Notes on Pornography
If they know pornography is wrong, why do people look at it?
Well, most don’t, or at least they don’t think they do. Truth be known, anytime we see someone in person or in a picture (or in an ad or in a movie) and they are defraudingly dressed and we are not offended, we have at some level viewed porn. In case anyone was wondering, ‘defrauding’ is when someone is made to participate in a sinful act or thought by just being present. The perfect example is overhearing a vulgar joke, but this also includes all R rated movies, many PG rated movies, and quite a bit of TV too. Seeing multiplied acts of violence also counts as being defrauded as well. What Jesus had to say about sinful thoughts often finds a springboard when we are defrauded and not offended.
There are presently different views of what constitutes pornography and different levels of acceptance. (‘Presently’ is used because there will be none in Heaven.1) Tolerance is the majority view, followed by discomfort or disgust. The first amendment right of free speech is the primary defense and rationalization for its continued existence, followed by the implied constitutional right of privacy. On the periphera are those who roundly condemn and those who happily endorse.
In protesting it some will militate about the objectification of women (and men), self-centered gratification, or false (idealized2 or deviant) portrayals of sexuality. But rarely is heard about the toxic effect it has on the soul, the corruption of image of God, and numbing our sensitivity, muchless the patently sinful practice of encouraging lustful thoughts about strangers. [The most succinct condemnation I’ve ever read about pornography was a tract called “There’s a Fire Burning” by Mart DeHann. It was concerning internet porn.]
Those who want to justify pornography are many and their motivations are varied. Among them, the very best rationalizers are the ones who are trying to retain a pet sin. Like children caught in a trespass, we are all quick to excuse or justify ourselves. “Everybody does it.” “I’m not hurting anybody.” “I still love you. It's nothing personal.” The subtext is that there are no consequences to mental sexual promiscuity or that pornographic images retained in your mind do not affect your perceptions of others.
The bolder ones go for a full frontal assault. “I have the right to do whatever I want to with my sexuality. How dare you judge my sexual tastes! How would you like it if I judged yours?” In our post-modern culture we are quick to seize entitlements and rights, relativize them, justify them, and parade them in the face of a cowed public. As if sexual expression were an inalienable human right and that God never had anything to do with it nor has anything to say about it; that sex is neither God-given nor God-defined. These persons generally feel entitled to use porn and we are compelled to accept it. Civil rights becomes civil license.
And then there are the minimizer’s. “Better to look at it than to do it in real life.” This is probably the most insidious form of self deception. “I’m sure if it were so bad that it would be harder to get to.” We grab on to a half truth and nurse it into a whole truth. “I’ve read that no one is agreed about whether it’s so bad or not. Some even say it’s very good and that it can help spice up a sagging sex life.”3 Like a dishonest lawyer, we only find arguments that support, or, at the very least, blur the issue. “Women in bikini’s are enough for me. All that other stuff should be banned.” But the only one’s we are fooling is ourselves. Very sad.
There are different kinds of pornography4, but all with the same goal: to sexually excite. There are different reasons for viewing pornography, but all point to the same compensation: to artificially fill a sexualized desire. And since desires are usually multiform (have many contributing components) and are seldom only of one ‘type’, it should not be surprising that not all genre’s appeal to all people. Illustrating and enumerating the different types is unnecessary, but sufficed to say, fixation on a particular type of porn is normative, not atypical. What appeals to one, can be repulsive to another. Moreover, there may be even more factors to it than that. It might also be that genre preference can be additionally based on personality type, cultural norms (deviation from which is ‘exciting’), and perhaps age of first exposure.
Psychically, this points to a prepubescent envy, admiration, or fascination (or trauma or fear or emotional deficit) that became sexualized at puberty and reinforced during adolescence. Practically, it plays out into paraphillia’s, paranoia’s, and addictions (which an obsession with pornography often leads to), or at the very least, an escape from stress or feelings of inadequacy.
Some would posit that we are seeking to medicate our loneliness with a substitute that gives the impression of acceptance, relationship, and desire. But that is more a rationalization than the truth. We are not looking for friendship. We are looking for sexual arousal.
Interestingly, while seemingly diverse, most types of pornography possess many common denominators. For example, the expressions on women’s faces: you will only see 4 kinds of emotions expressed, namely, seductiveness, shamelessness, distress, or ecstasy. In extreme porn you will find the amplifications of these: aggressiveness, cruelty, agony, or stupor. Seldom are any others found. But this is not fully orbed sexuality, for where is contentment or security or warmth (all found in good afterglow)? Where fondness or trust or gentleness? Or embarrassment? Or modesty?! Insecurity? Delay? Nothing of the full tapestry found in real sex or humanity, only poisoned portions.
