Devotional Intimacy Loneliness Pornography Uncategorized

“4 Reasons You Should Keep Looking at Porn”

The piece wasn’t meant to be a funny satire, but I realized that there is a real weight to the sexual brokenness of our world that should not be trivilaized.

 

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Last night I tried to write a sardonic satire piece on pornography entitled “4 Reasons You Should Keep Looking At Porn.” I got through the first three—Avoid the unnecessary pain! You’ll never get rejected! Provide jobs for struggling actors!—but then I got to the last one, Provide jobs for people worldwide, and I simply could not keep the satirical tone.

The piece wasn’t meant to be a funny satire, but simply a “Hey, these are true facts about pornography that I want to write in a different way” type piece, but I realized that there is a real weight to the sexual brokenness of our world that should not be trivilaized.

As hard as I tried, I could not come up with a satirical way to present (even in a somber tone) a child being taken from her family and forced to commit sexual acts with strangers, all before the age of a Kindergartener. Or women who, when the PornHub camera stops rolling, burst into tears because any real sense of personhood they tried to hold onto has evaporated.

When I was in junior high, I got caught by my parents looking at porn on our family computer. They sent me to chat with my youth pastor, who explained that although I messed up, there is grace and forgiveness for me, and that everyone struggles with it.

Over the next couple years in youth group, I would find porn to be the subject of many of our jokes. We would break up into our high school boy’s group and spend half the time making jokes about masturbation and porn. I don’t think this was my youth pastor’s fault, as I grew up in the era when pornography was exploding onto the digital scene and leaders in the church hardly knew how to react. Certainly, making light of the subject is easier than delving into the darkness we were dealing with.

So that is what I knew. Growing up, it became normal to joke about porn and masturbation, and I carried the tradition long into my college years, and even recently, I find myself making jokes I immediately regret.

Because there are things we don’t joke about.

I think this may have been what Paul was referring to when he wrote that there should be no “foolish talk or coarse joking” (Ephesians 5) among the people of God.

Because I think God calls us to be better than that.

Look at Jesus as He talks to the woman at the well in John 4. He could have easily cracked a few one-liners about her being married five times (Hey, you know what they say! Sixth time’s the charm!), but He doesn’t. He addresses the deeper issues within her soul that she was neglecting to address, and got to work healing her.

I think when we encounter Jesus, we have to make a decision. Are we going to keep making light of things that hurt us, and our world, or are we going to speak of them seriously and address them in a life-giving, healing way? Are we willing to press a little where it aches, or just keep inhaling the nitrous oxide and forgetting the injury is there?

So I guess, in place of my satirical piece, here are the same three facts (I combined the last two) about pornography, presented with the gravity they warrant.

Quitting Porn Hurts

Most of us came to pornography out of innocent curiosity, sensual desire, or accidental exposure. But all of us stay with pornography because it takes away the pain. Pain from broken relationships, abandonment, rejection, and a whole novella of other sources. It keeps us in its grip because the numbing agents get straight to work, helping us to escape the harsh reality of life. Maybe your marriage is a let-down and you want a quick upgrade. Maybe you’re tired of being overweight and never being asked out. There is no itch pornography cannot scratch.

But for some reason, I expected my life to be easier and more pain-free when I quit. I quickly found that’s not the way it works. If you struggle with porn and masturbation, don’t quit trying to quit because the familiar pain from your life returns.

And it will return.

Expecting pain to evaporate when you remove porn from your life is akin to expecting the agony of an amputated leg to magically disappear once the morphine wears off. That’s just not how it works. Invite Jesus into your life, and even into your past to walk through these painful places with you. Embrace the pain. Embrace revisiting painful moments in your life in order to properly heal from them.

Scars make us stronger, laughing gas does not.

You won’t be rejected

One of the appeals of pornography is that it never says no. It never rolls over in bed, or walks away form you at the bar. The women and men on the screen are always smiling, happy to see you, and eager to do exactly what you want.

John Eldrege writes, “The dangerous thing about porn is it allows a man to feel like a man without requiring anything from him.” In other words, there is no risk of rejection with pornography.

And I think this has raised up a generation of milquetoasts, myself included. I see a lot of men and women who lack confidence in themselves because they have become accustomed to this risk-free outlet. Why talk to a real girl when I have my laptop at home?

People often ask me why I’m single, and if I’m honest, I think porn has a lot to do with it. I have avoided the risk of asking a girl out because the safety of my web browser beckoned louder. There are times when a situation calls for us to be bold, but we choose the route of passivity because porn has conditioned us that way. It conditions us to avoid risks.

You are perpetuating the sex trade industry

How could I possibly be helping the sex trade industry? I’ve never even paid for porn!

These same sentiments echoed through me for years until I began to understand the way the internet works. Traffic is what drives a website to success, because the more clicks it gets, the more people want to advertise on it. And the more advertising there is, the more money the website is getting.

So like it or not, by visiting pornographic websites, you have funded the sex industry.

Sadly, this does not just include actors, directors, ‘writers’, and cameramen. It also includes the people who are victim to human sex trafficking. If pornography creates the desire, the sex slave industry is the ultimate outlet for those urges to pragmatically use people purely for their bodies.

Children as young as 5 and older are forced into the sex industry by the millions every year. Some counts position the current sex slave population—these are people who are forced into being sex slaves; they did not choose it, are not being paid for it, and they have severe emotional, mental, and physical problems as a result—at around 28 million.

28 million human beings.

It breaks me down to know that I have unwittingly contributed to this number with my porn addiction.


Somehow, in all of this, Jesus still wants me. He still wants you. He still walks over to us and says, “They do not condemn you? Then I don’t either.” He still draws near to us, no matter how fast we try to run from Him. He still washes us and makes us clean.

In light of this heavier post, I want to close with a piece from the great Puritan prayer, The Valley of Vision:

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

e

6 comments on ““4 Reasons You Should Keep Looking at Porn”

  1. Wow, just wow.

    Thank you.

  2. Chuck Lees

    Ethan,
    You are always good, but this is without doubt THE BEST you’ve ever done.
    Thanks for the brutal honesty and the absolute authenticity.
    You are blessing me – wholly.

  3. Ugh, this is so good. So sobering. But so good. I’ve been there too many times: avoiding actual relationships because a glowing screen is just so much easier. Constantly inspired by your braveness, Ethan. Helps me face my own addictions.

  4. Great way to stand in the gap for your brothers in Christ. I believe that the way to overcome the struggle of pornography is for men to become more aware of the harm they cause by watching it. Indeed, I would suggest to any man to not merely pray for themselves to be cured of pornography addiction but instead to begin to prayerfully intercede for those who are harmed by the industry, the sex slaves, the children, the broken homes, etc. It is when we lovingly become mindful of others that we indeed overcome the sins that hold us back in life. God can then truly write His love upon our hearts. I stand with all my brothers in Christ who face this battle.

  5. Wow, great reasoning. And that’s what we need, someone to turn the light bulb on over our heads and helps us understand why we are they way we are. We have expectations, Jesus makes alterations, that’s when we have a revelation, and this all leads to our transformation. Thanks.

  6. Wow!
    This is really honest. It reminds me that we as Christians are there to help each other.
    Thank you for sharing.

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