Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What's Wrong with Pornography?

Should Christians view pornography? Are Christians allowed to masturbate? These are a couple of questions that are not specifically addressed in Scripture. The writers of the Bible didn't have nudie magazines or porn videos or adult only websites. And nowhere does the Bible mention masturbation.

So let's take a balanced look at these questions and see if we can make any determinations on the subject.

Is There Anything Wrong with Pornography?

That's a good question. How about:

  • Bad Acting
  • Cheesy Music
  • Unrealistic Scenarios

Okay, not to minimize the above artistic criticisms, but there are some more serious moral issues with pornography. 

Is There Anything Good about Pornography?
There are some positives associated with pornography:

1. It's good for the economy. Pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry, employing millions of people worldwide, including actors, actresses, directors, photographers, videographers, website designers, printers, marketers, and merchants.

2. It provides sexual stimulation for couples. One spouse or both, who may be bored in their sexual relationship, can view pornography to put themselves in the mood for sex and then direct that attention to their wife or husband.

3. It provides sexual variety. Many people who become bored in their sexual relationship with their spouse may be tempted to leave the marriage or have an affair in order to find sexual fulfillment. Viewing pornography may help salvage the marriage by giving the bored partner an outlet for experiencing sexual variety vicariously.

4. It relieves sexual frustration. If one spouse is disinclined toward sex, the interested partner can use pornography as a means of fulfilling their desire without their husband or wife.

What's Wrong with Pornography?
Despite some of the benefits that pornography provides, there are quite a few negatives:

1. It's a money suck. When a person is looking for sexual variety, one magazine or one video is not going to satisfy them for long. There will come a desire to buy more and more pornography in order to see new models or view different sexual encounters.

2. It's a time suck. Even if a person is not buying pornography, they will find themselves spending more time than they intended perusing websites or browsing free products in the desire to experience the next thing that will turn them on.

3. Pornography is legalized prostitution. Two or more consenting adults have sex for money - either in the form of upfront payment or in the hopes of earning royalties from their performance. If you wouldn't support street or brothel prostitution, you probably shouldn't support entertainment prostitution.

4. Pornography generally plays on forbidden themes. Rather than portraying a husband and wife engaging in loving sex, it shows a man watching his wife have sex with someone else, or a step-mother having sex with her step-son, or a woman having sex with an animal, or a gay couple, or whatever else you can think of - all of which are explicitly forbidden in Scripture (see Leviticus 18).

5. It encourages masturbation. The problem with masturbation is that it diverts your attention away from your spouse. It is a quick fix for your sexual desire, but it is a selfish fix. It does nothing toward fulfilling the desires of another person.

6. It teaches you to view others as sexual objects. Rather than respecting people as individuals, they become a means to fulfilling your sexual wants. In your perspective, that attractive man or woman is not primarily a child of God or a brother or sister in Christ; they are someone to potentially have sex with.

For the Married
Unfortunately, the positives associated with pornography and masturbation are short-term and, on the whole, selfish. While not strictly forbidden in Scripture, masturbation allows you to find sexual fulfillment without involving your rightful partner. As the Apostle Paul wrote, "I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others" (1st Corinthians 10:24).

Pornography and masturbation does not meet the criteria of seeking the good of others. 

But what if my spouse isn't interested in sex? Or what if I don't find my spouse sexually attractive anymore? 

Put the time in to working on a solution. If your sexual relationship is failing, there are other aspects of your marriage that need to be addressed. It is very possible that treating your spouse better will make them want to have sex more, and when you treat them better in other areas of your relationship, you will find that they become more desirable to you as well.

What If I'm Not Married?
Even if you're not married, there are numerous reasons to shun pornography and masturbation:

1. You can avoid training yourself to be a selfish sexual partner by not engaging in lone sexual stimulation. 

2. Ask yourself what God would rather have you spend your time and money on. 

3. Keep your mind pure by avoiding being turned on by themes that God has forbidden. 

What to Do if You have a Problem with Pornography or Masturbation
It's difficult for us to see pornography and masturbation as being major spiritual issues, but Jesus said that even looking at another person lustfully is as bad as committing adultery with them (Matthew 5:28). So, even though viewing pornography and engaging in masturbation are not specifically mentioned in Scripture, you can't do either without looking at or thinking about someone else in a lustful manner, which makes both forbidden to the Christian lifestyle.

What can you do to break these habits if you've already formed them?

1. When you're tempted, find something else to do. Remove yourself from the opportunity. Go do something else where you can't give in to temptation. Go where you'll have to be around other people. 

2. Find an accountability partner. This can be a friend, your spouse (not a girlfriend or boyfriend), a pastor or priest, a counselor, etc. This is someone that you've specifically asked to question you about these areas. Knowing that you will have to answer them honestly will deter you from the negative activity. 

3. Pray. Ask God to cleanse your mind and give you the self-control to live up to the life He has called you to.

Like any habit, an addiction to pornography or masturbation can be difficult to break, but "God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. And when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it" (1st Corinthians 10:13).

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