The Struggle With Pornography
God created human sexuality and declared it “very good.” Genesis 1:26-31. He designed sexual intimacy in marriage for the purposes of procreation, companionship, meeting emotional and physical needs, and mutual pleasure. God designed sex for marriage. He made it to be a deep bonding experience and an expression of love. Yet in many cultures, it is hard to know and feel that human sexuality can please God.
We live in a hyper sexualized culture that is ignorant of the beauty and richness God designed human sexuality to be. Pornography perverts God’s design for sex and violates the emotional and moral integrity of human beings. It encourages sexually immoral thoughts (Matthew 5:28) and actions (1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:19) and is destructive to a healthy marriage and family relationships.
Though some defenders of pornography dispute the claim, there is no question about its link with behavior such as promiscuity, sexual abuse, adultery, rape, violence, child abuse, degrading human dignity, sexual dominance, and discrimination. Our prisons are full of individuals who recognize the connection between pornography and sexual crimes.
Sadly, pornography is available in our military exchanges and shopettes, televisions, and computers. The availability of this material to children and young people is particularly disturbing. Because of its availability, our children are losing their innocence and are forced to deal with adult situations with the emotional and mental capacity of a child. This always leads to brokenness.
The portrayal of nudity which does not involve force, coercion, sexual activity, violence, or degradation is defended by some as having no relation to pornography. Classical paintings of past centuries are presented as evidence along with medical depictions of nude human bodies which are essential for life-sustaining professions. This is innocent enough. Please note that no service member I know is having addictive problems streaming from searching for and downloading images of the Venus de Milo or Rembrandt paintings from the internet. A sixteenth century painting of a nude woman has not recently wrecked a marriage or caused people to slip into sexual bondage and crime.
The real impact of such material on children, on attitudes about women, and on the relationship between the sexes must be seriously considered. Pornographic material creates a fantasy world in which the viewer becomes numb to reality. A hunger for more and more grows. Real relationships become distant and strained. Feelings of guilt, anger, hopelessness, and helplessness begin to persist. The addiction spirals out of control and the viewer feels helplessly caught in a trap.
Intimacy in marriage begins to grow cold… no spouse can compare to the touched-up, perfected images one can find on the internet or in magazines. This situation leaves men and women frustrated and estranged. The effects of pornography spill over into other social areas, work, and can take a financial toll on the individuals and family. What is done in private has public consequences.
What is done in private has public consequences.
Turning to pornography is often an attempt to feel good, soothe pain, or deal with anger or frustration. Turning to anything apart from God and His design to deal with pain or meet our deep needs is sin. You might say, “I know this is bad, so I will stop this and try something else.” This is a symptomatic approach. It is as if a baby has a fever, so we give the baby a temporary medication. The fever goes away but in a few hours it returns. We can keep treating the symptom, but until the problem is addressed and dealt with, it will not go away.
We use things, like pornography, in an attempt to self-medicate. We want the symptoms of anger, frustration, rejection, and depression to go away, but underneath all of that, there is a wound. Unless the Great Physician is incited into the wound to heal it, the symptoms will always come back. Inner healing and wholeness is how patterns of addiction, including those that are sexual in nature are broken
You may not be aware of the wound that is driving the emotional pain. You may say, “I’ve had a pretty good life with little trauma. There is no reason for this. I must be fundamentally flawed!” Well, we are all fundamentally flawed by sin, but every person is wounded. We have been disappointed, betrayed, hurt, used, and abused by others. Sometimes those wounds are what we call “Big ‘T’” traumas: combat, injury, near death experiences, loss of limb. Mostly they are “Little ’t’” traumas: we needed something growing up and we didn’t get it, we got something we didn’t need, mom and dad could not or would not show the love, affection, and attention we needed. A series of small events could have built up over time. When we have unresolved pain, some people turn to the sexual sins to feel better, feel in control, or to forget about what happened. Pornography is easy to access and cheap. But it leaves us more wounded than when we started.
The central message of the Gospel is an invitation to come to God through Jesus Christ so that we may experience healing, freedom, and life (Isaiah 6:1-2 and Luke 4:18-19). You are not too far gone for His healing touch. You are not too dirty for Him to cleanse. He is the healer, cleanser, forgiver, and savior. He can meet your deepest needs and heal your heart. Jesus extends the invitation to come to him so you may find rest. Are you tired? Have you tried all you can and still wrestle with pornography? Now is the time to try something different.
There is freedom and healing from all sin…
Know this; there is freedom and healing from all sin, including sexual sin. God is greater than the power of pornography or any other addiction. Before permanent relational damage is done, get help. There is no shame in reaching out for help. Your unit chaplain and the installation family life chaplain are excellent resources. Additionally, there are many good books you can purchase that speak on recovery from this addiction. This is an area that must be healed. Your marriage, children and career deserve wholeness, health, and life; you deserve healing. It is your Christian birthright. Pursue wholeness at all cost and seek to make your marriage the best it can be. Call this what it is, an addiction that you are powerless to control. Inner healing, accountability, humility, and help from a competent spiritual director or pastoral counselor will help to treat the problem rather than treat the symptom.