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The Road to Hell is Paved with Porn – How should we address pornography in the church?

Last Updated: July 27, 2021

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

I came across this fun two-part video on YouTube recently. Wretched Radio’s Todd Friel gives his take on pornography addiction among Christians.

Things I like about his message . . .

1. He calls porn use what it is: evil – It is easy in our psychology-rich culture for us to amoralize everything into weak choices made by mere victims and wounded people. To be sure, many are emotionally wounded by others, and we are all sinned against. But when we use psychological excuses to neuter the sin’s real nature, we have missed the boat.

I think John Piper’s words on this are most fitting:

“As I look across the Christian landscape, I think it is fair to say concerning sin, ‘They have healed the wound of my people lightly’ (Jer. 6:14; 8:11, ESV). I take this to refer to leaders who should be helping the church know and feel the seriousness of indwelling sin (Rom. 7:20), and how to fight it and kill it (Rom. 8:13). Instead the depth and complexity and ugliness and danger of sin in professing Christians is either minimized—since we are already justified—or psychologized as a symptom of woundedness rather than corruption.

“This is a tragically light healing. I call it a tragedy because by making life easier for ourselves in minimizing the nature and seriousness of our sin, we become greater victims of it. We are in fact not healing ourselves. Those who say that they already feel bad enough without being told about the corruptions of indwelling sin misread the path to peace. When our people have not been taught well about the real nature of sin and how it works and how to put it to death, most of the miseries people report are not owing to the disease but its symptoms.”

2. He gets to the root of porn addiction: idolatry – Friel comments, porn use is “bowing in worship of the flesh.” As I look back over my past addiction to porn, I most certainly see the root of idolatry that drove such sin, the root that still tempts me to sin today.

3. He gets to the heart of our deepest need: the cross – Not just counseling. Not just turning over a new leaf. Friel rightly states that no one can save us from the guilt and power of sin but Christ alone.

4. He accurately describes the deep, never-satisfied nature of pornographic thirst

5. He accurately contrasts pornographic lust and real love-making – I really liked the phrase about godly men who commit to “loving one woman and dedicate their energies to creative living.” Well said.

6. He rightly questions the salvation of the nonrepentant porn addict – It isn’t in vogue today to poke holes in people’s assurance of salvation, but if we think this sort of preaching has no place in the family of God (or on TV) then we should also throw out many of Jesus’ statements and other Bible passages.

Friel rightly identifies one of the marks of a true believer: someone who is battling sin in “DEFCON 5 mode” around the clock. The apostle John says something very similar in his first letter.

7. He is right that it is not the wife’s fault – This is a needed word for hurting wives, for sure. Many women naturally ask, “What’s wrong with me?” when they see their husbands return to porn again and again.

8. He doesn’t take himself too seriously – I think most people would agree with Friel’s comment about his show being a bit “dopey.” I like that he doesn’t think so highly of his program that he is blind to its somewhat cheesy quality.

9. He rightly addresses the seriousness problem of porn in the military – Pornography in the military is rampant. The Military Honor and Decency Act is one senator’s attempt to ban the sale of porn on military bases. From a pastoral angle, Mark Driscoll’s free e-book, Porn Again Christian, addressed head-on the problem of pornography in the American military, and his church even sent hundreds of copies of this book to soldiers serving in foreign lands.

– – – –

Things I’m not sure about . . .

1. I’m not sure about his use of biting language or sarcasm – I’m not against sarcasm or strong language outright. For some, this name-calling may seem un-Christian: words like pervert, disciple of the devil, sicko, and dog. But again, if we denounce this sort of language, certainly many of the hard-hitting statements of the prophets and Jesus are even harder to hear. How do you think Friel comes off in the way he talks? Thoughts?

2. He might be condemning the true believer – Friel says Christians fall into sin from time to time, but “if you’re continuing in sin, you’re of the devil.” He says this three times and assumes that people will clearly understand the difference between falling into sin and diving into it (to use his terms). This contrast may not be so clear to the Christian who feels the strong pull of porn on his heart.

 

3. Is nothing more damaging than porn? – Perhaps this is merely a poetic statement, but it bears examination. Michael Pearl writes the porn addict is “falling further” than our father Adam. He amplifies this,  saying porn addiction drives us as far away from God “as we can possibly get.” Friel states that there is “nothing more damaging” to a soul than porn addiction. Given my past, I would probably be the first person to shout a proverbial “Amen” to these statements, but in reality, I wonder if this sort of language is warranted. Thoughts?

 

 

4. He’s not clear why porn in the military is a violation of church and state doctrine – This sort of flies out of Friel’s mouth. It isn’t really clear if he’s sarcastic or serious, and it isn’t clear what it would mean either way.

