This one word has many definitions, many connotations, and many reactions.
I will not start by telling you why it is evil.
I will not tell you that it give you a false sense of what sex is like, there is quite a bit of realistic porn out there. This is not your father’s unrealistic porn; this is often real people having real sex.
I will not tell you that it gives you a false impression of what women should look like, though it might, but again, this is not your father’s porn. Often these are real women, no photoshop or plastic surgery involved.
I will not tell you that porn is bad because you are lusting for women that are not your wife. It might be, but I dare say chances are you do not want that woman on your screen, you just want the pleasure that you are seeing portrayed on that screen. You covet the sex, probably not the women.
I will not tell you that porn makes you a violent lover or practice “unnatural acts” as a result of seeing it. Sex has been done in many ways for many millennia, porn is probably just capturing what is already out there.
I will not tell you that it’s degrading to women and the women in it are always victims of rape or sexual slavery. While that may be largely true, it is not completely honest. Some are; many are not.
What I will tell you is this: porn is a drug. It is an addictive dopamine-releasing drug. This drug numbs your ability to enjoy actual sex with actual people. This drug numbs your ability to satisfy your wife and have real intimacy with her. This drug may make you prone to erectile dysfunction and loss of physical sensation. This drug lowers your sperm count.
Porn is a scourge on your life. While you think it is increasing your pleasure in life, it’s secretly in the back of your brain robbing you of your libido and desire for normal relationships. It stunts you sexually and makes you weak in the bedroom.
If you haven’t gotten hooked, don’t. If you have just dipped a toe in the waters, get out. Don’t let this refuse infuse into your mind.
If you are currently hooked on it, stop. Quit. Cold-turkey.
If you are a Christian, you are no longer slaves to sin. It’s this simple: you don’t have to. So much of our culture tells men they will. Culture tells men they have to, if they don’t it’s assumed there is something wrong with them. Maybe this is true for the unregenerate, but Christian, you don’t have to. You have a choice. You can stop.
Culture tries to tell us that “boys will be boys” and that men are nothing but insatiable animals unable to control baser instincts and that the must lust for the flesh of women or there is something wrong with them. This is the great lie of our day. Men are not mere animals. Men have minds and consciences and are able to make moral choices.
I won’t recommend the “bounce your eyes” option. I don’t recommend you shame yourself (or your sons for that matter) about noticing attractive women. You will be faced with beautiful women your entire life. Avoiding them is simply not an option.
First, we have to stop confusing attraction with lust. There is something about attraction to women that makes many Christian men freak out. But attraction is not lust. Arousal itself isn’t even lust. Was Christ aroused by the thought of bread while fasting in the desert? I would venture a “yes” otherwise it could not very well have been called a “temptation”. Attraction and arousal may play into lust, but they are not themselves lust. Lust involves a coveting or strong desiring to have something that does not rightfully belong to us as our own.
When we lust after a woman, we are objectifying her and desiring to have her for our own pleasure. Attraction is an entirely different animal. Attraction to someone of the opposite sex is merely a natural reaction to the beauty and desirability of the opposite sex. We are made to find the opposite sex attractive.
Arousal happens. Attraction happens. Lust is a choice.
I love luxury cars. I can look at beautiful cars all day. I would love to have an Austen Martin DB9 in my driveway. One could say I am attracted to the lines and symmetry of this particular vehicle. I can imagine myself driving it. But am I coveting it? No. At the end of the day I do not want that car badly enough to steal it or kill for it. It’s just a nice thought. I can admire it from afar and not think, “I must have that!”
We can do the same thing for nice houses, or clothes, or any number of attractive things. Is the attraction to these things covetous? I don’t believe so. I can find these things attractive and even desirable without lusting for them. Lust involves the conscious choice to be overwhelmed with desire to the point that all I can think of is having the object of my lust at all costs.
As I said before, I do not think men lust for the women in porn as much as they lust for the passion and sensation of the sex itself. They may covet the exotic idea of sex with women who are not theirs, but I do not think deep down they actually want the woman. They want that passion so badly that they are willing to endanger their real sex lives in favor of the addiction to a fake one.
We need to teach men to properly channel sexual urges into their spouse or into productive endeavors. We need to also train them to see women as people, more than just their bodies, and not as sexual objects. While they should be taught it’s normal and good to admire the beauty of a woman as a part of God’s creation they should not be taught that those women are objects for their covetous desires.
We ought not focus so much on lust and telling men not to have contact with women lest they stumble. We ought to be teaching what Paul teaches in Timothy:
Stay tuned for a porn fighting idea that you may not have heard of before.