By Randall Pressnell
Senior Pastor, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Mount Carmel
Focal Passage: I Thessalonians 4:3-8
In his book Wired for Intimacy, Christian psychologist William M. Struthers lists the following stages of how men get hooked on pornography:
• Denial — “Sure,” they may say, “I’ve looked at it in the past, but I don’t anymore.” Most men will confess their struggle with pornography only under the conditions of anonymity and confidentiality.
• Minimization — At this stage a man will argue that his pornography use is insignificant and has no real effect on his life. He might say, “Well, I do look at porn, but only occasionally. It’s not like I’m addicted to it or anything.”
• Normalization — At the next stage men say, “Everybody does it.” Explaining the use of pornography as a common form of entertainment is referred to as normalization.
• Rationalization and Justification — At this stage a man finds logical reasons to argue why porn is okay. You rationalize what you are going to do and you justify what you just did.
• Celebration — Over time and with repeated exposure, many men so completely buy into the deception of pornography that they don’t feel a need to defend their habit. Instead, they even celebrate it. As a result, a man’s conscience is seared and his moral compass becomes seriously compromised (William M. Struthers, Wired for Intimacy, InterVarsity Press, 2009, pp. 50-54).
In today’s connected culture pornography is more accessible than ever before. Many men and women are in denial regarding addiction to pornography. Sadly, there is a good chance that you, a member of your family, or members of your church are living lives controlled by pornography. What can you do to prevent pornography taking control of your life?
You must avoid sexual sin (4:3). Christ-followers are instructed to steer clear of sexual immorality (porneia). As you might have guessed, this is the root word from which our word pornography comes. So Paul is instructing believers then and now to keep away from all sexual sin. Sexual sin is any sexual practice outside of heterosexual marriage. So, the good gift of sex is to be enjoyed only in the exclusive company of one’s spouse. That means that in order to avoid sexual sin you must keep your eyes and your mind where they belong — on your own life mate! Pornography cannot gain control over you if you avoid it polluting your mind with its images.
You must control your own body (4:4-5). This is to be done in sanctification and honor. A Christian’s life is not to be lived with lustful desires. This means that pornography and every other sexual sin may be the norm for the Gentiles who don’t know God but not for Christ-followers. Paul wants to be sure the new Thessalonian believers do not revert back to their pre-conversion lifestyles. The believer is responsible for controlling his or her own body each day.
You must not victimize other human beings (4:6-8). That means that a believer must not transgress against and defraud his brother in the matter of lustful desires (v. 5). Pornography always exploits others and not just the one viewing the porn. The person behind that image is of infinite worth to God. And Paul warns that the Lord is an avenger of all these offenses. If that is not enough, Paul reminds you that God has not called us to impurity but to sanctification. Failure to heed this does not reject man, but God. If a Christian surrenders to God — His Holy Spirit will work through accountability partners and/or counselors to free him from pornography’s control. You must not victimize other human beings.
Through obedience to God’s Word and with His help, you will be ready when pornography controls!
— Pressnell is senior pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church, Mount Carmel.