Porn is Not Your Friend

Sex is for Christians! A Joy-Filled Look at the Blessings of Biblical Sexuality - Chapter 5

PLEASE NOTE: This e-teaching is not appropriate for children, preadolescents, and many adolescents.

Porn Is Not Your Friend by David Servant

Click…Click…Click…Click. One after another, tiny video images reflect off his eyeglasses in the darkness. It’s late at night.

The bedroom is illuminated only by the glow from his computer screen, which he’s been staring at for three hours. The door is locked, and a blanket has been laid across its bottom so no light can escape the room. He wears headphones, so no one else in the house can hear the exaggerated gasps and moans. He doesn’t want his secret to be discovered.

He occasionally watches the same video twice, but he finds that boredom sets in quickly. He always feels an insatiable pull to click on new videos that might feature women he doesn’t recognize. As he clicks through videos with his left hand, his stroking right hand keeps him right on the verge of orgasm.

At times he’s shocked by what he sees, but it doesn’t take long before he finds himself accustomed to what previously disturbed him. In fact, what previously excited him no longer has the original kick. Like a video-game addict, he’s progressed through several levels, and there is no turning back.

The images that fill his mind each night resurface as soon as he awakes late in the morning, and they follow him throughout the day. It’s difficult for him to think about much else. He has little motivation to do anything. The people with whom he interacts throughout the day have become like ghosts—there, but not really there. He has a hard time looking at anyone in the eye. But no matter. His world of excitement waits for him each night when everyone else has gone to bed.

Porn’s Prevalence

What I have just described is tragically more common than many of us realize. The statistics regarding internet porn use are alarming, to put it mildly. It is estimated that porn makes up 30 percent of the total data transferred across the internet. Pornhub, just one of millions of porn websites on the internet—but not the most popular— reported 33.5 billion visits in 2018. Daily visits now exceed 100 million. Every minute, 64,000 new visitors arrive.[1]

Way back in 2010, it was estimated that 12 percent of all websites were pornography. That means that in 2010, there were more than 24 million porn websites.[2]

A 2014 survey revealed that, among Americans, 43 percent of men and 9 percent of women reported viewing pornography in the previous week.[3] Only 34 percent of American men reported not viewing pornography in at least a year. (For women, the number was 72 percent.)

Among professing Christians, the statistics are also alarming. The same 2014 survey revealed that slightly less than 40 percent of professing Christian men reported watching porn during the previous week. Among Evangelical Protestants who attend church at least three times per month, 29% of men and 4% of women reported watching porn in the previous week.

1 in 5 youth pastors and 1 in 7 senior pastors in the U.S. admit to viewing porn on a regular basis. That’s more than 50,000 church leaders.[4]

What all those statistics don’t reveal is the damage being done to millions of lives, marriages and families by porn indulgence. The scientific evidence shows, for example, that those who regularly view internet porn are actually “rewiring” their brain circuits. That rewiring has spawned a novel physiological phenomenon—young men who suffer with erectile dysfunction. Because of habitual exposure to internet porn, they’ve become unable to perform sexually with an actual woman. They can achieve orgasm only by masturbating to porn. Imagine what that means for their future or current marriages. And that is just the tip of the iceberg of porn’s devastation on human lives. The good news is that there is a means to recovery. Keep reading. Porn, however, is definitely not your friend.

Porn: What is it?

When I was a child, the only way to view porn was to purchase or borrow a copy of Playboy magazine. In the early 1970s, one-fourth of all American college men were doing just that. Yet the nude images in Playboy were mild by comparison to what is considered pornographic today. No one in 1953, when the first issue of Playboy was published with a centerfold featuring Marilyn Monroe, could possibly have foreseen porn’s ominous evolution. Who in 1953 would have imagined that one day hundreds of millions of pornographic videos—including many that are unspeakably vile and perverse—would be just a few clicks away on a device that everyone would carry with them everywhere—their cell phone? (That phenomenon resulted in the demise of the printed version of Playboy in 2020.)

Porn is so pervasive today that it is almost unavoidable. In fact, porn has become so common that what once would have been considered pornographic by a large percentage of people is today not considered pornographic by anyone. Graphic sex scenes in R-rated movies and in popular television series such as Game of Thrones, for example, are pornographic by definition, yet many professing Christians have no qualms viewing them. I recall a pastor in Belgium who told me such scenes “were not pornographic, but rather, ‘erotic.'” So, for him, they were OK to watch.

