If you grew up in a conservative background, and especially if you grew up in the church, it’s likely that you’ve been warned about the dangers of pornography. Typically it’s frowned upon with little explanation as to why it might be bad for you, and what issues can/will arise as the result of viewing it. I think this has been a shame, because simply telling someone “don’t do this just because” isn’t really helping anyone grasp a firm reason as to why they should avoid something. It’s along the same lines as “believe that God is there, just because” without ever really giving them a single reason. Sure, that explanation works on a child, but what young person hasn’t come to the day when they realized that maybe God isn’t there? Now some people will argue any point for the sake of argument itself. As a child, that was certainly the case for me, to which my parents understood that feeding the machine (me) with more arguments wasn’t getting me closer to truth, because I wasn’t looking for truth in the first place; I was looking for a fight. When a kid asks “why” he should clean his room, he probably isn’t interested in why organization and cleanliness are beneficial, instead, it’s likely he’s just looking to question the system and hopefully get out of a chore. But as we grow into adults, we still want to know why things are harmful or beneficial, or why it makes sense to believe in God but not in the tooth fairy. These are legitimate questions. Hopefully we’re asking them with a sincere heart and not just looking to get out of “chores.” So for those who legitimately want to know why pornography doesn’t have you in its best interest, let me give you a reason to think about.
Pornography leads you to seek a feeling, instead of a person.
It’s easy to see how destructive this is in a practical sense. Nobody thinks that it is virtuous to use people as a means to an end. Pornography teaches me to pursue a feeling over intimacy. Within marriage, once your partner is no longer “exciting,” you’ll be ready to click on the next video for the next partner. But there is no next video in real life. Instead of sex becoming a way to form a deep bond of intimacy, I’ve successfully stripped it of its deepest value, and reduced it down to mere excitement—which I can find anywhere. And just like the nature of excitement, it has diminishing returns. A baby laughs over and over again when you tear a piece of paper in front of him, but we’re not babies, and we’re far harder to keep entertained. The more we indulge, the less exciting an activity becomes. There is nothing wrong with excitement itself, until you begin to treat relationships as means for your excitement. At this point you’ve reduced yourself to a social vampire, draining people of their entertainment value and moving on to the next once you have what you want. Because pornography teaches me to pursue a feeling over intimacy, it will kill your desire for your spouse.
Now, let me say that pornography is not placing something into your heart that wasn’t already there in the first place. It doesn’t place in us the desire for excitement—if that were true, then we wouldn’t have any reason to watch it in the first place. That desire is already there. Pornography doesn’t teach me to use people as a means to an end—that selfishness is already inside of me. It doesn’t teach a person how to lust—lust entices me to pursue pornography. Pornography is a magnet to the heart. When applied, it surfaces and nurtures some of the deepest issues that we may not even be aware of. This is why when Christ talks about lust, he isn’t simply telling us to try harder. He’s telling us that there are deep issues there, and that we need a new heart (Matt 5:28). We need a heart of flesh in order to live; a heart of stone won’t do it (Eph 2.1). What is dead, cannot try. A stone can’t improve upon itself. God’s promise is that he will remove the stone and replace it with a real, beating heart of flesh (Eze 36:26).
Christ did not come to make bad people good, he came to make dead people live (John 10:10).