And this relates to another thing that all pornography has in common… it never says ‘no’.
One need not delve into the depths of porn to test this. All one needs to do is stand in front of any magazine rack and look at the covers. It’s easy to spot who is trying to promote what by the expressions on the women’s faces. Good Housekeeping looks very different from the Sports Illustrated ‘Swimsuit Issue’. Every Day with Rachel Ray is quite different from Biker magazine. And Cosmopolitan? Well, they’ve been peddling soft-core porn for years. [Cosmo is for women what Playboy is for men, that is, both wish to legitimatize a ‘lifestyle’, which both lifestyles are perverse, contrived, and narcissistic.][I think Cosmo should be sold behind-the-counter with all the other smut magazines.]
Also, most all pornography appeals to novelty to arouse excitement, which is not a bad idea per se, but easily fools us into pursuing more perverse sexuality when the novelty wears off. There is also a consistent push towards inequality. Very often, when there are 2 people in the picture, one is seen to either be dominant or dominating the other. One is “doing it to” another. Those who seek to justify call it “power exchanges.” Those who call it for what it is call it “subverting love.” In psychology this is called ‘sexual objectification’. In relationships this is called trading innocence for pleasure, that is to say, pleasure is seen to be more valuable than any consequences such activity might have to the relationship.
Even more interesting is the progressive nature of pornography. The same pictures eventually lose their appeal and a search for newer ones soon begins, and the internet has made this easier than ever. The easy availability of images on the internet has made for quick opportunity5 for perverse curiosity. It is not uncommon for the newer pictures to be more intense or graphic or even violent. More than anything, this ascending tendency (or better, descending tendency)(or better still, destroying tendency) is where pornography leads to addiction. Note: Even when we seem to have self control and in a fit of self-righteousness push away more graphic images, we nevertheless still linger over soft-core images or even just pause when we see defraudingly dressed people. When an addict can’t get a hit, he gets what he can, which as every addict knows, is a set-up for relapse.
Also too, porn and secrecy are often found walking hand in hand. The secrecy involved in viewing pornography can heighten the thrill. But this secrecy, born of shame, often forces us to lie, which undermines personal integrity and self worth. And “descent” to more graphic images always brings regret and self loathing. And if we quietly descend into viewing more perverse sex, next comes the deception is that this is better than normal sex, when the opposite is true. Perverse sex destroys the humanity; of the observer; of the person in the photograph; of the spouse; of the co-worker and attractive stranger. It is depersonalization at its worst. No, that’s not true. Movies filled with violence and multiplied killing is depersonalization at its worst; followed by violent video games.
And finally come the lies when men want to act this out. “Women secretly want to be raped… There is a fine line between pain and pleasure... We should take turns at being ‘in charge’... If you loved me, you would do this... If you wear this, you’d look hot… This won’t hurt the relationship if we add this.” All the lies men use to get women to conform to their pornographic distortions of love-making. No wonder women often feel dirty or disgusted after trying to please their husbands. No wonder they feel despair or anger when the ‘act’ has become the focus instead of them.
It is an inextricable fact of life that our observations and experiences shape our standards. What we see and hear tests our current values and remolds them, often insensibly. Pornography does this to our sexual standards. It redefines what is stimulating and what is desirable. And more than redefining, it ‘conditions’ our arousal. And if we come to legitimize fantasies about rape, bondage, and torture (the very end of the spectrum of perversity), how we got there is unimportant. That porn started the journey is. God forbid that we act these out. But some do. Some in fantasy sex play. Some in real life.
That we can be attracted to and aroused by strangers, albeit beautiful strangers, points to the disconnect that occurs when we separate love from relationship. Actually, pornography is anti-relationship if taken at face value. The sub-text in pornography is that strangers are more enticing than someone we know well. Chance encounters are more exciting than long term commitments. Passionate overwhelmings are better than true love-making, which is typically gentle, thoughtful, and patient… and never violent. The thought of having children is nowhere present in porn. And the danger of passing disease is not even a consideration.
This is also why most movies have the sex scenes between unmarried persons. It’s more spontaneous and exciting. But sex outside of marriage is love without relationship; coitus without commitment. In the movie, the plot is manipulated give the message of relationship, but a movie storyline plays very poorly in reality. And while our transcendent nature (see note 2) makes us believe that ‘this could happen’, the case studies of millions of marriage counseling’s show otherwise.
The most interesting thing is the vast difference of opinion between men and women as to what constitutes porn and its value. Women almost unilaterally condemn porn, and not surprisingly since it puts them in an unfavorable competition with gorgeous women who make it feel like they are posing for the approval of the observer alone.6 Women want to be their husband’s one and only (or even better, the only one ever). This is the nature of true love. Porn completely destroys this in every way. Pornography is the sworn enemy of love. It is portrays loveless sex.
