What Does the Bible Say About Pornography?
The truth about pornography is that it threatens your salvation and clouds a pure mind.
The Bible teaches in Ephesians, “fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints” (Ephesians 5:3). The Book of first Peter adds, “the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12).
The Book of Matthew also cites pornography as adultery, stating, “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). By watching pornography, you are being mentally, emotionally, and spiritually unfaithful to your spouse, as well as partaking in something that is immoral in the eyes of God.
Is Pornography Wrong?
The majority of internet pornography actually occurs in the office place. Numerous studies have estimated that 70 percent of all Internet pornography traffic occurs during the nine-to-five workday. According to IDC, a corporation of global marketing intelligence, 30 to 40 percent of Internet use in the workplace is unrelated to business. Nielsen/NetRating has determined that 21 percent of all adult sites are accessed from work. Meanwhile, 70 percent of employees surveyed by NFO Worldwide admit to viewing or sending adult-oriented emails at work.
Pornography is one of those very uncomfortable subjects people don’t like to talk or preach about, but it is a very real issue and it is wreaking tremendous destruction both in people’s lives and in their marriages. The Lord addressed it in Matthew 5:28-29 when He said, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”
The Lord warned us, but even still, pornography is a problem in the world and in the church. Here are some statistics involving religious groups: In December of 2000, the National Coalition to Protect Children and Families surveyed five Christian college campuses to see how the next generation of believers was faring with regard to sexual purity. Forty-eight percent of males admitted to current porn use and 68 percent of males said they intentionally viewed a sexually explicit site at the school. A 1996 Promise Keepers survey conducted at one of their stadium events revealed that over 50 percent of the men in attendance had been involved with pornography within one week of attending the event. A CNN article by Jason Rovou dated April 6, 2007, stated that 70 percent of Christians admitted to struggling with pornography in their daily lives.
Pornography is a real problem even for religious people. Some might say, “It’s different in the Lord’s church,” but it truly isn’t. Sometimes there are Christians who attend worship on Sunday morning, then go home to their computers and engage in this secret sin. In recent years, pornography has become even easier to access because of the Internet. There used to be a built-in deterrent, because one had to physically go somewhere to find it. An individual would have to go to a store to buy a sexually explicit magazine or rent a video, which also brought up the possibility that someone might see him doing it. Now with the Internet available at our fingertips, people can view pornography in the privacy of their homes,
It has been said that the three “A’s” of the Internet have caused the porn industry to explode with growth. Those three “A’s” are Accessibility, Affordability, and Anonymity. We might even add the word “Addiction” and make it four “A’s.” These things have made the pornography industry reach
record numbers worldwide.
Every second, 3,075.64 dollars are being spent on pornography. Every second, 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography. Every second, 372 Internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines. Every 39 minutes, a new pornographic video is being created in the United States. The pornography industry is larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix, and EarthLink. According to a 2003 statistic on internetfilterview.com, the sex industry brings in 57 billion dollars in revenue per year worldwide. Of this amount, 12 billion is United States revenue, which is more than all combined revenues of all professional football, baseball, and basketball franchises, or the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC (6.2 billion dollars). Roughly 2.5 of the 12 billion dollars are related to Internet porn.
Where are we as a country? Barna Research Group did a survey in 2003: 38 percent of adults believe it is morally acceptable to look at pictures of nudity or explicit sexual behavior. Fifty-nine percent of adults believe it is morally acceptable to have sexual thoughts or fantasies, and 38 percent of adults believe there is nothing wrong with pornography use.
How Does Porn Invade The Home?
How do people first get exposed to and hooked on pornography? The first part of it we might say is natural. Males are naturally stimulated by sight. This is the way God made them; however, that does not make pornography right. There is a proper outlet for this—the marriage relationship. But it is a fact that men are naturally stimulated by sight and, many times, women fail to understand and appreciate that fact.
In the book Every Young Man’s Battle, the authors write, “Women seldom understand this because they aren’t sexually stimulated in the same way. Their ignitions are tied to touch and relationship. They view this aspect of our sexuality as shallow.”
