“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful,
who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the
temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
- 1 Corinthians 10:13
Temptation gnaws at everyone in different ways, and it's the first step in the cycle of porn addiction. If you have faced this temptation (as most men have), then unfortunately you have already stepped into the cycle. The decision you make after that determines whether you continue to ride or get off at the next stop.
It goes without saying that porn is an amazingly powerful temptation for the vast majority of men. Women certainly use porn, too, but men remain its primary consumers. This is due to pornography’s appeal to the deepest, strongest, God given male desires for sexual fulfillment.
First of all, note that I call it “sexual fulfillment” and not simply “sexual pleasure.” The two terms are not direct equivalents. Regardless, it's common for people to either mistake one for the other, or use them interchangeably. Sometimes we pursue sexual fulfillment under the mistaken impression that more pleasure is tantamount to deeper fulfillment. It’s easy to experience a variety of sexual pleasures. But one can undergo such experiences and still remain an unsatisfied, empty, emotional shell lacking true fulfillment. Sexual fulfillment is so much more.
Men seek sexual fulfillment as a fundamental, driving need. The only fitting avenue to satisfy that need, of course, is the God ordained institution of marriage. Ideally, the marriage arrangement not only grants us a healthy avenue for the exchange of sexual pleasure, but it also provides the love, companionship, and emotional support that are essential to true fulfillment. Sexual fulfillment is more than a physical connection; it’s an emotional and spiritual connection as well. Through marriage, the physical, emotional, and spiritual intertwine, complimenting each other perfectly.
However, this is only possible under the ideal circumstances that God designed. As we are wont to do, we misplace the gratification of this desire. We remove it from its proper context in order to tread the path of least resistance. Porn offers the promise of sexual fulfillment - a benefit and natural byproduct of marriage alone - without the “hassle” of marriage to “hinder” it. While this enticement can carry great appeal, in little time it becomes clear that we’ve been sold a bill of goods - a promise that porn can never uphold.
Second, note that I claim this desire to be God given. This fact by no means gives us a free pass to view porn. The fact that we are born with an inherent interest in pursuing females does not authorize us to resign ourselves to porn’s inevitability. We have no right to throw our hands up and claim, “God made me this way.” or, “I am bound to look at porn because I am a man, and if you don’t like it, you can just deal with it.” The desire is absolutely from God, but so are the means to control it. God planted the desire in us, but this is no excuse to abuse it.
As quoted above, 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us there is always a way out. We are always in control of our own actions. We always have a choice. We just have to be courageous enough to make the right one. That choice can spiral you into a seemingly hopeless, depressive mental state, or into a blessed and holy life of spiritual peace.
Third, it is important to point out that, while temptation is the first point in the cycle, as well as the point where the cycle resets, it can also be the point where the cycle ends. Temptation does not equal transgression, and we should never feel guilty for being tempted. Once we are faced with the enticement of lust and porn, we have the choice to either give in to it or to resist it. That choice could bless your life, or it could lead to disaster. It is not an easy choice, but it is a possible one.
Last, I want to encourage you to do anything within your power to immediately reduce temptation in your life. Take whatever precautions necessary to eliminate as much temptation as possible from your life. There will always be new forms, new sources, and new methods, but we must learn to adapt and protect our hearts from the penetrating attacks of the tempter.
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around
like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
- 1 Peter 5:8
Guard you heart, and don’t be satan's next meal.
Next time, we will examine the second step in the porn cycle: use. The moment you face temptation and lose can be the point you begin to spiral out of control. But it doesn't have to be.