3 minute read

Why Thanksgiving and Porn Do Not Mix

Last Updated: October 26, 2020

Sam Black

Sam Black joined the Covenant Eyes team in 2007 after 18 years as a journalist, serving as a reporter and editor for newspapers and magazines in six states. Sam is the author of The Porn Circuit, and he creates partnerships with like-minded organizations to strengthen the worldwide fight against pornography.

“Porn is only consumed by thankless people.”

Dr. Heath Lambert isn’t coddling readers in his book Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace. While the quote from his book might sound like a tough rebuke, this counselor and professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary firmly roots his advice and teachings in the unfathomable grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.

Finally Free is an inspirational read and a user-friendly guide to both the person struggling with pornography and the mentor, friend, or pastor who is seeking to give support. Lambert delivers an impassioned description of how to pursue repentance, receive grace, and prepare a road toward freedom from pornography.

Thanksgiving and the Battle with Lust

It is in Chapter 8 of this nine-chapter book that Lambert explores the power of being thankful. Lambert starts his argument for using gratitude to fight pornography with Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” Ephesians 5:3-4 (italics added)

The majority of this verse is pretty straightforward, but it’s pretty easy to gloss over the words greed in the first sentence and thanksgiving in the second sentence. Lambert points out that God forbids “greed” to strengthen His command against sexual immorality, and He urges us in “thanksgiving” to spur us to healthy action.

Greed isn’t just about money. You can be greedy for food, power, and in this context, you can be greedy in your sexual appetite. Greed is being focused on what you do not have. This lustful greed is not to be confused with sexual desire—after all, God gave you a healthy sexual attraction that is designed to attract and bind you to your spouse. Sexual desire is not sinful, but greed points and perverts that desire to someone who is not your spouse and to lust.

Thanksgiving or thankfulness is the polar opposite of lust.

“The logic of lust requires you to be discontent with what you have and pay attention to all the things you don’t have. The logic of thankfulness requires you to focus on what you have already received and to be overcome with thanks. Gratitude is the opposite of greed“ (p. 126).

“If you struggle with porn, one of your greatest needs is to grow in the grace of gratitude. Just because you may never have thought about it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Porn is only consumed by thankless people. The desire for porn is a desire to escape from what the Lord has given you into a fake universe full of things you do not have and will never have. Porn is the trading of gratitude for greed” (p. 127).

Cultivating Thankfulness

So what now? In recognizing this battle of the mind and spirit, Lambert urges people to use gratitude as an offensive weapon in one’s fight for purity. Intentionally focus on the blessings God has given you, from friendships and relationships, to extended family to your children, to your spouse and the good times you’ve shared. Be thankful for the talents God has given you and be thankful for the responsibilities in your life. And be thankful for God’s gift of salvation and for the price Christ paid for your sins.

Lambert’s words might inspire you to list your blessings. Write them down as a reminder when you feel greed and lust entering your mind. Journal about the good and honorable gifts in your life, and run from temptations that lead to porn.

“Every greedy glance at pornography is a missed opportunity to be thankful to the Lord and to others for all the good things in your life,” Lambert writes.

The result of continually exercising thankfulness is growing in gladness.

There is no authentic joy in pornography; rather, it delivers a promise of joy for a moment and that brief time is fleeting. The battle for freedom from pornography is a battle to find deeper joy. Greedy lust undercuts gladness, Lambert says, while gratitude produces it.

“Lust guarantees that as soon as you possess the object of your longing, you will get a new greedy desire for something more. This explains why marriage isn’t the cure for lust and masturbation that singles believe it will be. Once a man has a wife, he starts wanting the next thing he does not have. This is the vicious cycle of lust” (p. 130).

Lust is never satisfied.

But gratitude energizes and fuels a glad and thankful heart and mind. It is the logic of gratitude to be thankful for what is yours rather than longing for what is not, and that leads to deeper joy. Lambert points to 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

  • Comments on: Why Thanksgiving and Porn Do Not Mix
    1. Stephen on

      Amazing stuff. I believe in helping men overcome sexual addiction. I was bound in pornography and masturbation for a long time. Now I see countless men freed as I share my story. Covenant eyes is helping us with great materials as we carry out purity lessons in Uganda. Thanks you for sharing.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Thanks, Stephen! So good to hear lives are being changed!