The wife of one of the authors even said, “When I first heard how men are, it seemed so wild and unlike anything I could imagine … I had a hard time believing it and occasionally even wondered if men were making it up.” The writers continue, “Because women can’t relate, they have little mercy on us and rarely choose to dress modestly.” Hopefully, that isn’t the case with Christian women, but what does this have to do with pornography? Some have taken this built-in desire that God gave men and have perverted it. They twist it into something that God never intended. It’s what we call pornography.
Pornography comes from two Greek words. One is the word for “prostitute” and the other is the word for “I write” or “I record.” Pornography refers to a written or illustrated depiction of prostitution. When are people first exposed to pornography? Some people have said that they were first exposed to it in the form of magazines that they found under their dad’s bed. In the book Every Young Man’s Battle, one of the authors states that he first saw it in the form of posters of nude women in his grandfather’s shop. These days, many are first exposed to it on the Internet.
In 2003, the average age at which children were first introduced to pornography by way of the Internet was 11 years old. Maybe now the age would be even younger. Also, the largest consumer of Internet pornography is the 12 to 17 age group. At first, it is shocking to them. On Good Morning America there was a segment about babies in the mother’s womb, and their reaction when they were exposed to a loud noise. At first, the baby jumped because the noise startled him. But then as they continued to expose the child to the noise, the baby became used to it. The shock faded away. A similar thing happens with pornography. The more we view it, the more the shock diminishes.
One porn user stated, “Once you become addicted to it … you look for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of material. Like an addiction, you keep craving something which is harder and gives you a greater sense of excitement, until you reach the point where the pornography only goes so far—that jumping off point where you begin to think maybe actually doing it will give you that which is just beyond reading about it and looking at it.”
When thinking about the sin involved in pornography, its addictive nature, and the fact that it is so easily accessible, we must realize that precautions need to be taken with regard to our children. What about at your house? What about the Internet in your home? A very helpful program, “Safe Eyes,” which filters Internet pornography is available. It blocks inappropriate sites and will email the parent if their child tries to access one of those sites.
Of course, we have to be careful of the TV as well. The average teenager spends three to four hours per day watching television, and 83 percent of the programming most frequently watched by adolescents contains sexual content. Thirty-nine million homes receive the adult channels in scrambled form, while the number of children with potential exposure to such images is about 29 million.
Christian men, don’t ever let it be said that your son was exposed to pornography because of you. It’s a sin to subscribe to those adult channels anyway. It’s a sin to own pornographic magazines. It’s a sin to visit those websites. You can’t go to heaven like that. Please don’t risk the souls of your children! Beware of movie channels such as HBO and Showtime. Don’t put those temptations before you or your children.
The Effects of Internet Pornography
#1: The Physical Effects of Pornography
There are a number of physical effects of pornography, but one is that the viewer grows to crave more. People just aren’t satisfied with one image. They want another. The need to see more grows. It grows more risqué and daring, and it takes more and more to satisfy. A second physical effect is that it makes the porn viewer want an outlet. At some point the viewer desires more than just to see pornography, which often leads him to other sins. It also brings about a double life. The individual has the life that everyone sees, but then he has this dark secret he doesn’t want anyone to know about. Often, that secret life leads to lies to
cover it, and it also brings feelings of guilt and shame.
Many respected scientists and psychiatrists have concluded that pornography is an addiction like alcohol or drug abuse. Addiction is caused by chemical dependencies within the body and neural pathways through the brain. Somebody says, “How can you say that about pornography?” Here is the chemistry involved in this, and how pornography affects the brain.
During the process, there are certain neurochemicals that are released. Dopamine is one of them. This particular chemical affects the brain so that it very accurately focuses attention and energy. It causes people to ignore negatives. It triggers feelings of ecstasy and creates a powerful dependency. In a healthy marriage relationship, this is a good thing because it causes the couple to focus completely on each other and ignore the negatives. In the pornography process, however, it’s different. The person’s attention is focused on the images. He isn’t thinking about his spouse, family, beliefs, or consequences; all those are blocked out. And when this chemical is released it creates a chemical dependency that is linked to these images. It is so powerful that it has been directly compared to cocaine addiction. The images produced the feelings, so the brain desires those images again and again.
