Here is a summary of the material we will examine in this chapter devoted to pornography:
- A review of the definitions and types of pornography.
- A look at some recent statistics concerning the most prevalent form of porn – internet pornography.
- A summary of the arguments for or against the use of porn.
- Some ways to avoid or break the habit of consuming pornography.
One session is not enough to deal with this complex issue but hopefully it can help to inform, warn, and encourage those who are struggling with this destructive addiction.
What is Pornography?
- Porn – prostitute
- Graph – to write
Depiction of sex acts in words or pictures in order to cause sexual excitement. There is no pornography without an audience, without an audience it's an orgy or just sex.
Examples of pornography
- Movies with partial nudity and sex scenes.
- Commercials that use sex to get your attention.
- Books and magazines that use words and images in order to arouse.
- Internet images that use sex to draw attention.
- Actual sex acts, violence
- X-rated movies/magazines/snuff films/etc.
- Interactive sex websites
The use of words, images, films to stimulate sexual response for a variety of reasons is widespread in our society. Regardless of what community standards are or what the courts say, our responsibility is to determine what our response to pornography is to be as Christians.
Statistics – Internet Porn
I want to focus on internet porn because this is the fastest growing "delivery system" for pornography. In 2000 I researched statistics for internet porn for a class I was to teach at the Oklahoma Christian University lectures. I want to show you these stats and compare them to statistics for this year.
|Porn Sites||3,712||80 million|
|Habitual Users||200,000||More users than Amazon, Netflix and Twitter combined |
35% of all downloads are porn related
#1 porn site, Pornhub has 16 million viewers per day
|Revenue||$400 million||$97 billion per year|
U.S.A has the most daily visits to the Pornhub website.
Remember, I'm only talking about the number of users and revenue for internet porn, not movies and books which as an industry was generating $7 billion in revenue back in 2000 and has grown since then.
Pornography, therefore, is a big business, especially in the U.S.A and a tremendous moral and spiritual problem in this society and getting worse. The new number one search is for virtual reality pornography. Its popularity is growing with children under fifteen as well because they have free and easy access to the internet where they are easy targets for those who produce and sell pornography. 79% of people's first exposure to pornography occurs at home. The average age of exposure to porn is eleven years and most "at risk" youth are in the twelve to seventeen age group.
Enough about statistics, let's look at the arguments for and against pornography and its consumption.
Arguments for Pornography
There are many arguments to support the production and distribution of pornography.
1. It's Good for You (Catharsis) - Psychological argument
We all have sexual feelings and/or violent tendencies that we cannot express. By watching or indulging in pornography we are able to release tension without hurting anyone. This is the most popular argument for both the production and legal distribution of porn as well as the legalization of prostitution.
2. Freedom of Speech - Social argument
It's a free country and we are allowed to say or show anything we want to. If you censor this, where will censorship end? People don't have to watch or read so producers should be allowed to write, film or stage whatever they choose and if people don't like it, they can turn it off.
3. Profits - Economic (most powerful) argument
Aside from the money made on the internet, pornography is a very profitable business taking in billions of dollars per year alone in print and billions more in film per year (Year 2020 - $97 billion).
- Dial 900 numbers
- 20,000 porn bookstores in the U.S.A.
- 900 porn movie houses (only place where the there was a decline)
- 250 different kinds of child porn magazines showing everything from incest to murder
Pornography is very profitable and considered a growth industry. They even have their own conventions.
Arguments Against Pornography
1. It's Not Good for You (answer to the catharsis argument)
The idea that porn is good for you has never been backed up with statistics (it's only a theory). Statistics, however, show that with the increase of distribution of pornography there is an increase of sexual and violent crime (prostitution, incest and rape). This is why they have laws to limit its production and distribution! Pornography has a primary negative effect on the viewer - it's addictive.
Pornography acts as a psychological narcotic. Some people are extremely sensitive to it, others become hooked by prolonged use. Like any addiction, pornography develops a craving for something that cannot in itself satisfy - it can only produce the desire for itself but once consumed, cannot satisfy, it only produces the desire for more.
- This is why it is a growth industry and so profitable.
- Eventually the mindless craving for more controls us.
The "kick" to pornography is that at the beginning, it provokes a reaction within that is pleasing, just as alcohol or drugs do. Drugs or alcohol relax or stimulate us, that's why we take them - pornography stimulates us emotionally.
- sexual arousal is the most common experience
- for some, it arouses aggressive feelings
- Pornography also surfaces and articulates our suppressed sexual fantasies and creates new ones for us to ponder
The problem, however, is that like illicit drugs or improper use of prescription drugs, it is not the answer or method of dealing with repressed desires and fantasies (sexual or otherwise). It just makes things worse, like getting drunk to deal with your depression.
Repressed feelings, aggression, unsatisfied desires are best dealt with through prayer and the insight that comes from Bible study, counseling, and warm, committed relationships.
For most people God has provided the intimacy and security of the marriage bed for people to freely express themselves sexually.
- In marriage we have the perfect setting in which to share our deepest thoughts and explore our own sexuality to the point where we can be satisfied.
- This is why there is no limit to the creativity that a married couple can enjoy in a mutually developed sexual relationship.
- Those consuming porn begin to have less desire for sex with their live partner, preferring the stimulation that comes from their fantasy partners in pictures and film.
The answer to expressing the most joyful, creative, and satisfying sexuality is found in the freedom that Christ brings and the security that marriages provide, not in the consumption of pornography.
