A recent study from Case Western Reserve University sheds some light on this subject. Researchers concluded that there is a strong relationship between religious belief and the perception that personal porn use is an “addiction.”
To be clear, the study did not see any relationship between religiosity to the actual use of porn. Christians don’t use porn any more or less than non-Christians (according to this study). Rather, a Christian who watches porn at a certain frequency is far more likely to say he or she is “addicted” than the non-religious person who uses porn at the same frequency.
Joshua Grubbs, the author of the study, commented, “We were surprised that the amount of viewing did not impact the perception of addiction, but strong moral beliefs did.”
The Church Needs to Speak Clearly to a Sexually Confused Culture
As far as critics are concerned, the answer is a relatively simple one: “What’s causing all the commotion about porn is not its use or misuse, but the rigid, prudish moral standard the dominates the Christian’s conscience. Loosen the moral standard and the perceived problem goes away.”
The first problem with this solution is that it is factually inaccurate. Whole online communities have cropped up in recent years (such as Reddit’s NoFap and PornFree groups), founded by and filled with ardently secular people who are experiencing porn-induced erectile dysfunction and talking about porn addiction as as serious problem.
The second problem with this solution is that this is unsustainable for the Christian. The church’s sexual ethic is not based on ever-changing psychological models and trends. It is based on revelation from the Living God, “with whom there is no variation or shadow of change” (James 1:17).
Still, the church needs to be ready with an answer before the watching world. How should we use the label of “addiction” when it comes to pornography—or should we use it at all? The need to address this question has never been greater because porn use is at an all-time high.
- One in eight searches online is for erotic content.
- More than a third of teenage boys say they’ve seen porn “more times than I can count.”
- More than two thirds of college age men and a fifth of college age women go online for sexual purposes every week.
If the church wishes to have dialogue with a pornified world, then the terms we use to talk about porn should be clear and honest.
1. My failures are usually the result of over-confidence. When I’ve failed it’s often because I was putting too much trust in myself and not enough in God. A happy side-effect is that it has usually produced more prayerful dependence upon God.
2. Failure has made me more sympathetic to others. If I’d never failed in my parenting, preaching, teaching, financial decisions, etc., I would have no patience, sympathy, or help for others who had.
3. My failures have helped to re-direct my life. I’ve realized that I’m just not gifted for certain things I would love to do and I should focus on the areas God has equipped me for. Though painful at the time, I can look back with gratitude for failures that have changed my course.
4. Failure has given me a deep appreciation for people who succeed in areas I’ve failed in (usually jobs involving practical skills like plumbing, carpentry, mechanics, etc).
5. Failure has taught me to credit successes to God. When things go well, I recognize that it’s God alone who enabled, helped, and blessed, promoting more thankfulness and humility.
6. Many of my failures have been the result of being too tired or too busy. If I pace my life better and get good rest I seem to make better short- and long-term decisions.
7. My failures make me worship the Lord Jesus Christ more. When I consider how many mini-failures I have in a week and how many major failures in a decade, I’m awestruck to think that He spent 33 years on earth and never failed once!
“When I say that God is the Gospel I mean that the highest, best, final, decisive good of the gospel, without which no other gifts would be good, is the glory of God in the face of Christ revealed for our everlasting enjoyment. The saving love of God is God’s commitment to do everything necessary to enthrall us with what is most deeply and durably satisfying, namely himself.
Since we are sinners and have no right and no desire to be enthralled with God, therefore God’s love enacted a plan of redemption to provide that right and that desire. The supreme demonstration of God’s love was the sending of his Son to die for our sins and to rise again so that sinners might have the right to approach God and might have the pleasure of his presence forever.” -John Piper (God is the Gospel)
Paul Tripp, Mike Cosper and Matt Boswell discuss the battle of the heart in worship leaders.