Porn and the Desire Dilemma

Porn and the Desire Dilemma

We human beings have a problem–we are creatures of infinite desires. We do not simply want joy or pleasure or love or anything else—we want these things to an infinite degree. We not only want to live happily, we want to live happily ever after.

This is a true dilemma for a finite creature. For being finite means having limits. Yet, our desires have no limits. They are in-finite. No sooner have we possessed what we believe will make us happy than we realize that it is limited and therefore inadequate. Our satisfaction fades and our desire reawakens even stronger than before.

Nevertheless, we again and again seek to satisfy our hearts with finite things. With food, with sex, with social media, with Netflix, with shopping, and a host of other things. Yet these things never fill the void. They are hollow substitutes that leave us empty and afraid to face our true need.

Porn and Communion

As strange as it may seem, porn, too, is an attempt to satisfy our infinite longing. After all, we are creatures made for union and communion. We long to find our completeness in another. “It is not good for man to be alone,” God said in the beginning, and in making us male and female, He wrote this fact in our very biology. We were made for one another. We need one another.

Porn is so compelling because it sells itself as the perfect substitute for real communion and relationship. It stimulates our desire to be loved and wanted to the breaking point. It is the ultimate fantasy of fulfillment.

Yet it can never satisfy. It betrays us every time and keeps us coming back for more. Porn promises us that one more time will be enough—and yet it never is. And not only does porn not satisfy our thirst for love, it leaves us thirstier than before. Like a parched man drinking saltwater in a desert, it can only make our thirst worse.

We desire communion, but porn leaves us isolated. We desire love, and porn destroys any vestige of it. We desire wholeness, and porn leaves us broken. It is the ultimate deceiver and destroyer.

Desire or disorder?

So what is the solution? What are we to do with this desire dilemma?

One thing we should not do is decry the desire. One of the great mistakes Christians often make is to confuse erotic desire with the sin of lust. It is easy to see why. Faced with a growing porn problem, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that the problem lies with our desire for sex. If we could simply shut off or suppress our erotic desire, we think, porn would go away on its own.

But the fact is the opposite. Our erotic desire for union with another is ultimately not the problem. It is that we are attempting to satisfy it with a cheap and finite counterfeit. For eros is a kind of love and it was given to us by God. It is simply the love of union. It is an intense longing to become one with another. This profound love is prefigured in the human love relationship and marital union. Our desire for our spouse is intended to mirror the love of God for His creatures, and His self-giving on their behalf.

I will say it again: Eros is good and holy. It is simply the desire for union and completion in another person. But when this desire aims at the wrong target, when it becomes disordered and misdirected, problems arise and sin enters the picture. It is like an eating disorder that distorts and misdirects the healthy desire for food. The solution, then, is not to deny the desire, but to fulfill it in the God-designed way.

Directing Our Desire to the Heavens

Eros, erotic love, is incredibly powerful, perhaps even the most powerful desire of the heart. It is the rocket fuel intended to launch us upward into the arms of the God who loves us, and thus to find our completion in Him. Simply, eros was meant to be oriented toward God and fulfilled by Him. For only an infinite God can satisfy an infinite desire.

Our culture needs to hear there is satisfaction for their hungry hearts. As the great Christian writer and apologist, C.S. Lewis, put it, “No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.” But satisfaction can never be found in porn or hookups or any other substitute. It can only be found in God alone.

Sex is good and beautiful. It is a portrait of God’s intense love for us—the love of a husband for his bride. Indeed, throughout the scriptures, the Lord speaks of Himself as a bridegroom and the church as His bride. His love for us is that intense and passionate. He loved us to the point of giving His body and blood for us—even unto death.

Until we realize that our destiny, the fulfillment of all our desires, is in God alone, we will be left hungry and dissatisfied by the things of this world. But if we see the gifts of God as good, but ultimately as signposts orienting us back to Him, we will be filled with a joy that never ends.

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