Yet, some women will derive untoward pleasure from romance novels, some of which depict scenes of sexual passion. What’s up with that? Well, Clyde, women tend to want relationship as much as men desire sex. Romance novels weave a story of relationship that flesh out things like sadness, desire, friendship, betrayal, and redemption. You know, emotional stuff. Women like emotional stimulation like men like sexual stimulation. Nevertheless, it is still tantamount to pornography if the reader is reading it for the relational and/or sexual stimulation. Harlequin Blaze falls in the sexual category.
Remember how it was said that pornography points to artificially filling a sexualized desire. Women can be the same way about artificially filling emotional desires. And, just like there are different morphologies underlying our desires, and so, different kinds of porn, there are a least a dozen different genre’s of romance novels. By the way, fixation comes in many flavors. Some men fixate on sports in the same way that others do pornography. Or video games. Or television viewing. Some women fixate on soap opera’s. Or shopping. Or food. Or Facebook postings. Or lot’s of stuff. The point is when we fixate on a thing and allow it large portions of our time and thoughts and money, it is artificially filling an unmet desire. But this is no great revelation. Nor is the fact that most of us have these unmet desires.
It is not that hard to condemn pornography. But the above expansions are necessary because of these relativistic times. Toleration is regrettably the norm. We should wake up. We should excise this cancer from our planet. However, since this is not likely to happen any time soon, the task at hand is what to prescribe for those who have become entangled in it to greater or lesser degrees7 (which has included me at times). Why rail at a problem if one has no solutions or even positive suggestions? I presume that is why you are still reading this, because you need help or want to help others. If neither is true, you can stop now because this is about to become very Christian.
If our ability to will and to choose were completely free, it would only be a matter of showing us the damage caused by a problem, our agreeing with the conclusions, and deciding to stop doing it. But addictions and compulsions and phobias all point to a captive will. This captivity is often organic, usually psychic, and always spiritual.
- Organic because most mental aberrations cause a physiological change, usually in brain chemistry or adrenalin production. Likewise, many physiological aberrations show up in altered behavior and perception. Biology and genetics often have a role to play in our susceptibility to unwanted behaviors8.
- Psychic because counseling always is called for. Knowledge of a life (past and present) and our interior life, always help in understanding the why’s and what to do’s. Traumas and tragedies; family and cultural dynamics; personal struggles and vices, combined with a wonderful database of histories of others who have so struggled, all these, help us to heal and stay healed.
But when something is concerned with ‘moral’ behavior, it also points to a spiritual bondage.9 And that’s what ‘sin’ is all about. The secular ways of recovery use medication, accountability, group support, counseling, relapse training, and meditation drills. Christianity uses all of these and sin and repentance. Here is a faithful saying, “If it’s anything but sin, anything but repentance will take care of it.” Drugs will do it. 12 Step programs will do it. Meditation will do it. But the healing of ‘moral’ transgressions and the power found in forgiveness are gifts of God displayed in their fullness in Christianity.
“Heavenly Father, I have committed mental adultery against my spouse, and sinned against Your Law and Your Love.”
This is the true beginning of deliverance. So it was for salvation. So it is for addiction (or just compulsion or even temptation). The way back always starts with turning around, with changing one’s mind.
But while repentance always begins the journey out, asking our spouse to join us is not always wise. One would think that transparency and trust always are called for. And it is, with God. But our spouses are humans. Humans find it hard to truly forgive and forget. Unloading an over-burdened conscience on an otherwise trusting soul is wrong. Thinking that by confessing our sins that she/he is compelled to forgive our mental unfaithfulness is self-centered deception and will typically reap a lifetime of mistrust and fragile love. This is soulwork, which sometimes involves the spouse, and sometimes does not.
The rule of thumb for confession is the ones who are affected by the trespass are the ones to whom we confess. This is always God, and sometimes our spouses if we are caught viewing it, or worse, if we have asked them to compromise their consciences by requesting them to participate in porn inspired sex. What happens in the head, stays in the head. ‘Mental’ infidelity is between you and God. What leaves the mouth, must be reconciled with the mouth. What is seen by others, must with outward action show others sorrow, repentance, willingness to change, and retribution (meaning, undergoing whatever punishment the offended one sees fit to levy) to the point where the offended one is satisfied and willing to forgive.
Having said that, it also must be emphasized that sometimes finding a person to confess to and talk about our addiction (and who will hold us accountable) is God’s plan for us. Sometimes not. How to know if we should do this? Easy. If what we’re doing is not working, we have to take it to the next level, namely, confession to another believer, but NOT our spouse; that’s the next level if the second level is not working; and that means that God knows that our spouse was affected by our mental infidelity eventho we don’t think so.
