One of the greatest scandals of human existence is pornography. Many people believe that pornography was invented in modern times, but in all reality, pornography began in ages past and has only snowballed its way into magazines, movies, and smart phones in these last days. Pornography is one of the most addictive sins of the flesh—and it’s one that greatly insults God. Where does the word “pornography” originate and what does it mean?
In the Bible, we find the word πορνεία (porneia) which means “sexual immorality.” We find this particular word in verses such as 1 Corinthians 6:18. In ancient times, the Greeks viewed sex as a natural desire that was on the level of the hunger for food or water. They openly engaged in temple prostitution in cities such as Ephesus with the Temple of Diana as well as other cities. Ancient Athens and Corinth were both vile cities that were filled with sexual immorality. The particular word originated from “porne” which means a harlot for hire. The masculine form of the word—pornos—refers to a male prostitute.
Over time the word porneia took on a variety of meanings—which included almost anything other than the true definition of adultery. Such sins as sex outside of marriage, adultery (sex between a married person and an unmarried person), incest, lesbianism, homosexuality, and beastiality. As time progressed, the English term pornography emerged from this root word and today that particular English word is in reference to any image or movie of unclothed people used for the purpose of exciting and satisfying lustful thoughts.
How does pornography insult and offend God?
Pornography Makes a Mockery of Human Sexuality
It is no secret that pornography is a violent industry that fuels violent behavior toward women. Rather than being treated with love, gentleness, respect, and cared for within marriage—lust-fueled sexual sin disrespects women and misdirects the purpose of human sexuality as God intended for his creation in the beginning. According to statistics, “88% of scenes in porn films contain acts of physical aggression, and 49% of scenes contain verbal aggression.” We live in a sexually confused culture. Pixels that form an image of another human being for the purpose of satisfying lustful thoughts abuses the purpose of human sexuality and the act of sex itself.
In the earlier days of the pornographic industry, Hugh Hefner served as the expert who helped shape the industry as a whole. According to Hugh Hefner:
Sex is a function of the body, a drive which man shares with animals like eating, drinking, and sleeping. It is a physical demand that must be satisfied. If you don’t satisfy it you will have all sorts of neuroses and repression psychoses. Sex is here to stay. Let’s forget the prudery that makes us hide from it. Throw away those inhibitions, find a girl who is like-minded, and let yourself go.
The idea that you just let yourself go and pursue the crude desires of your depraved mind and body is insane. God designed human sexuality to be part of the marriage relationship instituted in the beginning and it was seen as good in the eyes of God. Sin temps people to lust after the flesh (1 John 2:16). It wasn’t until after the first sin that we see Adam and Eve in clothing. Sin changes everything and it certainly has affected human sexuality.
Today, we have every stage of pornography available—including the “soft porn” that has become mainstream entertainment in books and movies such as 50 Shades of Grey which are targeting women. Since Internet porn alone is a $3 Billion per year business—we should expect books and films to use porn to attract new customers. God designed sexual intimacy—and God demands that we move away from sexual immorality (1 Thess. 4:3-4).
Pornography Makes a Mockery of Marriage
The God who has revealed Himself in the pages of the Bible is responsible for creating everything in the vast expanse of this universe. This includes everything from the red hypergiant star named VY Canis Majoris (VY CMa) located in the constellation Canis Major, to the smallest molecule floating around on the surface of planet earth.
This same sovereign God also created marriage. The first Father to give away His daughter to her husband took place in a lost paradise known as the Garden of Eden. It was there that God united Adam and Eve and blessed their relationship. God gave them the command to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). Everything about God’s creation, including marriage, was good.
Sin has defaced marriage as God originally designed it. Today, what is often called marriage is nothing more than a commitment to live in sexual sin with the permission of the government. In Hebrews 13:4, we find these important words, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” Pornography dishonors marriage and cheapens intimacy. Pornography often turns the intimate marriage relationship into an stage to act out lustful thoughts and passions. This is not what God intended for marriage and it dishonors the Creator.
