Bible Christian Living Ethics Sex and sexuality

A.S.K 34 – Pornography

This weeks A.S.K question is a massive one.  Pornography is one of the greatest problems facing our society today – and it is largely unacknowledged – yet it is the source of so much evil. It is polluting and perverting so much that is good.

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BIBLE READING: Matthew 5:27-30

TEXT: But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

Sometimes people think that the teaching of Jesus is a lot soft er than the teaching of ‘the God of the Old Testament’. We have seen already that we are not to think about God like that – because it is completely false. The God of the Old Testament is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – and there is no difference – except in expression and revelation.

Here is one instance where that is true. The teaching of Jesus about sex and adultery is far harder than that of the Old Testament. Whereas the 7th commandment simply says ‘do not commit adultery’, Jesus defines that not just as the physical act but also the roving eye and lustful heart. By that standard most, if not all people have broken this commandment.

This is also becoming an even bigger problem today because of the Internet. Whilst there are many good things the Internet has brought us, there are also a whole range of evil and demonic – none more so than pornography. When the printing press was invented it was not long before it was being used both to publish Bibles and to print pornography. Until recent decades that still meant that pornography had to be physically purchased and kept. But with the arrival of the Internet pornography has become cheaply available at the push of a button. At one point it was reckoned that one third of all traffic on the Internet was associated with pornography.

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In my own city it was reckoned that some 40% of 12-13 year old boys had watched extreme pornography on their mobiles. What do you think that does to their brains, bodies and future relationships? Surely this does not affect Christians? Sadly this is not true. This is one of the major areas that causes many Christians to stumble and fall. Even pastors. The trouble is that at home as we are working on our computers all kinds of temptations are offered up to us. Sometimes it can be something we see inadvertently, then we become curious. Then it gets a real hold. A desire is planted within and when we give into that, rather that satisfying the desire, it only adds petrol to the fire.

How can I break my addiction to Internet porn? You state correctly that it is a habit. So how do we break such habits? Often the normal advice is to take a series of practical measures, but can I suggest that you begin with the knowledge of God? ‘You, O God see me” (Genesis 16:13). There is nowhere you can go from his presence (Psalm 139). Remember then that you are watching porn in the presence of a holy God. That should certainly act as a disincentive! Would you watch porn if your mother was standing beside you?

As regards some of the practical measures can I suggest doing what Job did – “I have made a covenant with my eyes” (Job 31:1)? Take this seriously. Get an accountability partner. Talk to your pastor. Put a block on your phone or computer. Don’t indulge even soft-core porn. And fill your life with other things – above all the love and service of God. Get the expulsive power of a new affection!

What about masturbation? This also becomes a habit. Some Christians argue that it’s not really a sin providing that it’s not done with lustful thoughts – which I would think is somewhat impossible. It is anyway kind of sad – what John White calls ‘Sex on a desert island’. This is not the purpose for which God gave us our sexual desires. It’s a bit like drinking salt water to get rid of your thirst. It only increases it. Having said that this is not the kind of sin that should leave you crippled by guilt. There are many other sins in your life that are more important.

CONSIDER: What would you think of someone using your sister, friend, mother as an object for their sexual gratification? Why then would you use someone else’s sister, friend and mother for your own? Do you have someone who can hold you accountable for what you watch on your phone or computer?

RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING: Finally Free: Fighting for Purity With The Power of Grace – Heath Lambert.  Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn-Free – Tim Chester.

PRAYER: O LORD, You are pure and holy. You are always with us. We can never hide from you. Help us to remember that and to have a Godly fear. Help us to value and respect not only other people’s bodies, but our own. Cleanse us and purify us. Fill our hearts with a holy love for you…Amen

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A.S.K 33 – Sex and Same Sex Marriage

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11 comments

  1. Nothing is more repulsive to me than the thoughts of watching someone have sex. Sexually deviation of any sort is pure satanic.

    1. My late father-in-law, who tended between agnosticism & atheism, had no shortage of pithy anecdotes. One of his best was “sex is not a spectator sport”.

  2. “What about masturbation? This also becomes a habit. Some Christians argue that it’s not really a sin providing that it’s not done with lustful thoughts – which I would think is somewhat impossible. It is anyway kind of sad – what John White calls ‘Sex on a desert island’. This is not the purpose for which God gave us our sexual desires. It’s a bit like drinking salt water to get rid of your thirst. It only increases it. Having said that this is not the kind of sin that should leave you crippled by guilt. There are many other sins in your life that are more important.”

    Now our “friends” at the BBC are actively promoting this sin in the COVID lockdown:

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/amp/newsbeat-53736087

    🙁

  3. Hello Pastor

    I’m a young person with a genuine question: what should be the Christian response to non-pornographic films that contain nudity and sex scenes? Can we watch them or should we avoid them?

    I am thinking of a few different situations here:

    1. Sometimes films aimed at adolescents like Hollywood action films, will throw in a scene of relatively non-explicit but gratuitous nudity – like female toplessness, presumably in an effort to titillate adolescent male views. Surely this is trmpting them to lust. Should we avoid them?

    2. Other Hollywood films might have more explicit scenes but they might be “justified by the storyline”. Are these still sinful for the actors abd viewers or, if we are mature enough, can we watch these without sinning?

    3. My own particular interest and passion lies in European arthiuse films. Ofyen these are much more explicit in terms of sex and nudity than Hollywood productions but sometimes the sex is filmed in such a “gritty” or “realistic” way that it is less titillating than a mere breast flash in a Hollywood production. Often there is an artistic reason for the scene (like nudity symbolising purity and innocence for instance).

    4. Sometimes, though, both Hollywood and European studios use “art” as an excuse to get away with making something that is borderline pornographic.

    As Christians, how should we respond to each of these scebarios? What films are okay for us too watch and which should we avoid.

    Thank you! God bless.

    1. Hi Tim,

      Sorry but I don’t have the time to go into all those details and questions. In general I would follow the position of the early church fathers – nudity in films etc is out. It’s not necessary. You are right about the art though…I have seen nudity which is not erotic and clothing which is…!

  4. Sorry for all of my typos in my question above!

    I guess we extend it to other scenarios:

    Is a model sinning if he or she poses nude or topless for an artistic or fashion photo shoot?

    What about life drawing?

    Is the onus ultimately on the viewer to look respectfully and not lustfully at such photos and drawings?

    Sometimes the borderline between art and deliberate titillation is a thin one. How can we be discerning between what is good and pure and what is smut?

    Thanks in advance for your advice. Thanks alsi for being willing to help young people with the questions we have.

  5. I followed your advice on the early church and I found this article. Thanks for pointing me in that direction. The article is really helpful so I’ll leave a link to it here for anyone else who comes along after me with similar questions:

    http://internetbiblecollege.net/Lessons/Early%2520Church%2520Attitudes%2520To%2520Nudity.pdf

    I guess I just have two more thoughts on theissue of nudity: were John the Baptist’s followers (and, later on, early Christians) naked when they were baptised since full-immersion was used? I guess this woild be an exception to the rule.

    In our own day, to what extent are attitudes to nudity cultural? For instance, I know Germans and Scandinavians have more relaxed attitudes to nudity because of the sauna culture in those countries. By bearing all to each othr in a non-sexual environment like a sauna, do you think they are sinnkng in God’s eyes or is there some degree of moral relativism allowed here because of the different cultural attitudes to nudity.

    Thanks for your help and God bless.

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