Pornography and Temptation

Here are a couple of quotes that you may have seen elsewhere but having read them for myself recently in Tempted and Tried I was freshly moved by them. They present a truth about the temptation of pornography that we need to remind ourselves of again and again because of the prominence and destructiveness of this temptation in our society and culture. I was here at my church less than a month before another man confessed to me that he was struggling in this way. And I know that he is not alone. Whether we are viewing these images on a computer screen, in the mirror of our car as we pass a jogger, or simply in our heads, the danger to our souls, spouses, churches, and families – though we may not feel it at the moment of temptation – is real and catastrophic.

In our time pornography has become the destroying angel of male Eros. I don’t mean to suggest that pornography is only a male temptation (it is not), but pornography, because of the way a man has been designed toward arousal, is, when available, a universal male temptation. It has come to the point now that whenever I meet with a couple in which there is a man who is an emotional shell of himself – dead to intimacy with his wife – and a marriage is fraying apart, I ask how long the pornography has been going on. In every case it’s there. There is a kind of helplessness that a man engaged in pornography exhibits. He often speaks of it in terms of a “struggle” or an “addiction.” Now both of those terms are accurate, I believe, but they distance a person from his sin in a soul-decaying manner. Pornography is not just an addiction; it is occultism. The man who sits upstairs viewing pornography while his wife chauffeurs the kids to soccer practice is not some unusual “pervert”; he is (like his forefather Adam) seeking the mystery of the universe apart from Christ. That’s the reason the one picture, stored in his memory, of that naked woman will never be enough for him. He will never be able to be satisfied because he will never be able to get an image naked enough. I say pornography is occultism because I believe the draw toward it is more than biological (though that s strong). The satanic powers understand that “the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). They understand that the pornography act severs a one-flesh marriage union at the very point of intimate connectedness and instead joins Christ, spiritually, to an electronic prostitute (1 Cor. 6:16). They also know that those who unrepentantly practice such things “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Pornography is, in one sense, no different from any other form of sexual temptation. But in another sense it is even more insidious. Pornography brings with it a kind of pseudo-repentance. Immediately after it is “over,” the participant feels a kind of revulsion and self-loathing. Whereas an adulterer or a fornicator can at least rationalize a kind of transcendent “love” behind his sin, even a conscience thoroughly seared over rarely wants to write love songs or poetry in celebration of his pornographic self-satisfaction. Typically – at least in those who have some sort of Christian or moral identity – the pornographic act is followed by a resolve never to do it again, to leave it behind and find some sort of accountability. But what masquerades as a repentant conscience is in most cases a little more than a sated appetite. When the appetite is “hungry” once again, the demonic powers will collaborate with the biological impulses to find a way to make it seem irresistible again. As the cycle of temptation grinds on, the illusion of repentance keeps the sin in hiding, so that actual repentance never happens until, as with Esau, the conscience is so seared that repentance is then impossible (Heb. 6:4-6; 12:16-17). This is, of course, exactly where the powers want any child of Adam – and especially any professing brother or sister of the Lord Jesus. (p. 85)

Pornography “works” for those who “consume” it because it’s built on an illusion, the illusion of a perfectly willing, perfectly aroused partner without the “work” of relational intimacy. Often romance novels or their film equivalents do the same thing for the emotional needs of women that pornography offers for the erotic urges of men. (p. 86)

Some books that I have found helpful to give away and recommend are:

What are some books or resources that you have found helpful?

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