Pornography! What's the Big Deal?
“I have made a covenant with my eyes;
how then could I gaze at a virgin?
What would be my portion from God above
and my heritage from the Almighty on high?
Is not calamity for the unrighteous,
and disaster for the workers of iniquity?
Does not he see my ways
and number all my steps?
“If I have walked with falsehood
and my foot has hastened to deceit;
(Let me be weighed in a just balance,
and let God know my integrity!)
if my step has turned aside from the way
and my heart has gone after my eyes,
and if any spot has stuck to my hands,
then let me sow, and another eat,
and let what grows for me be rooted out.
“If my heart has been enticed toward a woman,
and I have lain in wait at my neighbour’s door,
then let my wife grind for another,
and let others bow down on her.
For that would be a heinous crime;
that would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges;
for that would be a fire that consumes as far as Abaddon,
and it would burn to the root all my increase.”
Job never really understood why it was necessary to experience the pain and the sorrow he was compelled to endure. Despite his multiplied trials, he maintained his integrity, steadfastly insisting that he had not acted arrogantly before God or against his fellowman. The text is the record of his final apologia for the conduct of his life. Here, he identifies three great sins that can trip up any man—lust, deceit and adultery, denying that they had ever been welcomed in his life. I wonder if Job would have continued to maintain his integrity had he lived in this present day when pornography has become so pervasive as to escape notice.
I am deeply concerned for the moral health of the churches of this day. To a dismaying degree, we reflect the prevailing philosophy of the culture in which we are immersed, and we bring into the life of the Body the attitudes we have learned in society. Just as a fish does not realise that it is wet, so we often have difficulty realising that we have become imbued with the attitudes of this dying world, and thus the congregation is hindered in advancing the Faith.
The homily planned for this day is intended to be pointed; due to the subject matter some will be uncomfortable. I believe there has been quite enough preaching that justifies sin, ignoring the fact that Christ came to justify sinners. We pastors have neglected to teach parishioners that Christ redeems us so that we might be seen in the world as a people that are “pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” [see Philippians 1:10, 11].
The Pervasiveness of Pornography — During the late 60s, youth in the United States began a “free sex” movement which has blossomed into the moral cesspool of modern society. Not so many years ago, pornography was available only in sleazy porn shops. Drug stores did not carry pornographic materials and triple-X movie theatres were confined to skid row. However, that was then and this is now.
As of 2003, there were 420 million pornographic web pages; the number is undoubtedly higher today. Total porn industry revenues for 2006 were $13.3 billion in the United States, and $97 billion worldwide. The pornography industry generates more revenue than that of eight major technology companies combined—Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and Earthlink. Almost one billion pornographic DVDs/videos were rented in 2005. Unique worldwide users visiting “adult” web sites monthly totalled 72 million people. Indeed, even in conducting a search to discover the number of pastors who admit to viewing pornography ensured that the search engine used returned several ads offering pornography.
Studies show that four in ten pastors admit that they deal unsuccessfully with the temptation to visit porn sites. The figures are worse for church members, and it is not at all clear that viewing pornography is less prevalent among church members than within the general populace. Moreover, it is not just men that view pornography. A growing number of women admit to internet sexual addiction. Seventy percent of women keep their cyber activities secret, and 17% are struggling with pornography addition! Almost 30% of born again adults feel it is morally acceptable to view movies with explicit sexual behaviour, and 57% of pastors say addiction to pornography is the most sexually damaging issue in their congregation.
The lure of pornography sites is powerful, and the sites advertise in inventive ways. Frequently, people looking for information are directed to sites named deceptively. At other times, legitimate web addresses are assumed by Internet pornographers with software to trap the unwary. Of course, anyone who has an Email address will have been inundated with spam, much of which is pornographic or which introduces the unwary to pornography.
Unquestionably, pornography has insinuated itself into the very fabric of modern society. It would be bad enough were this moral invasion confined to web sites, XXX movie theatres and “adult” bookstores. However, pornography is far more widely spread than that, and it has become so pervasive that even Christians are no longer disturbed by the prevalence of pornography. Suggestive lyrics describing sexual promiscuity have long been a feature of contemporary music, and have only grown more ribald with each succeeding generation of musicians. Graphic sexual content distinguishes even much of “Christian” romance novels!