And even what is considered porn today has been segmented into the standards of “hardcore” and “softcore,” the latter being acceptable in many minds, while the former is questionable or a matter of personal preference.

So what makes something pornographic?

Porn or pornography is dictionary-defined as “printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.”

So, not only might photos and videos be pornographic, but also printed words on a page. Again, note that porn could be an explicit description of sexual activity that is “intended to stimulate erotic feelings.” Romance novels often include pornography, as the scenes described are written by the authors, and consumed by readers, to “stimulate erotic feelings.” Authors describe with words what resembles a scene from a porn film. It’s porn.

When people claim that, on the same basis, the Bible contains pornography, they ignore several key components of porn’s definition. First, porn is an explicit description, that is, one that is “stated clearly and in detail.” Mentioning that someone committed adultery, such as David and Bathsheba, is not the same as an explicit description of the passionate and sensuous moves of an adulterous couple. Second, porn is “intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.” The Bible’s story of David and Bathsheba’s adultery is certainly not intended to stimulate readers’ erotic feelings, but rather to inform them about the character of God, sin, and its consequences.

And although certain passages in the Bible’s famous Song of Solomon (that we will later look at in detail) might “stimulate erotic feelings” within some imaginative reader’s minds, the language and story is not “explicit,” like what you would find in a romance novel, but intentionally vague and poetic:

How beautiful and how delightful you are,
My love, with all your charms!
Your stature is like a palm tree,
And your breasts are like its clusters.
I said, “I will climb the palm tree,
I will take hold of its fruit stalks.”
Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine,
And the fragrance of your breath like apples,
And your mouth like the best wine!” (Song 7:6-9a).

Porn and Lust

The Bible, written long before the invention of the printing press, photography and videography, understandably never mentions the words porn or pornography or condemns indulgence in such. It does, however, warn against meditating on inappropriate sexual imagery. The English word for that is lust. Jesus warned against lust, saying: “Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). When one lusts, one “commits adultery in one’s heart”—an obvious reference to imagining a sexual encounter. And it is not just imagining the act of intercourse that constitutes lust, but also what generally always precedes it. To mentally undress someone to whom one is not married is to lust after them.

Of course, lust has always been a sin, even prior to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. He wasn’t making up new regulations on the spot, but rather, was elucidating what was already found in the Mosaic Law. The Greek word translated “lust” in Jesus’ Matthew 5:28 prohibition is epithumeo, and it is elsewhere translated in the New Testament as both “desire” and “covet.” When Paul, for example, quoted in Romans 7:7 the Tenth Commandment, “You shall not covet,” the word he used for “covet” was epithumeo. We know that the Tenth Commandment forbids coveting what belongs to one’s neighbor, including his wife. All this gives us good reason to think the Tenth Commandment was addressing, among other things, the sin of lust. Men who lust after their neighbor’s wives usually don’t do it because their neighbor’s wives have great culinary skills.

Porn, as everyone knows, arouses lust. Through sexual imagery, porn ignites sexual desire and places those who indulge in it into an imaginary, illicit sexual encounter. Thus the most basic reason to avoid all porn: It is designed to arouse lust. Porn is not your friend.

Let us again remind ourselves that God loves us, and that He invented sex. As the creator of sex, He knows that lust (including lust aroused by porn) robs people of the best sex, because the best sex occurs between two people of the opposite sex who are committed to one another in a lifelong covenant of marriage. Lust, however, opens the door for a third person, or multiple persons, into one’s marriage. An affair of the mind is certainly not as wrong as an actual affair, but it is an affair, and thus is a sin against one’s spouse. It is not treating one’s spouse as one wants to be treated, and thus is a violation of the most fundamental ethic that exists, the Golden Rule (see Luke 6:31).

That is the second most basic reason to avoid all porn. It can rob you of the best sex, sex as God intended.

What Lust is Not

Having defined what lust is, it might be helpful to define what it is not.

Sexual desire, in general, is not lust, as it is God-given (see chapter 1).

Observing or admiring the physical attractiveness of a clothed member of the opposite sex is not lust. Scripture describes both Rachel and Esther as being “beautiful of form and face” (Gen. 29:17; Esth. 2:7), two characteristics that could both be admired without transgression (I think it is safe to assume that both dressed very modestly by modern standards).

