By Archie Proctor
And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications . . . (Mark 7:20 ).
Our nation and society are awash in pornography. Playboy and other sexually oriented photography magazines are available at almost all corner grocery stores; R-rated films are readily available on cable TV systems and at the local video rental outlet. A product that once was stigmatized by American society, is now considered harmless entertainment. This persuasive leaven has had its effects on Christians as well. Many use this type of “entertainment” regularly.
Pornography is far from being a “harmless” product. Its influence has destroyed countless lives and marriages, and has brought many, many souls to eternal destruction. When heroin was first synthesized, clinical trials were not required before the drug was released. Many of the developers of this drug tried it on themselves, and found it highly effective as a pain reliever. Unfortunately, those who had first tried it were immune to the addictive effects of this powerful drug. When it was released, the addictive properties appeared, and far from being a blessing, heroin became a curse for mankind.
Pornography is like heroin; it has little or no effect on some; it’s mildly attractive to others. But for many, it is far more addictive and dangerous than heroin or other drugs. This greater danger is due to the fact that it is not recognized for the damage it can do. The numbers of those who are addicted to it grow daily. It is the root and substance of sexual addiction.
Until the affairs of Bill Clinton, John Kennedy, and other famous men were brought to light, sexual addiction was not widely known to the American public. In the past, when famous and powerful men were caught with a prostitute, or a woman not their wife, it was dismissed as a problem that comes with wealth and power.
We now know that these things are often the result of sexual addiction. It is not just famous and rich men who are cursed with this problem; it consumes millions of men and women at all economic levels of our society. In a recent year, it’s estimated that the American public spent 13 billion dollars for all forms of pornography. That’s more than the combined annual revenues of Coca-Cola and McDonnell Douglas. It’s no wonder we are plagued with this filth. It is a major source of revenue to the entertainment business.
Christ knew that this material is dangerous to our souls. In the Sermon on the Mount, he condemned the practice of looking on a woman’s beauty for the purpose of gratifying lust (Matt. 5:27, 28). Just because the technology of photography was not known in that ancient time, it does not mean pornography did not exist; it simply found expression in other forms. The practice of beautiful women appearing before men in revealing costumes is as old as mankind (Esth. 1:11). Archaeologists have found paintings and sculpture which could have been used for sexual stimulation. Prostitution was accepted as a form of worship by many peoples. Sexually stimulating novels and other writings have appeared throughout history.
The danger that faces Christians today who fall under the spell of pornography is that this addictive material lends itself to secret sin, the type Paul describes in Ephesians 5:12. It begins with the pleasure of lusting for a man or woman without the difficulty of human interaction, progresses to the act of erotic stimulation, and ends in self gratification of lust. This process repeats, and each time the pleasure of sexual release causes the chemistry of the brain to change under the stimulation of pleasure and release. After a longer time, this stimulation may no longer be satisfactory, and a greater pleasure is sought. Hard core material is obtained, even that which is not normally accepted in our decadent culture. For others, it takes the form of visits to topless bars or massage parlors, even to purchasing the services of a prostitute. Each time, the addict goes through the same cycle — uncontrollable lust, surrender to the addiction, self gratification, and then, overwhelming guilt and remorse. Forgiveness is sought through fervent prayer, but again and again the cycle repeats, dragging the soul into greater and greater self-loathing, and depression.
Teenagers and young adults, both male and female, are most susceptible to the influence of this material. In the Song of Solomon 2:7, the preacher tells us, “Stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.” He is speaking of not awaking the sexual desire and pleasure of sexual gratification, until it can be discharged within the safety of marriage.
According to Thayer, the phrase “stir not up” means “to rouse oneself, awake, awaken, incite.” It is the same concept as when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. They were awakened to a new and unknown world. So it is with pornography and the virgin. Passions and lusts, which are difficult even for older and mature Christians to control, can become a great fire which consumes the young. As in 1 Corinthians 7:9, they “burn with lust.” Energy that should be spent on education, development of a good character, and a godly soul is abruptly diverted to a new and exciting form of pleasure. The fire of sexual passion consumes all, sending young and old into a life of misery and destruction. Consider Proverbs 7:13-23.
Marriage is sometimes sought as a hope to end the addiction of pornography, but it almost never does. The lust will not go away; it simply forces the addict to violate the command: “defraud ye not one the other” (1 Cor. 7:5). Often, the resulting emotional separation and lack of intimacy will destroy the marriage, or simply turn it into a sham, where both partners become victims of the evil of pornography. The congregation where I am an elder has seen this evil destroy a young gospel preacher, who had promise of great work for the Lord. It reduced him to a hollow shell, and eventually destroyed his work, his influence, his family, and his faith in the word of God. All came as the result of “harmless” pornography.
There is hope for those addicted, but it must be found in the word of God. Paul wrote that some ungodly persons at Corinth were “abusers of themselves with mankind,” but he also proclaims that those who did these things were “washed . . . sanctified” . . . and “justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Dealing with this sin is the same as other addictions. It is not a “do it yourself” matter. Professional help and a firm commitment to leave the sin and serve the Lord are required.
A number of resources are available which can help the Christian in overcoming this addiction, but space will not permit them to be listed here. The best source of such may be found on the Internet by entering the words “sexual addiction” at a search engine such as Yahoo.com. It is my hope and prayer that this article might save some, and prevent others from having the great loss and pain our congregation has endured from this evil and destructive substance.
8102 Fox St., Baytown, Texas 77520
February 3, 2000