It’s heart-breaking! It truly is, when an individual enters my office seeking counsel for a stronghold that has taken place in his life. Most often times the stronghold goes way back, possibly as far back as a decade or two. It began with curiosity, just a peek, maybe just a passing glance as a friend introduced another to a magazine or a movie. And in this day and age with the help of technology, websites are readily available on the computer, or a smartphone and other devices where the lust of the eyes are free to roam and be gratified with the sight of a naked body.
In fact, one out of our every five mobile searches is for pornography. But statistics tell us that it doesn’t stop there. The sin of pornography escalates as the individual continues in this sin and “still pictures” are no longer enough but viewing sexual acts becomes commonplace and the desire to feed the lust of the flesh becomes greater and greater. Sadly, pornography escalates even beyond this point but the bottom line is: the number of individuals viewing pornography or are addicted to pornography is alarming and growing at a rapid pace in this country. More saddening, is the reality of how pornography has become destructive in the church, on Christian campuses and in many Christian homes.
The pornography industry nets more than 13 billion dollars a year. The number of websites and opportunities for access are so numerous they simply cannot be numbered. Statistics tell us that people are accessing these images with more frequency with every day that passes. All the while, the sin of pornography is destroying lives, relationships, marriages, families and, yes, even ministries.
The average person is probably fully aware of the use of pornography in our country as a whole. It is believed that more than two-thirds of the male population visits a pornographic site at least once a month. This equates to about 67% of all men in the U.S. Nearly 80% of men between the ages of 18-30 visits a pornographic site at least once a month. It is believed that more than 21 million men in the U.S. are addicted to pornography! And for those who believe that pornography is a “guy thing” you are sadly mistaken.
The percentages of women who access pornographic sites have jumped dramatically in recent years. In fact it is believed that more than 3 million women in the U.S. are actually addicted to pornography. However, what is really concerning for this pastor are the number of church-going Christians who either allow pornography a place in their life or worst case scenario are addicted and are unable to come to terms with it and overcome this stronghold.
How bad is the sin of pornography in the church? Many studies show that more than 50% of church-going men view some sort of pornography on a monthly basis. The statistics among Christian men between the ages of 18-30 are particularly alarming as it is believed that 36% of them view pornography on a daily basis, most of which would confess to being addicted.
However, the problem of pornography doesn’t stop with those sitting in the pews of our churches. Christianity Today published a study a few years ago revealing that nearly 37% of pastors struggle with this type of sexual sin. More than 50% say they are tempted by pornography. In fact, in the U.S., hundreds of pastors leave the ministry every month due to moral failure.
It’s really simple, the sin of pornography is destroying the lives of many, both outside the church and inside the church. Pornography is as evil as the evil one himself and the consequences are far-reaching into the lives of the people and families affected by it. However, for the believer, there is hope for the hopeless! Like any other stronghold or addiction, the ability to overcome and get the victory is found in the person of Jesus Christ!
Jesus said; “I say to you that whoever looks upon a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) Do we really understand the significance of what Jesus is saying? As a man, I want to speak to men who have allowed this sin into their lives. Whether you are married or single the sin of pornography is devastating! Yes it’s more devastating for a married man because he has a wife and maybe children to consider.
But realistically, many young men enter marriage without having overcome the addiction and so the consequences are the same. No matter how you slice it, it’s all sexual sin. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that as a Christian, our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are to honor God with our bodies. We are to be conscious of how we use our bodies and this includes our eyes and what we allow into our minds. Because that which enters the mind greatly affects the heart! And whatever the heart longs for the body will soon follow if left unguarded and unprotected to the world.
What does pornography do to the individual, the marriage, and the family? As with any other sin, pornography breaks fellowship with God. Once it becomes a stronghold or an addiction it haunts the believer who desires to rid himself of it but simply won’t confess it or deal with it. He convinces himself that if he simply cuts back his usage of it that grace will cover the rest and he’ll just continue to repent but never get the victory over it.
And what happens is once a month turns to once a week and once a week turns to every day and the guilt and shame of a believer who feels the conviction of the Holy Spirit is overwhelming. And what makes overcoming pornographic addiction so difficult are the images that get burned in the mind. Those images are haunting and serve as a daily reminder of the temptation that exists.
Pornography is ruinous to a marriage because the wife feels betrayed and rightly so. When a man looks at another woman, or fulfills his sexual desires by way of pornography, the reality is devastating for the wife. A husband who views pornography forces his wife to feel as though she must compete with other women. This is incredibly unfair and ungodly. Sexual intimacy is something God created to be exclusive and enjoyed only between a husband and his wife. Women are not only deeply hurt by these adulterous actions but they become angry, resentful and bitter. She loses her self-worth and in many instances fall victim to depression. She deserves better! Much better!
The wife is to be loved and cherished by her husband and made to feel like she is more beautiful to any other woman. You should only have eyes for her! As for the family, children are greatly affected when the relationship between mom and dad is not filled with love, respect and faithfulness. In fact, I have found the consequences on the family even greater than the broken and strained relationships it creates. In many cases pornography is a generational sin passed down from a father to his son. This affects generations to come and innocent children who deserve a father or grandfather who loves God and his family enough to overcome the addiction or avoid it altogether.
Deception and Consequences:
David Jeremiah said; “Adultery ignores tomorrow’s consequences by emphasizing today’s delights. It comes with a spiritual and emotional price tag and the price is always high.” For the man who believes his pornographic habit isn’t hurting anyone, that just a little bit is fine, you are greatly deceived! In Proverbs 6 Solomon warns us about the sin of adultery and sexual sin. He warns about being seduced by the beauty and seduction of a woman. He writes; “By means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; and an adulterous will prey upon his precious life. Can a man take fire to his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared?” A man that gives into sexual sin will suffer significant consequences. And for the married man, his wife, marriage and family will also suffer greatly. Solomon compares the consequences to that of broken pieces of bread which in those days represented the poorest of the poor. When the bread at our house becomes stale, we break it up and throw it out to the birds. It is insignificant to us. And this is what the life of a man given to sexual sin becomes, insignificant. You simply cannot hold fire or walk on hot coals and not be burned!
Getting the Victory:
So how does a man overcome the sin or addiction of pornography? There are several steps:
- REPENT! Ask God to forgive you and if married beg for your wife’s forgiveness.
- Seek professional/Christian counseling. Someone who can help you deal with the issues and temptations but from a biblical point of view. (Meet at least weekly)
- Seek accountability from a godly friend who will hold you accountable and will tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear. (Meet at least weekly)
- Spend significant time in prayer, Bible study and attend church regularly in an effort to grow spiritually and lead your family biblically.
- Set up safeguards by ridding yourself of any opportunities to access pornographic material. This includes computers, cell phones etc. Allow your wife or accountability partner to change your passwords (kept hidden from you) and with the help of filters, your access will be cut off.
- If married, be totally transparent with your wife and focus on rebuilding her trust in you.
- Surrender daily to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to do a work in your heart and life.
- Fall in love with Jesus again or maybe for the very first time. Your love for Him will create a heart that desires to please Him and not sin against Him. (1 Corinthians 10:13)