The XXX Problem

In December 1953, Hugh Hefner published the first issue of Playboy magazine from his home kitchen. Approximately 50,000 copies were sold at a price of 50 cents each; the black and white images of Marilyn Monroe inside revealed little more than what can be seen in a grocery store checkout line today. Fast-forward 60 years and the pornography industry has literally exploded into an international moneymaking empire. According to compiled numbers from respected news and research organizations, annual worldwide revenues from pornography amount in the hundreds of billions of dollars, with revenues in the United States alone exceeding those of the NBA, NFL and MLB combined. In a 2010 study conducted by internet security company Optnet, nearly 40 percent of all websites on the internet were found to contain pornographic content. Society and pornography both have come a long way from Hugh Hefner’s kitchen. At no time previously in human history has so much graphic, sexually explicit content been so readily available – most of it totally free of charge. In his book Porn Again Christian (available online as a free download at www.theresurgence.com), Pastor Mark Driscoll says, “…because of technology, it is now easier to see someone naked than to get something out of the fridge-to get to the fridge you at least need to stand up and walk.” And the hyper-sexualization of our culture doesn’t begin and end with hardcore pornography. The mainstream media is continually pushing the sexual envelope, so that what was considered deviant and scandalous yesterday is becoming normal and acceptable today.

Why Porn is a Problem
Spiritually, porn is a problem because it exists solely to feed the sin of sexual lust. Jesus Himself says in Matthew 5:28, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Culturally, porn is a problem because it fuels the fires of human trafficking and prostitution – turning women into nothing more than a commodity to be traded, used and abused. Relationally, porn is a problem because it conditions men to a false reality of beauty and normal sexual behavior. Most real-life women look nothing like the women portrayed in pornography, and no real-life women desire the humiliation and degradation that porn actresses just can’t seem to get enough of. Furthermore, pornography is wreaking havoc on marriages. In a recently-conducted survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 60 percent of the attorneys polled agreed that internet pornography is linked to higher rates of divorce, with the study noting that this divorce-contributing factor was virtually non-existent just a decade ago. Physically, porn is a problem because, experts say, the chemicals released upon sexual climax affect the brain in a way similar to heroin. While this God-designed biochemical reaction is a blessing within the confines of healthy marital sex, it can cause a pornography user to become addicted to porn in the same way that a junkie gets hooked on the needle. In light of the above, the excuses of “Boys will be boys!”, “It’s free!”, or “I’m not hurting anyone!” simply don’t fly. The harmful effects of pornography permeate to all parties involved; all the way from the porn actress to the wife or child who has never even personally viewed porn themselves but whose life is devastated by its effects nevertheless.

Why Porn is a Problem in the Church
Pornography is just as much of a problem within the church as without. Statistics found on the safefamilies.org website report that more than 70 percent of men aged 18-34 visit pornographic websites regularly. The same safefamilies.org study revealed that a recent survey of evangelical pastors came back with more than 50 percent admitting to viewing pornography at least once within the past year. Ask any man in the church today to list his top three struggles and most will include pornography as a part of that list. Ironically, there are factors within the culture of the church that may actually help contribute to the problem of pornography. Many Christian teenage boys and young men rationalize their pornography use and masturbation, reasoning that these activities carry less risk and consequence than engaging in actual sexual contact with a girl or woman. While this may be true, nevertheless (as explained in the section above), pornography is sinful, harmful and degrading to women, and often becomes a destructive and compulsive habit that can cause significant personal and relational problems. Additional rationale often used by Christian young men goes along the lines of, “I will stop my pornography use and masturbation once I get married and am allowed to have real sex.” Again, as studies show that pornography can become as addicting as heroin, the habit typically does not allow itself to be turned on and off like a light switch.

As Proverbs 27:20 (NKJV) tells us, “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.” Hence, we end up with marriages being ravaged by the destruction cause by the husband’s pornography addiction; an addiction at least partially birthed out of his intention to avoid “real” sexual sin prior to marriage. To make matters worse, with porn available literally everywhere from cable TV to tablets, smartphones and more, the temptation to sin sexually with pornography is always a mere few clicks away for even the most well-intentioned Christian man.

You Can Overcome
The statistics on pornography are overwhelming, and the fact that it is a sin and a problem can’t be ignored. You may even intellectually agree with all of the above. But what about your personal struggle? Like many men, you may have gone to great lengths to eliminate pornography from your life. You’ve joined an accountability group, installed filtering software and even tried to avoid the internet altogether, yet you still find yourself in a state of struggle. The problem is that any plan to conquer sin through rules and regulations is doomed from the start. The foundation for any true change in the life of the believer is an understanding of the finished work of Jesus on the cross. As Romans 8:1 tells us, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

Guess what? Jesus chose to save you and call you His son knowing that you would commit the willful and habitual sins of pornography and masturbation. Jesus isn’t surprised by your internet history (or convenient lack thereof). He sees it all and He loves you anyway. Stop trying to clean yourself up through “do more, try harder rules,” and just get honest with Jesus about your sin right here, right now. He already knows anyway, so you’re not fooling anyone but yourself. Jesus doesn’t see you as a dirty porn addict; He sees you as His son whom He died for. The real work that needs to be done in the fight against porn is believing about yourself what God already knows about you because of Jesus-that you are God’s child and that nothing can separate you from His love. The more that you are able by God’s grace to believe that truth, the easier it will be for you to become who God already says you are – clean, pure and free!

Justin Young :Justin Young is a Staff Writer for the Good News. Justin can be reached at justiny@goodnewsfl.org or twitter.com/thejustinyoung.

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