I’ve debated for a long time on whether or not I should write about this, but perhaps this can be used for God’s glory in the lives of one of you young men or young women. So my prayer in sharing my story is that the dangers of this multi-billion dollar industry will be recognized and that you will heed to my warnings to avoid it at all costs, being constantly in prayer and relying upon the Lord for His grace in overcoming temptation.
Porn is damaging. I know this has been said hundreds of times, but I feel so much that many of you young, unmarried people don’t really actually realize how damaging this can be, especially in regards to intimacy with your future spouse, and the unfortunate thing is many of you won’t heed to these warnings and won’t realize the damage done until you are married.
I also want to point out that many articles on pornography are addressed towards men, as if they are the only beings that find themselves enthralled and enticed by its grips. It is far from true as many women have shared with me their struggles with this as well. I was addicted to pornography for longer than I currently have been married (which at the time I am writing this is almost 7 years). My first experience with pornography was when I lived at home with my parents and became curious about a certain set of VHS tapes that were “hidden” in their closet. I was so young when I watched, and I didn’t understand what was really going on, but the images remained burned in to my brain - even to this day. As I got older and became more interested in sex, I watched more and more. Those tapes were the only thing I really had access to because our Internet was so slow (dial-up), but it didn’t mean I didn’t try, either.
The desires became stronger and stronger, and the urges to watch porn seemed to overtake my mind. It inevitably led to a sinful Internet lifestyle with Internet chatting as well as a sinful lifestyle with my boyfriend, who is now my husband, Jason. Yes, we were “virgins” before we married, but we were far from pure. The addiction I had fueled my passion for sex so much that a simple kiss would lead to less clothing on both of us. And I wish I could stress how much this took away from our wedding night, which ended up in us falling asleep because we were “tired” after our wedding, which people laugh at, but the truth was that even though we hadn’t actually been intimate with each other in that sense, the level of intimacy we had had become so normal to us that our wedding night was just another night; it was nothing special. And my heart grieves at that.
And the damage didn’t end there. For the rest of this story, I want to sort of pin-point three things with further explanation. And no, this is not an exhaustive list, and I will probably be adding to this and updating it as I go along in the thought process…
- Porn is sinful. This should be pretty obvious, but sometimes stating the obvious is needed. It’s sinful as it stirs up desires that cannot be righteously fulfilled by a spouse, and even if those desires can be righteously fulfilled by your spouse, the point is the actual desire has been stirred up by someone apart from your spouse, which is adultery. “…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). Not only is it sinful to watch, we are approving of the sin being committed on the screen between the two actors by refusing to turn it off when we see it, and, along with that, we are taking part of a multi-billion dollar industry that is harming individuals and marriages. (Refer to the site PornHarms.org to read some of the stories.) So yes, it is sinful, but it’s important to remember that Christ died so this could be forgiven, and if you are a believer, He drank your Hell. Remember this amazing grace and rest in the mercies of the gospel of Jesus Christ, knowing that nothing is beyond redemption.
- Porn trains the brain for a lifestyle of lusting. The Bible makes it very clear that lusting is a sin (refer to Matthew 5:28 again), but the damages of pornography don’t end with a single lustful thought; they give birth to a lifestyle of lust and the desire for sexual variety. If you’ve ever been involved with watching pornography, you’ll soon realize that one scene isn’t enough. It’s like a wicked drug that lures you in and devours you, only leaving you wanting higher doses for the next fix. These “higher doses” come in the form of different scenes with different individuals and different sexual experiences. Variety. And because these higher doses cause a deeper addiction, your thoughts feed off of this addiction not only to random sexual fantasies but varied sexual fantasies, until thoughts of sex completely overtake you. The next thing you know your thoughts wander and thinking about actors, people you know, random people off of the streets, etc. It trains your brain for a lifestyle of lusting, constantly wanting different scenarios with different people and different experiences… see the similarity between the porn videos? These are the effects of porn. And, especially for you young people, what do you think will happen in a marriage when you are with the same person over and over again? You will want variety, and perhaps these desires will be appeased by lustful thoughts and the occasional viewing of pornography, or maybe they will be so overwhelming to you that you will take steps to appease them physically with other men or women. In other words, if you have a porn addiction, sex in marriage can honestly be boring and repetitive, something that a porn addiction trains you to hate, and it can lead you to seek alternatives to get your “fix”. But don’t lose hope, as this can be overcome through Christ’s help as well, though it is not easy.
