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Good News for Porn Users

Last Updated: June 13, 2014

Guest Author

Want to write for the Covenant Eyes blog? Share the story of your journey to freedom from pornography. Let us know how you overcame porn or how Covenant Eyes has made a difference in your life or the lives of those you love.

What is the gospel for porn users? How can we speak the good news of Jesus—for that is what the word ‘gospel’ means, good news—to people struggling with porn? It’s not enough to tell one another to stop. That’s not good news. That sounds more like bad news. Pointing out the dangers of porn—real though they are—is not enough. That’s not good news. That leaves people condemned. And anything that leaves people condemned is not the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1).

Porn provides something for us. Of course it does; otherwise, none of us would bother using it. A call to take this away sounds like bad news. I’ve seen it written across people’s faces. They’ve confessed to me their porn problem. ‘Okay,’ I say, ‘the first thing we’re going to do is put accountability software on your computer.’ And their face drops. They don’t like the effects of porn, but they still love porn. Taking that away doesn’t sound like good news.

And think about it. A call to stop makes people rely on their own will-power, on themselves. And that’s not good news. That’s not gospel. That’s legalism.

So what is the gospel for porn users? It is, first, that God offers more. The good news is that God is bigger and better than anything porn offers. And second, God offers the resources we need for change. Even though our porn defiles us and provokes God’s wrath, by the grace of God and the work of the cross, we can draw near to God to find help in time of need.

To hear this good news as good news we need to explore the promises of porn. What does porn offer?

The false promises of porn

It will be different things for different people. For some porn offers respect: a fantasy world in which I’m potent or admired by others. For others porn offers intimacy: a substitute for relationships without the risks. For others it offers escape: when life is daunting or boring we turn to porn for quick satisfaction. For some, porn may offer revenge: a way of getting back at the spouse who hasn’t delivered the sex we want, or at God, who hasn’t delivered the life we want.

But it’s all lies. Porn is a performance—carefully cut and edited to create the illusion of power or pleasure. We need to look beyond the frame of the camera. Porn sex is never real sex. It distorts our expectations of relationships, marriage, and intimacy.

And porn never delivers. Whether it’s respect, intimacy, escape, or revenge, it’s not the real thing. It’s a cheap fantasy that only leaves us wanting more. And so we move from pictures or movies, from soft-core to hard-core, all the time looking for what porn cannot deliver. This is how porn drags us in deeper until we’re enslaved.

The real promises of the gospel

So what is the good news?

If porn offers you respect, then the good news is that you don’t need to be controlled by the opinions of others. Compare those whose approval you want with God. Who matters most? Whose affirmation counts? Looking to God can set you free.

If porn offers you risk-free intimacy, then the good news is that God is in control. Relationships are risky, but God promises to care for those who trust him. He may not provide a spouse, but he will provide himself—a chance to know the Creator.

If porn offers you escape from the pressures of life, then the good news is that God is in control. The Bible describes God as a ‘rock’ and ‘refuge’ to his people (Psalm 18:1-3). ‘Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you’ (1 Peter 5:7).

If porn offers you escape from the boredom of life, then the good news is that God is the source of true and lasting joy. Of course, porn is immediate, quick, and easy. But its pleasures are so short-lived, so empty. We’re always left wanting more. To a woman who’d had a series of sexual partners, Jesus said: ‘Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life’ (John 4:13-14).

If porn offers you revenge, then the good news is that God is gracious. We think we’re not getting what we deserve—from our spouse or from God. In truth, we’re getting far more than the judgment we deserve. God welcomes us into his family. Thinking of yourself as a son or daughter of God will set you free from resentment and bitterness.

Letting God be God

At its root, porn is about worship. I want to be worshiped. I can click between women, all of whom are offering themselves to me. Or I can think of myself as the stud sending women into an ecstasy of desire. Or I can think of myself as the romantic heroine, relentlessly pursued by my handsome admirer. I enter a world in which people worship me. It’s a world in which I am at the centre.

Freedom begins when I stop trying to be at the centre and let God be at the centre. When I stop trying to be in charge of my life and let God be God. When I stop serving myself and start loving other people. When we’re turned inwards we become twisted and disfigured people. However, we become the people we’re meant to be only as we worship God and love others.

Change takes place as we believe the right things and want the right things. It’s not complicated. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy! Change is a daily struggle. Maybe today you’ll win the fight to believe the right thing. But tomorrow will be a new battle. And maybe today you’ll lose the battle. But don’t give up. Pick yourself up and remember, God loves you, and start fighting all over again.

Humble enough to find help

There is hope. But we need help. We need the help of other people, people who can hold us accountable and remind us of the good news. And we need God’s help. We can’t do it on our own. Many people get stuck in their behaviour because they won’t admit that there’s a problem, that the problem lies in their hearts, or that they need help. So every move up starts with a step down. ‘Humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honour’ (1 Peter 5:6).

Looking to the cross

The good news for porn users is not only that God offers more. The good news is also that God gives us his Holy Spirit to change our hearts and lives.

But what kind of reception will we get from God if we come to him for help? What kind of reception will we get when we’ve contributed to our own problems? What  if we keep messing up?

The Bible says that ‘God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners’ (Romans 5:8). The death of Jesus on the cross is God’s great declaration of love to messed up people. And the cross is more than simply a declaration of love. Jesus took the punishment we deserve so we can be forgiven. The penalty is paid and we walk free. ‘So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most’ (Hebrews 4:16).

. . . .

Tim ChesterDr. Tim Chester is leader in The Crowded House, a network of missional churches, and the author of a number of books including You Can Change (Crossway) and Total Church (Crossway). His latest book is Closing the Window (published in the UK as Captured by a Better Vision).

  • Comments on: Good News for Porn Users
    1. Cedar on

      Thank you so much for this post.

      The realization of the root (that pornography IS a form of idolatry) allowed me to see why my human flash desires this particular sin so passionately.

      i’m very excited to see the battles and changes that are going to take place in my life with Him together.

      – A College Student

      “At its root, porn is about worship. I want to be worshiped. I can click between women, all of whom are offering themselves to me. Or I can think of myself as the stud sending women into an ecstasy of desire…” -quote from the post

      Reply
    2. Isaiah Matthew Smith on

      I am a Christian struggling with a “porn addiction”. I am trying to extinguish the bad flame and then let more of God in to take over where the bad was. After reading your blog, I decided to print out signs that would remind me like: GOD IS WATCHING YOU! , Have You Cracked Open That Bible Lately? , Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light. To remind me that God is there and watching my every move, that the narrow path is the one I need to walk on, for the wide one leads to destruction.

      Reply
    3. Dave on

      Thank you for helping me understand where does God fit into all of these. I have always been using porn to be in control because I am always so scared of being hurt in each relationship I get into. I always wondered where did God fit in. Now I know. Thank you.

      Reply

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