Disclaimer: This episode of Lifespring! deals with the subject of internet pornography. If you deem this topic inappropriate, or if there are minors within the sound of my voice, you may want to listen at another time. If you are a minor, please ask your parents to listen to this episode before you do, so they can give their permission.
I love a good “whodunit.” You know, crime stories, murder mysteries. I grew up watching Perry Mason, Dragnet, Mannix, Starsky and Hutch, ad infinitum. These days, I’ve got my DVR set to record all the CSI’s. One phrase that I remember hearing on these crime shows is ,”The Perfect Murder.” You know, the murderer commits the crime in such a way that there is no way that he’ll ever be caught. No witnesses, no evidence, no consequences for the perpetrator. The perfect murder. Or so it seems.
Of course, in nearly every show where the perfect murder seems to have been committed, the story is about how the hero of the show digs and investigates and questions until the one flaw in the murderer’s plan is exposed and the “perfect” part of the “perfect murder” is shown to be…not so much. The murderer ends up paying the price.
The point is, he or she gets caught because somewhere along the line, evidence of some kind is exposed. A witness, trace evidence, phone records, something that the perp didn’t account for. If he knew that he would have to account for his crime, he would have probably not done the crime.
Today I want to talk to you about the perfect sin. This is the sin that has no witnesses, leaves no evidence. It’s done in secret, while no one is looking, and every trace of it can be deleted with the push of a button or the click of a mouse. I’m talking, of course, about internet pornography. You’re going to hear some statistics that may surprise you, a Biblical perspective on pornography and sex, guilt and forgiveness. And I want to tell you about a tool that I have found that can help control the problem. Full disclosure: Because I believe so strongly in the approach taken by this company, I have brought them on as a sponsor of Lifespring! Media. We’ll talk more at the end of the show about how this came about, but I want you to know at the outset that this relationship exists.
Anne Davis…“Temple of Contradictions”
The word pornography is made up of of two Greek words. The first is porne, meaning “one who sells, a fornicator, a whore,” The second word is graphein, meaning “to write.”1 In other words, pornography is literally “the writing of fornicators or whores.”
The Greek word porne is used several times in the Bible. In one of these instances, the apostle Paul writes: Do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot [porne] is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:15-20).
Matthew 5: 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.
Now please, don’t get sidetracked on that last part. Jesus was illustrating the seriousness of the sin by saying that you should tear out your eye or cut off your hand. Do not do that. The point is that pornography is considered by God to be a serious sin.
On today’s show we’ll look at some facts about internet porn, we’ll look a bit more at what the Bible says about it, and I’ll give you some advice on how to loose its hold on your life.
- Pornography in many forms is invading people’s homes and is available 24 hrs a day, seven days a week. The internet is a powerful tool, and like all powerful tools, it can be used for profound good or profound evil. In the distribution of pornography, the internet is a tool of profound evil, because pornography is physically more addicting than cocaine and ‘imprints’ the mind with images. Overcoming pornography addiction takes years, and may affect you and everyone around you, the rest of your life.
- The average age of first exposure to Internet porn is 8 (Family Safe Media, December 15, 2005.) Profoundly evil.
- Previously, if you wanted pornographic material you could buy a magazine, video, or visit some establishment. All of these put you at ‘risk’ of being found out. Now, with computers being used in private, unaccountable settings, people can find and view hardcore pornography right in their homes and offices. This can quickly escalate into an addiction with great harm brought to individuals, children, wives and families.
Facts and Stats
40 million U.S. adults regularly visit Internet pornography websites.
42.7% of world wide Internet users view porn
47% of Christians said pornography is a major problem in their homes
53% of Christian men viewed pornography in the last week
10% of adults admit to Internet sexual addiction
The Internet pornography industry generates $12 billion dollars in annual revenue. That’s more than the combined annual revenues of ABC, NBC, and CBS
25% of Daily total search engine requests are pornographic
Lest you think that this is only a male problem, listen to this:
28% of porn site visitors are female, or that translates to 9.4 million women access adult web sites each month.
70% of women keep their porn secret
17% of all women struggle with pornography addiction.
Women are much more likely to act out their behaviors in real life, such as having multiple partners, casual sex, or affairs.