- Porn is unrealistic. I want to address this mostly to women here, but guys, this is true for you as well. Porn stars are actors… you know, people who get paid to act. If you are an unmarried young woman addicted to porn, I want to first hug you and then sit and have a very awkward yet needed discussion with you until you realize that the women in the scenes are faking basically everything. Not to mention that they use editing software to make both women and men look basically perfect, which is also unrealistic. I won’t go into details here, but please just know, young women, that if you get your idea of sex from a porn video, you will be greatly disappointed. Now don’t get me wrong, intimacy is a wonderful part of a marriage, and something that can be and should be enjoyed with your spouse, but it’s very, very much unlike what is portrayed in a video. And for you guys, please know women aren’t willing to basically do your bidding, something that is portrayed in the videos as well. No, they don’t like everything, and no they don’t enjoy everything. It all goes back to acting, they are paid to look like they are enjoying being physically dominated by a man or several men. Yet the statistics of the women in the porn industry who are drug and alcohol addicts are astonishing. Why? They don’t at all enjoy what they are doing, so they use these methods to deal with reality. And the reality for many of the women who perform in these videos is pretty tragic, from physical abuse to physical harm. For more on this “reality” for the porn star women, refer to this article: Ex-Porn Star Reveals the Horrors of Working in the Sex Industry. It includes a couple YouTube videos (they are rather graphic in language, but don’t include actual scenes of videos) where an ex-porn star explains what actually happens on set that we use to get our “fix”. It may not be a pleasant thing to really hear, but it may be needed to explain just how horrible this industry really is.
Now, perhaps those were uncomfortable to read, and to be honest, it’s been rather uncomfortable explaining it, but they are true. Now, I don’t have a perfect formula for overcoming this addiction and the horrible issues caused by it afterwards, but I can offer some things that have helped me.
1. Admit your sin and repent. Yes, we have basically unlimited access to porn, yes, it’s basically everywhere around us, and while there is a fault there within the porn industry, ultimately, the fault resides in ourselves and our sinfulness. We read in James that “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:13-15). Sure, porn may be like dangling a piece of delicious steak in front of your face after days lost at sea, but Scripture is clear that it’s our own desires that lure an entice us to take part in it. In my pride, I would love to admit that “if I could go back and change things, I wouldn’t do it,” but to be honest, I know my sinful heart, so I won’t make that statement. Porn isn’t the cause of our sinfulness it’s a result of it. But I do know in order to move forward, you need to admit your sinfulness and your need for Christ’s righteousness, then repent and ask the Lord for help. Scripture is clear on this issue of man’s sinfulness, even from the beginning after the fall, and here are a few verses for reference (not an exhaustive list):
- "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5).
- "And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth…" (Genesis 8:21).
- "The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one" (Psalm 14:1-3).
2. Think on good things and rest in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This probably sounds rather euphoric, and it’s very much easier to say than do. But Philippians 4:8 says, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." It helps to sort of ask questions: "Is porn true? Is porn honorable? Is porn just? Is porn pure? Is porn lovely? Is porn commendable? Is porn of any excellence? Is porn worthy of praise?" The answer to all of these is no, of course. We also learn in Ephesians that we are to "…be imitators of God…. walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret” (Ephesians 5:1-12). Again ask the question, “Is porn showing the fruit of walking as children of light? Is porn good, right, and true? Is porn pleasing to the Lord? Is porn the unfruitful works of darkness or does it show us to be children of light? ” Now, of course, don’t think I’m trying to go all law here, as the law was never intended to save us, and we learn in Galatians that the law cannot make us righteous, so it’s not just a matter of “not doing” something, but to “be renewed in the spirit of your minds” as Ephesians 4:23 says, and to “be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18), something that only a believer can have as the power of God comes upon their lives through the gospel, giving them a new heart with new desires. You can “not watch porn” a single second in your life, yet still be an adulterer of the heart, so it’s not a matter of “not doing this” and “doing that”, but a matter of receiving a new heart and new desires through the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to stress this again: you cannot be made clean of your own accord by just no longer watching porn; you have to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ who washes away your transgressions, then be transformed by the renewing of your mind which is only achievable through the gospel of Jesus Christ and the act of sanctification by the Holy Spirit. Apart from that there is no hope, for the law (do’s and don’t’s) will not justify you, but faith in Christ will (Galatians 2:16). It’s in this gospel we can find our rest, because if we are truly in Him, His grace will keep you there apart from your works, but if you are not truly in Him, the wrath of God remains on you (John 3:36).
3. Be diligent in prayer and implore others to pray for you. There is a multitude of verses I can quote to go along with this one. Think about it: are you tempted to view porn while you are just going about your day, or when you are in prayer with the Creator of the Universe? I would probably guess the former. Meditate on verses (perhaps like Philippians 4:8), and pray them to Him. Seek out prayer partners (like an accountability partner, more on that later), who will pray for you and pray with you. Perhaps, if you are struggling with lust for a particular person, as soon as the thoughts enter your mind, start immediately praying for that person instead. It’s rather difficult to be thinking about a sexual relationship with someone while you are praying to the Lord for them instead. And, of course, pray that the Lord will give you strength and wisdom to know your way out escape. Memorize and mediate on this verse: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). That’s a wonderful promise! Temptation starts the process of sin, so asking the Lord for an escape and the strength to actually go towards the escape can help to avoid this altogether.
