Wholly Living

Can People Truly Stop Watching Porn?

"Pornography drives a Christian from God." by Dr. Dennis McLelland

The lead-in article question is double-edged. Are men and women (yes, women, too), truly able to stop viewing pornography? King Solomon once said, “Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire?” (Proverbs 6:27). The answer is yes—with the help of Almighty God and the power of the Holy Spirit. I should know—God healed me from its deadly grip.

UNSPOOLING MY FANTASIES ONE HORRID THREAD AT A TIME

I am a recovering porn addict. Like most men enslaved by pornography, I started viewing porn in my early teens. Pornography was not an issue in college but exploded with my marriage relationships. My first wife was “into it,” so there was no hiding. However, my current wife is a committed Christian woman and hates any reference to its malevolence.

My present wife “caught me” several times through the remnants of my activities—X-rated magazines, internet history caches, and through an online sexual “affair” I had developed. Praise God, she stuck with me, prayed for me, treated me with love and dignity through the entire mess, and ignored the declarations of a collection of pastors to divorce me. Her goal was, in her own words, to incessantly and fervently pray for my repentance and salvation. God heard her prayers. The addiction is gone. I am now a man of God, active in my church, serving as a Bible teacher, prayer partner team member, altar minister, on the men’s ministry team, and involved in several other ministries. A true miracle. However, despite my delivery from Satan’s filthy grasp, the ghosts of sins past ever linger.

Porn addiction is wildly different from alcohol or drug addiction. While the latter are also offensive to God and to human physiology, at least, after a while, the alcohol and drug of choice can be dispelled from the tissues of the body. Not so with porn. And this is the rub or the profound caveat: one cannot dispel pornographic images. They remain trapped in the mind, dredged up at any time, and through any activity. I’ve had horrific images invade my mind even while praying in church. But they are no longer a threat—simply a stark consequence of the sin I chose to embrace.

Kevin Costner, in the movie “Open Range,” spoke a line which still moves me: “There’re things that gnaw on a man worse than dying.” Well, the decay of pornography has ceased and the feasting on my soul has withered. The gnawing has been swallowed up in the victory of my salvation and forgiveness of sins! The words of Paul articulate where I am now: “But I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13).

PORN IS NOT A STOPPING OFF POINT ON THE WAY TO SOMETHING BETTER — THERE IS NO BETTER, OTHER THAN GOD

For the person who does not know Christ, 1 Corinthians 2:14 defines the force that often drives them: “But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.” The reality remains: it is terribly difficult for a non-Christian to effectively extinguish the “flame in their lap” without God’s intervention.

Billy Graham wrote the following in the “Answers” section of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website: “Pornography is wrong in God’s eyes, and it will become a cancer in your soul that will destroy you if you aren’t careful. Pornography appeals to our lusts and turns what God has created into something selfish and demeaning. The Bible is clear: ‘Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you’ (2 Corinthians 6:17, NIV).”

AN INCREMENTAL BOILING FROG

Pornography drives a Christian from God. They construct an altar to the idol of their own sin and sexual excesses. They supplant the God of the universe, the Savior, with the lying image of the little “god,” whom they created: themselves. I know—I’ve been there.

The porn cycle is terrible: curiosity, then a generous flow of delicious, short-lived endorphin explosions from sexual release; a massive frequency increase of viewing pornography; desensitization; a sick quest for more graphic sex scenes; isolation; dissolution of marriages and destruction of the family. And finally, with God, freedom. What a horrid price to pay for making a choice to embrace lust. It is about choice.

Common psychology often aids in the perception that porn is “not really harmful.” Psychology Today Magazine’s website posted a disturbing article titled “Your Brain on Porn – It’s NOT Addictive. What Neurological Research Actually Shows About the People Who Use Porn,” which softened the effects of pornography on the brain and could lead readers astray by pornography’s devastating effects: “There has been a tremendous amount of hyperbole about porn use, with many authors and doomsayers claiming that viewing porn triggers dangerous neurochemical changes in the brain. But, groundbreaking new research says that it just ain’t so, and that people who are problem users of porn are actually people with high libidos, NOT people whose brains have been warped by sex and porn.”

In contrast, there is ample evidence that viewing pornography does, indeed, impact the brain’s plasticity and helps to manifest neurochemical alterations in our brains. However, the space constraints of this article preclude further discussion on this topic.

THE BRUTAL DEMOGRAPHICS OF TRAGEDY

Statistical inferences often present abysmal results, and so it is with the statistics of porn. The well-known Barna Group published a report in 2016, “Porn in the Digital Age: New Research Reveals 10 Trends,” which stated “we all know that pornography is not new. However, the digital age has made it more ubiquitous and

accessible than ever before. The technological realities of smartphones and high-speed internet have fundamentally changed the landscape of pornography and ushered it into the cultural mainstream where it enjoys increasingly widespread acceptance.”

How has this technology explosion prompted the exponential rise in pornography? Its prevalence was predicted in the book of Daniel, “But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end … and knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:4). Knowledge spawned technology. Technology spawned Satan’s manipulation of that technology to enslave mankind in sin.

Leonardo Blair, a Christian Post reporter, delivered the ruthless facts of the pervasiveness of pornography in our places of worship which he extracted from the above mentioned Barna report. His article, “Nearly Two-Thirds of Christian Men View Porn Monthly; They Are Watching It at Same Rate as Secular Men, Says Study,” details the shocking growth of viewing porn by both men and women in our churches.

There it is, in all its stark ugliness. Men and women, trapped by their own choice to indulge their lust, just as I was. But in the midst of choosing to glorify oneself in the place of Almighty God when embroiled in pornography, God offers His wondrous comforts:

“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous”(1 John 2:1).

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9).

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

IN CONCLUSION

The exclusion of our holy God for the inclusion of our lusts is ripping apart churches, marriages, families and the health of millions. In line with this reality, perhaps you may be questioning if you are truly “addicted” to pornography.

To answer that query, the website, healthyplace. com, has posted an excellent test which can help a person determine if they are, indeed, addicted. This eye-opening instrument can be found here.

God is ever ready to forgive us our sins. His arms remain open 24/7, 365. If you are involved with pornography, there is great hope! Confess your sin in complete sincerely, repent with His help and leave Him to rest.

Dr. Dennis McLelland is an author of several Christian books and articles. He is a Bible teacher and altar prayer minister at his local church in Vero Beach, FL. He is married and has five children.

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