I wrote a while ago about the perils of fantasy, but I did not explicitly address a particularly dangerous area of fantasy—pornography. It is fantasy for its viewers, though for its performers, the reality is tragically far from fantasy. If you think all those girls freely choose that life, think again.
Jesus gave clear guidance on the topic of sexual fantasy.
You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV)
Engaging in fantasy sex in your mind is no different than physically engaging in sex. From a psychological standpoint, it’s probably worse. Physical adultery carries greater risk—detection, betrayal, pregnancy, etc—which creates a natural deterrent, while pornography allows you to think anything is possible, acceptable, and reasonable, and so distorts your sexual expectations.
Jesus gave a rather harsh solution to this problem.
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
Matthew 5:29-30 (ESV)
No mercy. Do whatever you have to do to break free. Deuteronomy echoes this approach to “temptation management.”
If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying,“Let us go and serve other gods,” which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.
Deuteronomy 13:6-11 (ESV)
Harsh words to our modern, “tolerant” minds. Idolatry and adultery are conjoined in Scripture, especially in the Prophets who make the equivocation of idolatry as adultery against God. How do we translate this harshness into action today?
If you are a “consumer” of the sex industry, you must realize it is a drug that you are using to self-medicate. Breaking your addiction will take hard effort and outside help. If you disagree, that’s probably why you’re still addicted. Until you’re willing to throw away whatever devices you’re using to access pornography and admit to those who will hold you accountable that you have a problem, you will not break free. I have never seen anyone walk away under their own power.
Sexual sin is not an isolated cancer within us. It is tied to and fed by acedia and pride. In many ways, it is not the root disorder, but only a symptom that death is imminent. To find repentance and freedom requires not only treating the symptom, but also the causes that gave rise to it.