2. Freedom Brings Responsibility (answer to social argument)
The purveyors of porn say that this is a "free country." We are free to dispose of our garbage, but freedom also provides the responsibility of not polluting our environment with our garbage (freedom has responsibilities). We are free to think and imagine whatever we want but not free to pollute society through the media with a psychological narcotic.
There are obscenity laws and we can use them in order to restrict the type of material circulated in our community. We are free, but not free to harm others and pornography has proven to be harmful. Porn has the same effect on the brain as crack cocaine.
3. It is Not Profitable (answer to good business argument)
It might be financially profitable to a very few, but the overall effect on society in terms of crime, social misery, and the lowering of standards is very expensive in the long run. Society pays a high price for the damage that porn causes.
The arguments against porn from a Christian's view…
4. Involvement in Sexual Impurity is Condemned in the Bible.
Socially and psychologically pornography is harmful, but for the Christian the most important factor is what God says about it.
And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
- Genesis 2:25
Shows men and women before they sinned. Nakedness was a sign of innocence, lack of shame.
6When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
- Genesis 3:6-7
After disobedience and sin came guilt, shame, and the loss of innocence. This was manifested by the desire to cover oneself. Except for intimacy within marriage (which is God ordained) nudity still causes guilt and shame. Why? Because we are still sinners and our inability to be naked without shame is a reminder. No amount of graphic nudity and social acceptance can remove this from our conscience.
The argument against pornography in the Bible is stated in positive terms. It tells us how we ought to be, rather than what we ought not to do (why we don't see a command that says, "thou shalt not consume porn…") Pornography is forbidden because it undermines our holiness. Pornography and holiness are incompatible. A holy person is sexually pure, chaste and clean. Christians cannot consume porn and remain holy, and without personal holiness there is no peace with self or God.
1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
- Romans 12:1-2
Our bodies are to be entirely holy.
14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
- I Peter 1:14-16
Our new lives in Christ are evident in that we no longer are involved in sexual impurity.
...the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.
- I Corinthians 6:13b
God does not deny that our bodies desire these things but as Christians we are reminded that our bodies belong to a Holy God, and He has a holy purpose for it, and porn desecrates it.
27"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'; 28but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
- Matthew 5:27-28
Jesus says we are guilty when we think unclean or improper thoughts. The object of pornography is to arouse us by putting these thoughts into our minds. For the Christian, this will violate his conscience.
For the Christian to willfully put into his heart and mind pornographic images depicting impersonal nudity, various forms of fornication (homosexuality, rape, pedophilia, etc.) is sinful. The only sexual fantasy we should have is for our marriage partner.
18Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19As a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love.
- Proverbs 5:18-19
Our vicarious participation in these acts by viewing them through porn has a number of deleterious effects on us spiritually:
- It hurts our consciences.
- It destroys our peace of mind and communion with the Lord, ultimately separating us forever.
- It removes our joy of salvation (saddened).
- We become fearful, desensitized to what is good and pure (become apologists for lower standards).
- We begin having a false image of wholesome sex as God has created it. (Our libido is a fragile thing).
Jesus said that we can tell a tree by its fruit. This is a sample of the fruit that pornography produces.
Breaking the Habit
Pornography becomes a habit. Like all habits we eventually lose the "kick" but retain the craving and we go into a vicious cycle where the objective is no longer the enjoyment of the "kick" but the satisfying of the craving, which never comes (like smoking). How do we break the cycle?
1. Recognize that it's wrong
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality failed as with the dry heat of summer.
I acknowledged my sin to You,
And I did not hide my guilt;
I said, "I will confess my wrongdoings to the Lord";
And You forgave the guilt of my sin.
- Psalm 32:4-5
Without recognizing the fact that it is morally wrong or sinful the cycle is never broken. Most people just try to control their addictions rather than break them. To break it, you must first acknowledge that it is a sin. The impure do not inherit the kingdom and the sooner they realize it, the sooner they win the victory (Galatians 5:19). This is the beginning of the end for this sinful habit.
2. Accept Forgiveness – I John 1:9-10
The problem with porn as with other sexual sins is that it is committed against self and thus the scars run deep. God promises forgiveness. When we acknowledge our sin and forsake it, God forgives, we need to accept this. Even if the craving remains for awhile as a vestige of this behavior; the sin, guilt, shame and condemnation are washed away by the blood of Christ. And as long as the battle rages on, every time we go to God for help and forgiveness we are totally renewed in His eyes and can stand before Him without shame, even if we are ashamed of ourselves.
3. Get Help
"…if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous…"
- I John 2:1
People who are addicted have lost the ability, in one area of their lives, to control themselves. They need help:
- Begin by going to God in prayer about this on a regular basis. John says that Christ is a constant intercessor for us with God. Nothing surprises or discourages God. He will always listen.
- Share your struggle with a trusted friend. Your spouse is best. You can pray together, grow closer together, and share the burden together.
- Get professional help if prayer and sharing are not enough. There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors.
Sometimes a habit is a symptom of deeper problems that are manifesting themselves in this way (loneliness, depression, anger). The best way to face this is with courage and the hope that a Christian counselor can provide. We need to remember that God can use one's struggle with this particular, damaging sin to draw a person closer to Himself and develop within that person a more compassionate spirit towards other and their sins.
Of course, there are other resources to help protect us and our homes from this vice (computer filters/chips and settings to block out improper materials). It is so easy to accidentally go to a porn site by typing the wrong word, or are led to it by ads, so the best protection is to be vigilant as to what you permit into your home and heart.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
- Psalm 19:14
Watch what you watch (and what others are watching in your home) because God is watching you.