Why do I have a painting of Jesus clearing out the temple as the title image of this article? Because I’m pissed off. I read something today published on the Gospel Coalition Facebook page that sent me through the roof. It made me angry, in a holy way. The article was entitled, “Seven Reasons You Should Not Indulge in Pornography,” by Andrew Neselli. Feel free to go and read the whole article in all its voluminous glory, but for your sake, I’ve summarized the seven reasons below. Side bar: we all know things are more Christian when we use the number 7 because it is the number of perfection. Amen.
Seven Reasons to Not Indulge in Pornography
1. It will send you to hell.
2. It does not glorify God with your body.
3. It is a poisonous, fleeting pleasure.
4. It foolishly wastes your life.
5. It betrays your wife and children.
6. It ruins your mind and conscience.
7. It participates in sex slavery.
This article is yet again, a typical bullshit Christian response to a complex issue. Let me save you the time and summarize it: “Just stop sinning!” Pornography addiction is bringing down the church and articles like this are fueling its destruction. Because there is not a shred of empathy in this article whatsoever, one is left with a feeling of complete hopelessness after reading it. As someone who completely understands this issue, as I has lived through it, I am absolutely disgusted by this article. It should not be confused for anything other than a steaming heap of self-righteous, legalistic, prescriptive, pietistic drivel.
As believers, we all understand God’s law. Jesus makes it even harder in his Sermon on the Mount when he closes the loophole for sin: it’s not just what you do, it’s also what you think that counts. Unfortunately, the article incorrectly concludes that if you sin in your mind, you go to hell. Using this logic, it follows: thinking lustfully about that woman who isn’t your wife is a sin, therefore you go to hell. Allow me to elaborate with another example: not taking care of your body is a sin because the body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. So, when you go back for that third plate of food at the buffet after church on Sunday, you had better be ready for fire and brimstone on the other side. Nonsense.
Oh wait a minute, there’s this little thing in Christian Theology called the Doctrine of Grace. Jesus did what we couldn’t do by living a perfect life and paying the debt for ALL the sins that we commit. So did he only cover the sins that don’t send us to hell, whatever those are? Come on people, he said it was finished. Either you believe him or you don’t. The glaring inconsistency here doesn’t deserve my time because anyone who can think reasonably should be able to connect the dots. If you really agree with the article and it somehow helps you, God bless. I don’t judge you; I just adamantly disagree with you. We can do that in the church and still love each other; see Peter and Paul for reference. Which brings me to my final point: Where’s the love?
Instead of condemning, we need to understand and love. Telling someone that they are wrong will never affect a change. Ever. Look at the anti-smoking campaigns and the warning labels on the boxes. The box literally says it will cause cancer and will kill you. Yet, people still smoke. Anyone who is addicted to porn knows that it is wrong and wants a way out, but is also simultaneously afraid of divulging their struggle to anyone else. Would you want to bear your deepest darkest secrets to someone, only to have them turn around and tell you what a screw up you are?
No one wakes up one day and decides to be addicted to anything. Pain is the primary reason why people get addicted to things in the first place. They are looking to escape the pain of abuse (physical, sexual, verbal and spiritual), abandonment, rejection, loneliness and the list goes on and on. Porn addiction is the effect and pain is the cause. It is my contention that unless the church starts going to those messy, dark places of pain, it will continue to leisurely float down the River of Irrelevance on a cruise ship named “Hypocrisy”. I encourage you to jump off the cruise ship and go deeper, under the surface. That’s where you will find Jesus: at the bottom. As one of my favorite authors, Steve Brown, says, “If you’re a sinner and you know it, than your life will surely show it. Own it, and use it for the glory of God.”