Thursday, February 28, 2013

Technology and the Christian - Part 20 Pornography

See past articles for context. (Part 1 here; Part 19 here)

With that background in mind, how does technology fit into the picture? Technology, whether it is TV, video, or Internet based can bring us realistic portrayals of sexual situations that in turn trigger the strong sexual desires that are built into us. With men, the strong desires that are aroused through what we see can be very powerful. The Bible calls these lusts. These lusts then can give rise to sin if not dealt with.

Jesus tells us that, “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28. From this simple statement we can see that Jesus' standard is very high. If we are to avoid this kind of potential sexual sin, we need to take precautions. Jesus' very next statement is to say that if our eye offends us, we should pluck it out. Now we could debate whether He was serious or whether He was using hyperbole to prove a point, but nevertheless, it's obvious He takes this very seriously and we should take whatever precautions we can to avoid this sort of sinning. The Apostle Peter wrote to his readers, “I beg you to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” (I Peter 2:11) Peter knew that lusts and strong desires can actually make war against our very souls. We are to abstain from such lusts. They can harm us deep within our psyche. Paul told Timothy to flee from such lusts. So the admonition for us is to do whatever we can to avoid situations that produce these self-destructive lusts and cause them to flourish.

The problem with lust is that it is never satisfied. Sexual immorality of all kinds promises that it will meet the inner longings of our souls, but it never does. We are trapped into an ever deepening desire for more and the satisfaction we derive from our sin becomes less and less. God's secret to happiness is what Jesus taught the people in the Sermon on the Mount—"Happy is the man who hungers and thirsts for righteousness." While this seems totally foreign to the modern mind it is God's way of finding satisfaction. Do we believe God or the world system? Our direction and focus needs to be toward a life of righteousness.

In Ephesians 5:10, Paul tells us that we should find out what pleases the Lord. In verse 11 he tells us not to have any fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, and then in verse 12 he explains that it is shameful to even speak about things which are done by them in secret. In other words, there are things that displease God that people do in secret and it's shameful for Christians to even speak about these things.

So let's take these ideas and put them together. We as Christians are to avoid the immorality that is initiated in our minds by the things which we see; and we are to not even talk about the kinds of things that people do under the cover of darkness or in secret. Focusing our attention on these things can trigger strong desires that war on our souls and do great spiritual damage.

So what does that tell us about TV viewing for example? Doesn't this mean that we should take every precaution in our viewing to avoid those programs and commercials that either trigger immoral thoughts in our minds, or display or discuss immoral activities in detail? In this case, I'm not even talking about pornography. I'm just suggesting that we take great care not to become careless and accustomed to immorality and casual sexual content because in doing so, our own minds can become fertile ground for imagined sexual activity that Jesus condemns.

If these things are true, then what does that say about actual pornography? There's no question that exposure to graphic sexual material will produce strong sexual lusts in our minds and in our bodies that we cannot legitimately act upon from God's point of view. This being the case, we as Christian men need to take every precaution to avoid getting ourselves into the trap that pornography represents.

Technology itself can be addicting as we have discussed before. When you add pornography to the technology, you have a powerful mix. The Bible often speaks of diligence when it comes to the Christian life. It takes a great deal of diligence to avoid the entrapping nature of pornography. What are some of the things we can do to avoid the trap?

First I think we need to look at our lives to see if we really have the desire to live a life that is honoring to God no matter what the cost. This is where a lot of it falls down. We may claim that we are Christians, and we very well may be, but we don't really want to sacrifice the time and attention that it takes to live a consistent, biblical, righteous Christian life.

Second, we need to look at our personal spiritual disciplines carefully. Are we regularly taking the time to pray? Are we reading, studying and meditating on the Scriptures regularly? Are we regularly involved with other Christians in fellowship, prayer and ministry? If not, we are making ourselves vulnerable in many areas including our sexuality.

I've put together a summary of offensive and defensive strategies for fighting against the lusts which war against our soul. You can find it here.

In addition to making sure our Christian life is being supported the way it needs to be, here are some other steps you can take to increase accountability and provide protection for yourself and your family.

  1. Make sure TV viewing is open and public within the home. Children should not have televisions in their rooms where they can watch what they want without supervision.
  2. If you live alone and can't control what you watch, get rid of the TV. (Remember Jesus telling us to pluck out our eye or cut off our arm?)
  3. Computer use should be open and public within the home. Children should not have computers with Internet access or DVD capabilities in their rooms.
  4. Husbands, give your wife complete access to your computer, your browsing history, your Facebook passwords... everything.
  5. Establish an accountability partner who has your permission to ask you anything he wants about your viewing and browsing habits.
  6. If necessary, sign up for a filtering service that will email your browsing history to your wife or an accountability person.
  7. If possible, avoid owning a smart phone. Under no circumstances should teenagers have a smart phone. That sounds radical, I know, but why do any of us have to have access to the Internet 24/7? Do you honestly think a 16 year old boy can keep away from pornography if he has Internet access on his phone where ever he is? Think about it!

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