It is from these very words above (of the apostle Paul) that advice may be taken to further explain a matter which according to some, the Bible apparently makes no reference - that of undisclosed and unaccompanied indulgence, or quite simply masturbation. . .
As the end of the year approaches, many people have resolutions in place striving to be a different person they were the year before. For others, however, it serves as a reminder of some of the people or things they may have lost, but for the porn-addict, it provides a sense of hope. Let me first say, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring to be porn-free—that is actually a good thing—but I just wanted to share three potential dangers of what can happen when we place our hope in resolutions:
We can become ensnared by our words.
As born-again Christians, our aim should be to live a life pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ. Our inward man delights in the law of God and we hate the sins that remain within us, producing much suffering. It is also important to understand we are still flawed; we do not always keep our vows. Therefore it is better to not make an oath to the Lord than to do so and not keep it (Eccl. 5:5). Not only have I experienced it, but I have heard many say they will not "fall" again, only to stumble in a moment of weakness. We swear to ourselves, others and to God that that time will be the last and we truly strive hard to ensure that happens; but we must ask ourselves, are we striving to be porn-free because of our own resolution or because of the desire to please the Lord in all of our ways? Bizzle said in his song "My Confession," “We spit about the sin that we overcame, it’s easy to talk about your past crime, but what about the one you’re still on today, but last week you said it was the last time?” The agony felt after a fall can be immense, because we trusted in our word rather than trusting in the finished work of Christ. [click-to-tweet] New Year’s resolutions are profitable for many things, the fight against sin isn’t one of them.
We fail to see the enemy’s strategy in regards to temptation.
While studying the Gospel of Luke, I seen just how persistent the devil is when it comes to temptation. It is understood that we have evil desires within us (James 1:14), but we are also at war against the powers of darkness who work tirelessly to deceive and destroy us. In the Gospel of Luke we see how Scripture tells us “when the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time” (Lk. 4:13). Matthew Henry said Satan had “emptied his quiver.” The enemy exhausted every temptation possible and fell short of his goal since he did not have anything in our Lord, but that still did not stop him from trying. However, we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s perfect standard, therefore January 1st will not stand against the devil’s fiery darts. Rather, we must stand on the Word of God or the “Sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17) just like our Lord did.
We risk losing sight of Christ’s finished work on the Cross.
I mentioned this briefly on one of my other points but I feel that it is important for us to meditate on what Christ did for us on Calvary over 2,000 years ago. Indwelling sin can cause us to doubt whether if we have truly been redeemed but the fact that there is a struggle (let the reader examine if this is true in their life) is an indicator we have been born again. Before Christ, we were dead in trespasses and sins, haters of God and without hope in the world; but the Lord laid down His life and purchased us with His own blood (Matt. 20:28). He destroyed the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) and more importantly He satisfied the wrath of God in order that our fellowship may be reconciled to our Heavenly Father (Rom. 5:9). He has completed the work all by Himself, so to place our hope in January 1st is to trust in our own works. It is Christ who makes all things new, not the New Year. In Him we have new mercies every morning so every day is “Day One” for us, we do not have to live by a system where we have to count the days that we’ve been free when He has already set us free once and for all (Gal. 5:1).
Again, I want to reiterate that there's nothing wrong with resolutions in themselves, only when we place your hope in them. Therefore, work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12) while resting in the sufficient grace of Christ Jesus. No matter what day it is, in the words of Steven Lawson, “we fear God, follow Jesus, flee sin and fight Satan.”
I don't want to be porn-free in 2017, I want to be porn-free every day as I strive to live a life that honors and glorifies my Savior. Let us all resolve to do just that.
Grace and peace family!
As WRAP Week and our #iHatePorn campaign comes to a close, I just want to take the time out to thank everyone who participated in the event. I totally understand how uncomfortable it is to share your struggles with others online opening ourselves up to ridicule to those who do not believe, but be of good cheer because those who put their trust in Christ will not be up to shame (1 Pet. 2:6). God will have the last laugh.