Eventually we realize the final battlefield is our thought-life. Here we finally acknowledge that pornography is merely food for our fantasies. Retched, life-destroying, rancid food. But it is a symptom, not the disease itself. The over-arching problem is sin and the temptation to sin. And it doesn’t need to be emphasized how many things ‘temptation’ applies to.
The world is FULL of temptations (opportunities to sin). The devil’s favorite pastime is tempting; that’s even one of his names, “the tempter”. We might be saved and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but our sin nature is not dead yet, and will spring to life when we feed it, and will fight our efforts to subdue it, muchless crucify it. Small wonder we need God’s help to be victorious. And that’s how God planned it. He wants to cultivate our dependence on Him and increase our trust in Him.
Perhaps the reason temptation causes such internal turmoil is because ‘recognizing opportunity for sin’ (spiritual sensitivity) can so easily become ‘considering opportunity for sin’ (temptation) and can so easily permutate into ‘looking for opportunity for sin’ (rebellion). And we are at a loss to explain why this is so. We seem to have such a quick eye or fertile imagination for sin; which besides lust also includes anger, resentment, greed, lies, and much more. There is indeed a mystery to iniquity. But then again, we’ve had practice, haven’t we? There is a saying: “Practice makes perfect, so be careful what you practice.” It shouldn’t surprise us that our much practiced bad habits make reformation extra difficult. But there’s more to it than reforming bad habits…
Once a person starts looking at the porn, their eyes become the gateway for the evil power to enter them. As it gains influence, the evil can numb the viewer's ability discern right and wrong as traditional moral values are blurred. This recognition of the spiritual implications of pornography is integral with healing. Leave it out, and the ‘cure’ can only be incomplete, or worse, ineffective. That’s why prayer is important. We must fight spiritual battles with spiritual weapons.
“Heavenly Father, what’s the big idea making me love you and making me want to be holy and then not helping me overcome this stupid defilement? Where’s the glory in that? Where the victory?”
This is the heart prayer of someone who struggles with temptation. And God wants to answer that prayer. And He will answer it. But the main reason why God usually doesn’t deliver us instantly is because He wants to refine and grow our relationship with His Son and increase our dependence on Him. Constant communion expressing itself in prayer and transparency is also on His mind too. Gradual healing promotes this. Quick healing often results in pride and a decrease in empathy for others. [But I’ve seen quick healing happen! I’ve seen lives changed overnight and captivity to sins like anger, addiction, and greed disappear. And I still desire it and pray for it, both for myself and for others.][I’m so impatient for You to intervene in a mighty way.][Sorry, Lord.]
[ Insert Above Picture Here ]
There is a place we can go where we can be protected, delivered, and victorious. We’ll call it a place because it feels like a place, but really it is a way of being in God’s presence and under the Spirit’s control. It is an embracing of transparency, confession, fellowship, diligence (“watch”), dependence, and thankfulness. There will be a little elaboration below, but sufficed to say, when we are in this ‘place’, temptations will seem like an afterthought instead of a constant companion. We will almost have to remind ourselves to be tempted. This is God at work. And when we don’t acknowledge this, God will lift His hand to allow us to resist in our own strength, at which point we will run for cover and beg Him to return His protecting hand.
? Transparency - We all know that God knows our thoughts and motivations. But we don’t live like it. Transparency is not just praying in His presence, but turning to Him, as if turning to a friend, at any and every moment. It is living like Jesus is walking beside us every step of the way. After not too long we will cease to make excuses for bad thoughts or poor behavior, but will just turn and say “I’m sorry, Lord. Keep me from doing that again.”
? Confession - About the time we cease to sin will be the same time we don’t need to confess any more. But acknowledging our sinfulness is not why God saved us. If we think of our sin nature as a grievous wound laid upon our soul, confession is medicine that heals that wound and restores us. I WANT that medicine! So in the way of transparency, we will find ourselves confessing often. We’ll be quick to accept blame, regardless if we are only partly responsible or mostly responsible; and not just with God, but in all our relationships.
? Fellowship - Church attendance is not fellowship. Fellowship is friendship with the saints within the context of church membership. If we are not invested in the lives of those with whom we worship, worship won’t be as satisfying, neither for us nor for God. Neither can God bless our lives as fully as He wants to until we ‘get with the program’ and find our joy and sorrow in the joys and sorrows of other believers. We are a “Body”… His Body, and not a drawer full of mixed parts.
