This post is the manuscript of my message for Elevate Makati (October 11).
Let me begin with a story of a man named Ted Bundy. As a child, Bundy was shy yet was very bright. He was also good-looking and charismatic. Later on, he enrolled in law school and had a promising future in politics. However, Bundy was also a rapist and a serial killer. He was connected to a murder of 36 women (some even say that he has killed more than a hundred). In January 24, 1989, Bundy was executed for the crimes that he committed.
How come Bundy, who is a bright and charming guy, could do such a thing? In his final hours, he was interviewed and he revealed how it all started. When he was 13, he found “dirty magazines” in a dump near his home. He got captivated by it. When he got tired with fantasy, he turned to reality. It all started with porn.1
7 REALITIES ABOUT GOD, SEX, AND PORN
Let’s now talk about what the Bible says about porn. Below are seven realities about God, sex, and porn.
1. GOD CREATED SEX. THEREFORE, IT IS GOOD.
There are lots of things the Bible says about sex. But let me show you a few. First, we have to understand that God created sex (“by him all things were created”—Colossians 1:16). Therefore it is good (“everything created by God is good”—1 Timothy 4:4).
Also, God designed sex to be enjoyed by a husband and a wife. He commanded our first parents Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). He gave this command to a married heterosexual couple.
Let me just say that God is pro-sex. If you’re not convinced with that, just take a look at Song of Solomon or Song of Songs. This book is the most erotic of all books in the Bible. Its theme is about the celebration of marital love.
2. SIN, HOWEVER, CORRUPTED SEX.
After the Fall, when Adam and Eve sinned, sin distorted sex. Since then, many kinds of sexual perversion happened. These include, but not limited to, the following: Pre-marital sex (Deuteronomy 22:13-21), adultery (Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 22:22-24), homosexual intercourse (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13), rape (Deuteronomy 22:25-27), and prostitution (Leviticus 19:29, Deuteronomy 23:17-18).
Nowadays, the surroundings aren’t even helping. The truth is that we are living in hypersexualized culture. In his excellent book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says why remaining sexually pure is difficult. One of the reasons for this is because of what he calls a “contemporary propaganda for lust.”
Poster after poster, film after film, novel after novel, associate the idea of sexual indulgence with the ideas of health, normality, youth, frankness, and good humour.2
What he was saying is that unbiblical sex had become accepted. And while the book was published in 1952 (and the talks in which the book was based from happened years earlier), Lewis’ observation remains true these days. In fact, it has gone worse. We now have movies and TV series about adultery. We now have books that are sexually graphic. And we now have easier and instant access to porn (thanks to the Internet!).
3. PORN IS IN THE FOREFRONT OF THE CONTEMPORARY PROPAGANDA FOR LUST.
Porn is definitely not helping in our pursuit of sexual purity. Aside from this, there are lots of research showing the detrimental effects of porn. It has negative social and psychological effects on men. It objectifies women who are created in the image of God. It destroys relationships.
But to say that porn has negative effects is an understatement. Because it really has devastating effects. The life of Ted Bundy testifies to that.
But before I proceed to the next reality, let me just say that porn is not just a male issue. It is also a female issue. There are women who get hooked to it as well. While the porn industry generally caters to men (who are stimulated visually), pornographers have found a way to allure women (who are stimulated differently).
Tim Challies warns women that the pornographers are coming after them. He writes:
There is much that can be said about the 50 Shades of Grey series of books; what is beyond dispute is that the books—there are currently 65 million in print—shocked the publishing world by revealing the existence of a previously untapped market. The secret is out: There are millions of women who will read pornography even if they have little interest in watching it. Publishers, both mainstream and pornographic, are taking note. They are studying the 50 Shades phenomenon to see how they can duplicate it, or at least cash in on its success. Like any industry, they have surveys and focus groups and statistics and endless amounts of data that first measure and then transform behavior.
So women, beware!
5. THERE IS FREEDOM OFFERED IN THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST.
If you are enslaved to the sin of porn or lust, don’t lose hope. Jesus Christ offers us freedom. In fact, His very name means that He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). He will not only save us from the eternal consequences of sin, but also from the enslaving power of sin.
Moreover, the death Jesus died, He died to sin (Romans 6:10). Therefore, we must consider ourselves “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). We are called to freedom, but let’s not use that freedom to sin (Galatians 5:13).
The moment we place our faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross, lust and porn no longer have hold on us. Jesus has set us free from the power of lust and porn!
6. GOD’S WILL IS THAT WE LIVE SEXUALLY PURE LIVES.
Now that in Christ we have been set free from the slavery of lust and porn, God would want us to live lives of purity. First Thessalonians 4:3-8 says:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. (Emphasis added)
The word sanctification simply means the process of becoming holy, or becoming more and more like Jesus. God wants us to be holy, because He himself is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). That is His will for us! And that can happen when we avoid sexual immorality (v. 3), practice self-control (v. 4), and love our brothers and sisters (v. 6), among many others.
7. JUST LIKE ANY SIN, WE ARE TO DEAL WITH LUST AND PORN RADICALLY.
Because God’s will for us is to be holy, then we have to fight lust and porn with all our might, in the power of the Spirit. And just like any sin, we are to deal with it radically. Matthew 5:29-30 says:
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
This doesn’t mean that we take this command literally, but it does mean that we are to deal with sin radically. We should do whatever it takes to defeat lust and porn.
SOME PRACTICAL ADVICE
With the last point in mind, here are some practical steps to fight lust and porn:
1. Meditate on God’s Word. The psalmist once said, “I have stored up your word in my heart, / that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). Jesus quoted the Scripture when Satan tempted in the desert (see Matthew 4:1-11). So take hold of the word of God—the Bible—which is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).
2. Pray. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructs us to pray for protection from temptation (Matthew 6:13). So whenever you are tempted to lust and look at porn, fall on your knees and pray.
3. Avoid idleness and keep yourself productive. We can trace back David’s fall into immorality to idleness (see 2 Kings 11:1; David was supposed to be in battle). So don’t play in the Devil’s playground of idleness. Keep yourself productive. Read your Bible. Read good books. Serve in the ministry.
4. Employ practical measures. If you have to install Internet protection to avoid porn sites, go and do so. If you have to avoid friends because they’re not helping, go and do so (1 Corinthians 15:33). While lust and porn is ultimately an issue of the heart (Matthew 15:18-19), we can still employ practical measures to aid us in our battle against it.
5. Hold yourself accountable. The pursuit of holiness isn’t meant to be done alone. It should be done in the context of community. Second Timothy 2:22 says, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (emphasis added). We have to surround ourselves with fellow Christians who can help us in our battle against lust and porn. They can pray for us, guide us, and encourage us to persevere in the battle. So find a mentor, a small group, or a church.
HOPE FOR THE PORNIFIED PERSON
If you are that person who is “pornified” (or lustful), don’t lose hope. Because of Christ and His finished work on the cross, lust and porn no longer have hold on us. Jesus has set us free from the enslaving power of lust and porn.
Have you asked Jesus to set you free from the power of lust and porn?