Two-thirds of the divorce lawyers attending a 2002 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said excessive interest in online porn contributed to more than half of the divorces they handled that year. They also said pornography had an almost non-existent role in divorce just seven or eight years earlier.
Dr. C.J. Manning’s 2006 study on sexual compulsion showed that learning of a spouse’s porn use typically has the same impact on an innocent spouse as learning of an affair, and pornography is a significant factor leading to divorce.
Americans aged 13 to 18 spend more than 72 hours a week using electronic media, defined as the Internet, cell phones, television, music and video games
87% of all teens are online
Average age of first Internet exposure to pornography is reported to be as early as five years old
80% of 15-17 year olds have had multiple hard-core exposures
90% of 8-16 year olds have viewed porn online, most of them while doing their homework
The largest group of viewers of Internet porn is children between ages 12 and 17
Even pastors are not immune:
57% of pastors call pornography the most sexually damaging issue for their congregations
51% of pastors say porn is a temptation
69% of pastors started looking at porn out of curiosity
37% of pastors say porn is currently a struggle
53% of pastors have visited porn sites in the past year
18% percent of pastors look at porn a couple times a month
30% of pastors do not talk to anyone about their use of pornography
4 in 10 of pastors looked at porn today
Sources: Christianity Today, Promise Keepers, Barna Research Group, World Magazine, Internet Filter Review, USA Today, Cnet, internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com, Child-Proofing on the World Wide Web: A Survey of Adult Webservers, 2001, Jurimetrics. National Research Council Report, 2002, Family Safe Media, December 15, 2005
My friends, as you see, this problem really is the 300 pound gorilla. From the statistics, it can safely be surmised that every one of us knows someone who has a problem with porn, and many of you reading this right now are probably feeling like I’m talking specifically to you, because your life is out of control in this area, too.
As a matter of fact, here is part of an email that I recently got from a listener who would like to remain anonymous, so I’ll call him “Bob”, not his real name…
“I too was a victim of pornography before coming to know Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. In fact, it was a pretty significant part of my life up until the week of my salvation.
“When I was about 15 I was reading a computer magazine, and they had an article about various web sites of computer games companies. One of them had a name which had a second meaning, and led the article writer to jokingly say something like “be careful if you search for this one!”. My curiosity was aroused, and when I got home, I searched for the company, but really started looking for the second meaning, which was related to porn.
“I soon became hooked on the images I saw. In fact, at that time, we still had dial-up internet, so even though I was technically competent enough to wipe traces of my surfing from the computer, the amount of time I spent could easily be seen from our phone bill. I ended up lying about what I was doing to my parents, as well as seeing things that I really should not have, which I’m pretty sure has affected my view of the world – but thankfully I now have Jesus in my life to help turn things the right way around.
“For me, the most addictive activity wasn’t the pictures, but the stories. I guess it was something about my imagination, but with the stories I could see things that were not always in the pictures. Unfortunately certain stories are all too easy to think back to now.
“Given that I had a certain amount of Christianity in my background, I sometimes tried to read the Bible instead of going online and visiting the same sites, but that rarely “worked”, and I would find myself back at the screen.
“This carried on for three years till I was reading a book I had been lent by a member of the cell group I was attending at the time. The book was “Left Behind”, which is about those “left behind” after the rapture (isn’t it easy to get sucked into using Christianese and not even think of a simple way of explaining what certain words mean!). I’d gone to church when I was younger, and then again for a few months up to this point. I’d managed to come to the understanding that being a Christian just meant going to church/reading the Bible/praying etc, but hadn’t understood the core of Jesus’ forgiveness and Lordship in my life. When reading the book, I read of other characters who also thought they were Christians but had not returned with Jesus at the rapture. This was the wake up call I needed to help me see that I needed to repent and so I did just that. Having asked Jesus into my life and to help me with my addiction, I knew there had been a change, and I’d done what I needed to break porn’s (really Satan’s) control over my life.
“Since then, I can’t say I’ve never fallen back, but those incidents have been exceptions that I’m not happy about, rather than being a part of my everyday life.”