In the spirit of transparency I'm going to share a specific time of testing with you all. God has blessed me with a great job. The president of the company along with the other employees I work with see me as "a praying, Christian man" in which I strive to glorify God in how I work (Col. 3:23). So this past week as I sat at my desk, I had this "unusual" strong desire to view pornography on my work computer. I work at the front desk in my office with two other people sitting behind me, but lust is irrational so it does not care about the risks you take, it just wants its desires fulfilled. By God's grace and His Spirit working in me, I did not take the bait; I passed the test. Check this out though guys: THE VERY NEXT DAY, our IT Department came to our site to check our PCs, apparently our system was attacked by the Ransomware virus so I was a bit anxious because I did not want to be responsible for it in any way. My PC was clean. My conscience was clear. But I couldn't stop thinking about "WHAT IF!" What if I would have compromised? It was at this point that 1 Peter 2:11 became clear to me. I realized that sin is looking to destroy me and everything I hold dear to me.
God has blessed me with a lovely wife and our beautiful twins, as a husband and father it is my obligation to provide for them as I keep Christ as the Head of my life; although I fail at this at times. There is too much at stake and I realize that I have a lot to lose: my job, my witness would have been tarnished giving those who do not believe an occasion to blaspheme the way of truth all for a desire that can never be satisfied. This is why #iHatePorn! My God hates it and if I desire to hate it, I must be able to see it from His perspective. This is my prayer for you as well my brothers and sisters.
"The grand mischief that sin does to man is this, it wars against the soul; it destroys the moral liberty of the soul, it weakens and debilitates by impairing it's faculties; it robs the soul of its comfort and peace; it debases and destroys the dignity of the soul; hinders its present prosperity, and plunges it into eternal misery." -Matthew Henry
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Download it today and click on #iHatePorn Campaign to listen to this years telecasts.
IN RECENT NEWS
Former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner who announced his resignation in June of 2011 is under investigation for allegedly sexting a teenager.
According to federal investigators, Anthony Weiner was allegedly sending inappropriate texts to a 15 year old girl that also included pornographic videos, and texts requesting her to undress and to touch her, FBI sources say.
Last Wednesday, Anthony Weiner made this statement to NBC News:
This isn't the first time Anthony Weiner has found himself in a sexting scandal. As a matter of fact it is his FOURTH scandal and comes less than one month from his previous scandal.
Join us in praying the Lord would grant him repentance and that he may see his need for a Savior, and others that are in bondage to sexual sin.
"Jarrad Miller is the guy, the founder, the visionary, the heart behind the ministry, God Over Porn. This ministry was birthed out of the pain that he and his wife experienced because of a pornography addiction. So, he’ on the show with us to talk about this ministry and this very real problem that affects so many Christians and their families. Tune in!"
Check out The Fly Society at www.theflysociety.us.
[Note: The following contains a frank, though non-graphic, discussion of pornography addiction. Parents are therefore cautioned to examine the material themselves before sharing it with children or teenagers.]
“Because the human brain is the biological anchor of our psychological experience, it is helpful to understand how it operates.” says William M. Struthers, associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College. “Knowing how it is wired together and where it is sensitive can help us understand why pornography affects people the way it does.” Here are 9 things you should know about pornography affects the brain.
1. Sexually explicit material triggers mirror neurons in the male brain. These neurons, which are involved with the process for how to mimic a behavior, contain a motor system that correlates to the planning out of a behavior. In the case of pornography, this mirror neuron system triggers the arousal, which leads to sexual tension and a need for an outlet. “The unfortunate reality is that when he acts out (often by masturbating), this leads to hormonal and neurological consequences, which are designed to bind him to the object he is focusing on,” says Struthers. “In God's plan, this would be his wife, but for many men it is an image on a screen. Pornography thus enslaves the viewer to an image, hijacking the biological response intended to bond a man to his wife and therefore inevitably loosening that bond.”
