So in my last post I talked about the area in my life where I struggled with habitual sin (unhealthy eating and over-eating). I talked about how being willingly unhealthy in any area of your life is not honoring your body and the gift of life that God has given you. I’m only on day four of my low-calorie plant and water based diet and only two days into my exercise routine. I’m hungry and sometimes a bit winded, but it feels good to be actively doing something instead of ignoring habitual sin. Since I’m on a bit of a health kick right now I decided to address another very unhealthy habitual sin that I think is just as harmful and wide spread (if not more so) than over-eating. That of course being pornography. I already showed you guy sin the last post a chart of the four areas of health.
My last post I dealt pretty exclusively with physical health since it was the area I probably lack in the most and need to do the most work in. In the spirit of good health I decided to devote today’s post to an area of health that I know plagues most of the modern male community even more so than laziness and gluttony.
Now granted I know that there is a sizable chunk of the female population who also struggles with pornography, and I don’t want to exclude you or pretend that you don’t exist, but since I am a male and can only speak from a male’s perspective, this post will probably be pretty male-centric. Having said that let’s begin.
First of all we need to address why pornography is unhealthy. Some of you may be shocked to learn that this needs to be clarified, and others may already be ready to attack my claim and defend your beloved porn. In order to save some time here’s a link to Gary Wilson’s “The Great Porn Experiment”:
As you can see in the above video, this porn problem isn’t merely a matter of spiritual health, but it also has mental and physical consequences. One could venture to say that pornography negatively effects all four areas of health in some way or another. Not to mention the fact that it is a time consuming, antisocial, and counterproductive way to spend your time. To put it in simple pro-con terms, the benefits (an orgasm by yourself) in no way even compare to the detractors.
What are these detractors you might ask, well for starters let’s be honest and just admit that porn is exploitive. No matter who your object of lust is, when porn is concerned they become just that… an object. When a person watches porn they don’t seek to know the person or people involved. They don’t want to build a relationship with them, know their heart, grow them as a person, or help them along life’s trials and tribulations. The images you masturbate to are nothing more to you than things you can use to get what you want. You have degrades that person to little more than a virtual prostitute, and how does that reflect the love of God to them?
Sex was designed to be a bonding experience between married couples. It creates a physically intimate connection that is meant to mirror and compliment the already strong emotional connection. Porn spits in the face of what sex was designed for. It separates rather than binds, it creates loneliness rather than intimacy, and it objectifies the other person rather than fueling your love for them. It’s a filthy addiction that has become far too normalized with the passage of time. We are reaching a point where people are poisoning themselves so frequently that they don’t even realize that it’s poison anymore.
It’s also worth noting that pornography is very rarely a one time sin. Porn is so readily available today that upon giving in to temptation once it becomes increasingly easier to give in again and again in an endless cycle:
Think of all the time and energy that is devoted by the person described in the above image. I know quitting can be extremely hard, and for a large chunk of my life I don’t think I ever went more than a week without porn or masturbating, but I can tell you that it’s worth the effort. I can’t tell you how much emotional and mental energy I used to devote to watching porn, quitting porn, and relapsing again. It was so exhausting that at times I would just give up on recovering and settle in my little rut of porn for weeks at a time. It’s not healthy and I guarantee you there has never been a person who on their death bed wished they had spent more time masturbating.
When I was on porn I was more anti-social, more introverted, more self-conscious, and always in a state of fear that my dirty secret would be uncovered. Off porn the temptation does not go away, but it get’s easier with time. I’m more energetic, outgoing, and confident. I have more free time and I don’t have to devote so much mental and spiritual energy to combatting porn or dealing with regret. It’s liberating to know I can lend my computer to someone without having a panic attack over whether or not they’ll see my browsing history. A life without porn is a life of freedom that those still trapped in its binds cannot yet understand.
As the great C.S. Lewis wrote:
“For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back; sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover; no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself…After all, almost the main work of life is to come out of our selves, out of the little dark prison we are all born in. Masturbation is to be avoided as all things are to be avoided which retard this process. The danger is that of coming to love the prison.”
If for no other reason porn is a lapse of self control and needs to be mastered if one ever hopes to master himself. No one wants porn, what they want is intimacy with another human being. This desire that is built into us is meant to spur us towards greater and better things. To give into porn is to settle for loneliness.
If you who are reading this are struggling then know that you can do this. It is possible to quit, you just have to motivate yourself to actually do it. If you are tired of starting over, then for the love of God (literally) stop failing! Maybe that sounds over simplistic, but if we are were all honest with ourselves the only reason anyone ever gives into temptation is because in that moment they chose the easy way out and gave up.
For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Seriously, guys. It’s time to man up and take control of ourselves. If you are in habitual sin with pornography the first thing you need to do is to pray for forgiveness from God and for strength and determination to quit. The Second thing is to find ways to avoid temptation and healthy ways to deal with temptation when it inevitably arrises. The third thing is to seek accountability. As scripture says, “cord of three strands is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12) and “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17). It is important to have someone keeping you accountable, someone you trust, someone who want’s what is best for you. You can do this.
If you want a more in-depth guide to helping you or someone you know quit for good I highly recommend the following books: