Do you remember the first time you were exposed to explicit or questionable content?
I do … it was my first day of first grade. I was 6 or 7 years old, and I was walking home from school with two friends; I can still remember their first and last names, but I won’t mention them. They asked me if I wanted to see something cool, and of course I said yes. They led me to a big oak tree that was rooted virtually in my own back yard, and they pointed to a hole about 8ft. up the trunk. They told me to climb up there and look inside. I was nervous, but I did it. And I can still remember, to this day, what I saw.
It was a front cover to a magazine that said “Playboy.”
I can still remember exactly what that front cover looked like, and that was close to 40 years ago!
I will be honest with you, I rushed home from school for the next several weeks more quickly than usual. I climbed that tree many more times to sneak a peak at that cover. Then one day when I climbed the tree, the magazine was gone, & it never appeared again.
My exposure to explicit images was then dramatically altered and reduced to the times I could find a thick JC Penny catalog laying around the house and quickly look at the lingerie section! Or once a year when the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit issue came out, and my buddies and I could go to the local convenient store, distract the store clerk and look at those girls in bikinis.
Fast-forward to today, several decades later, access to pornography is easy and everywhere. Anyone with a smartphone in his or her pocket can view pornography at a moment’s notice, really whether you want to or not!
Today, pornographic images are practically unavoidable. Whether you are seeking it or simply stumble onto it – it’s pervasive in our digital society.
Did you know …
- 12% – 18% of all websites are pornographic.
- 30% of all data transferred across the internet is pornography.
- 25% (1 of 4) of all search engine requests are pornography related.
– Last year, porn sites got more visitors per month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined.
- 47% of families say pornography is a problem in their home.
- 8 – 11 years old is the average age of a child’s first exposure to pornography.
- 90% of high school males will view pornography before they turn 18.
- 64% of Christian Men / 15% of Christian Women say they watch pornography at least once a month.
We can ignore all of this and pretend these statistics don’t apply to our lives, our marriages and our children.
Or we can be honest, brave and bold and address this subject.
This weekend at Christ’s Church of the Valley I shared a message where I unpacked and debunked these “5 Messy Myths About Pornography.”
My goal in this message is not to make you feel bad about your past – it is to make you feel optimistic toward your future.
My goal is to convince you that a porn-free life is actually possible.
MESSY MYTH #1 – Pornography is a private thing and not really hurting anyone.
Anyone who has battled or become addicted to porn has at some point adopted this erroneous mindset in order to justify their actions. To a clear mind this sounds crazy, but to a mind that is trying to rationalize out of bounds behavior, this notion makes perfect sense.
Friends, this is naïve and foolish. We live in a world where everything is interconnected, and it’s virtually impossible to assume that your private behavior has no public impact.
There is story after story of men and women where pornography became a gateway to sexual escalation. Eventually their private pornographic sessions led them to publicly crossing boundaries they swore they would never cross.
Consider the fact that pornography is a gateway to sexual escalation. Eventually private activity leads to public interactions and giving yourself permission to cross boundaries you swore you’d never cross. You don’t do anything with your body that you don’t first conceive of in your mind.
Porn is always progressive.
What happens “online” will eventually happen “offline” in our real lives – there is always an escalation.
Then, after desire has conceived,
it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown,
gives birth to death.
~ James 1:15
Pornography is something that always escalates and will eventually destroy you emotionally, relationally and spiritually.
MESSY MYTH #2 – My desire to read or look at pornography will go away when I get married.
No, it won’t. There is no research or indication anywhere that saying, “I DO” magically eradicates a person’s pornographic tendencies or desires. In fact, the most devastating manifestations of pornography are often only exposed after you get married.
One of the most detrimental consequences of pornography in marriage is unfair and unhealthy comparisons. I know an increasing number of men who have a real problem comparing their real-life wife to a fake woman on a computer, smartphone, tablet, TV, Xbox or PS3! And equally there are women who after years of reading erotic romance novels cannot be captivated or romanced by a real-life man.
They have been Nicholas Sparki-fied!
Did you know the use of the drug Viagra has skyrocketed in recent years some 312% between 18-45 year old males? One of the theories, that is never shared in commercials, is young married men have been so repeatedly stimulated by fake pornographic fantasies, they can no longer be aroused by their real-life wife!
Listen, young men and women … your unattended lustful thoughts or desire to look at porn or read explicit material will not go away when you get married. I want to challenge you today, if you are single, to fight for your purity.
Singles, every time you guard your mind and heart and soul and say NO to explicit content – you are saying YES to your future spouse and marriage!
Singles and students, don’t buy into the lie that your out of bounds habits before marriage will all of the sudden disappear when you say, “I do!”
MESSY MYTH #3 – Pornography can spice up a stale marriage.
This is a lie. I have talked to enough men and women over the past few years who have told me that when their marriage really went off the tracks is when they decided to believe this lie.
They decided to bring porn into their marriage. They thought it might help. They thought it might bring them closer to each other.
And the truth is … every single time … it does the opposite.
I was reading this week about the typical narrative of pornographic sex. It is pretty simple: strangers meet, have sex, and never see each other again.
This scenario doesn’t work for married people because, for starters …
YOU HAVE TO SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN!!!
Married people, take a look at this verse from the Bible …
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true,
whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
~ Phil. 4:8
- Would you say that verse describes a husband & wife watching porn together?
- Would you say that verse describes a man looking up explicit hashtags on Instagram?
- Would you say that verse describes a woman reading 50 Shades of Grey?
Friends, listen, pornography does not spice up a stale marriage – in fact, it does the opposite and destroys marriages.
MESSY MYTH #4 – Kids don’t start struggling with pornography until puberty.
As mentioned in the statistics at the beginning of this article, the average age of a child’s first exposure to pornography is between 8-11 years old. It’s not just boys. Girls are also struggling to live pure in this sexually explicit world.
Parents, our kids find porn two ways.
Some of them are seeking it out, & some of them are stumbling onto it, and there is a big difference.
Here is a graphic that explains the progression of pornography in our lives.
I explained this graphic in detail in the blog post “Porn Again & Again Christians” a few days ago.
Parents, you need to understand this progression of pornography.
And you need to fight this like it’s your job … because it is.
Parents, do not let another week go by with an unrestricted stream of pornographic images & explicit content flowing into your home!
MESSY MYTH #5 – I can’t defeat this addiction to pornography.
That is also a lie from the evil one himself! You CAN defeat this addiction because …
Greater is He who is in you
than he who is in the world.
~ I John 4:4
Through Jesus, you can defeat this desire, but it’s not easy, and it likely won’t happen in a day.
Listen to what Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, says about our human nature and sin in Romans 7:17-27. (Message Bible)
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel,
and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me?
Isn’t that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
Curious friends, you can find freedom in your life from any temptation, sin or addiction but it will only happen through Jesus Christ.
So here is the challenge … make a decision today to get accountable.
Accountability is the greatest enemy of pornography.
Here is a path to accountability.
1. Admit it.
Admit to yourself that what started as a temptation has become an addiction. What you were simply “stumbling” onto at first, you are now “seeking” out. Be honest with yourself, you owe that to yourself.
Admitting this to others such as your friend, family member, fiancé, spouse or parents could be the toughest thing you feel like you have had to do in decades. But don’t forget that accountability is the greatest enemy of pornography.
Admit it to God. And realize when you do, He is not going to say, “What, are you kidding me? I had no idea!!!” No, He already knows. So why not go ahead and admit to God what He already knows to be true about you?
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
~ I john 1:9
2. Engage it.
Nothing will change in your life until you make some changes in your life!
I know the mindset when it comes to pornography can easily become, “I’m never going to solve or defeat this problem, so why even try?”
It’s true … you likely will not solve or defeat this problem in a day or a week.
But don’t let that keep you from engaging this issue.
Make a decision that this will be the last week that this MESSY SECRET remains a secret in your life, family or home! And realize that getting past porn is a spiritual partnership with God in your life.
To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy,
which so powerfully works in me.
~ Col. 1:29
The key to getting past pornography is not your own power, but it is the power of Jesus & the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life.
Friends, live curious and counter to the culture of this world and make a decision that this will be the last week that this messy secret remains a secret.
*** I am indebted to many websites and articles for this message. But I want to specifically give thanks and point you toward XXX Church that has incredible content and a power-packed software called X3 Watch. And also Covenant Eyes, a website full of great information for families when it comes to living pure in this sexually explicit world.