2. In men, there are five primary chemicals involved in sexual arousal and response. The one that likely plays the most significant role in pornography addiction is dopamine. Dopamine plays a major role in the brain system that is responsible for reward-driven learning. Every type of reward that has been studied increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain, and a variety of addictive drugs, including stimulants such as cocaine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine, act directly on the dopamine system. Dopamine surges when a person is exposed to novel stimuli, particularly if it is sexual, or when a stimuli is more arousing than anticipated. Because erotic imagery triggers more dopamine than sex with a familiar partner, exposure to pornography leads to “arousal addiction” and teaches the brain to prefer the image and become less satisfied with real-life sexual partners.
3. Why do men seek out a variety of new explicit sexual images rather than being satisfied with the same ones? The reason is attributed to the Coolidge effect, a phenomenon seen in mammalian species whereby males (and to a lesser extent females) exhibit renewed sexual interest if introduced to new receptive sexual partners, even after refusing sex from prior but still available sexual partners. This neurological mechanism is one of the primary reasons for the abundance and addictiveness of Internet pornography.
4. Overstimulation of the reward circuitry—such as occurs with repeated dopamine spikes related to viewing pornography—creates desensitization. As Gary Wilson explains, “When dopamine receptors drop after too much stimulation, the brain doesn't respond as much, and we feel less reward from pleasure. That drives us to search even harder for feelings of satisfaction—for example, by seeking out more extreme sexual stimuli, longer porn sessions, or more frequent porn viewing—thus further numbing the brain.
5. “The psychological, behavioral, and emotional habits that form our sexual character will be based on the decisions we make,” says Struthers. “Whenever the sequence of arousal and response is activated, it forms a neurological memory that will influence future processing and response to sexual cues. As this pathway becomes activated and traveled, it becomes a preferred route—a mental journey—that is regularly trod. The consequences of this are far-reaching.”
6. What makes Internet porn unique? Wilson identifies a number of reasons, including: (1) Internet porn offers extreme novelty; (2) Unlike food and drugs, there are almost no physical limitations to Internet porn consumption; (3) With Internet porn one can escalate both with more novel “partners” and by viewing new and unusual genres; (4) Unlike drugs and food, Internet porn doesn't eventually activate the brain's natural aversion system; and (5) The age users start watching porn. A teen's brain is at its peak of dopamine production and neuroplasticity, making it highly vulnerable to addiction and rewiring.
7. Men's exposure to sexually explicit material is correlated with social anxiety, depression, low motivation, erectile dysfunction, concentration problems, and negative self-perceptions in terms of physical appearance and sexual functioning.
8. The following video offers a brief overview of the affect of pornography on the brain.
9. In this video, Gary Wilson discusses the disturbing symptoms showing up in some heavy Internet porn users, the surprising reversal of those symptoms, and the science behind these phenomena. Although it is not presented from a Christian perspective, the discussion is highly recommended for better understanding the deleterious and wide-ranging effects pornography has on men.
By Joe Carter / This article was also published on The Gospel Coalition.
For the last twenty years thousands of men from across America struggling with sexual sin have come to our intensive counseling workshop. Over half were pastors and missionaries.
I wish our experience was unique.
Several years ago a seminary professor told me: “We no longer ask our entering students if they are struggling with pornography, we assume every student is struggling. The question we ask: ‘How serious is the struggle?’”
One missions agency told me that 80% of their applicants voluntarily indicate a struggle with pornography, resulting in staff shortages on the field.
Pornography is just one level of sin, a form of visual sex, or heart adultery. Physical adultery includes an affair, multiple affairs, prostitution, and homosexuality. Other sexual behaviors within the ministry are such heinous “unfruitful works of darkness . . . it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret” (Ephesians 5:11–12). To face the crisis we must correctly understand the nature of the problem, ask God to search our own hearts, and be committed to restore each one caught in sexual sin “in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1).