4. Get an accountability partner. Seriously. Find someone who you can open up to and explain your struggles. Might I add that this is probably much better done apart from your spouse and with members of the same gender? I’m not saying to hide your struggles from your spouse, not at all. In fact, I have tearfully admitted to my husband when my thought life has not been faithful to him, but giving all the details may not be the best idea, especially from you men to your wives, as this may burden her much more than intended. I know at least one female I can count on for prayer and can be open with about my struggles, and she never has a judgmental attitude towards me because she has had the same struggles. It also helps we are both married, so we can pray for each other as we both understand how damaging porn is to the marriage bed. And having someone of the same gender is just wise because you wouldn’t want temptation to arise by explaining your temptation (or having it explained to you) from a member of the opposite gender. I also know there is software available that you can install in your computer that will send updates of all the sites you visited as an email to an accountability partner. Yep, seems extreme, but extreme sin calls for extreme measures sometimes.
Young person, I wish so much I could explain how damaging porn has been to my marriage and in my intimate relationship with my husband. It took almost 5 years to realize that the lack of satisfaction I seemed to have in the bedroom was stemming from the amount of porn I watched and the way it tainted my views on sex (and if this is a struggle for you, I can attest that this can be overcome as well). I cannot urge you enough to avoid porn at all costs, even if it means getting rid of devices that make you have easier access to it. And if any of you ever need someone to talk to or pray for you or with you over this, please contact me. You can message me privately about it or message me to get my email address.
I’ve been praying for you and will continue to pray for you. I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling with this.
One thing I want to address right away— it is not worse because you’re a girl. Sin isn’t gendered, and we’re all prone to wander and fall into its trap. Darling, you are no “worse” than anyone else dealing with this habit just because of your gender, and I promise you you’re not the only woman dealing with this. It’s much more common than you know, I promise.
I just want to remind you that Christ is everything and He can redeem us from any sin, any addiction, any ensnarement we’ve been caught in. He is so much more powerful than what you’re struggling with, love. You just need to trust Him with this.
It’s a hard battle, I know. But you can’t give up! You have to flee from this. Don’t entertain thoughts of anything that tempts you to fall prey to this again. Fight this with every cell in your being. The Lord loves you more than I can put into words and wants to draw near to you, but as long as you have this idol set before Him, there will always be something missing.
Abide in Christ. Cling to Him and He will fight off the hold this sin has on your life, I promise.
With much love,
My resolution for 2014 was to read through Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest with a friend, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Not only have I actually stuck with it past the first week (my God is a God of miracles, man,) but I’m learning so much from it, and I’ve already seen its impact on my life. Here’s some stuff I’ve learned from my buddy Oswald thus far.
1. God doesn’t owe me any answers. I’m a firm believer in hounding God for questions; it’s a bad habit I’m really trying to shake. Luckily, this book has made me realise my tendency to treat God like a Magic 8 ball (If you shake Him enough, you’ll get the answer you want, I promise.)
"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." - 1 John 2:16-17
When we hear the word lust, a majority of the time, we think about sexual desire. And while that may be it’s own category, “lust” refers to anything we yield to a strong and desperate desire after. The Bible is saying that the three things that we seems to always lust after are things that will satisfy our flesh and not our spirit, the things look good to us and the things that fill us with pride and self-gratification. These are the devices that cause us most easily to fall into sin. Our lusts are what cause us to lose focus of God because we’re too busy being focused on us. And this has been the trend literally since the beginning of time. Aren’t those three things what Eve was looking for in the Garden? Temporary sustenance from eating the fruit (flesh) the fact that the tree looked good for eating (eyes) and the deception that eating the fruit would make her like a god (pride of life). The serpent (devil) only served to deceive her into giving into what she was already lusting after. And that’s what happens to us as well. Therefore if we are going to lust, let us lust after righteousness. Let us lust after holiness and truth. Let us set our affections on things above and not things of this earth (Colossians 3:2). Let us focus on our Creator and all His great works. What an awesome God we serve.
Masturbation is classified under sexual sin. If you’re looking for a direct verse from the Bible specifically talking about pleasuring yourself, I can’t tell you that you’ll find one.
For example, Matthew 5:28 states: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Masturbation typically requires a fantasy, porn, etc. That is a blatant sin.
God created sex so that we could give ourselves wholly to the one we are married to. So if you’re masturbating, you’re not giving, only receiving. Sex between a married couple is a gift given to one another, and if you’re doing it to yourself, it’s due to selfish nature, which is condemned in the Bible.
Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). We’re called to keep our hearts and minds in check and free from sins of the flesh. Though it isn’t directly mentioned in Scripture, masturbation is still a sin. However, it is able to be overcome and able to be forgiven if repented of.
Praying for you!
and nothing can make them stumble."