Pornography is a problem. It is a big problem. That’s true for our world, our nation, our families, and even our churches.

The sexual revolution has lied to us in countless ways. But one of its biggest deceptions has been telling us that unfettered sexual expression and exposure will lead to freedom and happiness. More and more studies are showing that pornography can be linked to an increase in mental health issues, divorce, sexual violence, and overall personal unhappiness. The problem is so alarming that several US states (including VA) have passed resolutions calling it “a public health crisis.”

Not a month goes by, as a pastor, that I don’t have to counsel someone who has been trapped or hurt by this monster. As a church, we need to be aware of what is at stake and better equipped to help each other. Here are a few key insights about the dangers of pornography. (The following is not explicit, but it is direct.)

 

Pornography is sin.

Watching it is a sin. Participating in it is a sin. Producing it is a sin. Owning it is a sin. Fantasizing about it is a sin. Across the board, it’s simple: porn is sin. There are no exceptions to this rule. Grant it, the word itself is not in the Bible (though it’s root, porneia is), but the Bible’s categories of lust and sexual sin clearly include it.

This fact alone should be reason enough for Christians to hate it. Just think: our Lord died because of porn. And God’s prescription is simple:

“Flee youthful lusts.” (2 Tim 2:22)

 

Pornography rewires.

A recent Cambridge study has confirmed (yet again) that explicit sexual images produce a powerful physiological response – like alcohol use. Neurons and chemicals in the brain are triggered. This releases natural stimulants into the body, such as dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins. (Hence, it’s now called “The New Drug.”)

In marital relations, these erototoxins are helpful because they deepen intimacy, bonding, and love between a husband and wife. But when the brain begins to pair your pleasure with your porn (instead of with your spouse), it leads to a warped view of sex because of these conscious and subconscious distortions. This is why Scripture clearly commands us,

“Drink water from your own cistern…be exhilarated always with (your wife’s) love.” (Prov 5:15-19).

Furthermore, with porn use, the effect can quickly wear off. As a result, a person often begins to crave more explicit images to get that pleasure-center “high” which can escalate their actions, even leading to infidelity or sexual violence.

 

Pornography lies.

Learning about sex from pornography is like learning about physics from a Road Runner cartoon. It is both unrealistic and extremely misleading. But online images and videos have become the Public Sex Educators of our day. Long before the honeymoon, many men (even Christian men) have seen hundreds (if not thousands) of these kinds of sexual encounters portrayed. If that doesn’t pervert one’s expectations I don’t know what will. (How is any wife ever expected to “compete” or live up to that?)

Furthermore, a major problem is not just what pornography shows you; it’s what it doesn’t show you. On the one hand, it shows too much (sexually speaking) but on the other hand it shows too little (maritally speaking). It leaves out the fact that sex needs the proper context (marriage), the proper attitude (selflessness), the proper effort (communication), the proper expectation (potential pregnancy) and the proper motive (love). Porn lies. It is the ultimate #fakenews.

 

Pornography betrays.

Sin always looks better in the windshield than it does in the rearview mirror. This is particularly true with pornography. The intoxicating promise of pleasure and delight that it holds out is quickly swapped for a crushing sense of guilt and shame. It promises joy and satisfaction, but ultimately ensnares a person into an endless cycle of unhappiness, discontentment, hollowness, and regret. Porn makes promises it can’t deliver on.

Scripture says, “The lips of an adulteress drip honey…but in the end she is as bitter as wormwood.” (Prov 5:3-4) Porn wants you to believe that she is a loyal, seductive lover, when she is more like a back-stabbing Judas.

 

Pornography enslaves.

Given the physiological, emotional, and mental issues at play (see above), it’s no wonder that pornography use can quickly become a habit. Before you know it, there is an insatiable drive that many people describe as something inside “controlling” or “compelling” them to seek it out. That is textbook addiction. 

But pornography doesn’t just emotionally enslave people; it actually enslaves people. This multi-billion-dollar industry has led to teenagers (and even children) being bought and sold as sex slaves. The disgusting con-joined twins of prostitution and pornography demand human trafficking. Some women may be paid, but all are used.

 

Pornography destroys.

I don’t have the exact statistics, but I recently heard that a clear majority of recent US divorce filings include the words “Facebook” and “pornography.” When husbands, especially, begin to see their wives as objects, rather than fellow image-bearers it dehumanizes and destroys their relationship and often their home.

Conclusion:

So, what do we do about this fire-breathing dragon lurking in our homes and on our iPhones? The same thing that you do with any dragon: you must slay it!

Next week, I plan to share some specific advice on how to do that. In the meantime, my encouragement is simple: “confess your sins to one another.” (James 5:16) If you’re married, talk to (or confront) your spouse. If you’re single, talk to a Christian friend. If you’re not sure who to talk to, speak with an elder.

For some of you, just the thought of doing that makes your heart race and your palms sweat. You know why? Because your pride doesn’t want you to.

But guess what? “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Admitting something embarrassing and sinful is humbling. But it is also ground zero for God’s grace. And the good new is this,

“where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more.” (Rom 5:20)