I have pondered long and hard two questions: Why do people repeatedly return to sexual sin and why do people turn away from sexual sin?
LURED TOWARD SIN
First, I would say that after two decades of helping set free those held captive by sexual sin, I’m convinced that the concept of sexual addiction as a diseasedoes not fully identify the seriousness of the problem. If we are going to get serious about the problem in the church we can ill afford to be misled in our thinking. The real problem is hidden deep within. The least bit of lust is an indication of vast corruption in the human heart. It is an enslavement that cannot be broken through any form of behavior management, recovery program, or counseling. The inside is so ravaged by sin that we can do nothing to change it.
When one is held in the grip of sexual sin, there is no hope of self-reform or self-efforts, for those living according to the “passions of their flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind” (Ephesians 2:3). To put it bluntly, those living in habitual sexual sin are “dead in their trespasses and sin” (verse 1). Dead, in a loss of spiritual life. Dead to finding satisfaction with God. Dead to living for his purpose. Holiness is dead. Wisdom is dead. Purity is dead. Love is dead. Like David, the sexual sinner has sinned “against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13), and in so doing has “utterly scorned the Lord” (verse 14). The horrible fact is they are “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).
I believe addictionology plays down the seriousness of sin and the necessity of the work of God when it encourages the sexual addict to accept the theory that recovery will only be successful when they begin to believe that they are a good person at the core and just have a disease.
Diagnoses always determine the method of treatment. So ‘good’ people only need to get serious, follow the steps of recovery, and remain in recovery. The opposite is true. When dealing with sexual sin we must hold fast to the teaching of Jesus Christ, “For from within, out of the heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, . . . adultery” (Mark 7:21).
By nature and by choice we satisfy ourselves, rebel against God, and have no accurate understanding of the depth of our problem. The heart is deceptive, and without supernatural change it will grow worse. The only hope is “the grace of God . . . training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11–12).
Look closely and you will see that the sexual sinner is disappointed with pleasure in their pursuit of what is essentially false intimacy. As one pastor, who was living in two adulterous relationships, put it: “This was the insanity; I no sooner finished the sexual act and immediately broke into tears, devastated by what I had done, but I only returned again and again to the same sinful relationship.”
As sinners we are created with desires for intimacy and for delight. Therefore, “The way to fight lust is to feed faith with the precious and magnificent promise that the pure in heart will see, face to face, the all-satisfying God of glory” (Future Grace, 338).
Yet the sexual sinner, finding no pleasure in real intimacy with God, ultimately finds no pleasure in false intimacy. Real intimacy has both pain and pleasure; false intimacy offers the illusion of no pain, but in the end there is no real pleasure! A part of exchanging the “truth about God for a lie” (Romans 1:25) is that you end up with pleasure now, pain forever!
Deception runs deeper than we think. Deception is inherent to the problem of sexual sin on two levels.
First, there is the double life with clandestine liaisons, endless hidden hours on a computer, or the misuse of unaccounted time away from the office or home. The behavior is carefully hidden from view, but there are lies, then more lies to cover the lies. Face the facts: the motive for secrecy is to keep doing it. But secrecy of sexual sin also indicates a person’s commitment to flee from the light. “And people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19).
The second level of deception is self-deception. If the heart is deceitful, it impacts the way we want to see the secret things in our lives, particularly secret sexual sins. The missionary can justify going to nude beaches; a pastor sees the value of an affair because it makes him happy; going to a prostitute on Monday is just a reward for hard work on Sunday.
When you say, “I will keep this part of my life a secret,” what are you hiding?
Hidden from view is a scandalous behavior that would certainly horrify any congregation or spouse. It is also a calculated contradiction of one’s public image that if revealed would bring ruin. It also may be a relationship that you believe is so fulfilling you can’t imagine ending it.