I am dismayed by the casual attitude expressed by professing Christians who permit themselves—and even demand—to be entertained by what was recognised as sheer pornography only a few years ago. Movies and television programs no longer hesitate to use sex openly as a means of entertainment; and it seems that the majority of those that do not include lurid sexual content deliberately and blatantly employ suggestive sexual content as a form of entertainment. As an aside, it is a tragic observation that language has degenerated in concert with the dramatic increase of pornography in the various visual entertainment media.
Churches do not exist in a vacuum—they reflect the culture in which they exist. Unquestionably, our modern moral degeneration does exert a detrimental effect on the flaccid Christianity of modern life. Christians do not want to appear unloving, so they silently tolerate the attitudes exhibited by the world about them. They do not want to judge those who choose to sample sex without commitment, nor do them want to appear to condemn those who live together without being married. So, they welcome the licentious individuals into membership without calling them to account for their immoral lifestyles. In fact, contemporary pastors are frequently unwilling to name sin as sin in fear of offending parishioners. And preachers are too often unwilling to speak out against the prevalence of pornography within their own churches.
The Faith of Christ the Lord is meant to be active, not passively accepting wickedness. Believers are not to permit themselves to be shaped by culture; the churches of our Lord are responsible to serve as the moral conscience, shaping and defining the culture in which they exist. Consequently, Christians are called to resist the tide, to go against the flow of culture.
Throughout the Word of God are multiple statements encouraging believers to resist the prevailing climate of wickedness. Though ancient Christians did not have to contend with the Internet insinuating itself into every aspect of daily life, they did live in a culture that treated women as objects to be used for personal gratification and which condoned every imaginable form of sexual perversion. Listen to the Word of God to rediscover the will of God as we are equipped to stand with them against the prevailing evil.
“Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret” [Ephesians 5:1-12].
If sexual immorality is not even to be named among the people of God, then surely reason demands that we conclude that pornography has no place in the life of a believer. Surely, it is apparent that exposing oneself to such degrading acts cannot make one more righteous or godlier. Surely, it is apparent that if we accept sexual congress—implied or acted out—as entertainment, we cannot lay claim to being a godly people or holy in the sight of the Lord. Frankly, Christians should be horrified that such acts are even tolerated in their homes.
To the Colossians, Paul wrote, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth” [Colossians 3:1-8].
Perhaps you will recall this portion of Paul’s Letter to the Churches of Galatia. “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” [Galatians 5:19-21].
Or, perhaps you will recall the instruction delivered to Corinthian Christians when Paul wrote, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” [1 Corinthians 6:18].
Take note of one final admonition written early in the ministry of the Apostle to the Gentiles. “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honour, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you” [1 Thessalonians 4:3-8].
The Peril of Pornography — In our text, Job spoke quite pointedly as he averred that he had not treated any young woman as an object for his personal gratification. He covenanted with his eyes not to permit his gaze to linger on any woman, and he certainly was not about to lurk about the door of a neighbour’s house in hopes of seducing the mistress of the house.
“Well,” some naïve soul may argue, “Job didn’t do any of those things; and even if he had, no one would have been hurt.” This is a major argument of those who attempt to defend pornography. What is wrong if those participating in the production of pornography consent to being used in that manner? Surprisingly, a significant proportion of the feminist movement appears to support pornography, using an argument based on free speech. It never ceases to amaze me that such an argument could be advanced, often by the same people that argue that “hate speech” must be controlled.
Preachers are responsible not only to teach passively what is good and honourable before the Lord, but they are also charged to warn the unruly and to expose the works of darkness. The Bible warns, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint” [Proverbs 29:18]. Therefore, it is necessary that the preacher both confront error and instruct in righteousness.
