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Is Porn Your Idol?

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

For some, boiling all human problems down to “idolatry” might seem like a bit of a stretch, but I am convinced every imbalance, every injustice, and every moral problem is under-girded by a “worship disorder.” We choose to worship false gods.

One of my personal idols was pornography. My attraction to it was not unlike religious devotion. To be sure, part of me hated pornography because it was so addicting and so controlling. But in reality, pornography was one of my gods.

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Digging Beneath the Surface

How does idolatry drive something like pornography addiction? In Colossians 3:5 Paul tells his readers, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” In this list, Paul goes from the most overt to the least overt sexual sins. It’s as if he is peeling away layers like an onion, looking for the sin underneath the sin.

downward-spiral

Paul starts with outward behavior, moves to attitudes, and finally drills down deep to the place of desire. And underneath it all is “idolatry.” Deep within us, it is idolatry that drives our cravings for evil things.

John Calvin said, “The human heart is a factory of idols.” We were created as worshipers, and when the true God does not occupy the place of primacy in our hearts, we will find something or someone to take His place. It is unavoidable.

  • Comments on: Is Porn Your Idol?
    1. Michael on

      If I wanted to be able to just post the video part on my facebook is there a link this was derived from that I could copy and paste or is my best bet to just direct them to this whole page… just tagging the video though would be awesome though, thanks!

      Reply
    2. hermann pickard on

      i’ve watched 100’s of hours of XXX stuff, i’m sick & tired of it kinda. being a lover of pleasure rather than a lover of God. that’s my struggle, i love Jesus for saving me from my sin! i quite drinking (5yrs), smoking (2yrs), lusting not yet! help Jesus, help!

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        @hermann – I know how you feel. I have no idea how many countess hours I’ve spent looking at porn. May I ask you what sort of help you’ve sought out?

    3. R on

      I am in the same situation. I cannot quit watching porn and masturbating.
      I thought that getting merried will change my situation and I could be a real worshiper of God, but it didn’t.
      This thing is still keeping me far from what God wants me to be!
      What can I do? I really love Jesus and pray everyday, but I still go back to this situation from time to time! And I repent all the time and I say I can stop it and I pray for this, but then it happens again and I fall again in this sin.
      I’m totally lost! I don’t know what to do! Maybe someone has an answer for me! I mean a practical one.
      I know that is should work like Jesus changing your life, and He did change mine, but I still have this problem.
      Maybe I am not close enough to God, maybe I don’t have the relation that I would need to have with Him! But this sin is still throwing me back, and I need to start all over again!
      It’s a very guilty bad feeling…like ok…God is forgiveing me today, forgiving me tomorrow, but how much should he forgive me? If I am on the same situation?! :(

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        @R – One of the things I’ve written about before is the importance of repenting of going down the tempting paths. Remember Proverbs 7? We see in that text a young, foolish man, heading headlong into the direction of temptation. The whole chapter has some astonishing parallels to our own struggles with pornography. Here are some thoughts from an upcoming book we’re going to release on this site:

        “Do not stray into her paths.” (Prov. 7:25)

        Solomon is saying: Don’t be like this fool I saw out my window. Don’t stray down the path to her home, “passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness” (7:8-9). This was not a casual evening stroll for the young fool. It was an intentional movement in the direction of temptation. In fact, it could actually be translated that he “marched” down her street. In the darkness of twilight this man is walking quite deliberately toward her house.

        How seriously do you treat sin? The more we understand why sin is such an affront to God, the more the idea of playing with temptation will seem detestable to us. If we just want to be moralistic, we can look at behaviors that pertain to sexuality and draw arbitrary lines: “Okay, these sorts of activities break the rules, and these other ones do not.” When I have this attitude then I can easily justify the grey areas, places where I allow myself to dance on the edge of the cliff as long as I don’t fall in. This is moralistic thinking divorced from a true Godward orientation of the heart.

        But that’s not the wisdom of Solomon. The wise man does not draw the line at the doorstep of the harlot so he can relish in the idea of being tempted. He draws the line at the end of the street because he hates sin. For Solomon, this is where real wisdom begins: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10a) and the “hatred of evil.” (Prov. 8:13).

        When Solomon uses the term yir’ah, translated “fear,” it is a worship term that captures the idea of both shrinking back in terror and drawing close in amazement. It is a disposition of the heart that both dreads and draws. Solomon says this disposition is the controlling principle of living a wise life. To be wise, we must first have our wor¬ship right. We must rightly fear God, stand in awe of him, and in doing so hate the things that rob him of glory and rob us of our joy in Him.

        When we fear God we don’t just know where the lines between good and evil are, we come to hate evil because God hates it. Paul would say it this way: “Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom. 13:14), and “sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you” (Eph. 5:3).

        When it comes to pornography, we must not just repent of looking at it, we must also honor the holy God by repenting of our yearning to be tempted by it. For those in your church, this means they must begin to identify with the paths leading to the forbidden woman and repent of flirting with those paths? It is different stumbling block for each of us: a time of day or night, a certain place, a certain computer, being hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. We must take note of these tempting paths and repent of pursuing them.

        Again I ask: How serious do we treat sin? The real problem for many men who face pornography temptation is that the temptation is a part of the whole experience. They revel in getting close to the edge. They make seemingly unimportant decisions that bring them one step closer to the object of lust. They tell themselves, “I’m just going to check my e-mail,” or “I’m just going to see who’s online,” or “I’m just checking my Facebook newsfeed.” Deep down, part of them actually hopes to encounter the temptation.

        This attitude of wanting to get close to the edge is itself a sin because it is treating lightly something God hates. It is totally void of the fear of the Lord, of true wor¬ship. When we see this attitude rise up in us, we need to recognize that we have already started facing the wrong direction. Men in your church need to be trained to redraw the battle lines. There at the head of her street we have a choice: will we turn around to redirect our worship to God and honor His lordship, or will we walk by her house and choose to be entertained by our idol?

      • Brandon on

        No, that’s not it. The problem is even when you accept Jesus into your life he cleanses the soul, but the body or flesh however will be continuously drawn to wickedness. That fact alone will highlight the conflict within all of us that’s born again. Keep fighting for your soul keep pulling for God through Christ Jesus. We all suffer and strain myself included. Sometimes I want to watch porn so bad it pains me. The enemy whispers in my ear “It’s not so wrong, it’s not like it’s a physical act.” The enemy is clever he knows how to pursue in individually he knows my unmovable stance against adultery so he backdoors my spiritual relationship with the Lord through idolatry which is spiritual adultery. Please fight brothers and sister even if you fall get up a fight! Don’t allow Satan to convince you it’s not wrong or “so bad” when it is. I will pray for all of you that struggle like I do and if we all stand firm I know we’ll see each other and celebrate with God together.

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