Here’s another comment from a Christian who struggles with this, we’ll call him Justin, again, not his real name:
“For years I have struggled with porn and lust. The feelings of utter failure, uselessness and self loathing would knock me down and make me useless as a Christian, and yet I thought I could beat it without really changing. First thing to do is “whatever He tells you”, and in this case He clearly tells us to “flee youthful lusts.” So don’t hesitate, negotiate, or procrastinate. Flee right now! Decide now to flee, flee, and again, flee.”
See, you are not alone. Those feelings of failure and defeat and self loathing after giving in to temptation are something that nearly every believer experiences. Some say that it’s the enemy, Satan, attacking you, trying to keep you down…”And you call yourself a Christian. Look at yourself. You’re a hypocrite and a failure. You think God loves you, after this? You think He’ll forgive you AGAIN? After asking Him so many times? Give it up.”
Let’s look now at what the Bible has to say about guilt, pornography, and forgiveness.
Sometimes it might be the enemy, but remember this: Satan can only be in one place at a time. He is not omnipresent. So how could he be personally attacking each and every Christian that falls? He doesn’t need to, we do it to ourselves just fine, thank you. It’s our own mind, in most cases. It’s called having a guilty conscience! And you know what? That’s a good thing! It is an indication that you have not been irreparably hardened to sin! Of course, don’t stay in those negative thoughts. Remember the scripture that says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) And think also of Matthew 18: 21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Of course when Jesus said up to seventy times seven he was making the point that we should forgive an unlimited amount of times. So, do you think God will be LESS forgiving than He asks us to be? Of course not.
“So then, it’s no big thing then! We can continue to sin and God will continue to forgive us! Awesome! Let’s party!”
Not so fast. The apostle Paul talked about this very concept in the New Testament book of Romans. And in chapter six, verse one he says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not!” No, that would not be pleasing to God, and if we are truly in a relationship with Jesus, we won’t desire that, and Jesus Himself says that “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. (John 14:23)
So at this point, just to be clear, let’s look at what God’s Word teaches about pornography. I know that many of you know that using pornography is wrong, but you may not have specific scriptures to back up your instinct. Let’s look at a few.
1 Corinthians 6: 18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
Matthew 5: 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Y ou shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.
Job 31:1 “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.
15 Do you know the saying, “Drink from your own rain barrel, draw water from your own spring-fed well”?
16 It’s true. Otherwise, you may one day come home and find your barrel empty and your well polluted.
17 Your spring water is for you and you only, not to be passed around among strangers.
18 Bless your fresh-flowing fountain! Enjoy the wife you married as a young man!
19 Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose– don’t ever quit taking delight in her body. Never take her love for granted!
20 Why would you trade enduring intimacies for cheap thrills with a whore? for dalliance with a promiscuous stranger?
21 Mark well that God doesn’t miss a move you make; he’s aware of every step you take.
22 The shadow of your sin will overtake you; you’ll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark.
23 Death is the reward of an undisciplined life; your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end.
There are many more examples, but you get the idea. Looking at a woman other than your wife, or ladies, looking at a man other than your husband, or looking at another of the same sex, and doing it with lust, is a perversion, or a distortion, of God’s plan for your sexuality. We won’t get into the homosexual question at all on today’s show. If you’re interested in that discussion, listen to Lifespring!, episodes 104 and 105.
God created us as sexual beings. He understands the power of the temptation, but he does expect us to flee temptation when it comes. Gen 39 Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife…Fleeing is not weakness! It is the suggested and accepted way to deal with temptation that could easily overwhelm us.
Would you purposely swim with a bunch of hungry man eating sharks, just to prove that you are strong? Of course not. You wouldn’t stand a chance. You would do everything you could to get out of the water, where you know they cannot go. That is the idea here when it comes to temptation. You have already shown that this shark can have you for lunch at any time. So why flirt with it? Why even dangle your toe in the water? Get out of there.
“Steve, I’ve tried that, but I still fall.”
Let me give you some ideas that can help you gain control.
