Pornography and Our Insufficiency In Discussions

In this post, I am mainly referencing this post by RELEVANT Magazine.

I tweeted a few days ago (a few weeks ago now) that the natural conclusion from a post from RELEVANT Magazine on pornography was to never have sex again because it could cause us to become addicted to dopamines. The post is centered around the idea of the brain producing dopamines when we are stimulated by various activities. In this particular post, Internet pornography was targeted as producing dopamines, and through repetition, we slowly are wired into a routine in our mind.

To break out of this routine is increasingly difficult, as the brain “learns” to act a certain way, causing compulsion and addiction.

I have a lot of issues with the post.

The main issue is that people will constantly fail if we try to fight it by ourselves. We can rid ourselves of pornography, but we’ll start lusting after other women, or we’ll find our dopamine addiction in other places–being jealous of other people, lying in our relationships, using the Lord’s name in vain. The bottom line is, the post doesn’t state that it is impossible to walk in this world without sin with an individualistic worldview, absent of the communion of believers and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit constantly. The answer is God, only and always God.

1) It’s a secular worldview on a Christian magazine.

This is perhaps my biggest problem. There is nothing in the post to differentiate it from a secular self-help magazine. Besides, the message of the article that is anti-pornography–the applications for breaking the bond of pornography are largely focused largely on human betterment, instead of God glorifying. That is, holiness attained is not for the glory of God and enjoying Him better. I’m not saying the human betterment, and glorying God are not correlated, but the first purpose of our lives is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him. The applications and profits of not being addicted to pornography are hopelessly unrelated, and against what the Gospel is preaching.

I think the article would be acceptable as part of a secular publication–in fact, I would be slightly impressed because, honestly, apart from a Christian worldview, I wouldn’t see a problem really with pornography. The problem with pornography is it is a cultural thing. The article doesn’t separate the Christian from the secular, and it therefore dilutes both views. Defeating pornography essentially requires the Holy Spirit, and a disconnection from the World which tempts us.

While there is an element of human responsibility in our lives still, sin changes form and we can chase wealth, image, status–all of these which takes us away from God. Charles Spurgeon talks of the sin of pride:

“Sometimes it is an Arminian, and talks about the power of the creature; then it turns Calvinist, and boasts of its fancied security — forgetful of the Maker, who alone can keep our faith alive. Pride can profess any form of religion; it may be a Quaker, and wear no collar to its coat; it may be a Churchman, and worships God in splendid cathedrals; it may be a Dissenter, and go to the common meeting-house; it is one of the most catholic things in the world, it attends all kinds of chapels and churches; go where you will, you will see pride.”

I feel if we do not preach the Gospel that forgives all sins, we are preaching much less than is sufficient to help people be healed. By not preaching for people to live apart from the world, I feel we are preaching much less than what the Gospel demands.

2) The substitution of “addiction” with sin.

Am I being nit-picky? There are connotations and stigmas associated with both words. Though, I would argue that psychologists who use the word “addiction” are meaning something different from when Mark Driscoll uses the word addiction–there are strengths and weaknesses of both words in relation to each situation. Therefore it’s kind of difficult, but I’ll attempt to explain the difference:

Addiction is simply a weak or bad person making a bad choice. It’s a man-centric concept, which reduces decisions made to purely voluntary behavior. Jay Adams states that: ‘The idea of sickness as the cause of personal problems vitiates all notions of human responsibility’. This demonstrates how disconnected the concept is from God, and insufficient in acting as a synonym for sin.

Sin is a God-centric concept, and has a direct relationship to our relationship with God. That is, sin is what brought us out of the Garden of Eden and sin is what makes us have to toil the ground and have pain in childbirth. Sin is why the world is messed up and apart from what God’s plan are. Sin is why I am so messed up and the Church is messed up.

There is a solution to sin, and that is believing in Jesus Christ, and repenting of our sins. That is the key, I think. If we are continuing in a secular dialogue, there is no room for dialogue. The solution to addiction is what the article has stated–positive thinking ; but if it is not working in synergy with the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives convicting us of sins, it is useless and damning. To reduce pornography to merely an addiction is robbing us of the efficacy of the Gospel on our souls, and the greatness of forgiveness of sin.