Everyone thinks they are hiding their acts of sin: lust, cheating, porn, and adultery. Such thinking makes it easier to justify the secrecy for the greater good of one’s marriage, family, ministry, job, and future. Such rationalization is universal to all secret sexual sin. “After all, a lot of people would be hurt if they knew what I was doing.” As one pastor put it, “I was in a six month affair, at the same time preaching and counseling against adultery, and telling myself that God didn’t care because the church was growing.”
In reality, it is not the behavior alone that is hidden.
Secret sexual sin is an invasive poison to the soul, mind and the body. It is a poison deep within the recesses of the soul that keeps one from finding satisfaction in God and meaningful intimacy with others. This is a poison that will kill not only in this life, but also life eternal! “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure . . . has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). Sexual behavior that is indistinguishable from the unbelieving world may indicate a person is not truly a child of God.
THE TURN FROM SIN
Why do people turn away from sexual sin?
In thousands of cases that I have counseled, only about one-percent of the men have come to us voluntarily and preemptively. Ninety-nine percent of the men were caught.
Getting caught in sexual sin doesn’t change the heart.
I can’t prove it, but I believe that God will providentially expose the secret sexual sin of his children.
It staggers our finite imagination that God will allow his chosen ones to go deep into brazen sexual sin, live in it for many years, and have so many people badly hurt. And no matter how difficult it is for spouses and church members to see it in the moment, God is at work when a pastor’s sin is exposed. Exposure is a sovereign act of God. God’s ways are not our ways! In all the vileness and rebellion against God that is a big part of sexual sin, exposure is showing us the perfect patience of Christ.
Many times I’ve been asked, “How can you keep dealing with such sinful men?” There are two reasons: First, I have seen over and over again the power of God to change the darkest sinner. Second, restoration with God is more important than anything. It is more important than career or marriage. God cares more for you, your soul, and your wife than he does your gifts and calling. You are his child before you are a pastor or a husband.
After secret sexual sin is exposed we can make the mistake of focusing on the actions and attempt to eliminate behavior. We may be inadvertently feeding a false conviction rather than aiding true conviction.
False conviction is a reflex reaction caused by self-disgust, a sorrow over the consequences of sin. True conviction is an abiding sorrow over the offence against God, and while not the natural response, it does demonstrate that God has begun a good work that he will complete. True conviction is followed by true repentance. False conviction is followed by counterfeit repentance that only sees the consequences of sexual sin and the pain it caused others. Often this leads to a temporary change in behavior without a heart change.
Heart change is critical, “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexual immoral (Gk. porneia) or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater) has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). There is no room for error when it comes to dealing with sexual sin. There is a demand to either repent or perish (Luke 13:3, 5). So there must be inner transformation of the heart because it is “deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Christians must take severe measures in killing this sin. This is the real danger: “Every unclean thought would be adultery if it could” (John Owen). “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality . . .” (Colossians 3:5).
The cross isn’t a recovery program, the place to improve on what good is already there. It is a place to die. It is not a question of giving up sexual sin, but of giving up one’s rights!
“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17–18). As dead sinners we lived “in the passion of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind” (Ephesians 2:3). Deceived, we foolishly think we can use our bodies as we choose when we are in love, when it brings us pleasure, when it makes us a whole person or feeds our spiritual well being. The truly repentant sexual sinner begins to grasp, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).
True repentance is radical change from the inside out. “The basic meaning of repent is to experience a change of the mind’s perceptions and dispositions and purposes” (What Jesus Demands, 41). Repentance is not just becoming sexually pure, but an inward change, “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). Inward change leads to sexual purity. Repentance happens on the inside where heart change includes the development of an ingrained attitude to flee sexual immorality.
DON'T WAIT TO GET CAUGHT
Some time ago I met a pastor who told me that he had two or three affairs in each of the several churches he had pastored. He said, “My reputation in my denomination is to take a small struggling church and see it grow, only to again take another small church and see it grow. I’ve made that move three times, but in fact, I was only moving to a new church before I got caught in those affairs.” That man has no reason to expose his sexual sin or leave the ministry. Why should anyone know?