First and foremost, unless you have a personal, vibrant and committed relationship with Jesus, I don’t think you have a chance. You must draw near to Him. You cannot do it on your own strength. So, if you are not sure of your relationship with Him, take time right now to pray and ask Jesus to forgive you, to tell Him that you want Him to cleanse you from your sins, and that you want a new life where He is the one in control. Ask Him to help you live as He would want you to. And then, every day, and every moment of every day, cultivate that relationship. Make it the reason for everything that you do. Stay in touch with Him through prayer, getting to know the Bible, because that is His message to mankind, and find some folks who can mentor you in the Christ following life.
Ok, so you say, “Steve, I have that covered. I truly believe that Jesus is who he says he is, I am a believer and a follower. But this porn thing just has me in its grip. What can I do? I’m addicted. I keep relapsing.”
Listen, God knows all about it, and He loves you anyway. The Bible says that “…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He knew from the very foundation of the world that you would fail, even after you asked Jesus to be your Savior. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more, and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you less.
Let’s take a moment to listen to one who has experienced the repeated failures of relapses in his own addictions.
Remember, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
So, what to do.
Remember that sin begins first in the mind…with your thoughts.
Did you know that it is said that there is no difference between when you imagine something or if it actually happens? They both have the same effect on your brain. Neurologically, they’re the same. That’s why athletes often visualize themselves in competition, doing the event perfectly, and winning. Over and over they practice in their mind.
James 1:14-15 – “Sin begins with the desire and then when it has conceived it brings forth sin and when that is finished it brings forth death.”
1 Peter 1:13 – “Prepare your mind for action, be self controlled.”
2 Corinthians 10:5 – “We take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”
Romans 13:14 – “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not think about how to gratify the desires of your sinful nature.”
Matthew 5:28 Jesus said – “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Phil 4:8 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious–the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
Knowing these things, considering what scripture has to say, we need to determine our course of action before we are in a crisis situation, before we are tempted. We need to decide beforehand that giving in is not an option. Much of the battle will be won if we refuse to engage in the temptation. Flee at that moment. Don’t think about it. It’s been decided.
You say, “Steve, I’ve done that, and I still fail.”
Ok, but I’m not finished yet.
This next step is probably the hardest. It’s going to take some humility on your part, some courage, and commitment. But do you really want to get the upper hand? Do you want to do what God’s word says? If so, then you have to tell someone that you have this problem. Someone who will hold you accountable. Not someone who will be easy on you, but someone who will ask the hard questions.
“Come on, Steve! I can’t do that. It’s too embarrassing. What will they think of me?” Well, if they love you, they’ll want to help you and they’ll think, “Wow, here’s a sinner just like me.”
James 5:16 says, Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed … (NIV). Look at that, it said, “so that you may be healed.”
You want freedom from this bondage? Confess to someone you trust, someone who will pray with you and for you, and who will hold you accountable, because this is going to be a process. It will take time to change your habits and behaviors. You can be accountable one on one, to a small prayer group, your spouse. Whoever it is, make sure it is someone who will truly not let you slide.
Next, take a look at when you are most vulnerable.
Is it late at night, when everyone else is in bed? Then determine that you’ll not be on the computer when they’re in bed.
Is it when you’re stressed? Then exercise more. Seriously. Exercise is a great stress reducer. Take a walk, ride a bike, do push ups, do something to get your body moving. It really does help.
Look at your behavior and figure out what the triggers are. Then alter your behavior when you see the trigger.
Next, be aware of the health of your relationship with Jesus
Are you spending time cultivating your closeness to Him? If we don’t spend time with those we love, we tend to grow apart. Jesus said in John chapter 15, 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
You can’t do this without staying close to Jesus.
Think of the consequences
The writer Randy Alcorn says, “Whenever I feel particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation, I find it helpful to review what effects my action could have:
· Grieving the Lord who redeemed me.
· Dragging His sacred name through the mud.
· One day having to look at Jesus, the righteous judge in the face, and give an account of my actions.
· Losing my wife’s respect and trust.
· Hurting my daughters.
· Destroying my example and credibility with my children.
· Causing shame to my family.
· Losing self-respect.
· Forming memories and flashbacks that could plague future intimacy with my wife.
· Undermining the faithful example and hard work of other Christians in our community.”
Be prepared. Gear up for battle.
In Matthew 26:41, Jesus says, Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak.
1 Peter 5:8 (Living Bible) – Be careful, watch out for the attacks from Satan your great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion looking for some victim to tear apart.