I recall a time in the not so distant past when it was unthinkable that a preacher would address issues dealing with sexual themes. I had reservations even about reading the first chapter of Romans in a mixed congregation. I served God for some time before I ever heard a message dealing with the issue of biblical lovemaking from the Song of Solomon. Perhaps that is the reason we have the difficulties we now witness! Perhaps we preachers were wrong not to be more pointed and direct in years past, so that the members would be equipped to avoid being trapped by the morass of immorality that now stains society.
One thing is certain, if the pornographers and the television and movie directors would quit rubbing our faces in their filth, I would not feel compelled to speak as directly as I do now. It is disingenuous at best to say that people that do not want to watch filth on television can always turn it off. In point of fact, conscientious people are compelled to do precisely that! There is no sitcom presented today that is safe to watch for one seeking to avoid moral filth!
I am convinced that pornography is a serious problem in our world today. Multiple accounts of pastors, some of whom are known to me, who have been removed from the pastorate because of gross immorality which frequently began with viewing pornography, convince me that churches in this day have a problem. When church members tolerate immorality in a godless bid to keep sin out of sight, we have a problem. When even among evangelical Christians, one-half of the men surveyed admit to viewing pornography at least once a month, we have a serious problem. It is high time that we confront the problem and provide a remedy.
Consider the damage that is perpetuated through pornography. To the child of God, it should be apparent that pornography lowers moral values in individuals as well as in society. Any breech in the moral fibre of society at one point ensures moral dissipation at every other juncture. Cultures and societies that have loosened moral restraints allowing tolerance of pornography tend to approve of prostitution, fornication, adultery and eventually every other sexual perversion. The language within cultures that tolerate pornography tends to grow increasingly coarse, eventually infiltrating even the sacred precincts of the Master’s churches. Moreover, the people of God avoid censuring evil because they have become confused about what is right and good. Cultures that apologise for pornography will shortly discover that they are also willing to approve of a growing number of wicked attitudes and actions.
Pornographic literature and/or images devalue those who are described and/or viewed; and the pornography turns the viewer into a voyeur. Women, as well as men, are reduced to objects, instead of being seen as people created in the image of God. I assure you a voyeur watching a sexual act has ceased thinking of those participating as bearing the image of God.
Just as any decent individual would be repulsed by the suggestion that his sister or his mother should perform lewd acts in full view of others, or as any sensible individual is repelled at the thought of a voyeur peering in at his wife or daughter, so Christians who are aware of the will of God are disgusted at the thought of watching another engage in acts that are meant to express love between a husband and a wife.
Believers must not permit themselves to treat one another with anything less than full respect as brothers and sisters. Men, in particular are taught to treat “older women as mothers” and “younger women as sisters, in all purity” [1 Timothy 5:2]. It should be apparent that women must likewise not permit anything to debase men in their own mind.
The impact on those viewing pornography is cumulative, dulling spiritual sensitivity and ensuring that intimacy with God is destroyed for the one wallowing in the filth. One reason this is true is that pornography isolates sexual fulfillment from a caring, giving relationship with another person of the opposite sex. Pornography treats sex as a means for self-gratification rather than seeing the act of love as an opportunity to give of oneself to bring wholeness to another person. Those indulging their baser desires with pornography are focused on themselves and in the heat of that moment they are incapable of considering others.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that pornography can, and often does, become psychologically addictive. Thus, those using pornography crave and act out increasingly bizarre sexual fantasies to stimulate them. It is a common story heard by counsellors that wives weep because their husbands are no longer able to make love unless they agree to degrading acts. Likewise, women who immerse themselves in a fantasy world increasingly neglect their families and ignore romantic opportunities offered by their husbands.
This raises the serious matter that pornography creates unrealistic expectations of sex and sexual practises that spouses may be unable or unwilling to fulfill. The pornographic images themselves are fantasy. It is impossible to argue against the fact that it is utterly perverted for an individual to perform sexual acts knowing that multiplied strangers will watch them. At the very least, a person must detach themselves from reality to perform sex acts before a camera knowing that those watching will them be sexually aroused by what they are watching.
