Something Wicked This Way Comes: The Perniciousness of P0rn I probably should have said something about this subject earlier. However, I’ve been quite busy and the issue wasn’t on the forefront of my mind. But a recent counseling session served to remind me of the destructiveness of p0rnography. And the topic needs to be addressed. The production and distribution of p0rnography has gone through the roof in recent years. Those inside the walls of the church have not been able to escape its onslaught. Now, statistically speaking, approximately 20% of the women in Christian churches view p0rnography on a regular basis. For men the percentage is horrifyingly high: approximately 50% of all men who call themselves "Christian" regularly view p0rnography. I don't want to bog this entry down with horrifying statistics, but if you're interested just do a Google search on the subject. The results may astonish you. This state of affairs is unacceptable. It is unacceptable that members of Christ’s visible body should present a veneer of holiness but in the quiet of their homes engage in behavior that fundamentally undermines the relationships between God and man, Christ and Church. There are many reasons why p0rnography is destructive, but ultimately one reason why it is wrong: God forbids it. We’ll come back to that… Unfortunately, in our day and age people are more concerned with the destructive aspect because that is where the consequences are acutely felt in the here and now. We don’t get all worked up about offending God, because we presume upon His forgiveness. We’re more worried about whether or not it’ll affect me temporally – as if violating God’s law has no long term consequences! We are fundamentally "person" centered, even in our understanding of sin. In fact, the Barna Research Group tells us that only 17% of "evangelical Christians" define sin as primarily an offense against God. Why do people view p0rnography? Because they love the darkness. To sinful beings, sin is fun. Fallen humanity’s one constant pursuit and passion is the suppression, rejection, and perversion of God’s will so as to attempt to live autonomously – “as gods”, as if we can ever escape our knowledge of, or dependence upon, God. p0rnography represents such an attempt for many reasons. Some are: 1. p0rnography seeks to make perversion and deviancy appear normal. I do not here refer to the act of filming sex, per se, but to the specific type of sexual activities depicted by p0rnography. p0rnography is a medium for altering perceptions about what constitutes legitimate sexual behavior. The axiom “A picture is worth a thousand words” is repeated because in an empirical age, “seeing is believing.” People come to accept as normal that which they see. This is why the local Afghani workers think that in America we’re all rich and drive fancy cars: that is what they see in movies. One expressed surprise when I told him that movies are not an accurate depiction of reality. So powerful is visual representation in altering our perceptions that Communist governments made sure that a television was in every house: if you control what people see, you control what they think. p0rnography conditions us to think that certain deviant practices are acceptable. This is unacceptable because our attitudes are only rightly formed by the Word of God. 2. P0rn conditions us to be selfish lovers. This is one of the more immediately destructive tendencies of this genre of film. Everything about p0rnography, from the camera angles, to the music, to the rhythm of the actors – EVERYTHING – is designed to lead towards self-gratification without any particular concern for the pleasure of the partner. It is all about getting and never about giving. I’ve seen these effects manifested as guys in the barracks would seek to “act like” their favorite p0rn star. P0rn is a conduit for cheap thrills and quick release. If you let p0rnography influence you then you will become a selfish, sorry lover. And I mean that: you will be a sorry lover. Your main concern in the bedroom will be the gratification of yourself. You may be willing to try the same freakish antics necessarily employed by p0rn producers in order to keep things from getting boring, and you may even confuse these antics with being exciting. But it is all a smoke screen: those things are done because the partners do not have the innate concern or desire to please each other. They just want to get, and if that involves some freakish act, so be it. 3. p0rnography leads us to believe that our sexuality belongs to ourselves, and that expressing it is a right. We think that the physical world exists for its own sake. But this is simply not true. The physical world is real and important, but there is a lot of typology and symbology at play in our world to point us to the things of God. Sex is one such thing. God gave us sex to depict the kind of closeness and compatibility that should exist between God and man, Christ and church, with both relationships existing in and by covenantal union. Thus, sex is only permissible within the covenantal relationship of marriage, which is itself a picture of God’s relationship with his people. Sex is like a living parable: when we engage in sex within a different context, we are creating a picture or image that stands in opposition to the one instituted by God. In short, when we engage in sex outside the covenantal relationship of marriage, we present a picture of a torn humanity seeking to replace closeness with God with the creativity of his own mind. This is why the language of Romans 1:24-26 is so shocking in the Greek: Paul is essentially saying that homosexuality is, itself, a judgment from God to depict in physical terms the spiritual counterfeit of mankind’s idolatry. But unnatural heterosexual relationships are just as vile in their depiction of man’s rebellion and defection from a right Creator/creature relationship with God. Contrary to the assumptions on which p0rn operates, sitting alone in one’s room attempting sexual self-gratification is not a legitimate venue for sexual expression because it does not convey the covenantal love and faithfulness of God towards his people. This is important because many of the folks who view p0rn would “never” (so they say) cheat on their spouse physically. But they think that indulging in