Pornography has become one of the most destructive forces in our culture today.
Never has it been so widespread ? and never has it been so easy to find.
What we would call "hard-core pornography" — the more explicit images, videos, or descriptions of erotic behavior — has grown rapidly during the last two decades. In the past, pornography was available only at stores or through the mail. But the pornography industry is often the first to take advantage of new media technology — and now with cable television, DVDs, cell phones, iPods, and especially the Internet, it is easier than ever to find, and harder than ever to resist.
Internet pornography has earned itself a reputation for being the crack cocaine of sexual addiction. "It works so quickly and it's so instantly intense," says Dr. Robert Weiss of the Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles. "We're seeing a whole population of clients who have never had a history with the problem, but for the first time, they're beginning one particular activity and getting hooked."1
Jesus said in Matthew 6:22-23, "The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness." This is a perfect description of what happens when you choose to view pornographic material — it brings darkness into your body.
Pornography takes something that is beautiful when it occurs between a married man and woman and makes it dirty. God created the act of sexual union as a special gift for a husband and wife. It is a celebration of love that strengthens a marriage and builds oneness.
But pornography twists and perverts the beauty and biblical design of God's creation. The focus on sensual pleasure becomes such a powerful drug that it destroys all that is important in the rest of their lives. It leads men and women to look at each other as nothing more than sex objects. It causes them to fantasize about sexual relationships with other people, and that's a terrible blow to their marital commitment.
Whenever FamilyLife Today airs a program on this subject, the letters and emails we receive confirm that pornography can tear apart a home, and it can tear apart a person's soul. Here are a few examples:
"Before we were married, my husband had confessed that he was into pornography "somewhat", but it stopped once our relationship grew. I found out that wasn't the end of it. A few months back I was heartsick to find almost 100 photos of graphic nature on my computer. A lot happened since then, a confrontation, many fights, but the hardest for me has been the lost of trust and feeling I truly was my husband's best friend and fantasy. It hurts a lot and I don't see how our relationship will ever be the same or I can have that total trust in his character and integrity again."
"Please pray for deliverance. I am a Christian that is addicted to pornography, especially on the web. Pray that God would give me the power to withstand under the temptation and be victorious. I know that this is hurting my marriage."
"Your broadcast on pornography over the last two days has had a profound affect on me. I was amazed at the accurate description of how pornography affects your whole being. The last 18 months have been the worst because of the easy access I had to pornography on the Internet. I progressed to the point where I would spend hours at a time to find pictures that would stimulate me. Just as with a drug addict, it took more and more pornography to satisfy my addiction. I began to push my wife away in many direct and indirect ways. I would delay going outside to play with my six-year-old son because I was on the Internet ?
"My wife gradually spent more and more time with her best girlfriend across the street because I was emotionally dead inside. The life had literally been sucked out of me. I felt as though my ability to think clearly was greatly affected. I had trouble repeating phone numbers because I was consumed with guilt and shame. I gradually lost respect for my wife as a person. It was almost impossible for us to carry on a conversation. These changes occurred so gradually that I did not realize it was the pornography that was affecting me."
These are just a few examples of the frustration, shame, and guilt that habitual use of pornography brings to a life. Sin can be alluring, and can bring temporary pleasure, but in the end sin will destroy you. James 1:14-5 says, "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death." Sometimes pornography is described as a "victimless crime," but in reality you are a victim, your wife is a victim, and your marriage is a victim.
Breaking Free From the Trap
If you want to break free from the sexual sin and lust fueled by pornography, the first thing you need to realize is that you can't do it in your own power. You need the presence of God in your life. In fact, if you have never understood what it means to be a Christian, and how you can know God personally, please read this clear presentation of the gospel. It will be the most important decision of your life.
If you know Christ lives within you, here are some suggested steps for dealing with the trap of pornography:
Step One: Confess Your Sin
When you try to keep such sin secret, your spirit will become increasingly troubled. Remember the comment from one of the e-mails above, where one man said he became "emotionally dead" and that life was "sucked out of me"? Compare those words to those of King David in Psalm 32:3-4:
When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.
David realized he could not go on until he confessed his sin to God:
I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD'; And You forgave the guilt of my sin" (Psalm 32:5).
On one hand, confession is simply agreeing with God about sin in your life. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, "Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." When you look at those pictures or images to stimulate you sexually, you are committing adultery in your heart. When you confess this to the Lord, you simply say, "Yes, I was lusting after that woman. I sinned against You, Father."
You may be thinking, "I've done that. But nothing changed." That's because, when faced with a deep-rooted sin such as this — one that has involved numerous poor choices over a period of time — your confession must come with a broken heart that shows that you are repentant — ready to turn away from your sin.
Repentance means "to turn around." When you have a habit of sin in your life, it is like getting in a car and driving away from God. When you repent, you stop moving away from God and turn around to face Him, and through His power start moving toward Him again. Repentance is a sorrow that comes from realizing that you have offended the very holiness of God. You must be willing to turn away from your sin and toward the life God wants for you. If you are going to deal with your sin successfully, repentance is essential.
What does God do when you come to Him with an attitude of brokenness and repentance? He offers forgiveness and cleansing. 1 John 1:9 tells us, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." You may not be freed from the desire to commit this sin again, but you can be freed from the crushing weight of guilt and shame.
At some point, you also need to confess to your wife. You shouldn't tell her all the sordid details of your sin and entrapment by pornography. But if you don't confess your sin to her and ask for her forgiveness, the air will never be clear between you and your relationship will not grow and prosper as it could.
You may be thinking, "I could never share these things with my wife." It will be the hardest thing you ever do and one of the most courageous. Steven Fetrow writes, "Confession may lead to a period of profound pain and disappointment, but without full disclosure, the marriage cannot be authentic and will never become the type of relationship that God desires for us."2