When the Covid Pandemic began, another pandemic also began wrecking the lives of people — the porn pandemic. Several articles that hit the web noted the co-relation between depression, loneliness, stress and even boredom, and the increase in viewing explicit content.1 Viewing pornography became a way to unwind and relax. And with low-cost internet access, digital devices become the gateway to unbridled indulgence in depraved pleasures. It goes without saying that there can never be any good explanation or defense for Christians to view or use pornography. It not only violates the sanctity of the God-given intimate act between a husband and a wife, it also desecrates the God-intended portrait that sex represents: the one-flesh, unifying-love that Christ has for His church.
How can we stop ourselves from succumbing to the evil allures of the world? I want to suggest three general principles that, I believe, encompass any specific advice that one may receive on pursuing and practicing sexual purity. While I primarily have in mind young men when I write these things, it equally applies to young women as well.
“Look at Your Feet”: Getting the Good News Right
As Romans 10:15 says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” and as Ephesians 6:15 says, “the readiness given by the gospel of peace” are the shoes for our feet. When tempted to sin, look at your feet and remember the One who washed your feet (John 13:5). His life was given so that we may be forgiven, reconciled to God and not walk in the ways of the world as children of disobedience (Col 3:7). Remember that because of what the Lord has done we should not gratify our fleshly desires but, rather, walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16). Look at your feet and remember the One whose feet were pierced for you. Pursuing purity requires us to pursue Christ. And it is vital for us to get this good news right. When we get this right, four truths flow from it that needs to be set before us at all times.
Firstly, know that any intervention, therapy, good work that we do to overcome sin is subservient to and is a result of the work of Christ. You are not saved by your sexual purity or even by your pursuit of it. Rather, you are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
The second truth, therefore, follows the first, namely that your effort to attain purity is not meritorious. Just because you are trying “really hard” does not mean that God therefore owes it to you to save you from this sin. Remember, you are saved by grace.
And since you are saved by God’s grace, stemming from His love, the third truth that follows is that your identity is not defined by your sin. If you have repented and trusted Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, then your identity is: chosen, called, saved, loved, sanctified, and (to-be) glorified in Christ. Therefore, Christ, the beloved of God, to whom you are united, He is your identity (Col 3:3).
And from this, follows the fourth truth that the goal is not to pursue purity as an end in itself. Rather, the goal of pursuing purity is to become like Christ in order to love and worship God with sincere hearts and clean minds devoted to Him. Freedom from sin, is slavery to God through Christ. And this is good.
“Wield the Sword”: Applying the Word of God
With respect to your own fight against sin using the Sword: firstly, run (2 Tim 2:22a). Cut (pun intended) all possible access to sin that caters to your youthful lusts, and pursue the things of the Lord NOT by yourself, but with others who are doing the same (2 Tim 2:22b). Or in other words, if you haven’t already done so, join a healthy church – a church where the Word is preached faithfully and the ordinances rightly administered, where the members lovingly disciple and discipline each other, and where you can grow in the Lord as the Lord intends you to.2 Secondly, obey Scripture’s call to examine your own heart. Introspect to identify the motivating factor for your sin: why do you do what you do? Are you unsure how to spend your time and are choosing to resort to pornography? Are you stressed at work or home such that you are looking for an outlet in this? Are you feeling dissatisfied in life or are you alone such that you are trying to fill a void? What is the offer of the enemy that makes you want to lay your weapon down and embrace him? Once you become self-aware of the motivations of your heart and seek to correct it, the manifestation of sin would be remedied.
With respect to letting others use the Sword to kill sin in your life, that requires you to be vulnerable and open. These ‘others’ are not any random Joes on the street. Rather, they are brothers (or sisters for sisters) in the church whom you trust are able to address sin both honestly and without flinching, yet being compassionate and gracious. Ideally, involve one of your elders as well since they have been given the charge of watching over your soul.3 If you can afford it, use accountability tools such as Covenant Eyes,4 Fortify,5 or Canopy6 to keep yourself accountable with others and track the victories that the Lord would give you. Sufficient to say, you should not fight sin by yourself. You will lose and none will know. Invite others to maim and kill sin in your life.
Much more can be said but others have said it better. As a start, I would direct you to few articles on wielding the Sword to wage war against sin which you can find here7 and here,8 and also on using the Sword against you by others which you can find here.9
This, then leads to the third principle which we will consider in the next article.
1 One such example that links to further research is this: https://theconversation.com/porn-use-is-up-thanks-to-the-pandemic-134972
2 If you are not part of a church, then find a healthy church and join one as soon as possible. Scripture is clear that the spiritual growth of an individual happens only in communion with the community that God has formed. And, therefore, accountability works best only if you are a member of a local church.
3 If for some reason, you do not trust your elder to either give you biblical counsel or be confidential about what you share with him, then it is probably not a healthy church to be part of in the first place. However, if your discomfort with your elder is because you do not know him all too well, then my suggestion would be: don’t wait to get comfortable and then commit. Rather, commit first and then grow in your comfort.
6 https://canopy.us/ This app was recently recommended by The Gospel Coalition: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/the-most-effective-technology-on-the-planet-to-block-pornography/
7 https://www.9marks.org/article/how-should-i-respond-to-the-growing-pornography-consumption/ cf. For ministering to someone struggling with pornography, this would be a helpful article: https://www.pastorscenter.org/blog/fighting-the-porn-pandemic-as-a-pastor-part-1-trench-level-warfare
9 https://www.9marks.org/article/how-do-church-members-fight-porn-addiction-together/ cf. For pastors, this would be a helpful article: https://www.pastorscenter.org/blog/fighting-the-porn-pandemic-as-a-pastor-part-2-a-corporate-minded-strategy