Not What They Told You – Pornography

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: I Thessalonians 4:1-8


I.         Trials come in many forms - James 1:12

            A.        We often think of trials as hardships that are imposed on us by life.

            B.        But temptation to sin is also a trial that we have to overcome

            C.        Temptation doesn’t come from God - James 1:13

                        1.         Though God allows us to face temptations, He is not the source of those temptations.

                        2.         He does restrict the temptations to things God knows we could, if we are willing to put in the effort, to overcome - I Corinthians 10:13

                        3.         The reason He allows us to be tempted is to cause us to grow - James 1:2-4

            D.        So where does temptation come from? - James 1:14-15

                        1.         It starts with our basic desires. Those desires to eat, drink, sleep, be liked, to have sex, etc.

                        2.         None of these things are wrong in themselves, but Satan places us in situations where it appears that we can get our desires satisfied by sinning.

                                    a.         This is called temptation.

                                    b.         Like desires, it is not wrong to be tempted – even Jesus was tempted. We can’t control that others offer us things that on the surface look appealing.

                        3.         But somewhere along the line we begin to breakdown and accept the possibility of what is being offered.

                                    a.         This is lust.

                                    b.         Lust is when you wallow in the desire, even though you know that to satisfy it, you have to sin. You make excuses in your mind why it isn’t that bad to break a law of God to get what you want.

                        4.         Eventually you give in. The actual act is sin.

                        5.         But it rarely stops with just one sin. The fact that you’ve sinned becomes a “reason” to sin again, and again.

                        6.         Somewhere along the line, you stop offering excuses for your sins.

                                    a.         You feel that sin is normal or your right.

                        7.         And when no one can talk you out of sin, you die spiritually

            E.        James compares it to the life of a person

                        1.         Lust is when it starts – the conception

                        2.         Sin is the birth

                        3.         Then it grows up to adulthood - the licentiousness

                        4.         And eventually it leads to death

II.        God calls us to be holy

            A.        The battle is over lusts that we often fell victim to because we were ignorant of the danger - I Peter 1:13-16

            B.        God wants us to be set apart, to be different, to be holy - I Thessalonians 4:1-3

                        1.         Most people know that it is wrong to have sex when you are not married

                        2.         Though in these days you’ll find people playing words games about what actually constitutes sex

                        3.         For now, though, let us take note that you can’t be holy if you are engaging in sex when you are not married

            C.        But that leads people to conclude that as long as they are not actually doing it, then they are still all right with God

                        1.         But go back to what James warned - James 1:16

                                    a.         People get fool by sinned

                                    b.         People too often lie to themselves and so don’t see sin growing

                        2.         Paul said we need to know how to control our bodies in sanctification and honor - I Thessalonians 4:5

                                    a.         In other words, you can’t expect avoid fornication and be holy by giving into sensual behavior

                                    b.         Another word for sensual behavior is lewdness - Romans 13:13-14

                                    c.         Paul goes even further to say that we should not sexually touch others - I Corinthians 7:1

                                                (1)       (Some translations totally miss Paul’s point and change “touch” to “marry”)

            D.        But it goes further than this. We should not be wanting to do things that make us unholy - I Thessalonians 4:5

                        1.         The Jews did as many do today. They looked at the law that said “You shall not commit adultery” and decided that as long as they were having sex with a married woman, then they were fine.

                        2.         But Jesus said - Matthew 5:28

                        3.         Because sin starts in the heart - Mark 7:21-23

            E.        There are two synonyms for lust in a row in I Thessalonians 4:5

                        1.          It is referring to passionate things that causes a person to lust

                        2.         One obvious example is pornography

                        3.         Watching pornography is thinking about having sex outside of marriage and creating a desire for that within yourself.

                        4.         You cannot be involved in this and be holy

III.       The problem of pornography

            A.        Pornography has been a long standing problem. We can see evidence of that in ancient art.

            B.        What has changed recently is the ready accessibility to pornography

                        1.         About 12% of all web sites are porn-related.

                        2.         25% of all search engine requests are related to the topic of sex

                        3.         35% of all downloads are of pornography

                        4.         These numbers come from a 2014 Psychology Today article, “Is Male Porn Use Ruining Sex?”

                        5.         The result is that in June, 2018, a Gallup survey concluded that 43% of Americans now think pornography is morally acceptable.

            C.        While web filters exist, fewer people are using them. Pew Research found in 2005 that 54% of people were using filters. In 2016 that number dropped to 39% on computers and only 16% on cell phones.

