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Theology of the Body and Porn: A Conversation With Dr. Christopher West

Last Updated: February 6, 2023

What’s Theology of the Body? Based on a series of talks given by Pope John Paul II, Theology of the Body is a biblically-based approach to human sexuality and identity. And it’s making an impact around the world with Catholics and Protestants alike. Our podcast team recently sat down with Dr. Christopher West to discuss Theology of the Body and how it shapes our understanding of pornography and the path to freedom.  

Sexuality Points To God

God designed sexuality and made it very good. “The Bible from beginning to end tells a story about marriage,” says Dr. West. And this tells us that sexual desire plays a critical role in who we are as people and our ultimate purpose in life. In Ephesians 5, Paul explains the ultimate meaning of human sexuality: It refers to Christ and the church. Dr. West explains that the union of man and wife is a proclamation of how God loves his people. That’s what we anticipate in the wedding supper of the Lamb, described at the end of Revelation.

Unfortunately, when Adam and Eve fell in the garden, their sexuality was corrupted along with their sexual desires. Ever since then, human sexuality has carried with it the stain of sin, which manifests in things like pornography. Dr. West describes it as a beautiful painting that is crumpled up and damaged—it still carries the beautiful design, but it’s been marred.

Sexuality Is Not Bad!

Dr. West says that the classic mistake Christians make is the “starvation approach” to our broken sexuality. They look at the crumpled-up painting and see that it looks like trash—so they treat it like trash: “Spirit good, body bad.”

“But this isn’t our faith!” contends Dr. West. God called creation “very good.” Dr. West continues:

“All the enemy can do is get his hands on all that goodness and twist it up. This is why Christ came into the world, to untwist what was twisted up. This is why Christ came into the world, to redeem our bodies.”

The “starvation approach” to our sexuality calls bad what God created as good. Pornography pioneer Hugh Hefner started Playboy magazine as a reaction—he reached into the trashcan and said, “Hey everybody, this is actually good you shouldn’t throw it away.”

He was right on that point, says Dr. West, but he went horribly wrong. How exactly?

Porn Glorifies Broken Sexuality

Dr. West explains that pornography leaves our sexuality in its crumpled-up form. It glorifies the brokenness and corruption of sin, rather than the true nature and purpose of sex. But for people raised on the starvation approach to sexuality, porn seems like a satisfying feast!

This is a lie.

Dr. West compares porn to fast food. It’s appealing, especially if we’ve been brought up on the starvation approach, it’s easily accessible and seems to quickly fulfill our sexual desires. But it lacks real nutrition, and ultimately it can’t sustain us and makes us sick and unhealthy.

Porn Tells Us Lies

Why we are so easily deceived by the lies of porn—why do we believe it will satisfy the desires of our heart when the Bible shows so clearly that it will not?

Dr. West explains, “We believe a deeper lie: that God doesn’t want to satisfy my deepest longing. The enemy gets in there, right at our most vulnerable hunger and says, ‘God’s not gonna come through for you.’

Dr. West says that at the root of every temptation is the temptation to believe that the satisfaction of the deepest desires of my heart is totally up to me. When we don’t believe in the wedding feast that waits for us in eternity, we think that we must take fulfillment for ourselves.

“Pornography is a hell that we create—a fulfillment that we create that turns into a living hell because we don’t believe in the fulfillment that God wants to give us. It’s a hellish mockery of a heavenly reality. What we’re really looking for is the wedding feast of the lamb. If we don’t believe in that gift, we’re going to look for the fast food option. But if there’s a choice between fast food and the wedding feast of the lamb, you’re going to choose the wedding feast!”

Ephesians 5 shows the beautiful picture of marriage and how it points to Christ. Ephesians 6 tells us that until we reach the wedding feast, there’s a war against our bodies and our sexuality. To win the battle, you need to gird your loins with the truth. Dr. West says this is why tools like Covenant Eyes are so important—they help point us to the truth, away from the lies and deceit of porn.

To hear the whole conversation with Dr. West and learn more about how Theology of the Body can help overcome porn, click here!

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