We cannot ignore the porn epidemic in our culture right now. The statistics are staggering.
Our young people and even the church are drowning in their porn addiction. In fact, according to statistics, about 50 percent of men and 17 percent of women reading this blog are regularly viewing porn.1
This is crazy. We are the church of Christ, created by God to take the good news of the gospel to the end of the world and instead we are wasting our lives in the gutter with our porn addiction. What are we doing?
"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" - Romans 6:1-2
Many of you and most of the teens in our churches never meant to get addicted to porn. The first exposure was accidental (finding someone’s “stash”, being exposed by a friend, or seeing something accidentally on TV or the internet). However, once exposed, the door has been opened to a dark and dangerous world and so many are walking right through it having no idea what they are getting themselves into. And it doesn’t matter how it first happened, porn is a monster that is as addictive as cocaine2 and deadly to the soul. And these days, it’s delivered right to you on your ever-with-you smartphone.
We as followers of Christ need to fight this dangerous attack on our soul and be proactive in talking, preparing, and helping our teens overcome it as well.
Porn distorts what is good and normal. It turns others into mere objects to be used for our pleasure. It ruins relationships, destroys true intimacy, and has the power to steal your soul. This sin is a like a giant weed growing in our garden. While it may start small, almost innocently, it soon becomes so large and intrusive that it begins to drive out the good plants that should be growing there.
So there is a war against each of our souls and we need to acknowledge it:
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. - 2 Peter 2:11
Then, with the help of God and his Word, we need do something about it:
1. Sin needs to be exposed.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” - Ephesians 5:8-14
Hidden addiction is almost impossible to defeat. Satan wants us alone, weak, and struggling. But Christ has given us his Word and fellow believers. We will need the strength from both to overcome our struggles with sexual sin.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16
2. We need to realize where the problem starts.
It starts in our own sinful hearts.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. – James 1:13-15
Porn is a tool of the Father of Lies. It's a distortion of the beautiful act that God designed for the pleasure and unity of a husband and wife. It’s a cheap replacement that promises so much, but ends only in death. The sin starts when each of us allows a sinful desire to take root. This verse does such a great job of portraying this picture. All of us can picture a mother who has conceived a new child; there is such hope, excitement, and happiness. But after 9 months pass, what is born is not the happiness of new life and joy, it is the devastating crush of a stillborn baby. DEATH.
3. There is freedom in Jesus.
I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 6:19-23
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips." - Colossians 3:1-11
Porn is a dark world, but through Jesus Christ we can find victory to overcome it. But we won’t find victory in our own strength. Only through the blood of Christ and the power of his Word can we truly defeat the power of sin and addiction in our lives.
So, rather than allowing our sinful temptations to dictate our actions. We need to, in the strength of God and his Word, put to death our sinful thoughts and actions.
"Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." - Romans 6:12-18
4. The war will be won when we start caring about all the little battles.
We too often enjoy our inappropriate (sexually explicit) primetime TV (e.g. Game of Thrones), the lingering looks at the nearly naked bikini clad woman on magazines in the checkout, the ads on our computer screen, and our steamy romance novels, as if it doesn't matter. But it does! If you remember what we talked about earlier, sin starts with the evil desire that is conceived in our hearts. Lust is lust even if no one sees or knows you are doing it.
Everything we do, watch, or even let our eyes linger on, should be something that honors God. We can hold this standard up to our TV shows, our magazine choices, our relationships, and everything else in our life.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. - Philippians 4:8
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. - 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
5. Make sure to remember why we fight.
We flee the temptations of our sinful flesh because they are cheap, counterfeits of what God truly intends for his children. The devil has taken God's gift of sex and turned it into something dirty, self-seeking, and evil. But it was God's in the first place and it is meant for his purpose and to bring him glory. Fleeing from sexual sin in order to follow the commands of God is not a burden, but rather, life-giving. Only God offers us TRUE and LASTING PLEASURE. Eternal satisfaction. True joy.
When we put our sexual choices over what God says, we've made sex our idol. We worship a temporary high rather than the only true God who will eternally satisfy.
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” – Isaiah 2:13
Just like the Israelites always found out, the idols they chose to worship were as futile and hopeless as empty, broken cisterns that couldn’t even hold water. We must remember not to make this same mistake.
When God takes his rightful place as the only thing we worship, then sex soon finds its proper place as a God-pleasing, amazingly loving act between a husband and a wife.
We can do this Church. We’ve got to step up and start addressing the secret sins that are crippling the church. We’ve got to be a voice of hope and truth for the teens who are trapped in the thick of our over-sexualized culture. We’ve got to remember and continue to keep reminding each other that what God offers us is so much better than any temporary pleasure this world can offer. We must do whatever it takes to flee from sin, even if that means getting rid of your smartphone, your teen's laptop in their room, or your favorite TV show.
We have the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us (2 Timothy 1:7) and the strength of his Word to help us overcome. Let’s start today and take a stand together against pornography.