Pornography Use: Sin or Disease? Sin or Addiction?
The distinction regarding pornography use – is it a sin or an addiction? …and if it is an addiction, is it a disease like appendicitis that we have no control over? – has been argued about for some time. The same arguement exists regarding alcohol use.
Pastor James Berger in John Cook’s book, Conquerors Through Christ, answered the question regarding sin or disease regarding alcohol abuse/addiction by saying that alcohol abuse/addiction is both sin and disease. One does not become diseased with alcohol addiction without the sin of abusing alcohol in some way. He called the person addicted to alcohol a person caught in a sin. “Caught in a sin” is his key phrase.
An alcoholic does not become addicted to alcohol without bending the elbow to get the drink to his or her mouth. One does not become addicted to pornography without using it. If you search the Bible carefully you will note that drunkenness is the sin, not the glass of wine that we drink or the beer that we sip. Lust is the sin, not the nude picture or the act of intercourse between husband and wife. God gave us sex as a blessing. God gave us alcohol as a blessing. It is when we abuse either that we sin.
We abuse God’s blessing of sex upon a man and a woman in marriage with lustful desires for anyone not our spouse. We abuse God’s gift of sex with adultery and fornication. Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Addiction is the continual and habitual use of something that is sinful or the abuse of something that is given by God as a blessing in such a way that it becomes a powerful, controlling force in our lives. An addiction is something physiological in the brain that compels us to keep on doing that which we, as Christians, know is displeasing to God. When that happens the addiction rules our lives, not our God. We are caught in the sin of abusing the thing to which we are addicted.
According to some scientific studies, the brain activity and pleasure intensity is the same for both:
- The person sinning in lust as he or she views porn
- The person addicted to the pleasure provided by crack cocaine
It does not take long for the brain to crave the pleasure of crack cocaine or the pleasure of lust and porn use. When the brain begins to demand that it be pleasured, the pathways of the brain change. When this change happens, the addiction happens. The lust and the abuse come first. The sin is there with the lust and the abuse. The word, “addiction,” describes being “caught in the sin.” It is not only a sinful feeling and a spiritually sinful abuse of a blessing from God, it has also become a physical corruption in the brain.
An addicted person will always be an addict for his or her whole life. But when the addict stops the sin – the abuse and misuse of sex with lust or porn – then our God of love has blessed him or her again. No person caught in a sin gets set free without Christ. Jesus Christ is the power that is greater than any chains of sin or addiction. Repentance is being sorry for sin, trusting in God’s forgiveness, and turning away from that sin. There are fruits to repentance. The cravings and the desire may still be there for the addicted person. But the continued misuse of God’s blessings is no longer there. Sinful lust no longer controls the person, but is banished when it enters the mind. By God’s grace in Christ there is forgiveness. A sanctified Christian life in recovery is being lived with the help of God.
In God there is victory! In our Triune God we are more than conquerors.
I‘m not addicted to porn, I just look at it on occasion when I’m bored or stressed. Should I be worried?
YES – Absolutely. Thank God if you are not addicted…but get help NOW before you are. Many do not even realize they have passed the point of addiciton. The scary thing about porn is that it attacks your brain and changes the way you think and act. The “thrill” you get from watching porn becomes ingrained in the brain and makes you always want more. Counselors tell us that because of the easy availability and frequency of use, this is one of the hardest addictions to break. Like other highly addicitive substances, porn viewing has other highly damaging consequences, such as:
- You eventually need more and stronger “porn drugs”. Your craving most often will lead to desiring more extreme or deviant kinds of pornography.
- Men who watch porn (even though they may are not be “addicted”) can even have erectile dysfunction problems because of the effects of porn on their brain. This can cause problems in marriages—both current and future.
Please talk to your pastor or a good Christian counselor about getting help before you do become addicted.
Ok - so maybe I am addicted. Now what do I do?
- Pray. Tell God about what you have been doing. It shouldn’t be all that hard, after all, He already knows. He’s just waiting for you to come to him so he can tell you that he he loves you and has forgiven you.
- Watch our videos and explore the web site— they summarize the steps to follow to get porn out of your life.
- Take the hardest step—tell someone—your pastor, a trusted friend, your spouse, or a Christian counselor. This is an sin we can almost guarantee you will not be able to “fix” on your own. You will need help. But the good news is there IS help available. But you must seek it out. Satan will seek to keep you isolated and weak. Don’t let him.