A second chemical released when viewing pornography is norepinephrine. Whatever is being experienced when this chemical is released, the smallest details of that experience are seared in the brain as if with a branding iron. In the healthy marriage relationship, wonderful details of the intimate experience are remembered and recalled with fondness, bringing the couple closer together. In the pornography funnel, the release of norepinephrine causes the brain to remember the tiniest details of every sexually explicit image. As a result of this chemical, a man can recall in great detail pictures he saw years ago. Those images are seared into his memory. As one man said, “I’m still plagued with what I saw in high school.”
The third chemical released that we will mention is oxytocin, the “cuddle chemical.” It was first discovered in the brains of mothers while holding their newborn child for the first time. It creates a powerful bond between mother and child, and causes the release of milk for nursing. Oxytocin is a “bonding chemical” and is released when people hold hands, embrace, and kiss. During sexual intimacy, oxytocin is released in high quantities, forging a powerful bond. For example, this chemical causes the husband to be powerfully attracted to certain features of his wife. Through normal day-to-day living, as he sees her, he is reminded of his attraction of her, and his feelings of love and commitment grow. He is bonded more and more to her, and their relationship grows ever stronger. But what happens when oxytocin is released in the brain while viewing pornography? The viewer is bonded to the body type and features of those he is viewing. Imagine being bonded to those fantasy images with the same kind of power that a newborn child is bonded to his mother and father.
#2: The Marital Effects of Pornography
Sometimes people will try to justify pornography in the marriage and even try to get their spouses to view it with them. The idea that pornography is good for marriage is a lie. The marital consequences are severe. The effects that pornography can have on marriage are devastating. For one, it desensitizes the viewer to his or her own spouse. Porn stars are young, slim, and beautiful. Very few spouses can compete with such a fantasy. Viewing this makes a person dissatisfied with his spouse.
When a person has an “imperfect” spouse, the solution is to look for someone else. Secondly, pornography hurts the self-esteem of the spouse. In a marriage relationship, it is crushing to the wife that she doesn’t satisfy her husband. She wonders what is wrong with her. Pornography puts a wall within the marriage that should never be there. It creates dissatisfaction on the part of the husband and a deep hurt and betrayal on the wife’s part. When somebody tries to say that pornography is good for marriage, that’s the devil talking.
#3: The Financial Effects of Pornography
The subject of finances speaks to the overall effect that pornography has on our economy, and consequently, on our society. Each year, 12 billion dollars is spent in the United States alone on the sex industry. Where is that money coming from? All too often it’s coming from fathers who are using
money that ought to be going toward supporting their families! Consider also the cost to businesses. It
is estimated that five billion dollars of work hours are lost to cyberporn in the United States.
As mentioned earlier, 70 percent of all Internet porn traffic occurs during the nine-to-five workday. Nearly one out of three companies has terminated an employee for inappropriate web use. Not all has been porn, but porn has been a part. Businessweek printed the results of a survey stating that 44 percent of U.S. workers with an Internet connection admitted to accessing an X-rated website at work in the month of March 2004.
#4: The Spiritual Effects of Pornography
Most important, we need to consider the spiritual effects of Internet pornography. First of all, using Internet pornography puts a wall between the viewer and God, as with any sin that one allows to linger in his life. It hinders a person’s prayers and blocks his worship. First Peter 3:12 says, “For the eyes of the Lord are upon His righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” The psalmist wrote in Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”
When a person allows himself to indulge in the sin of pornography, he is actively building a wall between himself and the God of heaven. Secondly, some will not obey the gospel (or aren’t faithful to the church) because they think they can’t quit pornography. They have fallen for the lie that they just can’t stop, and they understand there is no point to being a Christian if they are going to live in sin, so they just don’t bother to try. They risk their souls.
Thirdly, Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” If a person thinks corrupt thoughts, then he is a corrupt being. If one continually fills his mind with filth and smut, so is he. The spiritual implications of this do not bode well. One more spiritual danger about pornography is that over time the viewer becomes numb to it. First Timothy 4:2 speaks of those who have had their consciences seared, that is, they have become numb to sin.