      • Beau on

        I have recommended this book as it does yield some good things…One of the interesting comments in this blog was…”The desire for porn is a desire to escape from what the Lord has given you into a fake universe full of things you do not have and will never have.”

        In my world growing up, there was nothing fake about porn. It simply was my universe as a secular San Fernando born kid.

        I would stay away from the word fake. There is nothing fake about porn, unless you are watching non-human porn I guess. Human porn is simply humans doing what humans do with sex as un-holy beings…Commodifying or distorting what was intended for it’s use.

        Today there are young people make there own porn. It’s called sexting. And most online porn is amateur. All of it is in a real universe. To say to my teen who I found watching porn, “porn is fake,” doesn’t make sense. Porn is sex, and the younger generation equate the two. Saying sex is fake will not work. I think we can do better in communicating what we mean. When I became a Christian I thought more along the lines of saying that porn is not what God intended. God intended sex, but to commodify it…no, to distort it…no.

        Many men and women live out porn. That is because porn is a reflection of us! It works in a cyclical pattern. Humans live in porn and hence influence its commodification, and in turn, it’s promotion in our world influences people. It’s existence shows what we have become.

        Those are my thoughts for now. Love the posts and all the encouragement! Psalm 36:8 “Come drink from the river of God’s pleasure!”

    2. Rick Haluszka on

      Our men’s group has been going through Dr. Lambert’s “Finally Free,” and it has proven to be an EXTREMELY valuable resource in the fight against lust and pornography. It will be our staple in discipleship/counseling. It not only gives wisdom to fighting lust, but also to fighting other sins. Yesterday we finished Ch. 4 on “Radical Measures” and were able to challenge our men to “porn-proof” their houses by getting radical with their phones, iPads, computers, and other devices. The Sr. Pastor and I (the intern) have both been using Covenant Eyes for several months and challenged our guys to do the same. I was encouraged to see that multiple men have already acted upon it! Praise the Lord for His grace demonstrated in the cross of Christ and for His Spirit to empower us to put off sin exchange for purity.…”count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). Sola Deo Gloria!

      Reply
    3. Jeremiah on

      I’ll be honest and say that though I understand that the bible says that we combat selfishness and bitterness by being thankful, but I am having great difficulty looking at the landscape of destruction that I’ve caused, the utter despair of everyone involved, the complete lack of anything right and good in my children, and the lack of hope that I have that relationships can be restored. I can find things to be thankful for, but the very recitation of thankfulness is forced and strained, at this point. I guess I can be thankful that the blood of Jesus can overcome all sins. That’s the only thing I can be certain of at this moment.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        I get that. Believe me, I do. I think you need to focus on the truth at in Christ, your greatest problem in life is solved. At peace with God because of Christ’s sacrifice, you are blessed beyond measure. You can also be thankful for the hope you have in Christ—not just that you will live with Christ forever, but that God wants to spill over into your present life foretastes of heaven. God is at work in you to love his will and to do it, transforming your character, and this is an incredible reality.

      • John on

        1.You have hands to type.
        2.children to carry down your name.

        I am 18 by the way and just like i never thought of anything worthful to thank God about.This drew me further from God as God is a father whose main duty is to provide for his children and by not thanking God enough you lose the special bond with him.

      • Andrew L'Heureux on

        Thank you for your honestly. Thankfulness is a battle at times as the above reflection mentioned how powerful it is it should not be surprising that it is. Thankfulness puts our heart back into gear when it has been running neutral. Often for me it takes a list of going down and reciting miracles and beautiful things God has done. GK chesterton in his book Orthodoxy mentioned that what if it not necessary that the sun rises and it is only because God in His eternal youthfulness says do it again. I can see that the sun rises because God loves me today. I can see that there are flowers because God loves me. I can see that someone complimented me because God loves me and I can see now that hard times happen to me because God Loves me and wants me to be a better Man. I will pray for you today that you can find many things to be thankful for so you will know how much you are loved. .

