questions is a sincere yes, you will do whatever it takes to have victory in this area. Note the following statement that Jesus made.

“If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.  And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire” (Matthew 18:8-9).

Jesus probably didn’t intend for us to literally cut off our hand or pluck out an eye. But He is saying that we need to do what is necessary to be victorious, even if it means taking radical action.

Cultivate Your Marriage

“Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.  The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.  Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5 )

Here are a few more thoughts. It has been proven that men and women who are in a good marriage relationship are far less likely to fall into this sin than those who aren’t. In fact, one study says that a happily married man is 61% less likely to fall into the porn trap. A godly wife can be a big help to a struggling husband. She can help ward off a lot of temptation by being willing and eager to build a strong intimate marriage that fulfills his needs (and hers). Of course the opposite is true as well. Every married couple should sit down and read 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 together. Note especially the word deprive, used in verse 5 of this passage (the KJV translates this as defraud, which is even stronger). Refusing intimate relationships with your spouse can greatly increase the power of the temptation to delve into pornography or something else impure. Fulfilled husbands and wives are not nearly as likely to fall into the porn trap.  If a person feels they should refuse intimate relationships to encourage their spouse not to develop selfish and aggressive habits, a better solution would be to get spiritual counsel from Christians who are walking with God and who love their spouse.

This passage makes it clear that intimate relationships should not be selfish. Husbands and wives have power over each other’s bodies to give them fulfillment in ways that they could not rightly give to themselves. Indulging in porn is totally selfish. It is also interesting to note here that the husband and wife should be discussing these issues and finding a consensus on them. Intimate relationships should never be based just on the husband’s desires and opinions.

But What if I’m Single?

God doesn’t call everyone into marriage. Single men and women are about twice as likely to fall into pornography and lust than their married counterparts. Many single men and women fall into the grip of watching porn and masturbating.

If you are single and struggling, keep in mind that fulfillment in life doesn’t come from marriage or sex. It comes from being in the will of God. Please do not believe for a minute that God has deprived you of finding fulfillment in life just because you are single and cannot enjoy physical intimacy with another person. He has a beautiful plan for your life that will be fulfilling in every way without doing what the world does to find fulfillment for these desires.[4]

But there shall by no means enter it [the holy city] anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. (Revelation 21:27)

[1] It would likely have been good to leave the room before I did.

[2] All Bible passages quoted from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

[3] For more discussion on this subject see our online essay, What the Bible says About Homosexuality

[4] You might also want to read our booklet on Masturbation and Sexual Desire.


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