Porn is everywhere. In fact, most days it feels like pornography is looking for me. From spam porn accounts favoriting posts on Twitter (which happens far more frequently than you’d think) to the thoughts in the back of my mind reminding me that I’m only a click away from my own fantasy world, I have to fight. And some days, I have to fight hard.
This has become somewhat of a daily experience for most men in our technology-driven era—and yes, I’m aware it (tragically) isn’t exclusively a male issue. But there’s an unhealthy tendency in the church to attack the fruit rather than the root. This leaves us in cycles of temptation and fall, sin and shame (and, of course, we choose to cover this shame by falling prey to porn again). To begin to tackle the problem of porn in the digital age, we need to accept one fundamental truth: porn is rooted in pride. In other words, people thirst for pornography because they thirst for their own glory.
We crave pornography because it takes us back to Eden.
Look at the story of Adam and Eve’s temptation:
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (Genesis 3:6-7).
Eden is where we sided with self over God. Much like Eve in the Garden, pornography is a delight to our eyes that can be declared, “Mine.” Giving in to temptation fuels our perceived godlikeness. When temptation’s flame is white hot, we feel in control. We see ourselves as the next of kin to those ancient, mythological deities who kept all the world’s pleasures at their fingertips—we see ourselves as false gods.
We like it, so we excuse it.
But the thrill is cheap if it’s not yet gone. The hidden danger of pornography is that, for a moment, it lets us forget our identities as creatures. From the Fruit of the Tree to our Apple iDevices, we seek to rule over the objects of our desire—to stick it to the man—and in doing so deliberately attempt to dethrone God as sovereign.
From Him and Through Him and To Him
In his epistle to the Romans, Paul writes, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever” (Romans 11:36). We attempt to rob God of His glory when we look to pornography for our fulfillment, satisfaction, or entertainment, and in doing so, we refuse to believe that all our pleasure can be wrapt up in Him. We don’t allow our satisfaction to flow from, through, and to Him, but rather from, through, and to our sins and selves.
The consequence of seeking satisfaction in ourselves instead of our Creator is that we become like what we worship, like the idolaters in Psalm 115. We lose our humanness as we lose our dependence on God; we forsake our own nature.
To recover our humanness, we’ve been given a simple starting point: be weak. Paul writes, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). There are no punches held back.
Killing our pride won’t be easy. It requires vulnerability. It requires I’m sorry’s and I shouldn’t have’s. It requires us to stop trying to find our own glory and seek God's instead. This also means that killing pride requires killing porn by any means necessary. But as we embrace our weakness, we will begin to embrace our humanness and find satisfaction in the God through whom and for whom and to whom all things exist instead of the sins that plague us, to His glory forevermore.
Cody Glen Barnhart
Cody Glen Barnhart (@codygbarnhart) lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and is a student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He currently serves as Content Manager at Am I Called and has written for sites such as Canon & Culture, For the Church, and Gospel Centered Discipleship.