6 minute read

Looking For Porn

Last Updated: June 9, 2015

Rick Thomas
Rick Thomas

Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking.  In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and in 1991 he earned a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with a MA in Counseling from The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a  Fellow with Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).

Where would you locate the primary problem with pornography? In our culture? Are you tempted to overly react to the sensual realities of our culture? You should react! You should be concerned! But when you address the porn problem are you more inclined to begin the discussion with the prevalent, evasive, cultural, immodesty issues? Granted it should be part of our discussion. Certainly it is right to walk our wives and daughters through how to dress modestly. It is wise to teach them to help guard the hearts of their male friends by dressing in an appropriate manner. However, the way we dress should not be the starting point in the pornography discussion.

“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). Jesus begins the discussion regarding behavioral sins (porn) not in the behavior, but in the heart. In the quote above Jesus ties the behavior (tongue) to the heart. He places the source of our sin problems in the heart rather than the lip. My struggle with pornography does not begin in my culture, but in my wicked heart. Paul also exhorted us to make sure we “renew the spirit of our minds” (v.23) before we put on a new behavior (Eph.4:22-24). If we do not first attack our physical sin issues at the level of the heart we set ourselves up for the very real possibility of that sin reappearing. If we do not put the axe to the root of the tree there will be sprigs, then limbs and then full-blown branches reappearing. And along with this reappearance of sin is the very real possibility of compounded frustration, anger, hopelessness and less faith to attack this problem one more time.

Incomplete Response

Responding to sin primarily at the level of the behavior will not ultimately work and will lead a person toward despair. All sin, including pornography, must be rooted out where it began. Find the source and you have positioned yourself for God’s empowering grace to extract the sin.

Pornography begins in the heart. Awareness of this truth brings hope. If I believed the root of my porn problem was in my culture then I have set myself up as a potential victim of my culture and possibly controlled by my culture. I would be at the mercy of my culture and always reacting to my culture, i.e., how women dressed or undressed. My energy, time and focus would be spent guarding the wrong door. Granted, it should be guarded, but it’s not the main door. There is no hope in being a victim. However, if I believed that my wicked heart was the main problem then there is hope because I can apply God’s grace, repent of my sin, and live in the good of the gospel. And at that point I’m positioned for strength in the battle against lust. I can’t repent of my culture. I can’t make the women of our world dress the way I think is right. But I can repent of sin in my heart.

The Real Issue

Porn is not primarily about breasts and bottoms. There most certainly is a physical attraction to men of the opposite sex. God made us to desire women and in a biblical sense we should be attracted to the opposite sex. However, because of original sin, what was intended as love can easily darken to lust.

I’m not downplaying or ignoring the temptations that come with the immodest woman and physical attraction. And I’m not saying she has no responsibility in the matter. However, what I want you to see is that the lust you are experiencing has a source and that source does not begin with the lady’s breasts or backside. It begins in your heart. If you are lusting after another woman then you need to address what is going on in your heart first.

Pandemic Porn

In my years of counseling the overwhelming external sin issue among men has been pornography. It doesn’t matter what the reason for seeking counsel. If they come with marriage issues, financial problems, kid problems, depression, anger, alcohol, bitterness or any other problem, it is not unusual (and actually expected) that there can be the complicating problem of porn. Porn is pandemic in our Christian culture.

Part of the reason it is so prevalent is due to the ubiquitous expansion of the Internet. But the primary reason for porn addiction is because we live in a world of weary, frustrated, insecure, angry men who slip into pornography because it is easy to get into. And it is a private way of bringing temporary pleasure to oneself. Typically, it is despairing men looking for an escape and porn is a practical way to get away for a few minutes.

Theater of the Mind

Though there is gratification in the behavioral experience of porn, it does go deeper than the external benefit and instant gratification. Porn not only finds its source in the heart, but there is pleasure to be found there as well. Porn is the private theater of the mind. Porn is motivating! It is where the insecure and frustrated man can be king for a day, in his own mind. The porn addict is in control of his porn world. He can make the ladies meet his desires. It is one place in his life where he can be in control. He controls their speech. He controls their thoughts of him. He controls their actions. He controls their response to him. He twists the script in such a way to be affirmed. The script writer enjoys his show and when he is satisfied he then closes the show with physical gratification.

In a real world where all things don’t turn out positive and where all people don’t like you, the ladies of the Internet can like you and they can fawn all over you, in your mind. There is not only instant pleasure, but there is instant victory. You win. You’re good. You can feel good about yourself for a few minutes, just before you re-enter the real world where there can be marital disappointment, disruptive kids, the over-bearing boss, the unforgiving world and a host of other problems you can’t seem to get your hands around. Porn is your quickie escape.

The Controller is Controlled

However there is a problem! It’s like a drug. It’s addictive. There was a time when you were in control. You used to decide when you were going on your little escape. But now your heart is in craving-mode. That which you used to control now controls you at the level of your heart. You are now an addict and your addiction has its roots twisted around (and in) your heart.

