I think the first time I really saw pornography was on a fuzzy TV channel that would occasionally straighten out into something visually comprehensible. When the image finally broke through, it felt like I was hit by a powerful force. It was like every good and bad emotion in existence were all lit up inside of me at one time. It was a confusing moment I wish I had never experienced.
Pornography has never been more accessible, surreal, and private than it is now, and with the rise of virtual reality and other technologies, it will only get more intense. The internet is a bleak place in this regard as many have found themselves heavily addicted and unable to break free, even with great effort on their behalf. For this reason, getting my children a phone or computer one day has been one of my greatest fears as a parent. I remember feeling it the day I became a dad. It’s an important topic to me for all kinds of spiritual, human, and justice reasons, and I don’t want my kids to find themselves tangled up in that emotionally confusing web—especially given how normal and accepted pornography has become in today’s culture. In a 2016 study, Barna Group found that teens and young adults ages 13-24 see a lot of other issues as significantly more wrong than pornography.
- Taking something that belongs to someone else. (88%)
- Having a romantic relationship with someone other than a spouse. (75%)
- Saying something that isn’t true. (71%)
- Not recycling. (56%)
- Thinking negatively about someone with a different point of view. (55%)
- Overeating. (48%)
- Significant consumption of electricity or water. (38%)
- Wanting something that belongs to someone else. (32%)
- Viewing pornographic images. (32%)
- Reading erotic or pornographic content (no pictures). (27%)
- Watching sexually explicit scenes on TV or in a movie. (24%)
As a pastor, my convictions, of course, come from a Jesus perspective. According to him, in the same way that he sees anger as murder, he also sees looking at someone with lustful intent as adultery. That is to say that we find ourselves guilty of sin at its root, not only once it produces greater fruit. This reminds us to pay very close attention to our spiritual gardens, pulling up weeds every time they come in and not giving them space to grow. Jesus especially recognized how powerful a sin like lust could be, so he embellished it as much as possible to make sure we watched out for it: “It’d be better to be blind than to fall into the sin of lust.” This embellishment is easily understood when you look at all the various kinds of damages lust causes in society, especially when lust is fully grown in us.
But if it’s too late for us to catch it at its infancy, the Holy Spirit will help us uproot those plants if we let him. It will often take great effort on our part, but Jesus will help us tear down the rotten fruit trees and replace them with good fruit trees, and that’s a truth that the helplessly addicted long to hear.
There are a lot of tools out there that can help assist people toward freedom these days. Check out Covenant Eye’s latest software (which analyzes your computer screen), a recovery group in your local area, a good book on the topic (hit me up for various recommendations), or a local or online therapist who specializes in the topic.
*This devotional was created out of the themes of Matthew 5:27-37 found in today’s reading at CommonPrayer.net. Below are the various AI-created pictures I typed into existence via Mid Journey to mock up artwork for today’s post. Today’s stats come from Barna Group’s book, The Porn Phenomenon.