Understand that constant vigilance is the phrase of the day. You cannot let your guard down. You know how it is with internet porn. You’re searching for something innocent and BAM!, you’re confronted with porn. Constant vigilance.
What do you do when these temptations appear on your computer screen, completely by surprise? Sometimes you give in, sometimes you don’t. Right?
Well, what if you knew that your accountability partner would find out that you gave in? Would you be less liable to succumb? Probably.
Now this is where the commercial comes.
But understand, I chose this sponsor because I believe in them. Over a year ago, one of the Lifespring listeners emailed me, telling me of his addiction to internet porn. He asked me to be his accountability partner with Covenant Eyes software. And then several months later, a friend of mine confessed to me that he was having a problem with internet porn, too. I suggested Covenant Eyes to him because of the good results I had seen with my listener.
Let me explain what Covenant Eyes software is all about.
When you sign up with them, you download an application that will watch everywhere you go on the internet, and send a report to the servers at Covenant Eyes. This record is not stored on your computer. Of course, your browser still has your history, but we all know how easy it is to clear that. With Covenant Eyes, the history is kept on their computers and you can’t touch it.
By the way, this software does NOT slow down your browser. Page load times are the same as always. No worries there.
Next, your accountability partner is emailed a report of your browsing periodically. The frequency is adjustable by your partner. What’s on the report? This is the cool thing.
Because reports provide scoring, partners and users can easily identify questionable websites, searches, links, and more. The report shows trends for websites viewed and bar charts that show the times of day and night when the Internet is used.
o Internet protection for individuals, families, office staff, and schools.
o Easy 5 steps to sign-up and download the software.
o Inexpensive: $7.99/mo per user, $84.99/yr with multiple user discounts.
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o Download onto additional computers at no extra charge.
o Extremely difficult to bypass. Partners receive an email if software is uninstalled.
o Recommended by Focus on the Family.
There are other companies out there that offer some level of accountability, but I’ve done the comparison, and I believe that Covenant Eyes is the best and most reliable tool available. I’ve had well over a year’s experience with Covenant Eyes, and I really believe in it. I had a long conversation with one of the owners of the company, and I am convinced that he really has a ministry attitude when it comes to helping people. He is committed to providing a powerful tool for gaining control of your web surfing habits.
He told me of some new products that they are working on that I can’t really talk about, but believe me when I tell you, they are on the cutting edge. They know what the trends are in internet use, and they are committed to staying ahead of the curve.
Now listen, if you are serious about taming the internet porn problem in your life, or if you have kids in your home, you really do need Covenant Eyes in your arsenal. It’s only $7.99 a month, or $84.99 a year, which is a savings of more than ten dollars. And if you use the promo code “Lifespring” when you sign up, you’ll get one month free. There is no risk. Sign up using the promo code Lifespring, and you can see how it works. If it’s not for you, just cancel and you’ll have no further obligation. But I don’t think you’ll want to cancel because it works.
Remember, if you have kids in the house, they are at greater risk than you probably are. And don’t you want to help them before they get into trouble?
I believe in Covenant Eyes, and I think you should, too. Click here to sign up using the Lifespring promo code.
The Bottom Line
As I said at the beginning of this conversation, ultimately it will have to be Christ in you who changes your desires from the inside out, but we should use every tool we can to change our behaviors.
We have looked at the problem of internet pornography, we’ve heard some facts about its pervasiveness, we’ve heard what the Bible says about it, and we’ve learned some ideas on how to get control.
Would you write to me if this has been an issue with you? I would love to hear from you, and I would love to pray with you. My email address is steve (dottttt) lifespring (attttttt) gmail (dotttttt) com. Better yet, call me toll free at (877)433-9091. Leave a message.
For some helpful books, be sure to visit our Resource Center.
A Final Prayer
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; ; according to your great compassion ; blot out my transgressions. ;
2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. ;
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. ;
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak ; and justified when you judge. ;
5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. ;
6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. ;
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. ;
9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. ;
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. ;
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. ;
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. ;
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. ;
14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, ; and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. ;
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. ;
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, ; O God, you will not despise. ;
18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem. ;
19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; ; then bulls will be offered on your altar.