Pornography — Searing Consciences
“Be careful little eyes what you see…” The words of this familiar children’s song need to ring in our society’s ears like never before. Recent advances in technology and communications, while beneficial in many ways, have nevertheless created means for the forces of evil to wreak destruction in the lives and souls of men. Perhaps no subject better demonstrates the current social and moral climate in our society than the issue of pornography. Through the cruel workings of Satan, pornographic material has found its way into almost every telecommunications advancement made in the last century. Pornography can now be seen in theaters, on television, on the Internet, in various books and magazines, and for a fee, one can even dial a phone number and listen to explicit conversations for purposes of arousal and gratification. Our God has much to say concerning the issue of pornography. Consider:
It influences our relationship with God Himself! — “Whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Amos asked, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Fact is, pornography is a much bigger problem among Christians than most realize. At a recent denominational gathering, fifty percent of the men present admitted to viewing pornographic material in the past week.1 If such is true among the denominations, can anyone reasonably deny the fact that pornography is a serious problem in the Lord’s church? How can a Christian claim to draw near to God (James 4:8) when his life and thoughts are worldly? How can we, “set our minds on things above,” (Col 3:2) if our hearts are lustfully meditating on pornographic material? Those involved with pornography need to repent of this behavior before it is too late (Luke 13:3)!
Lustful thoughts are not harmless! — 1 Timothy 6:17 states that, “God has given us all things richly to enjoy.” Included in these blessings is the imagination and creative ability of each individual human. Certainly, our creative abilities can and should be used to God’s glory (1 Cor 10:31), but pornography robs God of glory that is due Him because it causes us to use our imaginations in sinful ways. Society claims that illicit lustful thoughts are harmless.2 Interestingly, the Pharisees of Jesus’ day apparently believed the same thing. They seemed to think that merely abstaining from the act of adultery justified them according to the Law of Moses. Jesus addressed this misconception when He said, “whoever looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28). The simple fact of the matter is this: when a Christian uses his imagination and creative abilities in sinful ways to satisfy his own lusts, he has dethroned Christ from his heart and enthroned himself. Our imagination is to be used to meditate upon the laws of God (cf. Psalm 1:2), and to seek Him with our whole heart (cf. Psalm 119:11). We can be creative in finding ways to glorify Him, but we are not to use our imaginations simply to find ways to gratify our own desires. Such behavior will lead to eternal destruction.
It harms our consciences — Conscience can be a useful thing, but there are times when conscience is not a safe guide. Paul said of his previous life that he had persecuted Christians in all good conscience (Acts 23:1). If we do not teach our consciences what is right, there is little chance we will find the way to be right with God (cf. Prov 14:12; Jer 10:23). Pornographic material does not teach us anything about righteousness and godliness. Instead, pornographic material teaches us that the fulfillment of lustful desires is the real way to happiness. And herein lies the real danger: when we constantly tell ourselves that the end-all, be-all of human experience is the satisfaction of our lustful desires, our conscience will adjust itself accordingly! If we stop listening to God’s word, our conscience will become an unreliable guide. The Bible talks of people who were “past feeling” (Eph 4:19) and had their consciences seared (cf. 1 Tim 4:1-3). As we willfully continue to disobey God’s commandments, our consciences will eventually begin to soothe us, rationalizing excuses so that we can continue in our sinful behavior.
The effects are devastating — Sin isn’t through with you just because you’re through with sin! Scientists have conducted studies that show the dangerous effects of pornography in a very dramatic way. You see, when the human brain encounters erotic images, the brain releases a hormone that permanently burns that image into our memory! These images recur at will, and the unrestrained human mind begins to track only one direction — toward the satisfaction of its lustful desires. The consumer of pornographic material becomes a hollow shell of himself, wandering through life seeking only the fulfillment of the lust that has taken hold of him! No wonder James uses such vivid imagery when he says, “when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:15). Instead of spending his time glorifying God, the pornography addict spends most of his time fantasizing about the perceived joy he will have when his lust is satiated.
The Bible is clear: we are to abstain from fleshly lusts (cf. 1 John 2:16-17), and we are to be, “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2). Pornography is much more insidious than many would have us believe; it reaches to our very souls and causes us to crave things to which we are not entitled. Consider the warning of the wise man in Proverbs 6:32: “Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding: he that does so destroys his own soul.”
— John Baker
1. Hall, Laurie. “An Affair of the Mind.” Focus on Family Publishers, 1996.
2. Laws, Jim. “Sexual Revolution (Pornography).” Paul Sain, editor. “Truth in Love Lectureship — The Christian Home.” Pulaski, TN: Sain Publications, 1998.