- Seek ongoing support in the form of counseling and accountability. This is a battle and Satan will not let his grip on you go without a treamendous struggle.
- Thank God for the victories and cry for mercy for any failures along the way.
What do I do if I’m single and have no godly option for my sexual urges?
You may be surprised to know that sex within marriage doesn’t cure pornography addiction. Those who entered marriage with a porn problem soon find that they still have a porn problem! Therefore, don’t allow the Devil to deceive into thinking this will fix itself if you get married. The time to act is now both for your own sake and the sake of your future spouse, if you do get married in the future. Finally, remember that the God who created you as a sexual being is able to sustain and strengthen you for purity, even if that means a life of celibacy like the Apostle Paul or Jesus himself.
I have a friend who I think might be looking at porn - what should I do (or not do)?
Talk to your friend about it. Tell the person why you suspect he or she might be viewing porn and make it clear you are concerned and want to help. Tell the person that he or she is forgiven through Christ. Recommend this website. Offer to be an accountability partner. Offer to help the person find the right people that can help him or her (pastors, Christian counselors, etc). Pray for your friend often.
Do not minimize or rationalize the sin. (If the person is in denial, help him or her understand how serious the sin is.) On the other hand, do not condemn the person. Do not act as if the sin is unforgiveable or worse than all other sins that God detests (pride, selfishness, etc.).
I just found out my husband has been looking at porn - I am so shocked and so hurt. Is this my fault?
First of all, we are so sorry for your pain. And no, this is not your fault. What your husband has been doing is wrong, but you did not cause him to sin. We are all responsible for our own actions.
Because of the deep emotional wound this sin causes, you will likely need spiritual and professional help (pastor, Christian counselor) overcoming your hurt. Similarly, your husband will need help overcoming his sin. If your husband is willing to get the help he needs, praise God. Encourage him to follow through. Though it may seem impossible at the moment, at some point, we pray by God’s grace you can forgive your husband and be part of the help he needs. Your support and loving accountability can play key roles is his eventual victory over this sin.
If your husband out of fear or denial is not ready to get help, pray for him. Show him this web site. Seek help for yourself and request the prayers of your pastor or Christian counselor for him.
You often recommend counseling, but isn’t counseling expensive?
While professional counseling is rarely on the “value menu”, consider this—The progression of your porn problem will cost you immensely more than any counselor will charge. If you lose your marriage, your job, your reputation, or your faith, you will lose something much more valuable than a few hundred dollars. Think of it in reverse—If you could pay a few hundred dollars and relive the last few years of your life without the wreckage of porn, would you? Of course! So, don’t let a week’s paycheck get in the way of your path to years of future victory over this sin.
Why do you recommend a Christian counselor? Won’t just any counselor work?
Not necessarily. While there are many available qualified counselors, not all of them specialize in sexual sins. To be honest – many secular counselors may not even see porn viewing, adultery, or living together outside of marriage as wrong. In addition, some Christian counselors underemphasize the motivational role provided by the gospel good news which is vital for this struggle. On our web site we provide a list of counselors who specialize in the area of sexual sins and understand the powerful motivation provided by Jesus (For Christ’s love compels us… 2 Cor 5:14).
I’m a pastor so am very familiar with helping people who sin, but not very familiar with porn addiction. How can I best help someone who comes to me with this problem?
You know what you need to know to offer the person forgiveness. Do that as you would for any sin. But because of the nature of this addiction, it is highly recommended that you refer him or her to a good Christian counselor who specializes in porn addiction. This will offer the person the best chance for recovery from the addiction. But you will likely still need to be the primary individual there to help your member with day-to-day spiritual doubts and struggles.
What’s up with your logo?
We’ve had many people inquire about our logo. It’s rich in symbolism and we’d like people to understand the message we’re trying to convey. Here’s what the various elements are intended to communicate:
- The cross is featured prominently to signify the essential nature of Christ’s sacrificial death in our place, which not only washes us spotless in the sight of God (Isaiah 1:18), but gives us the motivation and power to fight against this sin with all our might (2 Corinthians 5:14,15).
- Using the aforementioned cross as the “T”, the blue and orange “Cs” form our acronym CTC.
- The bottom of the cross forms a point depicting the blade of a sword. This represents the Word of God, which we take up daily to fight against Satan, the world, and our own sinful flesh (Ephesians 6:17)
- That sword pierces through three “Xs”…xxx…need we say more?