God has blessed us with many helpful technology such as smart phones, tablets, computers, social media (eg. Facebook, Twitter) and the Internet. However, these same tools when used improperly quickly become a curse that slowly poisons every aspect of our lives. It is no secret that one of the great sin struggles for Christians is pornography. Here are some interesting 2014 Barna research findings to consider.
-64% of Christian men admit that they view pornography at least once a month
-77% of Christian men between 18-30 years old look at porn at least once a month
Interestingly, a recent study by Barna asserts that “there is moral ambiguity toward porn.” The research claims that only 1 out of 2 adults and 1 out of 3 teens/young adults believe looking at porn as wrong. The same study explains that among practicing Christians, only 29% report feeling much guilt. Honestly, I was a bit shocked that only 29% of practicing Christians feel guilt when viewing porn. What has happened? This is yet another sign that the church is losing the culture war. What ever happened to Romans 12:2 that states, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect?” What is going on here? Part of it is Matthew 7:21 that states, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Part of it is that our churches have become adept in teaching Bible stories without teaching biblical worldview. What is a biblical worldview? A biblical worldview is the filter one views the world. For Christians, we can either view the world through the lens of whatever the culture tells us or through the lens of the Scriptures. Let me start off by quoting Isaiah 40:8 that states “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
As Christians we must turn to the Scriptures to draw out a biblical worldview on pornography. The word pornography comes from a greek root word porne/πορνη. The various words derived from porne/πορνη occurs around 56 times in the New Testament to refer to words like prostitute (Matt 21:31), sexual immorality/fornication (e.g. 1 Cor 6:13). Sexual immorality includes any and all sexual activity (Matt 5:28, fantasizing, masturbation, etc) outside the confines of a monogamous heterosexual marriage. The first mention of sex in the Bible comes from Genesis 2:24. It states, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” From the very beginning, sex was sacred, where God designed it to be the means by which a husband and a wife become one. Even though some treat sex as not sacred, life itself seems to treat sex as sacred. This is evidenced by the way we deal with sexual violations like rape. Just look at the outrage expressed through the “Me Too” movement. Bible teaches in Romans 2:15 that all human beings have the law of God written on their hearts. If sex was not inherently sacred, then why all the outrage? If not sacred, why are sex crimes generally held to a higher standard compared to other physical crimes like battery (e.g. fist fight)? Sex is sacred! That being said, Christians must flee from immorality and porn because porn will defile your mind, spirit and body. Satan will use porn to gain access into your lives to wreck havoc. Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:18 exhorts, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”
If you are struggling with porn, let me suggest the following:
1. You must first start by affirming the biblical worldview of human sexuality (repent).
2. Don’t believe in the lie that you cannot overcome porn addiction. Know that ultimately, porn usage is a choice because God has already set Christians free from the bondage of sin, but you voluntarily go back under the bondage (repent).
3. Recognize the shame and guilt you are feeling when viewing porn is the Holy Spirit working in you to stop you from defiling yourself. Heed the warning from God (repent).
4. Recognize that porn addiction is not just a spiritual or mental issue but also physiological issue.
Porn alters the brain structure. Porn addiction is an arousal addiction where the same areas of the brain light up as when alcohol and drug addicts get their fix. Studies presented in 2004 to the United States Senate Committee by Dr. Judith Reisman showed that porno images imprint and alter the brain, triggering an instant, involuntary, but lasting, biochemical memory trail overriding the cognitive. Once new neuro-chemical pathways are established they are difficult or impossible to delete. These newly created brain synapse grow stronger (like muscles) the more one views porn. In 3/10 of a second a visual image passes from the eye to the brain and the brain is structurally changed and memories created.
The more you use porn, the more it will control you. It seems that those imprints may be permanent but you can significantly weaken the neuro-chemical pathways. Begin the process of atrophy (weaken those synapse) by abstaining from porn.
5. Be practical and firmly and decisively remove all access to porn (Her 12:4, Repent).
6. Seek out Christian accountability with those who will help you stay on the right track through encouragement and prayer.