The easy availability if internet porn means that one-in-three Christians now struggle with pornography says Nick Coombs, who recently led a five week course on porn addiction, ‘The Fight’, for 30 men at the Anglican church of City on a Hill.



I first encountered porn when I was 14. While with a bunch of mates, one casually turned on the latest X-rated movie his ‘porn star’ uncle apparently produced. Statistically, these days I would be considered as being introduced to pornography very late. We live in a day where sex has become so dominant and distorted that it is no longer a gift being celebrated, but a God we worship. As Debra Jopson and Elicia Murray in The Age put it, we are ‘Generation Sex’.

This distortion rears its ugly head most prominently in pornography. This is a $96 billion industry with 13,000 porn films made each year. One online report suggests 37% of online pages contain pornographic content, 2.5 billion emails per day are pornographic and the average age at which a child sees porn is 11. What was previously limited and hard to find is now affordable, accessible and anonymous. This isn’t just a cultural issue the church should stand against, but rather it is an issue that concerns each individual that makes up the church. Tim Chester, in his book Captured by a Better Vision suggests that one-in-three Christians struggle with pornography. This struggle ranges from an occasional fall into online peeping to an enslaving addiction. This issue can no longer remain the ‘elephant in the room’ of most male Bible studies, but rather the church must seek to protect the purity of her people. Pornography is too prevalent and too perilous to not be talked about.

The social, relational, emotional, financial and spiritual effects of pornography are devastating.
  1. Pornography is prostitution, as men pay money, time and dignity for gratification. This payment might not be direct, but the support of pornography feeds the human trafficking industry, in which some 27 million women and children are trapped worldwide. The harlot that used to be on the street corner is now our computer.
  2. Pornography portrays women as objects rather than human beings made in God’s image. Pornography gives men the false impression that sex and pleasure are entirely detached from intimacy and relationship.
  3. Pornography is abusive. Many women lauded as ‘porn stars’ often suffer physical and sexual abuse, including rape, and are given drugs to dull the pain of constant movie making.
  4. Pornography ruins marriages. The women on-screen aren’t the only victims. The wives of the men in your congregation who look at porn are victims too. Husbands have a Biblical mandate to be ‘one-woman men’ (1 Tim. 3:2). Like Job, we are not to look lustfully upon other women (Job 31:1). Jesus himself said “if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell” (Mark. 9:47). When husbands don’t live up to this standard, marriages are weakened. Men who view porn become emotionally absent, dishonest and dissatisfied with their wives.
  5. Pornography is enslaving. During the course at City on a Hill held to help men fight porn, one man shared the effects of porn in his life. After first being exposed to porn at six years old, a curiosity was awakened. What started as a seemingly innocent dabble in pictures, led to an all out addiction. This culminated in the insatiable desire for gratification at brothels with prostitutes, to the neglect of his wife and young family. His story highlighted the ever-darkening lengths a man must go to for satisfaction. While porn use might start out very casual, it will not take long to lead to even more serious sexual activity.
  6. Pornography leads to shame, guilt and isolation. The men I led during our course were broken men who were fed up with constant guilt and shame over sexual failures. Pornography also cuts people off from one another and inhibits the relational intimacy we were created to need (Gen. 2:18).

These devastating effects of pornography are just the beginning, as the man himself will also suffer. To be sure, he is responsible for his sin, but he is also a victim of the sexualisation of our culture that makes living in purity so hard for the 21st century Christian man.

The effects of pornography are overwhelming, and many men and women in churches around Australia are suffering due to porn. However, there is hope. Many would initially jump toward the plethora of practical options when seeking a solution. Accountability applications and distraction techniques have their place. Yet, none of these address the core reason someone watches porn.

The Bible presents us with a God who offers forgiveness, redemption and hope to sinners, as well as joy, reward and future grace as a motivation toward personal holiness. This double-edged sword of freedom from past sin and freedom toward righteousness is the answer to defeating pornography (Col. 2:6). The shame, guilt and timidity that pornography brings can be defeated because Jesus defeated sin by dying with our shame and guilt upon his shoulders (1 Pet. 2:24). He also offers us a life of ever-increasing joy in Him if we would discontinue our fascination with lesser pleasures (Jn. 10:10). As CS Lewis once said ‘We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.’

The porn addict’s problem is not that he is addicted to pleasure, but rather he is not captivated enough with his Saviour. Jesus has died in the place of the porn addict, the porn star and the occasional porn viewer. Jesus Christ is the answer to pornography and He calls us to a greater joy in Him, for the good of His people and the glory of His name.

Nick Coombs is the Network Director at City on a Hill. His role is to oversee particular ‘networks’ of the church, including men.

 

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