            D.        It is especially a problem with younger people. “An estimated 87% of college-age men – and around 30% of women – double-click for sex either weekly or every day.” [Adam Popescu, “Falling in Love with Screens: The science behind how double-clicking for sex rewires our brains – and affects us all.” 4 Mar 2016].

                        1.         Notice that it is not just a male problem, though it is more common among men.

                        2.         “17% of women describe themselves as addicted to pornography. [Keith Perry, “Sex: Women ‘just as easily hooked on online porn as men.’” Daily Telegraph, 6 Aug 2014].

                        3.         “Findings form the Youth Internet Safety Survey indicate that 15% of 12-17 year olds have purposely looked at x-rated material online.”

                        4.         “Data from the PEW Internet and American Life Project suggest that 70% of 15-17 year old Internet users accidently view pornography “very” or “somewhat” often.

                                    a.         In my dealings with people caught up in pornography, the accidents are purposeful. They lie to themselves, do searches that scoot around the edges and then “oops” they are looking at porn again.

IV.      Why is Pornography Addicting?

            A.        It is easy to understand why men in particular are easily hooked into watching pornography

                        1.         Men tend to be visually oriented

                        2.         The male body, once past puberty, requires a periodic release of semen. Prior to each release, the desire for sex rises, even when young male doesn’t know what sex is.

            B.        One study on the most common reasons for engaging in pornography found (there are multiple answers): [Rob Weiss, “Why the Reasons Someone Looks at Porn Matters”, Psychology Today, 18 July 2016.]

                        1.         94.4% are seeking sexual satisfaction

                        2.         87.2% are seeking arousal

                        3.         86.5% are seeking orgasm

                        4.         73.8% are looking to alleviate stress

                        5.         70.8% are looking to alleviate boredom

                        6.         53% are wanting to forget their daily problems

            C.        Thus, while there is a physical drive, there is an aspect where porn is used as a bad coping strategy and a way to regulate a person’s mood.

            D.        “... the biggest trigger for use, regardless of the substance or behavior, is emotional discomfort – stress, anxiety, depression, fear, boredom, loneliness, shame, etc. In short, these individuals use not to feel pleasure but to escape emotional discomfort. It is a desire for emotional escape rather than a desire to "get high" that is the crux of all addictions and compulsive behavior.” [Weiss].

                        1.         If you don’t understand this, consider that many of us, after a hard day at work look for some mindless distraction, such as TV, as a way to escape the stress for a while.

                        2.         It is the combination of pleasure, distraction, stress relief, and for men a physical relief that makes it difficult to stop watching pornography.

                        3.         Thus, lust controls the person’s decisions - Romans 6:12

            E.        It avoids the fear of rejection

                        1.         “And why would we expect any different when online porn guarantees young males exactly what they're looking for in terms of intensity, distraction, control, and a nonexistent risk of rejection?” [Robert Weiss, “Is Male Porn Use Ruining Sex?”, 20 Jan 2014].

V.        What is the harm in pornography?

            A.        James warned us not to be deceived - James 1:16

            B.        Pure and simple: It is lust

                        1.         And as Jesus said, lust defiles the person and leads to actual sin - Mark 7:21-23

            C.        “I’m lonely”

                        1.         Yet, pornography is typically viewed in isolation because people instinctively know it is wrong

                        2.         "From the earliest ages, guys are seduced into excessive and mostly isolated viewing and involvement with texting, tweeting, blogging, online chatting, emailing, and watching sports on TV or laptops. Most of all, though, they're burying themselves in video games and…pornography." [Phillip G. Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan , The Demise of Guys: Why Boys are Struggling and What We Can Do About It].

                        3.         “The fear, of course, is that adolescent boys are no longer learning what it takes to evolve healthy romantic partnerships, that they are using online porn as their model for real-world sexual relationships. And this may well be a legitimate concern since online porn typically has no storyline, no emotional connection, no buildup to the sexual performance, and no concern for physical or emotional safety. There is no talking, ... no romancing, and no tenderness. Usually kissing and foreplay are totally absent. All that's there is an endless stream of idealized body parts and sexual acts” [Robert Weiss, “Is Male Porn Use Ruining Sex?”, 20 Jan 2014].

                        4.         “Those who frequently consume Internet pornography are less likely to marry because they see pornography as a marital sexual gratification substitute.” [M. Malcom and G. Naufal, “Are Pornography and Marriage Substitutes for Young Men?” Institute for the Study of Labor, 2014].

            D.        “I want to learn how to have sex”

                        1.         But what is shown is not marital sex but fornication. Real sex is about giving pleasure. Fornication is about selfish gratification.

