[Extract from the book Elijah Men Eat Meat]
Herod’s sin of lust that leads to the Baptist’s decapitation serves as a good moment to address a relevant issue: pornography.
The internet has made pornography―once only a snare for those minority of men willing to go out and buy a magazine―a trap to us all. And not just the men. Increasingly women are getting caught up in it too. Pornography is a far greater weapon of destruction in the church than any activism could ever be. It has become Jezebel’s main weapon, keeping back a generation of Christians from going forward in confidant spiritual growth and ministry.
Now let us never misunderstand: sex is a good gift. We do not think of the human body as bad. God made it. I am convinced that boobs are a sign that God loves us and wants us all to be happy. Let us give thanks where thanksgiving is due. But pornography turns our natural sexual drive into a system of chemical terrorism. One minute we're going about our business in a state of healthy sanity. The next minute―when ignited by a low neckline, short skirt, or sensual advertisement―we are grabbed by a furious desire to pant over cushions of flesh that are forbidden to us. We run to porn, covet, and believe our soul will only be satiated by the god of orgasm. Like all sins, this evil is goodness deformed.
Here, we share just a few short tips that many men have found helpful in gaining victory in their own souls. Space does not allow for full treatment of this subject. We have found other books such as Surfing for God, Samson and the Pirate Monks, and (for women) No Stones by Marnie Ferree to be handy (no pun intended) resources.
First of all, realise there is usually no silver bullet. Rarely is there just one thing you must do in order to never struggle with sexual lust again. Pornography addiction is―in part―the result of other deep needs not being met in healthy ways or deep wounds not being properly healed. As we grow spiritually and find God’s affirmation, acceptance, and love, we will be less tempted to seek it out on a computer screen. Yes, unless you have SSA exclusively, then as a man you will always have an attraction to the female body. But increased health brings increased self-control. This includes times of prayer, reading, and even getting enough sleep and eating well.
Secondly, do not isolate yourself. Porn makes a man feel dirty and guilty. Like Adam, he hides in shame. The ensuing loneliness makes porn all the more attractive and addiction becomes a downward spiral. Have quality friendships with brothers you can talk openly with. Also, have healthy relationships with women. Male-female friendships can be controversial, and it does have pitfalls. But Scripture commands us to treat women as sisters. We discuss this in more detail in the book Forbidden Friendships, but for now we simply note that having healthy relationships with women can help serve as an emotional deterrent to objectifying them on a computer screen.
Next, consider dealing with masturbation as a root cause. Yes, we know the Bible does not specifically mention masturbation and some men have a huge and often unnecessary guilt complex over this issue. But as a pastor that has worked with men over the years on this issue, many have found that they could not overcome pornography without also eliminating masturbation. Some disagree, but it has definitely been the experience of many. Porn and masturbation play off each other. Eliminating the one will help you get rid of the other.
Lastly, do not give up. The first of Luther’s 95 theses was that a Christian’s whole life should be one of repentance. Some men (and women) fight this new drug for a season and then give up after failing many times. Don’t. This may be a war we fight our whole lives―but our souls are worth fighting for. Never raise the white flag and surrender. Keep making whatever practical changes are necessary to remove yourself as far from temptation as you can get: turn the angle of your computer screen to face the door, pledge to a trusted friend that you will never take your smartphone into the bathroom, etc. You are in a war. If we seek to reform a compromised church, we must reform our compromised selves. Keep doing whatever is necessary to gain ever-increasing victory over the sexual chaos Jezebel seeks to bring to your inner life.