Scripture tells us that Sarah and Rebekah were both “very beautiful,” so much so that both of their husbands feared being murdered by lustful men who might covet their wives (Gen. 12:14. 24:6). The Bible also mentions the beauty of Abigail, Bathsheba, Tamar, Abishag, Queen Vashti and Job’s daughters (1 Sam. 25:3; 2 Sam. 11:2; 13:1; 1 Kin 1:3; Esth. 1:11; Job 42:15).

Joseph was “handsome in form and appearance” (Gen. 39:6), which made him very desirable to the lustful wife of Potiphar. Scripture says concerning Saul, “There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he” (1 Sam. 9:2). David is described in the Bible as being “ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance” (1 Sam. 16:12). His striking genes seem to have passed on to his son Absalom, of whom it is written, “Now in all Israel was no one as handsome as Absalom, so highly praised; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no defect in him” (2 Sam. 14:25). He was a hunk.

Beyond all that, notice Jesus didn’t say, “Everyone who notices an attractive woman has already committed adultery in his heart.” No, it is only when one lusts that one is “committing adultery in one’s heart.”

Even though it may not be lustful to admire the attractiveness of a member of the opposite sex, it is certainly insensitive for those who are dating, courting, engaged, or married to allow their attention to be fixed for very long on anyone other than their “significant other.” To say to your husband, “I just met our new neighbor, and is he ever good looking,” or to say to your fiancée, “Our waitress is quite pretty,” is stupid with a capital C. When girlfriends or wives point out the beauty of other women (as they sometimes do), smart men sincerely say, “Well, she’s certainly not as beautiful as you in my eyes.”

Women can certainly be guilty of lust, but it is much more common among men, simply because their sexual desire is visually triggered. No doubt that is why Jesus targeted men in His warning about looking at a woman with lust.

Of course these days, as men regularly encounter scantily-clothed women, in person and through the media, very little effort is often needed to mentally undress them, as they are practically undressed already. To attempt to only “admire their beauty” while avoiding lust would seem like a self-deception. To avoid lust, men must look away, something that requires will power, as the desire to continue looking is strong and built in to their brains. The smartest strategy for men who want to avoid lust is to avoid the stimuli, but even the wisest men in that regard will inevitably be ambushed. And indeed, when good men stumble into lust, the women who caused them to stumble bear guilt. Jesus said, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!” (Luke 17:1).

Adam certainly had it easy in this regard. When you think about it, lust was an impossible sin for him to commit, as there was only one woman in the world (at least initially). I supposed he could have created an imaginary woman in his mind and lusted after her. But this brings me to my final point regarding what lust is not: You cannot lust after your spouse. To mentally imagine any aspect of a sexual relationship with your spouse is never wrong. Rather, it is good, as it may well lead to another wonderous sexual experience that increases your love for each other and for God.

Along those lines, one male reader wrote to me to ask if it was OK to take discreet digital photos or video of his wife for a private collection of “holy porn” that could help him resist the temptation of “unholy porn.” I could not think of any reason it would be a sin and I gave him my affirmation with two qualifications: (1) his (hopefully flattered) wife must unreservedly be willing to cooperate with his plan and, (2) he must make certain there is no way for his private collection to become public (something that has embarrassingly occurred to many people).

The Addictive and Habituating Nature of Porn

One of the most interesting books I read in preparation to write this chapter is titled, Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and Emerging Science of Addiction, by Gary Wilson. It is not written from a Christian or biblical perspective, but it certainly affirms what the Bible has to say about the addictive and habituating nature of sin. Obviously, God allows free moral agents to make sinful choices that often result in painful consequences. Those who persist in sinful choices often find themselves enslaved to negative behaviors that become increasingly harmful to them. According to Paul, this is actually a sign of God’s wrath upon them:

For the wrath of God is revealed [not, “is going to be revealed,” but rather, “is revealed” at the present time] from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse…

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them (Rom. 1:18-20, 24-32).

Part of God’s judgment upon sin is increasing enslavement to it, which may include “giving sinners over to “degrading [sexual] passions.” Many porn users can testify of experiencing that phenomenon. In Your Brain on Porn, Wilson describes in detail the addictive and habituating nature of high-speed internet porn that so often plagues those who venture into it. The identical chemical reward functions of the brain that result in addictions to gambling, junk food, nicotine, and cocaine also work against the porn user. He finds himself craving it. And just like drug addicts who need larger doses to achieve the same highs, internet porn users soon discover the explicit videos that initially sexually stimulated them lose their potency. So they predictably downgrade to increasingly more extreme and perverse genres of porn—which also all eventually fail to sexually stimulate them.

