Call It Pornolatry
As a number of men have recently blogged on the plague of pornography, and offered help for protecting your family and redeeming your life from it (see Tim Challies, “The Porn-Free Family“; Eric Simmons, “I Hate Porn“; John Piper, “Pornography: The New Narcotic“), I thought I would join with these other brothers and offer another piece of arsenal in the fight. Below is a re-posting, slightly edited, of a piece I wrote a while back that employs the strategy of prophets like Isaiah who used satire to try to help people see their sin. Only as men see pornography for the false worship it is and turn to the living God will they find freedom and life.
Modern man thinks he does not worship idols, which only proves that he does. How so?
Consider for a moment the current epidemic of pornography. The pornography industry was put into check somewhat by the morality movement during the 1980′s that led a few national chains to quit carrying obscene material. Yet, with the advent of the Internet and personalized computers, pornography has returned with a vengeance. Some of the facts:
- Estimates are that as many as 200,000 Americans exhibit addictive behavior to pornography, much like a drug user.
- The Justice Department estimates that nine of 10 children between the ages of 8 and 16 have been exposed to pornography online.
- Two-thirds of the divorce lawyers attending a 2002 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said excessive interest in online porn contributed to more than half of the divorces they handled that year.
- The pornography industry in the United States alone is a $10-14 billion enterprise.
- One of every seven calls received at Focus on the Family’s Pastoral Care Line regards internet pornography. One survey showed that forty percent of pastors had viewed internet obscenity in the last month.
That pornography is a major problem even in the church cannot be denied. What the church must see, but its very nature makes it difficult to see, is that pornography is idolatry.
For what is idolatry? Coming from a compound word that means “to serve images,” idolatry is defined to be in part “blind or excessive devotion to something; image-worship or divine honor paid to any created object.” Certainly that describes those who devote themselves to pornography. That is why I suggest we should call it what it really is: pornolatry.
Think about it, friend. The guy sitting at the computer screen gawking in awe at the image of a naked woman may scoff at the other guy gazing in awe at the image of a naked Buddha and say, “I would never do anything so stupid as that!” Yet you see, that’s the way of idolatry. Idolatry has blinded both fools.
Blindness is one of the most horrible judgments of idolatry. Listen to the pronouncement against the idolater in Psalm 115:4-8:
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of man’s hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; they have eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but they cannot hear; they have noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but they cannot feel; they have feet, but they cannot walk; They cannot make a sound with their throat. Those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them.
What the guy worshiping the beautiful body of the porn star does not understand is that his fantasy to actually see, hear and touch her is but a lie. The Buddhist wants to reach a higher idealized state, and, oh boy, so does our pornolatrist, but he deludes himself. The awful truth is that he is actually becoming like the image in front of him.
So I say to you who view pornography, “Don’t you understand? That’s not a real woman in front of you, but an image of her. She – no – IT cannot hear you, IT cannot see you, IT cannot feel you, IT cannot talk to you and, quit kidding yourself, IT certainly does not want to be with you. And do you not understand that is now what is happening to you? You cannot see, hear or feel either. You have become like the goddess you are worshipping – blind, deaf, insensitive, and unfeeling.”
How so? The pornolatrist is blind to the pain he brings upon his own family. He is deaf to the cries of the men, women and children used in this shameful industry and the eventual disease and death that come upon them. He cannot feel the pain he causes his wife by his cyber-adultery. His protest that it is not adultery just proves all over again how much like his idol he has become (and besides, the Lord Jesus says it is adultery – see Matthew 5:28). He grows insensitive to the people around him, using them for his own lusts and pleasures. No wonder the vast majority of rapists, molesters, kidnappers, and incestuous men have used pornography prior to their crimes.
So if you have become enslaved to pornography – if you are a pornolatrist – is there any hope for you? Yes. The above links point to some of the ways. But let us start here with the very first step. Right after warning people against committing adultery with their eyes, Jesus told his hearers what the initial step is for those with this problem. “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29). The first step involves tearing out your eyes. Ironic, is it not, telling those that have become blind with lust that they need to tear out their eyes? That may seem to you to be awfully radical.
Well. if so, that is just revealing to you the heart of your problem. For what you cannot see is that you cannot see. What you cannot hear is that you cannot hear. What you cannot feel is that you cannot feel. What you refuse to see, hear, and feel most of all is what this verse also tells you. You are headed to hell.
Before it is too late, tear out those blind eyes. Then look with fresh eyes at another form of nakedness for a moment. Jesus Christ was hung bloodied, beaten, and naked upon a cross to save idolaters like you. He was raised three days later to show his power over every sin and to clothe those who believe in him with a pure, white righteousness.
Then think about this, friend. Becoming like the one you worship is not only the case for false worship, but also true worship. Worship and serve Christ with full devotion. Long above all else to know Him. Rid your life of all other competitors. Desire with all your heart to see him when he returns. For the promised result? “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (I John 3:2-3).
Can you not see and hear true beauty in that?