There are some other serious, more immediately consequences arising from pornography. First, anyone must recognise that the pornographic industry is increasingly controlled by organised crime. No Christian can conscientiously approve of any activity that promotes crime. Even was it not true that pornography is linked to organised crime, there is no question but that pornography is linked to crimes of rape, incest and sexual abuse of children. Despite repeated denials by experts that there exists a link between pornography and the crimes listed, multiple studies demonstrate that increased use of pornography does increase the incidence of rape and of child molestation., ,  Few pornographers want to entrust their own children to those who use their vile product.
Just as children exploited by child pornography do not willingly choose to act out the perverted fantasies of the sick minds of the pornographers, so pornographers exploit the naïveté of young women and their need for money. The young women who appear in pornographic literature prostitute images of their bodies, and even act out the perverted fantasies of the pornographers, because they believe themselves compelled by financial need or because they are deliberately exploited by pimps who use them for financial gain.
I have spoken broadly of the damage resulting from pornography to individuals and to society in general. However, as a servant of the Risen Saviour, I caution you that tolerating pornography is far more damaging to the spiritual health of the child of God. In addition to all the other detrimental effects aforementioned, one can add that intimacy with the Master is impacted negatively by viewing pornography; and more generally, through tolerating its use by the members of the assembly the church is spiritually enervated.
Clearly, the Master considered mind-sex a serious issue in mankind; and how much more egregious is this sin in the life of one who professes to follow the Master! In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” [Matthew 5:27-30].
Beyond this, should we not think of the victims of pornography? Who are the victims that are deceived and polluted because of the pornographer’s obscene lust for money? The women and men who pose are degraded and reduced to a piece of meat. Surely, they are victimised. The men who view pornography and who become addicted despite their shame are victims of the pornographer’s filth. Wives who suffer isolation, shame and assault are victims, as are children and husbands of wives who are captured by fantasy roles adopted through the Internet. Women who are raped by men who have fed their perverted lusts with pornography are clearly victims—and not merely victims of the brutal men who abused them, but victims of the pornographers who provided the dirty imagery. Children whose lives are shattered by the abuse of being coerced to participate in producing pornography are surely victims. Ultimately, the society that bears the cumulative pain of divorce, crime and moral disorder is victimised. We are all victims of pornography.
The Preventative for Pornography — There is but one entity that stands consistently and adamantly opposed to the utter dissolution of society as result of the moral degradation of pornography—the Faith of Christ the Lord. It is possible that I am speaking to a woman whose husband is trapped by the degrading fantasy created by the world of the pornographer. I may well be speaking to someone who has become ensnared by pornography. If that describes you, you need to know that you can break free of the bondage to this dreadful spiritual malady. There is forgiveness in Christ the Lord and freedom. You who are Christians need to remember that “you were called to freedom.” However, you must “not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh” [Galatians 5:13]. You who have yet to know Christ as Master over your life need to know that there is freedom and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus.
I now address you who are Christians, though undoubtedly the steps have some value even for those outside of the Faith. First, you must call pornography by its proper name—sin. It is not an addiction, though there are some elements that approximate addiction in this sin. Pornography is nothing less than adultery of the heart, and you must abhor it as the sin it is. Acknowledge that it was sin—and in particular this sin—that caused the Saviour to sacrifice His life for your sake.
There is forgiveness from the Master. You know very well that we have received the promise that, “If we confess our sins, [Christ the Master] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” [1 John 1:9]. It is the latter part of that verse that must not be neglected, for we have received the promise that He will “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Surely, that includes the filth that has built up through viewing pornography.
Then, you must deal with any rationalisation that you have been using to attempt to justify why you sin through viewing pornography. Write down the rationalisations that have led you to succumb to the lure of pornography. Looking at them soberly, renounce them before the Master, denying their power over your life [see Titus 2:11-14].
Get rid of all that triggers this lust in your life. Throw out any pornographic material that you have. If necessary, until you gain victory over this lust, discontinue your cable connection. Ask the phone company to block all 900 number calls. Purchase a service that filters pornography from your computer. Install, and use, a V-chip for your television. Radical sin demands radical action. Peter states the case quite well when he writes that we must determine to live “the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. The time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry” [1 Peter 4:2, 3]. Indeed, “the end of all things is at hand: therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded” [1 Peter 4:7].