For this reason, porn sites arrange their videos into categories. Once regular users become inevitably bored with “vanilla porn,” they can venture into other genres. Gay and lesbian porn, incest porn, transgender porn, amputee and disabled porn, female domination porn, rape and forced sex porn, gang rape porn, group sex porn, sadomasochism porn (when participants derive sexual pleasure inflicting or receiving pain or humiliation), bukkake porn (when multiple men ejaculate on the head or face of a woman), bestiality porn (sex with animals), gore porn (when rape victims are killed and dismembered), and much more are all waiting for the user who is becoming habituated to his current genre.

There are, no doubt, some readers who are already caught somewhere within porn’s dark, down-sucking vortex. Their sexual tastes have already morphed to some degree. If that is you, keep reading. I’m going to tell you how to escape. But one reason I’ve just listed some of porn’s viler genres is to motivate you to want to escape by helping you foresee what’s inevitably waiting for you if you don’t find a way out.

All of this is a third reason porn is not your friend. It is addictive and habituating, and pulls victims deeper into its bondage.

Deprogramming and Rebooting

Scientific evidence now clearly shows that regular porn users become sexually conditioned by the porn they view. Just as Pavlov’s dogs were conditioned to salivate at the sound of a bell, so porn users become conditioned to be sexually aroused only by some form of porn. And the conditioning is not actually psychological, but physiological. Porn users’ brains actually change, as neurochemicals trigger the rewiring of nerve connections.

Here’s an example of what brain scientists refer to as neuroplasticity, defined as “the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience”: Some heterosexual porn users have found that, when heterosexual porn no longer sexually arouses them, and they begin to explore gay and lesbian porn, their brains become conditioned so that only homosexual porn can arouse them sexually. At that point, some become fearful, or persuaded, that their sexual orientation is actually homosexual. (This contradicts the idea that homosexuality is innate from birth or genetically predetermined.) Similarly, homosexual porn users sometimes find that, when homosexual porn no longer sexually arouses them, and they begin to explore heterosexual porn, their brains become conditioned so that only heterosexual porn can arouse them sexually, which can be a fearful thought to homosexuals whose identities are completely bound within a homosexual lifestyle.

Here’s another example of porn’s sexual conditioning due to neuroplasticity: As I wrote earlier in this chapter, high-speed internet porn has spawned an unprecedented and widespread sexual nightmare among young men, what has become known as “porn-induced erectile dysfunction.” They cannot have sex with their wives (or girlfriends) because they cannot be sexually aroused by them. Only the porn to which they masturbate “turns them on.” But that is not all. Regularly “edging” to porn (masturbating for long periods to a point just short of orgasm) hyper-stimulates and exhausts the brain’s reward system. Brain scans of habitual porn users actually reveal less gray matter in certain regions of their brains. They consequently often find themselves also suffering from various mental health problems, such as social anxiety, depression, apathy, lack of concentration and low self-esteem. Porn is self-destructive, another reason it is not your friend.

The good news—and the bad news—is that the Pavlovian conditioning is generally always temporary. The porn user who continues to indulge will ultimately find himself dissatisfied and unable to be aroused, and he will thus explore more extreme versions of porn that do arouse him, whereas the user who abstains long enough from porn will find that his brain slowly restores itself. After a few months of abstinence, his normal sex drive will return. Recovered porn addicts refer to that phenomenon as “rebooting.” At the same time, they generally find that their related mental health problems also are healed. All of this is documented by numerous scientific studies as well as mounds of anecdotal evidence in Your Brain on Porn.

This rebooting has been experienced by hundreds of thousands of men who formerly were addicted to high-speed internet porn. What is interesting is that the majority of them recovered outside any context of Christianity. They simply (1) joined internet forums created for porn users who were suffering with sexual dysfunctions and mental health issues, and (2) they quit porn. Then, with the information, encouragement and guidance of others on those forums, they (3) fought temptations and suffered through withdrawal symptoms. After some months, they found themselves back to normal, sexually “rebooted.”