3) The bigger picture

The article misses the grand plan that God has for sex. I feel that this too is often what is absent in discussions about other sexual issues like homosexuality and pre-martial sex. The post is so intent on saying: “PORN IS BAD”, “YOU ARE A BAD PERSON”, and “YOU NEED HELP”, but it misses the glory of sex. I feel as Christians, we are always guilty of just rubber stamping anything with sex on it with a R rating. Any movie with that mentions a bad word is immediately shut down, so much so that whatever glory there is in sex, that we put a bushel over because we are afraid of it. Yet, it is a very real and beautiful part of our lives–so beautiful that we fail horrifically in differentiate between the sex and pornography enough.

Sex is a vastly different creature from pornography. Pornography is perhaps one of the most loneliest things on this earth, while relational sex is the most intimate. To reduce the reasons not to watch pornography to dopamines rewiring our minds is reducing all things to relativity. The reality is that sex generates dopamines, eating food generates dopamines, breathing air (I’m pretty sure) creates dopamines, and all of these should be avoided because it might wire our brains to continue living?

On the topic of sex, dare I say it…I am excited? But so many Christians seem to be so closed up to it, and afraid to discuss it. But really, if we aren’t talking about it and engaging with the topic with honesty and openness, the only place we are going to learn about it is on television and on the internet. It’s the unwillingness to educate and define the boundaries, contrasted with the tendency to remedy and restrict–this makes Christianity seem full of rules. But to understand the great plans that God has for us, in our future spouses (or blissful singleness for those called), I don’t know why we would want to settle for anything less. I don’t know why we would continue to hide it.

This post was mostly written for Prisca’s Voice (follow her!) and I always wanted a reason to exposit a lot about my views on how Christian treat the subject of sex (if rarely).

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About JN
what happened to dignity / never see it on MTV.

2 Responses to Pornography and Our Insufficiency In Discussions

  1. David says:

    You wrote, “I feel if we do not preach the Gospel that forgives all sins, we are preaching much less than is sufficient to help people be healed. By not preaching for people to live apart from the world, I feel we are preaching much less than what the Gospel demands.”— AMEN!!!

    “There is a solution to sin, and that is believing in Jesus Christ, and repenting of our sins. That is the key, I think.”— AMEN!!!

    The Word says, “4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” ~Hebrews 13:4

    Sex is a holy thing and wonderful to those who are married; I think it is a shameful thing to display, therefore, I also will not accept a movie that portrays it, nor will I watch movies that have a great deal of immodesty (just to protect myself because I know my struggle as well and don’t want to open any doors to Satan for sin in my life).

    I think you’ve rightly discerned things in this post! Thank you!

  2. “On the topic of sex, dare I say it…I am excited? But so many Christians seem to be so closed up to it, and afraid to discuss it. But really, if we aren’t talking about it and engaging with the topic with honesty and openness, the only place we are going to learn about it is on television and on the internet.”

    I completely agree with this, and I’m a big proponent of Christians being open about sexual issues and struggles in the proper context. I applaud you for being open about your struggle with porn, as that is rare in the Christian community and yet the stats seem to show that it’s a very real issue. Thank you for being honest!

    I think your own struggle with porn informs your view, IMO, on this article and this topic and it’s interesting to me to hear your perspective with that information in mind. I think there is some tension amongst believers as to how to process the whole “addictions” thing, whether it’s alcoholism or porn or whatever. I know Christians who have been serious substance abusers who have been freed of every substance-related desire as soon as they chose to follow Christ, and I know other Christians who continued to experience temptation after they were saved. Both groups tend to sometimes be skeptical of each other, but I have to wonder if God doens’t have a purpose for both experiences.

    Whether we struggle with alcoholism or compulsive pornography usage or incessant gambling that destroys our child’s college savings or something more (seemingly) benign like people-pleasing or shopping for new clothing more often than we should, I think the bottom line is this. Some of us, when we come to Christ, are freed of these desires. Some are not, but God gives us the tools to navigate around them (I think of the verse that says that no temptation has befallen you expect which is common to man, but that God provides a way out for you… can’t think of the reference). Either way, God is glorified.

    As you know, I like the article (still do), and I think it does a fine job of distinguishing between the God-given purpose for sexually-released dopamine (bonding us to our spouses) vs the bastardized sin-tainted use of dopamine that exists when we use porn. But, I see your point of view and I appreciate your thoughts. For me, I think that whether someone is a believer in Christ or not, if they are currently struggling with porn it is helpful for them to have practical tools that they can employ and this article provides that. There’s a lot that it doesn’t provide, I suppose, but that is why your post is just as important. 🙂

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