? Diligence (“watch”)(Mark 13:37) - Jesus is coming. “??What if it were today??” Will we try to look busy or will we be busy? Here is the funny part: Our ‘busyness’ does not impress God. Our sense of urgency does. A conscientious employee always gets the promotion. The same goes for a conscientious Christian looking for opportunity to advance the cause of Christ.
? Dependence - Perhaps the greatest challenge of all. I say that as one who has always been confident, dependable, and hard-working. We tend to think this is how God wants us to be, and it is, but when it is done in our own strength, it is often pride disguised as competence. In my case God has been very patient with me, but nevertheless He has at length put me in many situations that exposed my impotence and helplessness, and at the same time revealed His power and love and care for me. My reply? “OK, You win. I’m Yours. Do what You want to with me.” Friend, a little brokenness in your life can do you a lot of good.
? Thankfulness - Enough said.
Prayer and private devotions (Bible reading and meditation) go without saying. So does church attendance and giving. They are not so much duties enjoined upon the faithful as they are barometers that tell us when we are falling away from our first love. Be on guard if they decrease. Actually they are spiritual exercises and are prerequisite for mature Christian living. True maturity is found in sacrifice and submission.
So is deliverance from temptation… and sometimes not! Sometimes leaving us to struggle with a temptation or an illness or a handicap or a poverty or loneliness or many things is not because He doesn’t care, but that He cares much more that we should remain a little broken (and so, dependant on Him) and wants more intimate communion with us.10 For most of us stupid humans, complete victory produces complete pride, which hinders this precious fruit. Go ask Paul about his thorn in the flesh which he felt was there lest he should be “exalted overmuch”. It was not only Paul’s potential pride that was at stake; it was also his witness to others as one having personal struggles but who still nevertheless rejoiced in Christ his savior.11 (cf. II Cor 12:19) It is a fact of life that addicts will listen to a recovering addict long before they will listen to one who has never struggled with addiction. Again, this is our stupid humanity showing.
Also note: Healing and forgiveness doesn’t mean that we won’t have to guard our recovery, often for the rest of our lives. Staying away from trouble areas and rejecting past mental images means constant vigilance. But here is the miracle: This vigilance will bring us in more intimate communion with our Lord, almost in moment to moment conversation. Maturity in the Faith will overtake us. Dependence and gratitude will become our themes. Love will grow. So will compassion for others. An ex-gay person put it this way: “My goal is not abstinence. My goal is holiness.” And the Holy Spirit, well, let’s just say, He can do a lot more with someone who admits their weakness and stubbornness than He can for the rest of us who still make our own plans and then ask God to bless them.
If thy right eye offend thee…
Mat 18:7-9 Woe unto the world because of occasions of stumbling! for it must needs be that the occasions come; but woe to that man through whom the occasion cometh! And if thy hand or thy foot causeth thee to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from thee: it is good for thee to enter into life maimed or halt, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into the eternal fire. And if thine eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is good for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire.
This is the passage that corresponds to the oft given advice of avoiding places that would overmuch tempt us. The ‘hand’ means things we do. The ‘foot’ means places we go. The ‘eye’ means things we see. Basically, if what we’re doing, if where we’re going, if what we’re seeing are causing us to sin, we must stop doing, going, seeing it. When Matthew 5:29 uses “thy right eye”, this means our best or most important eye. It also means an activity might otherwise be important in our lives and innocuous for others but which we need to separate from our life, casting it away as it were. And pulling this out of our lives will seem odd to others and even seem like we are over-doing it. It means cutting off a natural, normal part of our life for the sake of sinning less; like living a half a life (like having only one eye). A sacrifice indeed, but one which God will honor.
“Dailyness” in a part of Christian living. Daily thankfulness. Daily confession. Daily bread to be sought for from God. While it is important to preach the overarching principles of life and redemption and deliverance, it is just as important to live it on a daily basis. “Give us this day our daily bread” That sounds pretty daily. “Therefore I tell you, Watch!”… Only just for the coming of our Lord? Maybe yes. And maybe also in the sense of not letting our guard down.
So, we have traversed from condemning pornography to over-coming pornography to temptation to mature Christian living. Actually this is a much traveled road for many struggles. Praise be to God for making this life so interesting and challenging, and for His ‘narrow road’ on which to walk thru it. Praise Him for those who will walk with us as helpers, and those with whom we can walk to help. Praise Him for our constant companion and Lord, Jesus, and for our constant helper, the Holy Spirit. In fact, let’s just praise Him… because He is worthy of praise.
“In the world ye have tribulation12: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” So He did at Calvary. So He will do when his kingdom comes. And so he does… thru us today.
1 In answering the question, “Will there be any pornography in Heaven?”, the reply necessitates another question: “Would God allow the publication of any material that would cause us to lust and thereby sin?” The answer then is not just, “No, of course not.” The answer then is: “Pornography stands condemned in this world.” ‘None in Heaven’ implies that pornography has no business here on earth.
