The words, “By 2020, most women will be marrying men severely addicted to pornography,” jumped out as I glanced through recent statements on pornography.
What was defined as pornography a few decades ago now fills our television screens on a nightly basis. We are being swept away by a culture that glamorizes porn…we are a nation adrift.
Pornography shouldn’t be glamorized, it must be taken seriously. It destroys marriages, godly character, and a relationship with the Lord. It is used by the enemy to kill, steal, and destroy. 1 Corinthians 6:9 warns us not to be deceived—the sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God. Jesus adds, “But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
Sadly, teens and adults are becoming addicted to pornography at alarming rates. Pornography is considered free speech and has become one of the most lucrative businesses in America. Not surprising, it’s often a major influence in the lives of those who commit sex crimes. It stands as a root of many divorces…it plaques our churches. It’s difficult to understand why one would attempt to defend it.
Sex is good and God-given. It makes sense that God would create one act that distinguishes marriage from all other relationships, one that binds and holds the relationship together. A relationship that is firmly anchored creates a stable environment in which to raise children and sustain commitment. Sexual intimacy was not created to be a recreational sport, it was intended as a spiritual bond to assure that “the two shall become one,” and remain as one (Genesis 2:24).
Pornography robs married couples of intimacy. The intimacy once shared, is given to another. As time goes by, it’s not uncommon for spouses to say, “I don’t love you anymore,” failing to realize that love doesn’t leave people, people leave love. True love is not an ecstatic, lustful feeling; it’s a commitment…the foundation of marriage. Pornography destroys the very foundation on which marriage is built.
With that in mind, here are a few practical suggestions. Granted, some may view these points as legalistic, but legalism reflects a self-righteous attitude. I’m not promoting that…I’m promoting wisdom. Wisdom reflects a heart committed to God’s Word and moral purity.
- Become men and women of prayer. Men would live better if they prayed better. Porn cannot gain a stronghold in a broken, praying heart. If we’re too busy to cultivate a prayer life that places God first—we’re too busy. We’re often too busy because we’re doing too much. “When faith ceases to pray, it ceases to live” (E.M. Bounds). We should never allow our relationship with Him to suffer because we’re too busy. Praying actually helps overcome addiction. It instills into our lives discipline, commitment, patience, peace, joy, and contentment. We must spend much time on our knees before God if we are to overcome pornography and other addictions.
- Sorrow doesn’t work; repentance does. Many are sorry, even anguished about pornography, but not repentant. We must see porn as God sees it—a sin that destroys—and repent from it. Repentance is not about self-improvement; it’s about renouncing sin and turning from it. Repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change in action. Brokenness, genuine sorrow over sin, and humility are marks of sincere repentance. Most advice will fail if the heart is not changed. Repentance is the key.
- Avoid compromise. The enemy rarely pushes us off the cliff, so to speak. We’re often led down one step at a time, one compromise at a time, one wrong choice at a time. For example, the enemy doesn’t show a man the pain and anguish and the years of regret that pornography brings; he deceives him with the temporary enjoyment. If the full story was known beforehand (divorce, broken relationships with his children, and so on) no doubt different choices might have been made. We’re often not shown the pain that sin brings; we’re enticed by the temporary pleasure. Remember: sin brings death. Avoid compromise, especially in the area of entertainment.
- Avoid looking intentionally at things that stimulate lust. There are times when we cannot avoid what we see: a person walking by, a commercial on TV or an unannounced Internet page that suddenly emerges. Temptation is not sin, but what we do with it can be. What we choose to look at determines where our thoughts will go. Determine beforehand to avoid looking at things that can stimulate lust. Deliverance is a heart issue, and it often involves action on our part. Sanctification is God’s job, but obedience is ours. This is where the phrase “I’m a work in progress” comes from. Salvation is instantaneous, but sanctification is a process. David said, “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set nothing wicked before my eyes” (Psalm 101:2-3). Although he failed at times, David was saying that integrity and moral uprightness should be pursued, especially in the home.
- Don’t make plans to sin. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” What you think provides the framework for who you become—thoughts become words, words habits, and habits a lifestyle. Consequently, the more we feed sexual lust, the more we’ll have to fight this desire. Romans 13:14 tells us to “make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” The word provision means forethought, or planning—don’t make plans to sin. What goes in the mind ultimately comes out in our actions.
- A paraphrase of a popular story helps to illustrate this truth: A young man in need of help for his troubled life, walked to a neighboring church. He told the pastor that his life was meaningless and in constant turmoil. He wanted to make better choices but couldn’t. He described the conflict, “It’s as if I have two dogs constantly battling within me. One dog is evil, while the other is good. The battles are long and difficult; they drain me emotionally and mentally.” The pastor asked, “Which dog wins the battles?” Hesitantly, the young man admitted, “The evil dog.” Without a moment’s thought, the pastor said, “Son, that’s the one that you feed the most…you need to starve that dog to death!”
The source of our strength comes from the food that we choose. What we feed grows, and what grows becomes the stronger force within our lives. Sin has a life cycle—it either grows or dies depending on whether we feed or starve it.
- Avoid places that stimulate lust. I remember reading an article about a man who avoided the beach in the summer after admitting his addiction to pornography to his wife. He concluded that being around people who were barely covered often triggered his compulsion. Another case involved a man who stopped visiting certain sections at a local video store, and a woman who stopped reading romance novels. Both concluded that viewing this material was stimulating lust. Although these examples may seem extreme, to counter lust, we must avoid places, people, or things that stimulate that desire. We must be selective when posting pictures on Facebook as well, especially pictures of females. Guys are very visual and the distractions can be endless.
Avoid listening to things that stimulate lust. Much of today’s music can be incredibly sexual in nature. Music is a compelling force and lyrics continually place thoughts in our minds. As thoughts grow, actions often follow. What you choose to listen to is vitally important. Whether it’s listening to others or to the media, pay close attention to whom and to what you listen to.
- Finally, enlist an accountability partner and begin spending more time in the Word. If your trigger is the internet, download accountability software.
Don’t let discouragement and failure stand in your way. Follow the Apostle Paul’s advice, “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:13). Forget your past mistakes, but remember the lessons learned because of them.
BY SHANE IDLEMAN; www.WCFAV.org
This message was originally posted November 19, 2011, at http://westsidechristianfellowship.org. Used with permission from Westside Christian Fellowship.