There is the ever-present danger that an individual can engage in the use of porn—or any sin, for that matter—for so long that it doesn’t bother him anymore. This is where he enters very dangerous territory. He may be going down a road of no return, spiritually speaking. Hebrews 6:4 discusses some who have reached a point where the Bible says it’s impossible to renew them to repentance. Christians do not want to be these kinds of people.
Why is Pornography Wrong?
First is the obvious: pornography is a direct violation of Scripture. Ephesians 5:3 (KJV) says, “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints.” Another version says, “But among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality,
or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” In Matthew 5:28, Jesus said, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Pornography is a direct violation of the Scriptures. There is some clarification that needs to be made here, because sometimes when people hear Matthew 5:28 they begin to wonder if pornography is a valid reason for divorce. In other words, a woman might reason this way: “I caught my husband viewing pornography. In Matthew 5:28 Jesus equated this to adultery, and since adultery is a scriptural reason for divorce, I can divorce my husband for viewing pornography.” Though the reasoning here can be understood, the conclusion is not correct. Matthew 19:9 gives only one scriptural reason for divorce, and that is fornication. This word means “unlawful sexual intercourse.”
Viewing pornography doesn’t fit that definition. When one views pornography, Jesus said he commits
adultery in his heart (mind). The spiritual consequences may bethe same, but the physical consequences are not. Let’s illustrate this. First John 3:15 says, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” So if you hate your brother in your heart, you are a murderer in the eyes of God, but you won’t be taken to jail because of your hate. You won’t receive the death penalty. However, the spiritual consequences will be the same as if you had really killed your brother. Jesus said, “No murderer has eternal life.”
In a similar sense, looking at pornography is adultery of the heart, but it isn’t the actual physical act of adultery. Thus, viewing pornography is not grounds for a divorce. It may lead there. It may raise a person’s desires up so that he goes and has relations with someone else. Then he has committed adultery. Secondly, pornography is a form of stealing. Someone might say, “That’s a real stretch.” But think about this. The definition of the word steal is “to take (the property of another) without right or permission.” When a man and woman get married, the rights to each other’s bodies become those of their spouse. The wife’s body belongs to her husband. Any pleasure or enjoyment of a sexual nature that might come from her body belongs only to him.
First Corinthians 7:2-4 says, “Let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” So when a man views pornography, he is using or taking that which is not his to take. In essence, he is “taking without right or permission.” That is the definition of stealing. He is taking that which belongs only to her husband. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
Outside the marriage relationship, a man is not permitted to view or touch a woman in this way. The Bible calls it sin. It is taking that which is not his. Inside the bonds of marriage, all the pleasures of the sexual relationship are the husband’s and wife’s to enjoy. Proverbs 5:18-19 says that a man is to be satisfied with his own wife, and that her breasts should satisfy him at all times. The Bible uses this type of language only with regard to the marriage relationship.
Pornography also steals time that ought to be used for other things. A man who uses pornography often neglects spending time with his family, because instead he is hiding, choosing to be away from his wife and children. Many porn addicts spend countless hours involved in this sin. Thirdly, pornography corrupts the heart. Matthew 12:35 says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” If a person is filling his heart with filth, filth is going to come out in his life. Fourthly, pornography is wrong because it contributes to many other sins. Some of the sins may be physical. It may lead to adultery. It will most certainly lead to lying and cover-ups.
Overcoming The Sin of Pornography
To overcome the sin of pornography, one must have a strong desire to stop looking. That is not easy. The power that pornography has over men is very strong. When adding in the addiction factor and the brain chemistry, we are dealing with something that is unbeatable unless the viewer has a very strong desire to stop. The desire ought to be there, because a person who indulges in pornography cannot go to heaven while continuing to engage in such a sinful activity.