Share your struggle with your spouse or a trusted Christian friend, asking him or her to become your accountability partner. Though you have betrayed your spouse through viewing pornography, there is no possibility of restoring intimacy without openness and without rebuilding trust. This will likely mean that you can no longer watch television without someone else present—the risk is too great. It will almost assuredly mean that you must cease listening to music that presents suggestive lyrics—the risk is too great. It will be a good idea to move your computer to a central location where anyone can see what you are viewing. Ask your accountability partner’s prayer and confess your sin to this trusted friend.
It would be a good idea to install accountability software, such as Covenant Eyes©, on your computer. Arrange for your accountability partner to receive the reports from the software and begin to set a new pattern of viewing. These aforementioned steps are nothing less than implementing God’s replacement therapy as outlined in the Word of God. Paul writes, “Whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practise these things, and the God of peace will be with you” [Philippians 4:8, 9].
Now is the time to use once more the weapons of prayer, reading the Word of God and fasting. Paul urged those reading the Ephesian encyclical, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication,” [Ephesians 6:10-18a].
Above all, receive the grace and forgiveness that is offered in Christ the Lord. No one who ever came to Jesus seeking forgiveness was turned away. Jesus was known as One who welcomed sinners [see Luke 15:2]. The condition in which He found each of us is described in darkest terms when the Apostle writes, “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
That is indeed a dark description, but for all who are redeemed by faith in the Son of God, the Apostle’s focus turns from what we once were to focus attention on Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. Listen as the Apostle speaks of God’s grace and mercy and goodness. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
This is the wonderful condition of each Christian now. “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” [Ephesians 2:1-10].
This is the offer that is extended to each one who is outside of the grace of God. Life is offered in the Son of God. He died because of your sin and was raised so that He could declare you right with God. The Word of God calls you to turn from the existence that has drawn your attention until this time, receiving the life that is offered in the Son of God. God promises that “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ believing in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is made right with God, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” The Living God promises, “Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved” [Romans 10:9, 10, 13].
Believe this message. Receive the grace offered in Christ the Lord. Be saved, even today. Child of God, keep yourself from idols. Live a pure and holy life before the Lord. May He bless you with His grace. Amen.
 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 David Hammer, “Report says Web sites ‘exploding’ as Internet goes unchecked,” 7/27/2005 (http://www.ask.com/bar?q=number of internet pornography sites&page=1&qsrc=2417&ab=1&u=http://www.mlive.com/newsflash/michigan/index.ssf?/base/news-27/1122497937103400.xml&storylist=newsmichigan)
 Pornography Statistics, (http://www.ask.com/bar?q=number of internet pornography sites&page=1&qsrc=2417&ab=4&u=http://www.familysafemedia.com/pornography_statistics.html)
 “Statistics on Pornography, Sexual Addiction and Online Perpetrators,” (http://www.safefamilies.org/sfStats.php)
 Ibid., Focus on the Family Survey and Leadership Survey
 Ibid., 50% plus
 Ibid, 70% of men from 18 to 34 visit a pornography site in a typical month
 Ibid., 28% of those admitting to Internet sexual addiction
 Pornography Statistics, op. cit.
 “Statistics on Pornography, Sexual Addiction and Online Perpetrators,” op. cit., citing studies by the Barna group
 Ibid., citing Christians and Sex Leadership Journal Survey, March 2005
 E.g., Steven E. Landsburg, “How the Web Prevents Rape,” October 30, 2006 (http://www.slate.com/id/2152487/)
 E.g., Steven D. Levitt, “Pornography and rape,” October 31, 2006 (http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/10/31/pornography-and-rape/)
 Dr. Judith Reisman, “Pornography’s link to rape,” September 12, 2006 (http://www.drjudithreisman.com/archives/2006/09/pornographys_li.html)
 Morality in Media, Research on Pornography: The Evidence of Harm (http://www.prtc.net/~morality/porno/research.htm)
 Author’s translation