Editor’s Note: Before we break open this topic let me first say this: This is a tough issue. Many of you reading this are dealing or have dealt with pornography in some way. Many of you feel alone and ashamed because of your use. I want you to know that you are not alone and you are stronger than you’ve been lead to believe. You have a God who loves you and offers you hope and freedom. Before you read any further, take a minute to pray for anyone who feels trapped by the bonds of pornography. Your prayers matter and can make a difference.
Pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry. Internet sales alone reach over $5 billion per year. More than half of its viewers online are men (72%), but in recent years more and more women are viewing pornography (28%). Pornography is everywhere and easily accessible to anyone of any age at any time. With a culture that has become obsessed with self-gratification and instantaneous satisfaction, it is no surprise that the pornography industry continues to make money. But, what are they really selling?
The people who write, produce, make, and sell porn understand the desire for pleasure, fantasy, adventure, and love. At the heart of pornography is the message that you can feel good about yourself and fulfill all your needs and desires through pleasure.
The pornography industry is trying to sell a counterfeit sense of love as an authentic sense of love. Real love is committed. It holds true in tough situations. It is not based on fantasy or pleasure. Real love allows us to feel things like true joy and even pain. Real love has at the center the best possible good of another person. It is directed towards another person, not to ourselves. Pornography, on the other hand, allows us to escape reality and indulge in what feels good at the moment. It numbs us to all other feelings and gives a false sense of self-satisfaction and acceptance. In short, the pornography industry is trying to sell love—lying, fake, unsatisfying, and selfish love. This is the lie of pornography.
Nothing about pornography is real. The actors, the stories, and the settings—it’s all fake. Porn is created to stir up strong emotions of satisfaction, pleasure, and adventure that are not based in any sort of reality. It is all based on the fantasy of the viewer.
What porn does is it creates a temporary escape from reality. Many people turn to porn for different reasons: a lack of self-confidence, the desire to be needed, to escape a tough situation, a desire to feel happy, and often times boredom. This temporary escape is just that—temporary. Once all the pleasure fades the person is still left searching for what is truly going to fulfill and satisfy their desire to be loved.
One of the key ways to overcome the temptation of pornography is the virtue of self-control or self-mastery. This virtue, especially when it comes to pornography, is not about trying to prove that you are stronger than the temptation. It is about recognizing why you are feeling tempted. Many men and women who work at self-mastery find that temptation comes when they are most vulnerable. Feelings of stress, loneliness, disrespect, or shame can often trigger temptation. When we can recognize these feelings, we can stop and ask ourselves what it is we are really looking for. Most of the time the answer is love.
Real love is found in the heart of the Father. When we immerse ourselves in this real love given to us by God our Father, we are able to know when we encounter fake love. Authentic love will never come from pleasure. Our Father offers us a love that transcends our sin and shortcomings. His love perfects our imperfections. It endures even when we reject. It gives us strength when we are weak. When we seek love, this is what we are looking for. This is the love that never fails.
It is my deepest hope and prayer that we could know and live with the confidence that God’s grace is more than enough for us. Let us join together in praying for the destruction of the pornography industry and all attacks on human dignity and true love.