Again, all of this has occurred outside any context to Christianity, in internet chat forums such as Reddit/NoFap,[5] Reddit/PornFree, NoFap.com, RebootNation.org, YourBrainBalanced.com, as well as several popular Chinese[6] forums, which collectively are serving millions of men (and women). Those men did not have any demons cast out of them, nor did the majority of them rely on the inward power of the Holy Spirit. They simply recognized porn’s harm, made a decision to keep away from it, and took practical steps that helped them stay away. Their testimonies of ultimate victory are not Christian for the most part, as they often celebrate being able to finally have sex with their girlfriends, or women they pick up at a bar.

My primary point is, if hundreds of thousands of non-Christian porn addicts have been able to find freedom from porn and recovery from porn-induced sexual dysfunctions and mental health issues, it would seem reasonable to think that Christians who struggle with porn-related issues, but who love God and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, could also share in sexual victory.

The Magic of Evolution or a Miracle from God?

On a side note, secular science credits the magic of evolution to explain human sexual desire and the brain’s susceptibility to be sexually conditioned. But why does the brain “reboot” itself sexually in the absence of porn? What evolutionary mechanism precipitated a phenomenon that only first surfaced in human experience a decade ago? From an evolutionary standpoint, “rebooting” is just about as easy to explain as is sexual desire, the brain’s susceptibility to be sexually conditioned, or the millions of other unexplainable miracles that regularly occur in human bodies.

If, however, God is the designer of all these things, then the “reboot” phenomenon is evidence of His grace. Prior to reading Your Brain on Porn, I unthinkingly interpreted the “God gave them over” clauses in Romans 1 (which I cited at the start of the chapter) to be warnings of irreversible acts of God’s judgment. Now I see that, just as persisting in evil results in God-determined slavery to sin, so resisting evil results in God-determined freedom from sin’s slavery, and even for those who may resist only some evil, but still indulge in other forms.

You would hope that, after God restored porn-users from porn-induced sexual dysfunction and porn’s related mental health problems through the miracle of “rebooting,” they would marvel at His grace and seek to know Him. You would hope that they might wake up to the fact that all sin, and not just high-speed internet porn, is self-destructive on some level. Sadly, that is not often enough the case.

The Road to Freedom

In the third chapter of Your Brain on Porn, Wilson lists the most common pieces of advice that porn users share on recovery chat forums. If you are addicted to porn, I would strongly suggest that you get your own copy of Wilson’s book, or take advantage of all the helpful free information on his website, YourBrainOnPorn.com. But for the benefit of those who might not, below are some of the tips Wilson lists, to which I’ve added some biblical commentary. Freedom from any sin can be yours, but you have a part to play. You have to resist it. This truth is found very early in Scripture, when God Himself said to Cain: “Sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Gen. 4:7). Just about all of Wilson’s detailed advice can be summarized with just one word: Resist! He writes:

The first step towards regaining control is to give your brain a rest from all artificial sexual stimulation [italics his] for several months…. Ideally, an extended time-out allows you to:

—   restore the sensitivity of your brain’s reward circuitry so you can again enjoy everyday pleasures,

—   reduce the intensity of the ‘gotta have it!” brain pathways that drive you to use [porn],

—   re-establish your willpower (strengthen the brain’s pre-frontal cortex), and

—   reduce the impact of stress such that it doesn’t set off severe cravings.

Next, you stay consistent because it can take many months, or even a couple of years, for the ‘I want to watch porn right now!’ [brain nerve] pathways to fire less frequently—and then die down….

Through trial and error, rebooters have discovered that surfing Facebook, dating apps, or erotic services sites for images is like an alcoholic switching to lite beer: counterproductive. In short, artificial sexual stimulation includes anything your brain might use in the way it has been using porn: cam2cam erotic encounters, sexting, reading erotica, friend finder apps, fantasizing about porn scenarios…you get the idea.

The goal now is to seek your pleasure from interacting with real people without a screen between you, and awaken your appetite for life and love. At first, your brain may not perceive real people as particularly stimulating. However, as you consistently refuse to activate porn pathways in your brain, its priorities gradually shift.

What Wilson advocates is what the Bible refers to as repentance, which is nothing short of turning 180 degrees from sin. Notice Wilson prescribes complete repentance from any and all forms of artificial sexual stimulation. That is absolutely essential if the porn addict is to find recovery and restoration.

To that same end, Jesus said:

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:43-48).

None of us believes Jesus was literally recommending cutting off a hand or foot, or removing an eyeball, if for no other reason, because we know that none of those body parts are really the source of our stumbling. The lustful man who cuts out his eyeball simply becomes a one-eyed luster.