Why should anyone turn from sexual sin before being caught?
First, don’t let yourself be deceived. “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil . . . No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:8, 9). While not completely free from sin, the heart of the true believer has been transformed, and they cannot live in a pattern of continual sexual sin.
Second, the exhortation is to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
Third, fear is not a virtue. Yes, exposure will be costly, but right now you are dying on the inside. It may not feel like dying right now, but you are, you are slowly killing yourself, your spouse, your family, and your congregation.
Fourth, if secret sexual sin has severe consequences, it is worth dealing with before the devastation occurs. Obvious examples come to mind to get help before: your Internet browsing history is discovered and shared; the prostitute turns into an uncover police women and you are arrested for soliciting; you contract an STD; or you are publicly exposed, humiliating yourself, your spouse, your family, and your congregation.
Fifth, it will come out. God is never mocked. “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness” (Romans 11:22).
Sixth, getting caught shatters trust and honesty in marriage, embarrasses your spouse, and makes reconciliation more difficult.
Seventh, there is hope. It begins with facing the truth. It is never just a struggle with your thought life; like all sexual sin, it is evil. If there is an old self to put off, there must be a new self to put on; that is the gospel.
HEAR THE BETTER WORD
Christ bears the wrath that will come for all sexual sin. If you are a true believer and real change has occurred, you are called to put off the old and put on the new. Killing sexual sin starts with exposure; it ends with no longer being enslaved (Romans 6:6). Exposure is painful, but it is better to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” than to hear, "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
If you are a pastor stuck in sexual sin, no matter how well you have attempted to cover those sins with layers and layers of lies, I plead with you, step out from the darkness of those sins. Step into the light. Get help. You will never find life in the shadows.
Written by Harry Schaumburg / This article was also published on desiringGod.org.
The new narcotic. Morgan Bennett just published an article by this title. The thesis:
Neurological research has revealed that the effect of internet pornography on the human brain is just as potent — if not more so — than addictive chemical substances such as cocaine or heroin.
To make matters worse, there are 1.9 million cocaine users, and 2 million heroin users, in the United States compared to 40 million regular users of online pornography.
Here’s why the addictive power of pornography can be worse:
Cocaine is considered a stimulant that increases dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter that most addictive substances release, as it causes a “high” and a subsequent craving for a repetition of the high, rather than a subsequent feeling of satisfaction by way of endorphins.
Heroin, on the other hand, is an opiate, which has a relaxing effect. Both drugs trigger chemical tolerance, which requires higher quantities of the drug to be used each time to achieve the same intensity of effect.
Pornography, by both arousing (the “high” effect via dopamine) and causing an orgasm (the “release” effect via opiates), is a type of polydrug that triggers both types of addictive brain chemicals in one punch, enhancing its addictive propensity.
But, Bennett says, “internet pornography does more than just spike the level of dopamine in the brain for a pleasure sensation. It literally changes the physical matter within the brain so that new neurological pathways requirepornographic material in order to trigger the desired reward sensation.”
Think of the brain as a forest where trails are worn down by hikers who walk along the same path over and over again, day after day. The exposure to pornographic images creates similar neural pathways that, over time, become more and more “well-paved” as they are repeatedly traveled with each exposure to pornography. Those neurological pathways eventually become the trail in the brain’s forest by which sexual interactions are routed. Thus, a pornography user has “unknowingly created a neurological circuit” that makes his or her default perspective toward sexual matters ruled by the norms and expectations of pornography.
Not only do these addictive pathways cause us to filter all sexual stimulation through the pornographic filter; they awaken craving for “more novelpornographic content like more taboo sexual acts, child pornography, or sadomasochistic pornography.”
And it gets worse:
Another aspect of pornography addiction that surpasses the addictive and harmful characteristics of chemical substance abuse is itspermanence. While substances can be metabolized out of the body, pornographic images cannot be metabolized out of the brain because pornographic images are stored in the brain’s memory.