2 The posing of the person is “observant framed”, that is, like a movie, it is photographed (and manipulated) with the viewer in mind. But this is true of most all photography. Why is this significant for pornography? Two reasons: The observer feels in control, that is, they are the ones for whom the person is posing, and, being transcendent, we feel we are there. Hence the deception of porn: unrealistic representations and life destroying options (were it indeed reality, were it actually acted out with the stranger/s). Thus sex is portrayed in improbable, unsafe, and impersonal ways. FYI - Transcendence is a uniquely human ability of being able to imagine ourselves as outside of ourselves, even outside reality; as participating or being some place else. What psychologists call “projection” is a form of transcendence and is the underlying ability that allows us to read stories or watch movies and feel we are there, almost as participants. By the way, transcendence is also one of the aspects of the Image of God we are said to be created in.
3 Indeed some counselors do recommend pornography and kinky sex to rekindle sexual desire. Here’s an internet quote from one who used to do just that: “The more I thought about healthy sexuality—consent, equality, respect, trust, safety—the more doubt I had about advocating pornography as a sexual-enhancement product.”
4 The difference between porn and art? The artist’s intention to sexually arouse the observer. It is not about the
observer’s reaction, but the artist’s intent. Were it defined by the observer’s reaction, almost anything could become porn because of our infinite ability to sexualize anything. But we
don’t need to over analyze our motivations. All we need to do is linger over an erogenous zone to know something is wrong, muchless feel discomfort or arousal, muchless feel shame or the need
for secrecy, muchless wanting to hide it from children lest they see it.
A quote: "Why is the artist showing me this?" and "Why am I still looking at it?" And if (the answer to) either of those is "To get aroused." Then that is what I would define as porn.
5 Fast reinforcement accelerates addiction in addictive types. Ask any slot gambler about video slots. This is a principle of operant conditioning. A quote: “In searching for porn, the addict looks for just the right site or particular sexual activity. To this the internet acts like a carefully calibrated slot machine. It rewards only intermittently, compelling the user to stay engaged and not give up. The result is that users end up looking at pornography for longer periods of time, often seeking riskier content to "hit the jackpot" of landing on an extremely stimulating image.” And this reinforcement adds another link to the chain of addiction. But Jesus can break the chain. He is the bondage breaker. [An aside: In seeking “better” pictures, it’s not the internet that has recalibrated its search results, but us who have decided that the current pictures are no longer sufficiently exciting.]
6 Want to kill a marriage… slowly? Porn will do it. So will emotional absence, constant criticism, and lying. So will a lot of things. But porn is different. It is more like cheating on our spouse; like ‘mental’ adultery. Small wonder that Jesus condemned looking and thinking as well as doing (adultery).
7 Most people who view pornography are not addicts. Probably about 5% to 10% of those who view porn become addicts in the sense of debilitating behavior or grounds for divorce. It is like that with alcohol and gambling too. One would think that those with addictive personality disorders would easily succumb to all addictions, but that’s not true. Generally a person has an addiction of preference, altho it is true that other addictions can be more enticing for these than for non-addictive types. We often think that as long as we are not ‘addicted’, we are O.K. This is a common self-deception. Problem behavior is never ‘either/or’. It is a matter of degrees. Take gambling. There are spontaneous, ‘for fun’ gamblers (vacation gamblers); those who gamble for recreation (weekend gamblers); problem gamblers; and compulsive gamblers. And then there are non-gamblers, either by conviction or lack of interest. And while some are tempted to gamble and some are not, so some are tempted to view pornography, while others don’t think about it at all. Nevertheless, temptation is a problem everyone has to face in some area of their life. We have to, or we would never understand the meaning of the word.
8 Hence a problem with evolutionary theory. If behavior is heritable, then unwanted behavior should have been ‘selected’ out over time. To compensate for this theoretical weakness, genetic aberrations/mutations are called forth to explain heritable undesirable behaviors like alcoholism and such. Statistically though, genetic aberrations are unable to explain the large populations wherein said behaviors exist. Negative mutations generally average about .025% of a population for a particular trait. Altogether, the total of all negative conditions caused by genetic mutations are found in about 1% of the population (Whitehead, “My Genes Made Me Do It” (1999), pg. 24)(Note: This is not the same as “inherited” disorders caused by the joining of two recessive carriers, which varies by culture, race, location, and marital practices). This is why most psychologists are compelled to include environmental influences as well.