Rather, Jesus was elaborating on the biblical principal of resisting sin, which often requires repentance that may appear drastic to some, but not to God, and which is absolutely critical. Because temptation always precedes sin, eliminating temptation reduces sin. Whatever causes you to stumble into sin should be eliminated. If you are a porn user and addict, that includes all artificial sexual stimulation, even if you must take dramatic measures to do so. You are re-wiring your brain, and it requires abstinence from every form of artificial sexual stimulation. Most Christians regularly pray to God, “Lead us not into temptation” (Matt. 6:13). If we ask God to lessen our temptations, should we not also do what we can to lessen them?

More Motivation to Quit

The consequences for not taking necessary drastic measures of repentance can be dire according to Jesus. Three times in the passage we just read (Mark 9:43-48), He cautioned about hell, “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” Scripture warns that unrepentant sexually immoral people, such as “fornicators” and “adulterers” will not inherit God’s kingdom (see 1 Cor. 6:9-10, Eph. 5:3).

But what about those who don’t actually commit fornication and adultery, but who habitually indulge in porn, which could be considered “mental fornication and adultery”? Are they in danger of hell?

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “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 lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28). Then, He immediately prescribed cutting off body parts that cause one to stumble as a means to avoid hell. So there is no doubt that Jesus’ prescriptions for cutting off body parts has application to the lustful, and not just to those who physically commit sexual immorality.

Although Jesus was not saying (as some claim) that thinking about committing adultery with a woman is equally as evil in God’s eyes as physically committing adultery with her, it is clear He was trying to convey that the two are not that far apart. They are certainly not so different that committing one puts one in danger of hell whereas committing the other does not.

All of this is to say that, if Jesus was telling the truth—and He was—those who are “on the narrow way that leads to eternal life” (Matt. 7:13) have plenty of motivation to repent of porn use. Eternity depends on it.[7]

More of Wilson’s Tips for Success

According to the author of Your Brain on Porn, successful rebooters manage their access to porn. They delete all porn from their electronic devices, remove all porn site bookmarks, and clear their browser history. They eliminate anything that triggers them to view porn. They commit to only view their online devices in public environments. They install ad-blockers and porn-blockers on their devices.[8] They guard against the inevitable sexual fantasies that arise from past porn images, replacing them with thoughts that are wholesome. Running porn-like imagery in your mind is little different than actually viewing porn.

Successful rebooters seek support. At least initially, many join an online community of others who are on the same path, and they find accountability partners. NoFap.com and RebootNation.org are two porn-recovery forums that facilitate finding such partners. Some rebooters seek professional therapy from counselors who understand porn addiction, especially if they are dealing with other issues that may have helped open the door to porn, such as childhood trauma or sexual abuse. Successful rebooters keep a journal to record their progress, which is often not linear. On bad days, they can read earlier entries that will be an encouragement by reminding them of where they were.

Successful rebooters also “manage stress, improving self-control and self-care.” They exercise daily, spend time outdoors in nature, break out of their typical isolation to socialize with real people, and fill their time with creative pursuits and hobbies, all of which are healthy for their brains and keep them occupied and away from their old life of porn. They reduce or eradicate all meaningless, empty, time-wasting activities, especially those associated with a computer screen.

Successful rebooters maintain a positive attitude, and they seek helpful inspiration and education. They are, Wilson says, gentle on themselves:

Sex is a fundamental drive, and giving up the intense stimulation of regular porn use is a big shift for your brain. Ease your way through the transition, forgive yourself if you slip (but try to avoid bingeing), and keep going.

The more rebooters learn about what is going on in their brains, the better they are able to hang in there and resist cravings during their reboot. Wilson’s website, YourBrainOnPorn.com, is clearing house for up-to-date, relevant science on porn addiction and recovery. One rebooter expressed on an internet forum how much it helped him to understand the biology behind his problem, and I thought his comment was very relevant for struggling Christians:

I no longer see my addiction as the influence of demons or the natural expression of my wicked sinful heart, but as a very human, very natural (albeit misplaced) desire for sexual intimacy. It was a bad habit, reinforced by neurochemicals, but nothing mysterious or ethereal. I realized that I already had the power to control my actions. And so I did. I realized that the life I wanted to lead was incompatible with porn use, so I made that decision. “Simply” doesn’t mean easily, of course.