self-gratification is permissible because, after all, they are not with another person… so (the argument goes) they are not being unfaithful. Hogwash! You are lusting after another woman which, according to Jesus is of the same essence as adultery. You who think that you’re being faithful even as you seek sexual arousal and gratification from thoughts or images of another woman: Jesus is saying that YOU are a faithless covenant breaker just as is the one who seeks such gratification with the woman herself. Your sexuality belongs to your wife. And only your wife. Your wife’s sexuality belongs to you. And only to you. You are not the legitimate master of your own sexuality... your spouse is! This informs the basis of Paul’s command that we not deny our spouse our bodies as well as the Old Testament injunction that a husband had a sexual obligation to his wife. Your body is not your own and you are not permitted to express sexuality in any context other than with your spouse because any other expression constitutes a depiction of idolatry, which is in fact an act of idolatry. 4. P0rn encourages us to give in to our base passions. People like sex. I know I do! People like feeling the sensation of orgasm. I know I do! But the problem arises when they give in to these desires and seek to live them out like mindless beasts. Beasts follow their instincts, hormones, appetites, etc… without any rational thought or self restraint. This is why during the rut (mating season) deer are killed along the road with much greater frequency: they’re so worried about sowing their oats that they cast off the caution which normally governs their actions. Acting like animals is BAD because we are NOT animals. We were created in God’s image to govern this world. One of the chief tools God has given us by which we carry out our task is our MIND. It is our mind, not physical strength, agility, or prowess, which enables us to create things to survive and thrive. What p0rn does is make sexual gratification easy to attain. And mindless beasts are ensnared because they just want what comes easy. It conditions you to adopt a mindset of instant gratification and this spills over into other facets of life. You end up simply pursuing your own interests, your own good, because you’ve been conditioned to live like an animal. It happens all the time. People routinely lose their family because they get “addicted” to p0rn and this attitude of easy self-gratification spills over and they start using people for that end, stop serving others, etc… and pretty soon, they’ve pushed everyone away. Live like an animal and you’re good for little else than to be hunted and killed like one. You are not an animal, you’re a person. Be conformed to the will of God and bring your physical passions under control. 5. P0rn entices us to seek to escape from reality. The world of p0rnography is pretend. We are invited to enter this fantasy world, if only for just a few minutes, to have a little fun and feel the titillating excitement of sex… all within the comfort of our own home. “Never mind your spouse,” it says, “you aren’t hurting her… and besides, these ladies look so good!” “When things get rough, come enjoy yourself… don’t worry about working through your problems… here… let me offer you a little diversion.” “Come here, good sir… your wife is a dud. She isn’t meeting your needs and she won’t change… so don’t mind her… just come to me and I’ll show you what you need…” Such are the alluring words of p0rn to the undiscerning. And once we give in, once we begin to follow our base passions and begin to think that we are the masters of our own sexuality, our problems mount and we continue to seek the escape. We eventually become trapped as we allow the sexual gratification we get from p0rn to become our anesthesia to help us avoid the stress and pain of our miserable existence. But reality doesn’t stop just because we try to escape it. Your problems will mount, your relationships will not heal themselves… you will eventually plunge headlong into the destruction that has caught hundreds of thousands of surprised men off guard. And you will weep for a chance to redo your life, but another chance won’t come. The escape that p0rn offers is a deadly lie. Eventually her warm soft embrace will become a stranglehold. Flee it at all cost! These five reasons alone should compel us to denounce p0rn in every possible venue – especially in our churches. But the chief reason p0rn must be repudiated, and why Christians must be warned, is because p0rnography is a violation of God’s holy law. By viewing it we violate the 7th Commandment, “Do not commit adultery” (because as we have seen, Jesus declares that the 7th Commandment rightly includes the internal acts of lusting as part and parcel of the physical act). Additionally, we violate the 10th Commandment in that we express dissatisfaction with our own life and circumstances while wishing to have another wife, life, or circumstance… Please do not presume upon the mercy of God. Do you really think that the Judge of the world is fooled when you say with your lips “Lord, I love you” but then willfully and unrepentantly continue to live as a pagan? Do you really think that you can turn God’s grace into license with impunity? God knows the difference between us saying “Please forgive me” and us meaning “Please forgive me.” The New Testament is replete with warnings to Christians – to members of the New Testament Church – of the judgment that will await them if they fall away. We are to pursue the holiness without which no one will see God. We are reminded of the horrible judgment that befell the Israelites after experiencing salvation from Egypt… We are warned of the wrath to be endured by the one who has “trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace.” After declaring the words of God that “Vengeance is mine,” the writer to the Hebrews declares: “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” I beg you: for the good of your family… for the good of your life… for the good of your soul... repent of your desire for p0rn, flee it, turn to the cross and seek forgiveness. Trust in Christ alone for your standing before God, knowing that the Spirit we are given will change our desires and behavior to bring us into an ever increasing conformity with God’s will. God is good. He will do it.