2 minute read

Struggling with Sexual Purity: The Idolatry of Pornography

Last Updated: July 27, 2021

Luke Gilkerson
Luke Gilkerson

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

Mark Driscoll, the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, has some powerful statements about sexual sin as “idolatry.”

How is pornography linked to idolatry and what does this have to do with marriage?

Porn = Self-Worship

Pornography is first and foremost about fantasy. Christian counselor Winston Smith addresses the subject of sexual fantasies with these questions, “How do the people populating my fantasies relate to me? What are their attitudes in my fantasies? How do they behave towards me in my fantasy world?”

When you sexually fantasize you cast your latest crush or dream girl as the leading lady in the movie of your mind. There she becomes the woman you want her to be. Most of the time, these fantasies are not as much about the dream girls; rather they are more about you. The plot and characters revolve around you. All the characters are you-centered and play to your desires for pleasure, power, or control. The fantasy women become your trophies: collectibles, existing to validate you as desirable, manly, irresistible, and attractive.

Sexual fantasy is really a form of self-worship. In our fantasies we are god because we can build an imaginary universe where the world revolves around us and we can populate that world with female worshippers who go to great lengths to show us the level of their devotion.

If this sounds really narcissistic…it’s because it is. This is one reason why porn is so enticing to some men. Porn is manufactured to feed this attitude of self-centeredness (i.e. self-worship).

You Become What You Worship

Why use worship language to describe our fascination with porn? We should label pornography this way not just because this is the Bible’s overarching term to describe our sinful condition, but because it helps us to see why porn is so destructive to ourselves and our marriages.

Psalm 115 denounces the idolatry of the nations, saying that their pantheons of gods are mute, blind, deaf, and motionless—dead to the core. Then the psalmist speaks a stinging comment: “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them” (v.8). We become like what we worship. When we worship hollow deities, we become just as hollow.

N.T. Wright accurately states, “You become what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship. Those who worship money become, eventually, human calculating machines. Those who worship sex become obsessed with their own attractiveness or prowess. Those who worship power become more and more ruthless.”

Transformed into a Christlike Husband

The gospel of Christ is meant not only for the forgiveness of our sins but our transformation as well. When a husband chooses to be fascinated by Christ instead of absorbing himself in pornography, a change begins to take place.

Paul writes that the message of the gospel is a message about “the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). This message about Christ acts as a light shining into our hearts, flooding us with “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (4:6). As we are “beholding the glory of the Lord,” it is then that we are “transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (3:18). We become like the One we worship.

Christ gave Himself up for the His bride, the church. When a man gazes in admiration at Christ, he will begin to display a Christlike love and tenderness, loving and cherishing his wife as Christ does the church (Ephesians 5:25-33).

This is the question all porn-using husbands must ask: What kind of man do I want to be? Do I want to be more like one who would die for his bride, who would sacrifice for her betterment, who would endure hell for her? Or do I want to be self-absorbed, treating images of women as if they are disposable, using others for my personal satisfaction?

Who do you want to be? Who will you worship?

  • Comments on: Struggling with Sexual Purity: The Idolatry of Pornography
    1. sapphire

      Since he linked idolatry to porn–doesnt that remind you of the Bible times in Corinth? It was the porno city of its day with TEMPLE prostitutes, etc–It shows me that theres HOPE!

    2. sapphire

      WOW I REMARKED TOO SOON ABOUT CORINTH—- this is what he was talking about!

    3. “The gospel of Christ is meant not only for the forgiveness of our sins but our transformation as well. When a husband chooses to be fascinated by Christ instead of absorbing himself in pornography, a change begins to take place.”

      Easier said than done. The transformation takes time, in my case almost 3 years, a lot of therapy work, and a strong recovery program. A lot of Christians in recovery will tell you the same, “easier said than done” due to the enromous power the addiction has on our lives. At least these Christians in recovery are no longer in denial of their problem and are instead choosing to face it, rather than hide their secrets as a lot of Christian men do these days….

    4. S

      I am 67 and was exposed to porn around 11.
      I am still possessed by it, keep trying to break free from the habit.
      Beautiful women all over and everywhere you turn, TV, Internet, magazines, all around
      you. Eventually it breaks me down again.
      I am married to a hot looking wife but that does not stop it.
      So I delete all the pictures again and start over hoping maybe I can get over it.
      I would think all men have this fascination at some level also.
      Some also hide it better.

      • Keith Rose

        Thanks for sharing you’re comment! You are not alone in the battle. Have you tried following the steps outlined by Dr. Doug Weiss, “How to Quit Porn: 6 Essential Steps“?

        Blessings,

        Keith

      • F

        S, I am 63 and married to a beautiful, wonderful wife. Was exposed to playboy magazines at age 6.
        I know of your struggle, as I struggle still after all these years. I have been saved since I was 15 but still found myself involved with porn.
        Yes, there are all types of images around us of air-brushed women in photos, and make-up in the movies. Indeed, it can wear you down. Being married doesn’t necessarily stop the habit we have with porn. Yes, we do hide it well. We learn all the “tricks” much as any addiction will teach us. But, we have to learn what real love is. Real love is the kind of love that we have in Christ, not in name only, but real love of discovery. He has forgiven us if we ask, but in knowing we will struggle. It is Spiritual warfare.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.