Rebooters say that the first two or three weeks of porn abstinence are usually the most challenging. As with any neurochemical-based addiction, rebooters often suffer withdrawal symptoms. They include mood swings, irritability, a desire to isolate, anxiety and panic, brain fog, sweat sessions, nausea, headaches, hot flashes, jitters and shakes, insomnia, depression, and of course, severe cravings for porn. Withdrawal symptoms can linger for months, but slowly, life returns.

Some rebooters, particularly those who are suffering from porn-induced erectile dysfunction, experience weeks of a complete loss of libido, referred to by them as “flat-lining.” That can be terrifying for some, but if they will just give their brains time, eventually, the desire for sex returns, usually in full force.

Once rebooted, it is vital rebooters understand that it is not safe for them to ever return to any porn indulgence. Those who do open the door to a complete relapse.

Two Final Reasons Why Porn is Not Your Friend

I have not yet mentioned how degrading porn is to all women (and to men as well) in general and to those who expose their bodies in particular. Surely, most women and men would prefer to be thought of by others as more than just sexual objects. As humans, we are spirit, soul and body, and created in God’s image (1 Thes. 5:23; Jas. 3:9). Porn actors, however, reduce themselves to shells of skin who prostitute themselves to the entire world.

For money, they engage in shameful and often perverse sexual immorality, while others capture their lewd acts on film for profit—all of them hoping to capture the widest audience. They are the most deplorable prostitutes and pimps in human history. Together, they contribute to the corruption of children and youth and the destruction of marriages. They create a demand for human trafficking and promote violence towards women. They encourage rape, incest, and every kind of sexual perversion under the sun. They pervert one of God’s wonderful gifts and help destroy sex as He intended. How much lower can people descend morally?

Porn users need to admit that they are joining the ranks of such despicable people.[9] When they view porn, they participate in and support the porn industry and all the evil it spawns.

Time to Quit

In summary, porn is not your friend because it (1) arouses lust, (2) robs you of the best sex, (3) is addictive and habituating, and pulls its victims deeper into sexually-perverse bondage, (4) is self-destructive, and opens the door to a host of mental health problems, (5) can drag you right into hell, (6) sexually objectifies and degrades women (and men), and (6) makes you a partner with the world’s most deplorable people and a supporter of all the evil the porn industry spawns.

Porn is God’s enemy, so it cannot be your friend. If you are caught in porn’s web of wickedness, there is an escape. But repentance is where your escape starts. Scripture admonishes: “But immorality or any impurity…must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints” (Eph.5:3). “Flee immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18). Don’t wait another second! — David

[1] All the stats from this paragraph are found at https://enough.org/stats_porn_industry.

[2] https://gizmodo.com/finally-some-actual-stats-on-internet-porn-5552899

[3] From https://relationshipsinamerica.com/relationships-and-sex/how-much-pornography-are-americans-consuming. Interestingly, the same survey showed that “60-year-old men are still only slightly less likely to have viewed pornography within the past week than men in their 20s and 30s. Among women, however, there is a more linear downward trend in pornography use with age. While 19 percent of women under age 30 report viewing pornography in the week prior to the survey, only three percent of women in their 50s report doing so, meaning that—unlike men, the youngest women are over six times as likely to have viewed pornography recently as the oldest women.” Apparently, men and women view porn for different reasons. Women tend to view porn for sexual education, thus the reason that younger women view much more porn than older women, whereas men of all ages view porn for sexual pleasure.

[4] https://www.covenanteyes.com/pornstats/

[5] “Fap” is a popular slang word for masturbate.

[6] China’s “one-child policy,” which lasted for 36 years, resulted in skewed ratio of males to females, as many married Chinese couples preferred a solitary son over a solitary daughter and took measures to achieve that end. Today, China is reaping the fruit of its folly, and there are as many as 30 million more Chinese men than women. Tens of millions of eligible men will not be able to find eligible brides. No wonder internet porn addiction has become a massive social problem.

[7] Those who subscribe to an unbiblical gospel that effectively grants a license to sin to those who have allegedly “believed in Jesus” should read the New Testament more honestly. Faith without works is dead, useless, and unsaving; see James 2:14-26.

[8] Here are three free porn-blockers Wilson suggests: qustodio.com, esafely.com/home.php, and dnsfilter.com. And here is a free ad blocker: adblockplus.com.

[9] Of course, God can redeem anyone who is willing to repent and follow Jesus.