First of all, when a person brings their pornified thoughts into the marriage bed, it bypasses marital love and this does violence to women in the process. God has commanded men to love their wives as Christ loved the church—which is an unconditional and sacrificial love (Eph. 5:25). The pornification of the marriage bed cheapens marital intimacy and is extremely selfish—not sacrificial. Such thoughts need to be barred from your mind and banned from the marriage bed completely.
Pornography makes a mockery of marriage and dishonors God by defiling intimacy and the marriage bed. In Matthew 5:28, Jesus said these words, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” It’s possible to commit adultery while engaging in intimacy with your wife if you pornify your marriage relationship with the lustful thoughts of pornography.
In a world that champions women’s rights—you would expect the pornography industry to be very unsuccessful. While the disrespect of women is a shameful practice—the disrespect of God is far worse. Don’t be trapped into believing that pornography is not damaging to both men and women. The industry as a whole takes what God intended for good and purposes it for evil.
I grew up in a home where the Internet was not present until I was in college. Even then, I accessed it on occasion and through the infamous dial-up speed from a rather large desktop Hewlett Packard. The constant high speed connection that we expect in the home today wasn’t an option when I was a boy (I sound like my parents talking about walking uphill to and from school). In many ways, I’m thankful for that. As a pastor, I’ve had to counsel many people who have experienced the horrible effects of pornography and sexting through the use of the Internet. In our post-sexual culture that’s saturated with sexual immorality, the Internet is like a super highway to sin.
Pornography: The Old Sin
Pornography is not a new sin. It has been around for a long time. The word pornography comes from two Greek words πορνεία (sexual immorality, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.) and γράφω (to write, with reference to the form of the letters, to draw up in writing, compose). Discoveries of rock art and chiseled imagery have been unearthed for years depicting erotic scenes of what we would today classify as pornography. Although the industry has a dark history where it was outlawed and looked down upon, today it’s a welcomed and celebrated expressive (and let’s not forget profitable) industry.
The numbers related to pornography are staggering. Consider the fact that the industry earns over $13 billion dollars each year in America alone.  When the Internet boom happened, the pornography industry placed a saddle on the Internet and has been increasing in profitability each year. What was once a black covered magazine on the locked adult rack in the local service station has turned into an easy access Internet based push button industry. It has never been easier to access and hide pornography use than it is in our present culture. 68% of young adult men and 18% of women use porn at least once every week. 
With this easy access, the users have increased dramatically and the ages have decreased. 51% of male and 32% of female students first viewed porn before their teenage years (12 and younger).  The startling reality is that many teenagers see pornography for the first time at an extremely young age by accident. The trap was set for them and then they find themselves going back out of curiosity and eventually they find themselves hooked. This practice of ongoing porn use leads to a variety of other problems that are merely a natural result of pornography.
Pornography: The Related Issues
Violence Against Women: When investigators work on domestic violence cases and even murder cases, they often find an interesting similarity that links these cases together – pornography. While these studies are controversial and often lack sufficient evidence, the facts remain – a large percentage of men who abuse women, rape, and murder are frequent users of pornography. The use of pornography turns women into cheap objects to be used for pornographic fantasies and it cheapens the God ordained purpose of sex. This often leads to violence and abuse on women. 
Abuse of Sex: God ordained marriage between one man and one woman from the very beginning of His creation (Genesis 2:18-25). God blessed the marriage bed and desires it to be undefiled (Hebrews 13:4). However, the pornography industry redirects the use of sex and abuses the God ordained purpose. Pornography celebrates and furthers the cause of orgies, adultery, lust, and homosexuality. Everything that God designed sex to be, the pornography industry alters, changes, and avoids God’s original design. In fact, the pornography industry cheapens sex and turns it into a consumer product rather than a God ordained gift.