To overcome the temptation of pornography one must also have a strong determination. This fight cannot be entered in a wishy-washy way. You cannot wean oneself of the desire; you simply have to stop! You have to make a covenant with yourself like Job did: “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?” (Job 31:1). Job made an agreement with his eyes not to look at a woman lustfully. Somebody asks, “How do you do that? Immodesty is everywhere!” In the book, Every Young Man’s Battle, the authors suggest the practice of “bouncing your eyes,” that is, as soon as you see something you shouldn’t, train yourself to bounce your eyes onto something else. The point is to avoid things that stimulate sinful desires in you.
One of the authors said sometimes when driving, a woman jogging alongside the road would start his mind in the wrong direction. For someone else, the temptation might come in a different scenario. Provocative is different for every person, but the remedy is the same. It starts with controlling one’s heart. It is important to know what is a stumbling block for oneself and not to let the mind linger upon it.
With regard to the Internet, icons popping up on the screen might entice you. It is important to make a covenant with yourself: “I will not visit those sites anymore.” That strong determination is absolutely, positively necessary in order to overcome the sin of pornography. Thirdly, to overcome pornography, it is important to pray and study. The Bible says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” There is power in the Lord, and we need to ask for it. Especially when faced with temptation, we need to stop and pray. Psalm 119:11 says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.”
Studying the Bible and hiding it deep in your heart will help you resist temptation. Another good weapon to help defeat the addiction of pornography is to have an accountability partner. Overcoming a porn addiction is very hard to go through alone. It is good to have someone you trust who will hold you accountable. He checks up on you and asks about your progress. Somebody might ask, “Where do you find the idea of an accountability partner in the Bible?” James 5:16 says, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
The burden is much lighter when a Christian brother can help you through it. There is even online accountability where a person can have his entire Internet surfing recorded and have the list of sites
automatically emailed to a friend of his choosing. One such service is called Covenant Eyes, located at covenanteyes.com.
Their software blocks objectionable sites and sends reports of Internet surfing to the person selected to receive the reports. That is exactly what we are talking about here. Another vitally important thing to do is eliminate the sources. First Corinthians 6:18 tells us to “flee sexual immorality.” Get away from it, or get it away from you! If having your computer in your basement is a stumbling block, move it into the kitchen where everyone can see you using it. Eliminate the temptation.
One man said he got hooked on pornography through his job. He monitored Internet traffic, and in seeing what others were looking at, he got pulled in himself. What do you do in a situation like that? Quit the job or ask for a transfer. It sounds radical, but isn’t that the point of Matthew 5:29, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell”?
At your home it may be that you need to buy some software which prevents you from accessing pornographic websites. Give the code to a friend, so only he can make changes. Finally, change your habits. For many people, viewing Internet pornography is a habit in which they have ensnared themselves. We humans are creatures of habit. Find something else to occupy your time. Rearrange your day, your schedule, or the people with whom you are spending time. Whatever is leading you down this path, change it!
Sexting is a word that comes from combining two other words, “sex” and “texting.” Sexting is one of the latest crazes. Most cell phones have the ability to take pictures and send them to other cell phones. It has become very popular for kids to take pictures of themselves unclothed and to text it to other kids, maybe to a boyfriend or girlfriend. That is a form of homemade pornography.
Parents monitor their children’s Internet usage. Some even put blocks, filters, and restrictions on the computer. But what about their phones? Some parents think, “I can’t check on things like that. That would be an invasion of their privacy. That’s his phone, his computer, his room.” The parent with that philosophy is making a huge mistake. God has entrusted the raising of children to parents, and as long as the child is a minor, he is the parents’ responsibility. Parents might think privacy is very important, but the child’s soul is far more important.
Pornography is a very real problem, with real addictions and disastrous consequences. Many young lives are ruined because of it. One man explained that during one year he spent over a thousand hours just viewing Internet pornography. When asked what happened to his family, he said, “I lost it.” He went
on to say that he lost his job as well. He lost everything because he kept giving in to temptation and sin. Can you imagine losing your family, your job, and finally your eternal soul to a devil’s hell, all for the temporary, sinful pleasure of pornography? It doesn’t have to be that way! Do as Job did; make a covenant
with your eyes and start today with a new life.
Have questions about GBN programming, church of Christ or your spirituality? Please contact the GBN team for a personal response!