There was a time when you determined when you wanted your fix, but now your fix wants you. It calls. It knocks. It crouches at your door waiting to pounce. It blitzes your mind and overpowers you. For example, your wife runs an errand and the temptation overtakes you. It comes before she’s out the door. You wait, she leaves and now it’s your time!

Or you have some downtime in your frenetic, un-affirming world and you feel the heat rising in your soul. You’re being allured to the computer. The girls are calling. They want you. You give in. It’s got you! You did it again. But this is the last time, you say.

Porn Negates the Gospel

Porn-addictive-thinking is void of the Gospel. The Gospel is Jesus Christ going to death to save you. This is God’s grandest expression of love and affection for you. Our sin needed satisfaction and that satisfaction came through Christ.

Christ is the Gospel!

Yielding to porn negates this truth. The Gospel is God’s clearest message of his affection, love, care and concern for you. When you think about the Cross of Christ you are reminded that there is no length that God wouldn’t go in order to rescue your perishing soul, because the death of Christ is an infinite expression of his great love. If you have the Gospel right then, there is a lessening need to make yourself feel better about yourself through man-centered methods, e.g., porn.

Christ is your “escape.”

Do you want to change your reality? Fling yourself on the Cross. You feel alone? Live in the daily realities of the Cross. You feel isolated? Abide hard by the Cross of Christ. The Cross is your escape. Living in the good of the Gospel is your victory. This must be your starting point. Remind yourself daily of what Christ did for you, how he went through death to save you. If your world is challenging and you are tempted to find a brief respite in the midst of the chaos, then let me suggest a respite. It’s Christ. Preach the gospel to yourself today. Right now!

Begin the heart cure at this moment. The heart cure is reminding yourself that no matter how difficult your situation is, God loves you. He cares for you. “How do you know that?” That’s easy. The Cross of Christ informs my thinking here. When I am reminded of what he did for me then I know I’m not alone. God is for me, not against me. This is Gospel-informed thinking that will have an effect on your behavior.

Don’t Fight the Fight Alone

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” –Galatians 6:1-2

Secondly, as you repent of your self-focused heart-cravings by marinating your mind in the realities of the Gospel, another way you can keep from going at this alone is to insert some external accountability into your life. This is what I have recommended through the years: Covenant Eyes (CE). CE is a very capable and non-cumbersome software program that allows another friend to have a report of all your Internet traffic for the week. With CE you can fight the very real battle of being wooed to your computer to take a peek. Let another help you. Let another fulfill the law of Christ. Allow another person into your secret world of porn addiction. Once you do that then the battle is well on the way to defeat.

Lastly I exhort you to go to your local church. Talk to a trusted

friend in the context of your local church. Let them into your world. Ask for their help. It would be their joy to come alongside you to help you walk through the entangling web of porn addiction. Additionally, if you are not part of a local church (and/or in transition) and don’t have a trusted friend, then let me suggest you contact me. If I can serve you in your porn addiction it will be my joy!

  • Comments on: Looking For Porn
    1. FANTASTIC article. Where have you been all my life?

    2. N.T.

      I would love it if articles such as this also addressed areas such as same sex attraction and issues of homosexual pornography. While the type of poison is not and should not be the purpose of this message, it is important to some. Ultimately, the answer is the same and rooted in the Gospel of Christ. I agree with that. Though I can apply the heterosexual examples to my different experiences, not all can. Some may be turned away or feel ashamed that they face same sex attractions/homosexual tendencies along with the stronghold of pornography. Just a note for the future. Thanks for the wisdom and clearly said message.

    3. Chet

      Thank you Rick. Could you help me understand what “There most certainly is a physical attraction to men of the opposite sex” means? Is this a reference to homosexual attraction?

    4. The article was informative, but did not address how to change your heart. If the root of porn is the heart and you stop the behavior, I believe the behavior will return unless you confront the matter of your heart. Do you how to change a mans heart?
      Judy

      • Judy, great question. As the article states, the wicked heart is the source of the problem. Only God changes a heart, so our first task is to pray for the gift of repentance. God has given us the gift of His Word and His people to help us dive deeper into our hearts and see the root of the problem. My recent post talks about this quite a bit. The root of porn addiction in the heart is a form of self-worship. Chopping away at pornography will only attack the symptoms of the real issue, it will only eliminate opportunities to sin (which is, of course, a good step to take). To get at the heart someone needs to be convicted about the sins “underneath” the obvious sins, the worship of self and pleasure. Then that person needs to be confronted with the greatness of Christ, shifting the focus of his worship to Jesus.

    5. Mitch

      Our hearts are changed through the cleansing power of JESUS’ blood, and by being washed daily by HIS word. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word. Read it, memorize it, meditate on always.

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