    4. Jason Bolster on

      I’d never thought about this before but it totally rings true. I’m so often bitter to my family and short-tempered.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Me too, Jason. Sometimes the people we love the most we protect from our temper the least.

    5. Daniel Malloy on

      I remember what life was like before the internet..porn-wise..and it was pretty good. Now, through no fault of our own, and simply because we allow “free speech and expression”, we have to deal with this absolutely mind boggling dilemma of porn..so easy to see on our computers. Is Covenant Eyes involved with any other anti-porn groups to abolish this menace to our society? If not, why not? Is this a lost cause because of the billions of dollars the industry makes producing all this trash? I never hear any politicians or pastors mounting a charge against these criminals who are, in some ways, destroying America. What is the percentage of Pastors now who are involved in porn addiction? I will bet that it was much lower prior to the year 2000. Just some thoughts from a frustrated struggler.

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Hi, Daniel – Covenant Eyes works closely with The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) to explore and pursue legislation and other more public policy approaches to abolishing pornography and sex trafficking. Too many pastors use porn. No question.

        Best, Chris

    6. Daniel Malloy on

      Thanks so much for responding Chris. I will check in to NCOSE to explore what is being done to fight back against this dilemma that we are almost blindly assuming we must deal with in our homes. So unnecessary. It would be interesting to take a poll of those using porn and how many were involved prior to 2000 (or whenever it began to appear on the internet) compared to now. I even wonder if the cases of sexual harassment have increased since porn began to rule the internet. God help us all because, in my mind anyway, this scourge is worse than ISIS, NoKo, or any other threat to the safety and health of this country. Thanks again.

      Reply
      • Andrew L'Heureux on

        Very true statement I believe. But the battle is started when first look to ourselves and decided we will fight against it. I was listening to the audio book the last Crusader about Don Juan of Austria. He was the illegitimate son of the emperor he had such a desire in his heart to drive back the muslim invader from Christian countries that he a young man age 18 marched to Barcelona to join the fleets to push back the Muslin invasion of Malta. His resolve was so amazing that it woke up Spain that someone in his position would sacrifice his life for such a noble cause that the boats could not contain the soldiers and noble men that wanted to join the attack.

        We too start the battle against porn by saying no by praying and asking for grace. Other men will join and it will be a glorious battle to push sin and hell out our our homes and countries. This battle is one where God wants His sons to be what we are called to be.

    7. Wesley on

      I really liked the article, and agreed with and will put into action the vast majority of what I took away from this article. The one thing that I will disagree with, is that the idea of taking a wife/husband is not part of the battle against lust, and may be a full cure in many cases! There seems to be a propensity for modern evangelical Christians to ignore scripture on this matter:

      “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.” – Corinthians 7:9

      “Now concerning the matters about which you wrote. It is well for a man not to touch a woman. But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” – Corinthians 7:2

      Indeed, pursuing marriage should not be a selfish matter that does not involve God, but should be an endeavor that we take on in the hope that it draws us closer to him.

      Reply
      • Steve on

        I’ve talked to married Christian men for years who claim they still struggle with masturbation. I didn’t understand it, but I have to believe they are telling the truth. Who would lie about that???

      • Chris on

        Agreed. I have benefited from the evangelical anti-porn campaign, and will continue to support it. But its consistent failure to exploit this strand in the Bible and Christian tradition with regard to this issue is a major flaw. I Corinthians 7 suggests to me that the Apostle Paul adopts a very pragmatic approach to this problem, which I think the evangelicals overcomplicate. His message essentially is: if you can’t control your passions, then find a wife. This message was retrieved by the sixteenth-century Reformers. Referring to lust, Luther called the institution of marriage a “hospital for the sick.” There are Reformation marriage liturgies that refer to marriage as a remedy for “concupiscience” (lust). In addition to approaching this problem negatively by warning against the use of porn, evangelicals should also be approaching it positively by urging men who struggle with lust to actively pursue marriage.

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