For 5 years I was the pastor of Trinity International Church in Strasbourg, France. I created this blog with those people in mind. In mid-November 2018 I will become the Senior Pastor of Word of Life Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The focus of this blog will therefore shift, but I pray that people from the blogosphere will continue to find it helpful wherever they might be found.
The churches' websites includes recorded sermons for those who are interested. Click the links below to access them.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Physical Intimacy: What God Does God Say? Porn

This is the third in a series on what the Bible says about physical intimacy. Before you read this, it is important to read the first two posts. Post One. Post Two.

What Does the Bible Say?

Internet pornography was not a problem in Bible times because there was no internet. But that does not mean that the Bible is silent. We saw in the second article that the Bible teaches that sex outside of marriage is sinful. Jesus goes on to say that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart (Matthew 5:27-30). And that is what you are doing when you view porn. It is sin.

Let's Be Clear About What It Is

The internet has turned every computer and
cellphone into a potential 24/7 adult
video theatre with unlimited offerings.
Pornography is filmed prostitution. A person (or people) agree to pose or act sexually, usually in exchange for money. That's prostitution. They are filmed and those images are then distributed. In the 1970s Playboy and Penthouse led the way in the United States and the major distributor was the local convenience store. Then it became cable TV and the video rental store. Today the internet is the major distributor. And the amount of porn being distributed is astonishing:
  • One major porn site boasted that it 2015 it received over 21 billion hits and streamed over 75GB of data a second. Put another way: that year it streamed enough porn video to fill 175 million 16GB iPhones. 
  • In 2014, 7 of the top 20 Google search terms were for pornographic material. 
  • According to the Huffington Post:
    • About 30% of all data transmitted on the internet is porn.
    • Porn sites are visited more than Amazon, Twitter, and Netflix combined.
  • CNBC reports that the porn industry is thought to generate $14 billion  in sales in the United States alone. By comparison, the National Football League revenue is about $9 billion. The 2014 FIFA World Cup made $4 billion in global revenue.
  • Customers are not all men. It is estimated that 30% of users are women. And many studies are finding that the average age of first exposure to porn is 11.

So What's the Harm?

Let's leave out the harm of supporting the prostitution/pornography industry on the people in the industry (a "nice" version of what that is like is here) and focus on the harm done to the viewer.

You are in trouble with God. Jesus said, “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.  If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell." I am not making that up. Read it for yourself in Matthew 5:27-20. Jesus points out the extreme danger of looking at women with lustful intent. We could paraphrase the last phrase "if the internet causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better to not use the internet than to spend eternity in hell."

You need to understand that a "little bit of porn" is a big deal because of what it does to you, to your relationships, and to those in the industry. Almost every list of sins in the New Testament starts with sexual immorality. If you think that it is no big deal, that you can be a "fine Christian" and watch porn, its is a sign that you are sin drunk. Sin has affected your perceptions and you are not thinking clearly. 

You are probably going to become addicted if you are not already. Studies show that pornography is highly addictive. It follows the same patterns as drug addictions. More and more time and attention will be spent on the habit. Sacrifices in friendships and perhaps even work will be made to pursue porn. Its similarity with drug addiction includes the issue of tolerance. Simply put, the porn that satisfied last year doesn't satisfy this year. You need something different, edgier, more "out there" than before. What once would have turned your stomach becomes the only thing that satisfies. No one sets out to become an addict. They think that the rules don't apply to them.

You are living in a fantasy world. That person looking seductively at you on the screen isn't looking at
Watching porn to satisfy with lust is like pouring water on
on a grease fire. Momentarily exciting, perhaps.
But it is never a good idea.
you. They are not even thinking about you. They are looking at a camera, probably being held by some bored fat ugly dude and you are watching the fourteenth take of that smile. They did it fourteen times to finally get one that seemed "real". Everything about what you watch on the screen is unreal. It has about as much in common with reality as Star Wars. The problem is that the porn you watch slowly reprograms your body to respond to the fantasy world rather than real life. You are actually changing the way your brain functions.

You are setting yourself up for disappointment. Like all sin, there may be a short term buzz, but the long term consequences are high. The intimacy that you so desire with your spouse will prove illusive. Neither you nor your spouse will ever be able to live up to the fantasy world that you have burned into your brain. Even worse, that fantasy world is a mirage to begin with. And your desire for the mirage will cause you to miss the true oasis with its cool pure water that God designed you to enjoy.

The dangers of porn are becoming increasingly evident to both the secular and Christian world. There are even TEDx talks about "the Great Porn Experiment" and "Why I Gave Up Porn" that demonstrate that this isn't just a "Christian hang-up". Unfortunately, the porn industry, like the tobacco industry, has slick and powerful advertising and lobbying arms that works to keep these dangers from being known and their customers hooked.

Getting Free

Getting free requires the realisation that there is war going on for your very soul (1 Peter 2:11). It takes a war-time dedication to the battle. It takes a long-term commitment. It is easy to decide to go on a diet after your belly is full from a feast. But are you committed enough to diet when your belly is screaming like a spoiled child demanding to be fed? Are you willing to say this: I will never look at porn again for the rest of my life? It is where you must begin. 
  • Repent of your sin. If you can say "no more porn...ever" it is a good indication that the process of repentance has begun. Turn to Jesus for forgiveness. No sin is beyond forgiveness. Regardless of how far into sexual immorality you have fallen, Jesus can forgive you. 1 John 1:8-2:2; Psalm 51.
  • Commit your life wholeheartedly to Jesus Christ. True satisfaction in any area of life can only be found in a relationship with Him. 
  • The battle against the sinful nature can only be won through a relationship with him. We must learn to put the sinful nature to death. Romans 6:12-18.
  • Resist the devil. Immersing ourselves in pornography can open the door to demonic influent. You must learn to walk in the victory that is Christ and stand against the enemy. At times, you may need to seek out a person with the gift of discernment to help battle the forces of evil. James 4:7-8.
  • Deal ruthlessly with sources of temptation. Get good filtering software. If you cannot get software that works on your phone, get rid of the data plan. You can live without data, I promise. Remember, this is war! 1 Corinthians 6:18. Covenant Eyes and xxxchurch both offer good filtering software.
  • Find an accountability partner. Talk to someone in your small group. Talk to your pastor. Find someone who will pray for you and ask you tough questions. 
  • Don't give up. Overcoming sexual addictions is hard work. Keep at it. Don't quit!

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