Freedom from the Power of Lust (The Danger of Pornography)

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Matthew 5:27–30 (NIV) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

I had a dream last night, which I can’t really remember (I rarely do), but I do remember the very last bit. It was a situation where a couple (perhaps my wife and I) was living together with a couple of guys, which seemed innocuous enough. However, what I remember at the end was that it wasn’t as innocent as it seemed, as one of the guys was down on the floor peeking under the door at the naked wife who was changing. It was a disturbing image.

It caused me to recall a recent event where Amy and I were at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids at the BOB looking at art, and we saw a sign for more art in the next room over. Amy was just ahead of me, and as she went in, she immediately turned around and put her hand on me and said, “you don’t want to go in there.” Unfortunately, I had already taken one step in the room, and there was a nude woman having her body painted (at least the top half). I quickly turned around and we got out of that awkward situation. However, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about what I had just seen even though it was only for a second. And then I found myself trying to fight the temptation to look again.

This also reminded me of a conversation I had with a Christian ministry leader who worked with young people and one of the teenage boys confessed his struggle with pornography. He advised the young man to find a male friend who was not viewing pornography to help hold him accountable, and he said he couldn’t even think of one (including other Christian boys in the ministry). This led to the disturbing reality for me that with the easy availability of porn via the internet and cell phones, a very large percentage of young men (even Christian men) are viewing and being effected by pornography.

Jesus said, that if we even look at a woman with lust we are already committing adultery with her in our heart (Matthew 5:28). And that if our right eye causes us to stumble, we should gouge it out and throw it away. Of course, he wasn’t being literal here, otherwise we would have a lot of one eyed (or blind) Christian men in the world. But what Jesus was pointing out was how serious we should take lust, and what our eyes are looking at. In our current culture, pornography is available everywhere. It isn’t like when I was a kid when porn was limited to magazines on the top rack, and the only way to view it was if an adult bought a magazine and had it laying around somewhere. It is everywhere, and easily accessible right from our devices. Even in social media, like Facebook or email apps, there are ads showing half naked women enticing men to click and take a peek. It is literally just a click away. The porn industry had exploded to billions dollars a year because of this. And our culture doesn’t see it as a big deal, “I’m just looking, it is not like I am hurting anyone.” And yet, for men, who tend to be visual, once the image is in your head, it difficult, if not impossible to get out.

Jesus obviously thought that what happens with our eyes and in our minds are a big deal. Entertaining the thoughts are just as bad as the act itself. Porn corrupts hearts and minds, forcing us to see women as objects for our pleasure rather than persons created in the image of God. It doesn’t just effect our thoughts about the women in the porn, but it causes our minds to see other women we know or encounter, not as they are, and how God desires us to see them, but as objects as well. We begin undressing them in our minds (if not more). Viewing porn destroys present and future relationships because we become more interested in the pictures (or videos) than in our own wife (or future wife), and we have unrealistic expectations of what they should look like, or what the should do to bring us pleasure. It is all about our selfish gratification. Porn is not only sinful, as Jesus points out, it is destructive. It is why Jesus addresses it, so we will keep our minds pure.

Obviously, there are times when we unintentionally see things, or think things that are not honoring to God, ourselves, or others, and brings lust. We might have a dream, or see an unexpected scene in a movie (although we should read reviews before we see them in the first place), or an ad that comes across our screen in social media, or email, or other platforms. At other times we are drawn to look intentionally because we think we cannot help ourselves. When that happens, the reality is that we are addicted. We sought out that movie, or video, or pictures. As followers of Jesus Christ, what we do next is very important. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” In other words, God will provide a way out of this temptation somewhere if we look for it.

Often it means we need to stop looking immediately, to avert our eyes, and do what Joseph did when tempted by lust (Genesis 39:11-12), to get away, as far and as fast as possible. Remove ourselves from that situation at all cost. We need to repent of our sin and lust to God (confess and commit to turning the other way). Pray that God purifies our thoughts, and helps us stop looking at enticing images. Find someone to hold you accountable so you don’t let these images enter your mind again. Don’t let lust remain in the dark, tell someone who can help, preferably your wife, if you are married, or a close friend if you are single. Purchase software that will filter your devices, and only let a trusted person (wife or friend) have the password. Without accountability, just like any sin addiction, you will let the darkness win, and lust will continue to fill your thoughts and harm your life.


For more information visit a resource for men trying to remain free from pornography