9 Unless our morality is only based in expedience, eg, what is best for the person, what is best for the family or relationship, what is best for the group or business or society, what is best for the planet. Morality based on expedience barely qualifies as morality at all. It is the morality of science and materialism (a world without God); and as such, can justify the most egregious crimes in its quest to form the ideal society. Nazi Germany is a recent example, but the wars of religion and the pogroms of political revolutions also veil the same agenda. True morality is based on intrinsic worth. If it were not, we would euthanize the elderly and the incompetent to lighten society’s burden. Alas, we already do this with the unborn.
10 A Sunday School teacher in Denver dropped a bomb on me from which I never recovered. He said that God wasn’t interested in my happiness. God was interested in me knowing Him better. Thank You, Lord, for that Sunday School teacher.
11 Re: Paul’s ‘thorn’ - I subscribe to the notion that it was eye pain (perhaps resulting in migraines) which originated when he was struck blind on the Damascus road. Cp. Gal 4:15 - Where is then the blessedness you spoke of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. (see also vs. 13-14)
12 There’s a ‘promise’ that few have ‘claimed’.
All passages are from the Revised Version unless otherwise indicated.
Genesis 3 - Temptation happens very early in the Bible, even at the beginning. This is evidence that its ongoing influence would be present throughout our life and throughout the history of the humanity. Note: The story of the temptation of Adam and Eve is archetypical and has many things to say about all the temptations we face everyday.
Exo 34:12-14 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a
snare in the midst of thee: but ye shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and ye shall cut down their Asherim: for thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name
is Jealous, is a jealous God:
[Compromise makes fertile ground for temptation.]
Deu 8:2-3 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness, that he
might humble thee, to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which
thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every thing that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man
[Despite trials and humiliations God might allow to afflict our lives, they can still have their good work in refining our faith. Moreover, He still is there to lead us and preserve us and to make us aware of spiritual truths that are always present, if we will only look for them.]
Deu 8:11-14 Beware lest thou forget the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I
command thee this day: lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied,
and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage;
[Prosperity has its own special way of tempting us… to forget God.]
Deu 13:3 thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or unto that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you,
to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
[God allows deceivers in this world and can use them for our good despite their wicked intent. Temptation is not good, but it can be made to do us good if it is recognized it can perform the function of a ‘faith refiner’.]
Jdg 8:27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went a whoring after it there:
and it became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.
[Humans so easily are tempted to worship things other than God. Science has brought us benefits, so we worship it as our deliverer. Education, religion, government, commerce, all have bequeathed their blessings, and each has its worshipers.]
2Ch 32:31 Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him (Hezekiah) to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.
[When God lifts His protecting hand, it is to remind us that our strength and wisdom are insufficient. We… need… Him.][‘faith refiner’]
Pro 3:21-24 My son, let not them depart from thine eyes; keep sound wisdom and discretion; So shall they be life unto thy soul, and
grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way securely, and thy foot shall not stumble. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be
[So praying for wisdom is a good thing, yes?]
Was Job tempted? And how!! Who tempted him? Who allowed it? Does God tempt us? No. Does God allow temptation in the world? Yes. Does God allow us to be tempted individually? Yes. Why? See above.
Psa 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law; and they have none occasion of stumbling.
[So reading our Bible is a good thing, yes?!]
Pro 6:27 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
[Can a person view porn and not be affected nor affect others?]
Pro 14:27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
[Informality is a problem for modern day Christianity. We shouldn’t pray to our “Big Pal in the Sky”. Our God is holy. We must pray like it. We must live like it.]
The best known NT story on temptation is in Matthew 4:1-11, the story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. Three times Jesus was tempted and three times He resisted. If this has anything to say to us, it is that scripture preeminently is our first line of defense against temptation. Whatever has been written here in this article or anything you have read in the past comes second.
Mat 17:27 But, lest we cause them to stumble, go thou to the sea, and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and
when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a shekel: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
[As we will see below, there is a lot in the NT about circumspect living, namely, remembering that others are watching us.]
Mat 18:7-9 Woe unto the world because of occasions of stumbling! for it must needs be that the occasions come; but woe to that man
through whom the occasion cometh! And if thy hand or thy foot causeth thee to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from thee: it is good for thee to enter into life maimed or halt, rather than having two
hands or two feet to be cast into the eternal fire. And if thine eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is good for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than
having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire.
“Lead us not into temptation.”
[It is OK to ask for God’s protection. How interesting that this request comes immediately after “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. Might there be any connection??]
Luk 8:13-14 And those (who are like the seed that fell ) on the rock are they which, when they have heard, receive the word with
joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among the thorns, these are they that have heard, and as they go on their way they are
choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
[This is perhaps one of the saddest passages in the Bible in that it speaks of our allowing trials and temptations and pleasures and cares to lead us away from the One Who loves us so.]