“In sum,” Bennett writes, “brain research confirms the critical fact that pornography is a drug delivery system that has a distinct and powerful effect upon the human brain and nervous system.”
None of this takes God by surprise. He designed the interplay between the brain and the soul. Discoveries of physical dimensions to spiritual reality do not nullify spiritual reality.
When Jesus said, “I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28), he saw with crystal clarity — the way a designer sees his invention — that the physical eye had profound effects on the spiritual “heart.”
And when the Old Testament wise man said in Proverbs 23:7, literally, “As he thinks in his soul, so is he,” he saw with similar clarity that soul acts create being. Thinking in the soul corresponds to “is.” And this “is” includes the body.
In other words, it goes both ways. Physical reality affects the heart. And the heart affects physical reality (the brain). Therefore, this horrific news from brain research about the enslaving power of pornography is not the last word. God has the last word. The Holy Spirit has the greatest power. We are not mere victims of our eyes and our brains. I know this both from Scripture and from experience. And I will write more about it next Tuesday.
This article was also published on DesiringGod.org.
In How Many Porn Addicts are in Your Church?, we looked at the pressing need to confront the porn epidemic in the church. In this article, we go on the offensive. Our enemy has carpet-bombed us with lust, and we’ve allowed them to take a lot of our territory. They’re holding thousands of broken men, women, children, marriages and families hostage in slavery to sexual sin, and these prisoners of war are waiting to be rescued.
Our enemy is skilled at psychological warfare, and he uses our silence, apathy and fear as a weapon against us. If we want to win this war, we have to boldly assault his front positions with truth and decimate his ranks with the power of God. We’ll clear a path of grace so our battered P.O.W.s can make it home without fear of attack; once they’re safe our Lord can heal their wounds with the balm of His love.
To reach the sexually broken in our churches, we need to provide clear answers in a Sunday morning service. You can offer a men’s retreat or seminar on the topic, but if you don’t go for it in front of the congregation many who desperately need to hear your message of hope will miss out. Those who struggle with porn or sex addiction are trapped in shame and isolation, so the idea of going to a “let’s deal with porn” men’s retreat will be too intimidating for many. We have to reach them where they are, which means your best shot is at church on Sunday morning.
Earlier this year, Christianity Today asked 680 pastors and 1,972 laypersons if they thought the topic of sex should be discussed more from the pulpit: 44 percent of churchgoers said they wanted to hear more scriptural teaching from their pastors on sexual issues, while only 22 percent of pastors agreed. Our culture is a sex saturated sewer, and your people are hungry for the secrets of living a pure life.
Before addressing sexual sin with your congregation, you and your staff should spend a few weeks praying for them. This is an epic battle and you’re stepping up to the front lines; our enemy isn’t going down without a fight. They’ll infiltrate your ranks with thoughts of doubt, fear and confusion… “You can’t talk about sex; it’ll offend and embarrass them. What if they leave the church? Maybe we should soften the message a little... or put it off until we feel led.” They’ll try to cause stress in marriages and families to keep them from coming, and they’ll attack your P.O.W.s with shame and fear: “You don’t need help, you can handle this… besides, what would others think if they really knew what you’ve been doing?” Be sure to pound the enemy with prayer artillery before making the assault into his territory.
Those who suffer with sexual sin carry a heavy burden of shame, and some have been wounded when they shared their struggles with the wrong person. Your purpose is to draw them out of isolation so they can get help and find freedom from sin. A red hot, scolding sermon on hell and damnation will drive them deeper into hiding, which is the opposite of what you want. Boldly speak all of the truth in love. Our approach with the sexually broken should be like Jesus’ when He restored Peter (who would have been greatly ashamed) after he’d failed miserably by denying Jesus three times.
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Galations 6:1
The following is a suggested outline for your message of hope. Sexual sin isn’t an appropriate subject for young children, so you may consider making an announcement 1-2 weeks prior that the topic is PG-13, and parents should have their little ones in Sunday school that day.