Pollution of the Mind: As Christians, we’re to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). Unfortunately, pictures and images that we place in our mind today will stick around for a very long time. In fact, it’s likely that the human mind (like a super computer) stores these images for the duration of our lives and they can be called upon and accessed by another image or event that triggers that image from our memory bank. Part of loving God with our mind is to preserve it and love our spouse with a healthy mind devoted to her in love and sexual intimacy. The practice of pornography makes this impossible. What’s terrifying is that a previous porn addiction can make the pursuit of holiness extremely difficult even if the you have had victory over the addiction for years. We must learn to be good stewards of our mind and think on things that are pure (Philippians 4:8-9).
Insufficient Fulfillment: Technology (print or web) can never replace the God ordained one flesh union that sex fulfills between a husband and a wife (Genesis 2:21-23). Just like FaceTime or Skype conversations with my family is not enough, I long for their embrace upon my return from a ministry related trip, pornographic images cannot substitute the God ordained desire of a man and woman to be joined together in a covenantal union as we see from the beginning with the progenitors of the human race – Adam and Eve.
In the end, we must view human sexuality through the lens of the God ordained purpose that He instituted from the beginning. To alter God’s design in any way is to pervert the blessings of God. Pornography is a trap and one that we must avoid in order to honor God, protect our marriage (present or future), preserve our mind, and respect the opposite sex. Pornography may be legal, but it’s a violent crime against God and your own body. Don’t forget that you’re the target of sexual traps in our culture. Read Proverbs 7 and consider the traps of adultery and how similar they are to the traps of pornography (a lustful form of adultery).
If you’re a man trapped by the lies of the pornographic industry and you need help, I would encourage you to read Tim Challies’ book – Sexual Detox and Finally Free by Heath Lambert. Additionally, you can find resources online at Focus on the Family, Desiring God, and Grace to You. Additionally, Joe Carter’s article at TGC, “9 Things You Should Know About Pornography And The Brain” is a worthy read. If you’re a Christian, I recommend these resources, but I also urge you to seek counsel among your pastors within your church. These men are given to you as a gift from God and they watch for your soul. Allow them into your life. This is God’s intended means of help for your soul.
1. Covenant Eyes
4. National Online Center on Violence Against Women
Who is most righteous – the person who commits adultery on his wife or the man who looks at pornography? I’m not self deceived into believing that my writing ability or this article itself requires the attention of every man. However, I do believe what I say in this article should be considered by every man within the church.
We often clothe ourselves in a false world of religion that condemns specific sins while condoning our own sins. That is better known as Phariseeism. We often call it hypocrisy! The fact is, many well meaning evangelical Christians sit in church each week with a condescending attitude toward the person who commits adultery while they are guilty of unbridled lust. So, the question remains – who is most righteous, the lustful person or the adulterer? Rather than guessing, we should allow Jesus to answer the question for us.
Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV) – You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
The problem that was facing the people of Jesus’ day was that they were hearing preaching and teaching from the rabbis that didn’t fully expound the Law of God. Therefore, their day was not much different than our present day. They were hearing the Word of God twisted to fit the system of the Jewish leaders of the day rather than submitting to the entire Law of God that goes beyond the external letter to the internal heart.
The Jews in Jesus’ day had heard that adultery was wrong. They had heard right. However, as Jesus points out, God was not merely interested in the physical act of the flesh. He was also interested in the inner heart of the individual. That being said, Jesus pointed out that any man that had looked at a woman with lustful intent had actually committed adultery with her in his heart. What a serious thing for Jesus to say! Therefore, Jesus put the lustful mind on the same level as the adulterer.
Like anything good that God creates, Satan desires to destroy it. God created sex to be a good thing, but Satan has taken it and painted graffiti all over it. God desires sex to be confined to one man and one woman for life. Sex is a good thing and should be used to procreate. The desire for sex was given to humanity, but unfortunately, Satan has twisted it, perverted it, and harnessed it to the marketing industry like a team of powerful oxen. Today, we blush if we hear sex mentioned in the pulpit. Satan wants to silence the pulpit so that he can preach in society. Satan has tried to redefine sex – and has done a good job in his effort. However, we should realize the importance of defining sex, the boundaries of marriage, and the danger of lust from the inerrant Scriptures of our Lord!