Any thoughts on these video clips?

  • Comments on: The Road to Hell is Paved with Porn – How should we address pornography in the church?
    1. Ron Davis on

      He reminds me of the guy on TV who wears the suits coat with question marks all over it who wants to tell you how to get free money from the government.

      Reply
    2. SueW on

      Hard language- I think the seriousness of the issue warrants the strength of the terms used. Sexual sin is a perversion, therefore one committing it is a pervert. Continuing in the sin may show the truth of one’s profession of faith or lack of, therefore ‘disciple of the devil’ is again truth. Dog- I think that one insults the animal, since the animal is only acting as it was made to act, whereas the human being is not. If we were able to grasp the depth of the words mercy and grace, it would more than equal the depth of the condemning words, so I don’t think strong words should be avoided.
      Condemning a true believer – if a true believer is wallowing in sin, even Scripture calls the body to put him out of fellowship until he comes to his senses. Besides, man doesn’t condemn, God is the judge. Fear of the Lord is healthy and we should not be afraid of making someone feel bad about a horrible sin. We should feel bad about sin and just as joyful about redemption and forgiveness.
      Nothing more damaging- Sexual sin attacks the very heart of who we are as beings made in the image of God – male and female. I believe sexual sin has a greater level of condemnation because it has the potential to cause a greater level of harm. You, yourself, Luke, refer to the idolization porn causes. I am not sure exactly what you idolized, but to me it idolizes self, and what is more damaging than that? And it does so at the immense expense of someone else, whether that person realizes it or not.
      Porn in the military- not sure about that, but I thought it was funny that he slipped up and called IED’s IUD’s…Freudian??

      Reply
    3. Jessica on

      Hmmmm… this is really a tough one. I think I agree with the high points but the low points hit low, maybe too low. But it is a pattern that is all too common. People use harsh biting and bold language to try and scare people out of sin. Uneffective.

      When a Christian, a born-again believer, finds himself (or herself) trapped in pornography, it is usually out of habit. They have conditioned themselves to go to pornography when they are bored. People do the same thing with video games, books and even eating. It is just a programmed response.

      Christ gives us power to overcome sin’s hold but it is our option to walk in that power. To call someone a disciple of the devil when they are geniunely trying to break free is terribly counter-productive. If they did not feel stuck before, they will feel stuck after being beat down with elementary playground name-calling.

      Did Christ use harsh language? Absolutely, but look at *who* He was “calling names.” Nine times out of ten He was going after the know-it-all religious leaders while He was eating dinner with the prostitutes.

      That is grace, and that is exactly how we have to address this problem. Someone struggling with pornography knows it is sin. Knows it is dark. They do not need someone reminding them of how dark and sinful it is. They need someone pointing them to the power of the cross…

      my take.

      Reply
    4. Franck on

      Why is he laughing, it not funny, I know its silly but this is a serious problem, its not a laughing matter, he wouldn’t laugh it it was a stealing problem or a drinking problem. fornication is as serious, Jesus said if you break one the the commandments you break all of them.

      FT

      Reply
    5. Sandi on

      MY HUSBAND IS A PORN ADDICT. I got the leaders of the church involed. we tried a block the computer, put a thumb print, and he was even was told to get rid of the computer. he refuses to do it.
      I moved out of the home for protection, verbal, emotional and was getting phyiscal abusebefore I left. I filed for legal separation. my husbands says I have no grounds for a divorce and that a separtion is the same as a divorce. I have been going to counseling and they say I can’t be an enabler anymore.

      Reply
      • okezie on

        friend please be calm. your husband is not doing well .doubelieve GOD CANDO ALL THINGS?
        Dont throw in the towel unless satan will claim victory

      • Mike on

        I has been several years since you posted.

        People who are angry, and rebellious will often do anything to manipulate others. Separation is not divorce. You are called to love him, but you are not called to endure abuse.

        You have a very hard road. I pray that you can find godly counsel to assist and encourage you. I pray you will not grow bitter and angry at him or God.

    6. Eddie Guadiana on

      With the testimony of repented and now saved porn starts, and this video I am saved after 8 years of thinking I was. I accepted the truth that I never gave up my first love but now my eyes are open to what it really is; monstrous, sick and evil, and with that truth, Jesus Christ is now my first love.
      Contemplating isn’t a habit, its evil, look at Judas, he didn’t just do, he contemplated against Jesus and I was doing the same but now I’m saved and my wife and kids can have the real Christian man they deserve. Amen!

      Reply
      • Eddie G on

        Thank God for the uncompromising and relentless truth.

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