                        2.         “... when a guy spends 70, 80, or even 90 percent of his sex life [watching] online porn – endless images of sexy, exciting, constantly changing partners and experiences – he is, over time, likely to find his real-world partner less stimulating than the visuals parading through his mind. In other words, the digital porn explosion has created in some men an emotional disconnection that is manifesting physically as sexual dysfunction with real-world partners.” [“Is Male Porn Use Ruining Sex?”]

                                    a.         In other words, porn doesn’t help a guy learn sex, it interferes with his ability to enjoy real sex.

            E.        It hurts a man’s spouse

                        1.         One “study found that as a male partner's porn use increases, his female partner's self-esteem and relationship happiness decreases. The most common complaint by women whose male partners frequently use porn is feeling like they don't (and can't) measure up to the unrealistic perfection of online images” [“Is Male Porn Use Ruining Sex?”]

                        2.         “Individuals who never view sexually explicit material report higher relationship quality and lower rates of infidelity than those who do” [“Enough is Enough: Pornography”, 2018]

            F.        It teaches violence

                        1.         “In 2010 the journal Violence Against Women reported physical aggression in 88.2% of leading pornography scenes and verbal aggression in 48.7%”

            G.        It leads to homosexuality

                        1.         Because there is a drive to find greater shock in what is being viewed, eventually the person finds himself watch more and more corrupted forms of sex - Proverbs 9:17

                        2.         Even when he is disgusted by what he sees, he returns to them because the shock makes them more stimulating.

                        3.         Over time he becomes calloused to these ideas - I Timothy 4:1-2

            H.        In other words, God had a good reason to state that pornography is sinful

VI.      Imitating God by not having sin associated with us - Ephesians 5:1-2

            A.        People who are set apart (saints) must not be associated with

                        1.         Fornication (immorality) - having sex with someone you are not married to

                        2.         Impurity (uncleanness) - all sexual activity outside of marriage

                                    a.         Uncleanness is found in other lists of sexual sins - (II Corinthians 12:21, Galatians 5:19, Colossians 3:5

                                    b.         As an example - Romans 1:24-25

                                    c.         It is not restricted to acts of sexual intercourse outside of marriage. It also includes acts that lead to sin or encourage sin, especially sexual sins.

                                    d.          Sins of uncleanness are the things that ought to be disgusting to someone trying to live a holy life. Without being graphic, sins of uncleanness in regard to sex are the things a number of people are willing to do that ought to make people go “Ewwh!” at that very idea. Sadly, their minds are so dirtied by sin that they don’t see it as a problem.

                        3.         Greediness (covetousness) - the extreme desire to have what doesn’t belong to you.

                                    a.         Greed is the motivation behind fornication, lewdness and uncleanness - Ephesians 4:19

            B.        Not just the action, but it also must be seen in our talk - Ephesians 5:4

                        1.         Filthiness - Dirty talk. Sexually charged innuendo or explicit talk.

                        2.         Silly Talk - Fooling around, being silly, but were the topic is sexual or about sexual parts of the body.

                        3.         Coarse Jesting - Telling jokes about sex or sexually related topics

            C.        It is a serious matter. Our salvation depends on it - Ephesians 5:5-7

                        1.         How we behave determines our entry into heaven

                        2.         How we talk tells other people what we think and what we approve of

            D.        Applying this:

                        1.         Goofing off with the guys, and there are jokes and actions indicating sex

                        2.         Listening to music that talks about having sex outside of marriage

                        3.         Talking about sex with someone you are not married to

                        4.         Sending naked pictures of others or yourself. In reality, this is nothing more than homemade pornography.

            E.        The usual excuse is that “We’re not actually doing it.”

                        1.         But what are you telling people?

                        2.         What do they assume you do when no one is watching?

                        3.         How does this set you apart from the rest of the world?

VII.     Solomon warned that you can’t start on the path toward sin and not expect to eventually reach the destination - Proverbs 4:14-16

            A.        Too often we forget that there are others who travel the same path and they want to drag you along.

                        1.         For instance you might not intend to have sex, but what if your boyfriend or girlfriend has different plans?

                        2.         You might avoid pornography, but what will you do when your friends say “Look at this!”?

            B.        You can’t let your emotions or impulses run your life. You have to think about the long-term results of what you do.

            C.        Is it righteous?

                        1.         Would I want mom or dad walking in and seeing what I’m looking at?

                        2.         And, yet, God is always watching

            D.        Sin has a way of not remaining secret - Ephesians 5:11-12

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