According to the following stats, the pornography industry is growing rapidly!
The statistics are truly staggering. According to compiled numbers from respected news and research organizations, every second $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography. Every second 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography. In that same second 372 internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines. Every 39 minutes a new pornographic video is being created in the U.S. It’s big business. The pornography industry has larger revenues than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple and Netflix combined. 2006 Worldwide Pornography Revenues ballooned to $97.06 billion.1
Therefore, it’s quite obvious that the sinful habits of lust are a serious problem. The lustful mind often leads to the physical act of adultery which often results in divorce and shattered homes. Jesus pointed out that merely following the external Law wasn’t enough. God expected purity of the heart as well.R. Kent Hughes writes:
Recently Leadership Magazine commissioned a poll of a thousand pastors. The pastors indicated that 12 percent of them had committed adultery while in ministry – one out of eight pastors! – and 23 percent had done something they considered sexually inappropriate. Christianity Today surveyed a thousand of its subscribers who were not pastors and found the figure to be nearly double, with 23 percent saying they had had extramarital intercourse and 45 percent indicating they had done something they themselves deemed sexually inappropriate. One in four Christian men are unfaithful, and nearly one half have behaved unbecomingly! Shocking statistics! Especially when we remember that Christianity Today readers tend to be college-educated church leaders, elders, deacons, Sunday school superintendents, and teachers. If this is so for the Church’s leadership, how much more for the average member of the congregation? Only God knows!2
Below are several questions that may indicate a spiritual problem in your life:
- Are you more appalled by homosexuality than you are your own sinful lust?
- Are you more disgusted with television shows like Desperate Housewives that glorify adultery than your own secret addiction of internet pornography?
- Are you more concerned with the adultery of political leaders such as President Clinton and John Edwards more than your own lustful mind?
- Are you more angered by the adultery of preachers that you hear about in the news than you are your own lustful eyes and thoughts?
It is extremely dangerous to look at the sins of others while condoning your own sin. God places sinful lust on the same level as adultery. Tim Challies in his book, Sexual Detox, writes, “I want you to know that you cannot be a loving husband, an effective husband, a godly man as long as your mind is filled with the lies of pornography. You need to break free, you need to detox.”3 The Scripture commands Christians to flee fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). Joseph did that when Potiphar’s wife seduced him. The church at Corinth battled the sin of fornication and adultery greatly! As Christians in a modern world that sprinkles glitter upon the putrid sin of adultery and pornography – we must be committed to fleeing fornication!
It should also be pointed out that Jesus warns about Hell two times in this section of His sermon. Those who have an unbroken pattern of adultery and lust should fear for their soul. The person who continues to practice sin such as adultery and lust (which Jesus calls adultery) will die and go to Hell. It’s not that the person who lives in this manner is in danger of losing their salvation! The fact is, those who continue in sin rather than grace were never born again (1 John 2:19). Habitual sin is proof of an unregenerate heart. That is precisely why Jesus warned of Hell. Therefore, if you are engulfed in the sinful web of pornography and adultery, you are either a person who has never been born again by God, a true Christian who is living in sin, or a person who has religion but has never been born again. Examine yourself and see if you are in the faith! If not, you need to repent and turn to Jesus Christ who can save your lost soul and free you from the grip of lust and adultery!May God grant healing to the heart that is engulfed with unbridled lust! May God be pleased to spare that man or woman’s marriage who is entangled in the bonds of pornography. May it be done for the glory of King Jesus!
Pastor Josh Buice
Proverbs 27:20 – Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
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2. Disciplines of a Godly Man, Crossway Books, 1991, p. 21-22.
3. Sexual Detox – A Guide for the Married Guy
Link: Porn Addiction in America – View Chart