Rom 6:11-14 Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign
in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof: neither present your members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your
members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace.
[Altho neither temptation nor stumbling are mentioned, this passage is central to overcoming them.]
Rom 8:13b (NAS) ...If by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, then you will live.
Rom 14:15 For if because of meat thy brother is grieved, thou walkest no longer in love. Destroy not with thy meat him for whom
1Co 6:15-20 Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ? shall I then take away the members of Christ, and make them members
of a harlot? God forbid. Or know ye not that he that is joined to a harlot is one body? for, The twain, saith he, shall become one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee
fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is outside the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost which is in
you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body.
[Defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit by fornication (sinful sex) grieves the heart of God. Drawing lewd pictures on the walls of that same temple is just as wrong, but it is what we do when our memories retain pornographic images.]
1Co 8:9-13 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to the weak. For if a man see thee which
hast knowledge sitting at meat in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be emboldened to eat things sacrificed to idols? through thy knowledge he that is weak perisheth, the
brother for whose sake Christ died. And thus, sinning against the brethren, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat maketh my brother to stumble, I
will eat no flesh for evermore, that I make not my brother to stumble.
[See above about circumspect living. Love does these kinds of things.]
1Co 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted
above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.
Gal 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his own
flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life.
[Very fearful.][Note the counter-measure!]
Gal 5:16-18 But I say, Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the
Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would. But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the
[This speaks of one of the battlefields wherein our ‘spiritual warfare’ takes place.]
Gal 6:1 (Phi) Even if a man is detected in some sin, my brothers, the spiritual ones among you should quietly set him back on the right
path, not with any feeling of superiority but being yourselves on guard against temptation.
[Spiritual pride is always a temptation for mature Christians. We must never forget that we all are recovering sinners.]
Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
[Of which ‘temptation’ is his weapon of choice.]
Heb 2:18 (GW) Because Jesus experienced temptation when he suffered, he is able to help others when they are tempted.
[Very encouraging!! Jesus knows. Jesus cares. And Jesus helps.]
Jas 1:12-15 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which
the Lord promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man: but each man is tempted, when he
is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death.
[Temptation is a ‘faith refiner’ and a ‘blessing bestower’. Note the vector of temptation - sinful desire, actual sin, continued sin, death.]
2Pe 1:10 Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall
[Mature Christian living (growing in grace) cannot but have a good effect in strengthening us in our temptations. Here is the whole passage in context using a different translation: 2Pe 1:5-10 (GW) Because of this, make every effort to add integrity to your faith; and to integrity add knowledge; to knowledge add self-control; to self-control add endurance; to endurance add godliness; to godliness add Christian affection; and to Christian affection add love. If you have these qualities and they are increasing, it demonstrates that your knowledge about our Lord Jesus Christ is living and productive. If these qualities aren't present in your life, you're shortsighted and have forgotten that you were cleansed from your past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, use more effort to make God's calling and choosing of you secure. If you keep doing this, you will never fall away.]
1Jn 2:10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
[Temptation might be a ‘faith refiner’, but Love is a ‘temptation destroyer’.]
Gleanings from other fields
Oswald Chambers: “A man's disposition on the inside, i.e., what he possesses in his personality, determines what he is tempted by on the outside. The temptation fits the nature of the one tempted, and reveals the possibilities of that nature. Every man has the setting of his own temptation, and the temptation will come along the line of the ruling disposition. Temptation yielded to... is a proof that it was timidity that prevented the sin before.”
C.S. Lewis: “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because he was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means--the only complete realist.”
M. Casey: “We need to remember that there is but a single purpose in all temptation, to separate us from God.”
St. Anthony (of the desert): “…and expect temptation till your last breath.”
Spurgeon: “A believer who errs is still saved, but the joy of his salvation is not experienced by him; he is rescued but not enriched, greatly borne with, but not greatly blessed.”
John Lo but "I won´t." It is no longer "I have to read my bible" but "I want to read my bible." It is no longer "I have to pray" but "I
want to pray". The law says "I can't sin" but grace says "I don't want to sin".
“…Sin does not have power over you! That is a fact! Only you can let sin rule your life now. You see, submission is the key in your fight against sin. Sin now becomes a barometer of the relationship that you have with God, just as relationship is the barometer of the amount of submission that you have toward God.
“So, if the sin in your life is high, it is because your relationship with God is low, and your relationship with God is low because your submission of your self to God is low. If the sin in your life is low, it is because your relationship with God is high, and your relationship is high because the amount of yourself that you submit to God is high. I hope that makes sense to you. See for yourself if this is not true!” - Bishop Mark Shaw
[cp. Billy Sunday’s sermon, “God’s Detective”][I love Billy Sunday.][Billy Graham too.]