Caution: Contains explicit material not suitable for all readers.
Yesterday I waved a caution flag warning that porn is everywhere in our culture and is increasingly socially acceptable and even defended among Christians. That whole post might have felt like I was simply stating the obvious. You’ve been to the mall (bookstore, movie theater, etc.); you know that sex is largely seen as no big deal.
What you may be wondering is why it matters. So what if porn is everywhere? Why does it matter if you go with the flow and watch, read, and listen to sexual content?
That, my friends, is a million-dollar question, and one that is hotly debated pretty much everywhere. While no one would come out and call themselves pro-porn, many would argue that allowing yourself to be exposed to sexual content won’t affect you and it certainly won’t hurt you. Those folks would be misinformed. Here are six reasons why exposing yourself to porn (remember porn simply means the depiction of erotic behavior) matters.
Porn makes us compare our bodies to an impossible standard.
Let’s face it; the girls who make it into steamy scenes in movies work out. They don’t have cellulite (and if they do, it has been edited out). When reading erotic fiction we can’t see perfect girls, but the way they are portrayed always seems pretty perfect. The kiss is always right on time, the girl and guy always know just what to say to each other, and her hair always stays in place.
But . . . real love isn’t exactly like that. So when we see pixilated, perfect women and then look at our own reflection, our natural inclination is to feel less than.
In her book Soft Porn Plays Hardball, Dr. Judith Reisman states:
Porn subtly communicates that the value of a woman is determined by her body shape and size. Only those women with a perfect physical appearance are valuable and worthy of being admired, desired, and loved. This can have detrimental effects on how women and girls view themselves. I often wonder how many young girls who struggle with anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders are unknowingly struggling to measure up to the "perfect 10" image projected by the airbrushed centerfold.
I don’t have to wonder. I’ve counseled enough girls to know there is a connection between exposure to porn and feeling like you can never measure up.
Why does it matter if you hate your body? Because God’s Word says this about it:
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies (1 Cor. 6:19–20).
Your body is a temple. Your mission is to glorify God with it. Self-loathing doesn’t fit well into that equation.
Porn is addictive.
Because looking at porn provides a heavy dose of dopamine (a brain chemical that is released when we feel intense pleasure), it has been proven to be progressive and addictive. When you marry, you may want to bond with your spouse, but because of exposure to porn, you will require more and more stimulating images in order to get the neurochemical response you crave.
Second Peter 2:19 says, "for people are slaves to whatever has mastered them."
When you are addicted to something, you become a slave to it. Porn has the telltale signs of sin in that it is difficult to quit and always leaves us wanting more.
Porn messes with expectations.
Exposure to pornography has been proven to twist the user’s views about sexuality. One study showed that exposure to porn clearly causes people to believe:
- The greatest sexual joy comes without enduring commitment.
- Partners expect each other to be unfaithful.
- There are health risks in repressing sexual urges.
- Children are liabilities and handicaps.
Porn turns up the heat.
Researchers have also noted that teens exposed to a lot of sexual content on TV are twice as likely to have sex in the following year than those exposed to little content. That same study also showed an increase in other sexual behaviors among teens who had frequent exposure to sexual imagery. Researchers concluded that pornography, even when it’s "mild," creates the impression that sex is more central to daily life than it really is and causes young people to seek out sexual experiences.
That means exposing yourself to porn is likely to impact your decisions in a way that is contrary to God’s standards. And what are God’s standards, exactly?
Hebrews 13:4 says, "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral."
God asks us to save sex for the marriage bed (that means waiting until you say, "I do"). Porn awakens sexual desires that make waiting harder.
Porn is cheap.
Perhaps the most devastating impact of pornography is that it reduces sex to simply a physical act. Porn removes the emotional and spiritual component of sex. God designed sex to create lasting intimacy. You cannot be intimate with an airbrushed image in a magazine. You cannot be intimate with a person on your computer screen.
In a research study, teenagers were asked to select from a list of twenty items the six most important to them. The number one choice (67 percent) was a close, intimate relationship with someone of the opposite sex. In most cases, sex was the last item selected.
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh (Gen. 2:24).
God’s plan is a connection between husband and wife that is so close, they become like "one flesh." Porn is a cheap substitute for this plan. Even if you are catching it in small doses, it is impacting you negatively. That knowledge should motivate you to diligently protect yourself from exposure to sexual content.
Porn leads to lust.
Jesus drew a pretty hard line in the area of sexual exposure.
"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matt. 5:27–28).
Jesus’ point was that we don’t have to act out our sexual impulses to be sinning. To lust means to crave, to desire, to have an appetite for.
When you watch that movie with a steamy romance scene, don’t you crave that for yourself? When you read about a sexual encounter, isn’t there a part of you that desires more? Be honest, doesn’t it feed an appetite for more romance, more contact, more exposure?
God isn’t like a cop in the rearview mirror, always on the lookout to catch us stepping out of line. He is most concerned about the state of our hearts. That is why He warned us strongly against lust and acting out sexual sin. God’s standard is "do not lust," not just "do not act." We need to apply this when deciding what we allow to trickle into our hearts and minds.
Why does God hate lust so much? Because it divides our hearts. It pulls us away from the God who loves us and leaves us craving sin (which always leads to death) rather than craving a relationship with Him.
With these stakes in mind, clearly porn is more than entertainment. There is great motivation here to steer clear of sexual content, even if others shrug it off.
Where do you encounter temptation to view sexually explicit content? What do you do to guard your eyes?
Note: Portions of this post are taken from The Bare Facts: 39 Questions Your Parents Hope You Never Ask About Sex written by Erin and Josh McDowell.