07 June 2011

This Pornographic Life

YOU'VE DONE IT AGAIN. Once more, you find yourself looking where you ought not. And this you have willfully done. You’ve begged God to remove this blight, these gross desires. You even made some headway. But you’ve gone off and done it again. Forget confession, God doesn’t want to hear that same old prayer, especially not when you know you’ll be breaking your commitment before long. But wait, maybe God doesn’t care that much about all this? After all, he made you; he knows your natural desires, he knows what you need. Why would he make you this way and get all worked up when you act on it? It’s not that big of a deal if done in moderation; he doesn’t think you need to confess.

Well, you couldn’t be further from the truth—on both counts.

It's well known that marriages fall apart at an alarming rate these days. Challenges come from all sides, not least from within. Our failure to recognize that life is not about feeling happy but about bringing glory to our God starts us off in the direction toward marriage FAIL, and a great deal of the way is paved by our collective addiction to pornography.

A quick glance reveals a few surprising statistics from 2010:

  • 89% of porn is created in the United States
  • Close to $3 billion in revenue was generated from U.S. porn web sites
  • $3,000 per second is spent on porn
  • 72% of porn viewers are men
  • The average age a child first sees porn is 11
  • There are 116,000 searches for "child pornography" every day
This, of course, doesn’t take into account the sex industry as a whole, which topped at around $5 billion. In the case of the internet, this means that any and all types of pornography can be easily accessed, with spouses none the wiser—in this case, mostly wives. For those not willing to pay for such thrills, the number of free sites is equally staggering. All of this amounts to the ruin of the marital relationship—in the case of single men and women, before it even comes into fruition. (For those who want their heads to spin with more stats, here's a 19-page .pdf.)

There was a time when pornography was a luxury reserved for the upper echelon, and there was a time, more recently, when one had to drive to a sleazy part of town, walk into a certain section in the video store, or ask the clerk behind the counter in order to find pornography. It was public. But no longer. All that has changed. Everyone can afford it now, and in the privacy of one’s home too. And even though there are many “free” web sites out there, the cost is never free, for the toll it takes is destruction itself.

The reason for this is simple, and scripture speaks to it clearly. When the creator God commanded Adam and Eve to take care of his earth, part of that calling involved sexual intimacy (Gen. 1:28). Indeed, because woman was “taken out of man,” a man therefore “shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:23–24). Holding fast, or cleaving, unites them as they become one. At the least, this involves sexual intimacy, and it provides a wonderful picture of God’s covenant commitment to his people as well. It ought not surprise us, then, that upon breaking God’s command Adam and Eve became ashamed of their nakedness (Gen 3:7).

From the narrative of Genesis to the poetry of Solomon’s Song, we see that God has created and values sexual intimacy within the context of marriage. Saint Paul also assumes as much in 1 Corinthians 7:2–5 when he writes of the mutually satisfying and God-glorifying intimacy between husband and wife, which models the very love Christ has for his bride. But all that can be trashed in moments. This is why the use of pornography is so dangerous—it’s an act of hatred toward the spouse, toward the community of believers, toward the very God who has called us to covenantal commitment.

Like any addiction, it requires more from us the more we use it, which is why it cannot be dealt with alone, nor can it be ignored once confession has been made. Slaves are not freed on their own. Confession, repentance, accountability, openness with the spouse, and counseling must come into the equation. There is no quick fix for this, just as there are no quick fixes for the killing off of our sin in its entirety. Only through the everyday, rote, pursuance of the healing power of God’s grace—in participation with other believers—can we avail ourselves to this cause.

It's bigger than you too. The eyes into which you've looked into for six minutes or so could be the eyes of a desperate, manipulated, or outright trafficked human being. You never know. Why feed it?

This pornographic life must begin on our knees, agonizing over what God would have us do to deepen our love for him, for our spouses, for our fellow believers, and, finally, for a world that hates the one, true God, and us, by flaunting its twisted view of sex in our faces, in our children’s faces, and in the face of our God, the Creator.

{Part of this originally appeared in Tabletalk 32.3 (March 2008): 24–25}

{Update: found a helpful infographic for your viewing displeasure}

Porn Addiction in America


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