First, set the standard.
In a 2003 Barna survey, 28% of Christians said looking at pictures with nudity or sexually explicit behavior was morally acceptable. God’s standard, found in Matthew 5:28, is that lust in the heart is the same as committing adultery. The married man who uses porn is sinning against God – and is unfaithful to his wife. Christians aren’t immune from our culture’s “if it feels good do it” mentality, and those who’ve allowed this lie to influence their thinking need to hear God’s truth.
Show how destructive sexual sin is
“Just porn” takes out marriages and families; the tragedy is that most guys don’t realize it until it’s too late. At a 2003 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, two thirds of the 350 divorce lawyers who attended said internet porn contributed to more than half of the divorce cases they handled. The aftershocks from porn addiction in a marriage are little different from the fallout from the physical act of adultery; there are many stories in Scripture that show the devastating consequences of sexual sin (such as Samson and David’s).
Let them know they’re not alone.
Because porn or sex addiction is so rarely discussed in the church, most guys mistakenly assume that “I’m the only one with a lust problem.” This lie keeps many trapped in shame, because if “I’m the only one” then I dare not tell someone for fear of being branded with a scarlet P. Exposing the statistics that 50 percent of Christian men have an issue with porn will show them they’re not “the only one,” and encourage them to reach out for help. One powerful way to do this is for one man to share his struggle with lust with the congregation; when one person steps forward and confesses his weakness it gives others the courage to do the same.
After opening the door, point the way out:
1. Isolation is death
All who struggle with sex or porn addiction are isolated, and few have friends who they can be vulnerable with. James 5:16 says “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one other so you may be healed,” and in Proverbs 28:13 we read “he who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” When we keep our sins a secret they have more power over us; exposing our struggles to others dissolves the shame (Psalms 32:1-5) and breaks the stronghold of lust in the heart. And, when others pray for us in our specific area of weakness as is mentioned in the second half of James 5:16, the Holy Spirit touches our heart where we need it with His power and grace.
2. The stumbling blocks of lust must be annilhated.
In Matthew 5:29, right after He set the standard for sexual purity in verse 28, Jesus drew a black and white picture of the no compromise approach we’re to take in the war against lust: "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” In practical terms, this means the man who stumbles with internet porn installs blocking software, gives his wife the passwords to the computer, or shuts off all internet access to their home. If cable TV is a problem, he has the service turned off. If he can’t stop watching porn movies in hotel rooms, he must leave the TV off, doesn’t travel alone, or finds a new job. Wife getting in lingerie magazines like Victoria’s Secret? He asks her to cancel the subscription. Our enemy thrives on compromise and weakness, so the only way to win is to take the offensive and kill it.
3. Point them to the One they’ve been looking for.
Sex addiction is the search for God’s love and acceptance through lust. Help them see they’re after a “lovingkindness that’s better than life” (Psalms 63:3), which is found only from the Living God of blazing grace. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.” Psalms 42:1
4. Teach them about grace.
Most of the men and women struggling are programmed by parents, peers and circumstances that love is performance based, conditional, or impossible to obtain. This makes their hardest struggle not in being accountable, or cutting off the stumbling blocks of lust, but recognizing God’s grace that is given to them. Teach them to live in grace, as Jesus told us in John 15:9:
"Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.”
5. Give them a safe place to go
Once you’ve shown them the way out, give your people a safe place where they can be vulnerable and find encouragement by starting a Strength in Numbers group in your church. Strength in Numbers is a Christ and grace centered support group for those who struggle with sex and porn addiction that is based on James 5:16.
A Strength in Numbers group is a ministry to your city, not just the men in your church. I get requests for a group all the time from persons all over the U.S., and most of the time I don’t have a place to send them to. I’d love to be able to refer the sexually broken to your church. My prayer is that we’ll see many of these lighthouses of grace spring up in churches all over our land.