All of you reading this, male and female, have seen “porn.”
Don’t believe me?
Today 12 percent of websites are pornographic, and 40 million Americans are regular visitors — including 70 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds, who look at porn at least once a month, according to a recent survey by Cosmopolitan magazine (which, let's face it, is the authority here).
Fully 94 percent of therapists in another survey reported seeing an increase in people addicted to porn.
It has become a whole generation's sex education and could be the same for the next — they are fumbling around online, not in the back seat.
One estimate now puts the average age of first viewing at 11.
Imagine seeing "Last Tango in Paris" before your first kiss.
So let’s move on.
The real issue is “What did it do to you?”
I know, you say, “Nothing.”
But that’s naïve. Or worse, self-deception.
Because it did more to you than you know.
Countless studies connect porn with a new and negative attitude to intimate relationships, and neurological imaging confirms it.
Susan Fiske, professor of psychology at Princeton University, used MRI scans in 2010 to analyze men watching porn. Afterward, brain activity revealed, they looked at women more as objects than as people.
The new DSM-5 will add the diagnosis "Hypersexual Disorder," which includes compulsive pornography use.
Let’s be less technical.
First, it exposed you.
You saw things through porn you never saw before, and wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Once exposed, you were never the same. You can’t erase images from your mind, much less your soul. It’s like cutting your way through a forest with a hatchet. As far as you go in, is as far as you will go the next time.
Second, it numbed you.
Porn is like a shot of novocaine through your spirit. I know, you think it arouses you, but in truth, it deadens you. The more you see, the more it takes to titillate. Which means that the more you see, the more your natural spirit, sexual and spiritual, is killed.
After doses of porn, do you look at your spouse as your spouse again? Is your mind filled with desire for your mate, or with images from a computer screen? Has this made you more alive, or more deadened?
You know the answer.
Finally, it seduced you.
It lured you in, promising emotional filling and sexual satisfaction. Did it give it? No. But it drew you in with the promise of it.
I think I’ve finally found the analogy for porn and our lives.
Porn is a drug.
Many drugs give you an awakening experience, such as LSD, that “opened” your eyes. But then the drugs numb you. Uppers lead to downers, good trips to bad trips, an escaped life leads to an avoided life.
Then came the addiction, which promised everything, but delivered nothing.
But you couldn’t escape. You needed the “hit.”
Friend, break it off.
Porn is decadent, despicable, and degrading.
The women are a fantasy. In reality, most were desperately wayward girls, and as adult women, are addicts and willing to do anything for money.
And if you are married, your wife is precious. Remember that she was once beautiful in your eyes, and is always in God’s.
As the scripture says, “let her breasts satisfy you always.”
Take that any way you want.
But at the least, it means that you turn away from the seduction of pornography, and turn toward the reality.
I have been married to my wife for close to 30 years.
Want a shocker?
She’s more sexually attractive to me now than ever. Sorry if that’s TMI.
But it’s true.
Even more, I’m committed to us growing “old and ugly” together.
But it won’t be ugly.
It will be beautiful.
Because through my eyes, she is.
And I don’t let anything else color my vision.
James Emery White
“Online Pornography's Effects, and a New Way to Fight Them,” Holly Finn, The Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2013, read online.
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, N.C., and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.