How to Battle the Church’s Pornography Problem

Five ways we can apply the Gospel to the fight against this damning epidemic.

As Christians, we know that pornography is wrong, yet statistics continue to show that approximately half of the men in the church — and increasing numbers of women — are at some level addicted to pornography. This epidemic is damaging souls, ruining marriages, destroying relationships, and crippling the church.

countercultureSo how do we fight pornography? We need to realize that this is a battle, and I use that word intentionally. According to 1 Peter 2:11, this is a fight:

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

I don’t think my words are sufficient to make anybody stop watching pornography, but I believe God’s Word and the gospel are more than sufficient. Below, I’ve taken five foundational truths of the gospel, and for each one, made two applications to the fight with pornography.

Each application includes a passage from God’s Word, with minimal explanation. Consider how the character of God, the sinfulness of man, the sufficiency of Christ, the necessity of faith, and the urgency of eternity help us in this fight.

The character of God

Application 1: Cultivate unshakeable zeal for the glory of God’s name.

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10)

Do you long for the glory of God’s name more than anything? Cultivate this. Pray like this every morning, all day long, and every night.

Application 2: Acknowledge your sexual drive as a good gift from a gracious God.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:24-25)

You were made in a way that fits together in one-flesh union with someone of the opposite sex. Now God doesn’t call everyone to marry. He gives grace for many to control this area in a life of God-glorifying singleness, but the reality is that we’re all hard-wired with sexual desire. That is a good gift from a gracious God. So sex isn’t bad. It’s good according to God’s design. 

The sinfulness of man

Application 1: Run from every temptation, knowing that one sin is enough to warrant infinite damnation.

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

Don’t buy the idea that says, “This is no big deal. I’ll just do it once.” This is a huge deal. Remember, Romans 5:12 tells us that it was one sin (in Genesis 3:6) that brought condemnation to all men. One sin brought about all the sin and all the suffering in all the world. Hate one sin, and run from every temptation, knowing that one sin is enough to warrant infinite damnation.

Application 2: Guard yourself with godly friendships and gospel accountability.

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:12-13)

The power of sin is found in its secrecy. As long as you can hide it, you’ll continue to indulge in it. So be in relationship with other brothers or other sisters of the same sex. You are not intended to fight this battle alone. Surround yourself with brothers and sisters who will spur you on toward Christ, and, by the grace of God, with the Word of God, help guard you from yourself. You and I need to be guarded from ourselves!

The sufficiency of Christ

Application 1: Contemplate the price Christ paid for your purity.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! (1 Corinthians 6:15)

See Christ writhing on a cross in agony. Fight tempting images with that image. See Him, not them! See the crucified Christ with you in front of that computer screen, and realize he is united with you as you look at that.

Application 2: Consider the compassion Christ has for the souls of men and women.

When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

Love and pray for these women and men; don’t exploit and abuse them. Women and men in pictures are people — they’re someone’s daughters or sons. There are parents who are weeping over you watching their children like this. These are not objects — they are souls. The women and men in these images need you to point them to Christ, not fuel their exploitation. Their eternity is at stake.

The necessity of faith

Application 1: Believe that God is for you and knows what is best for you.

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.” (Psalm 34:8-10).

In calling you away from pornography, God is calling you away for your good. He knows what is best for you. Believe this!

Application 2: Memorize and meditate on Scripture.

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9-11)

How do you grow in trusting God? By fighting the fight of faith with the weapon of the Word. Take up the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit to fight the flaming arrows of the Evil One. 

The urgency of eternity

Application 1: Ponder the eternal danger and destruction associated with sexual sin.

You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Matthew 5:27-30)

That’s Jesus in the first book of the New Testament, and then at the end of the New Testament, the Word says: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the . . . sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22:14-15).

Don’t be counted among them, men! Women, don’t be counted among them. This is not a game. Ponder the eternal danger and destruction associated with sexual sin. It damns.

Application 2: Ponder the eternal delight and joy associated with future salvation.

. . . a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, [will cry] out,

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure” —

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” (Revelation 19:6-8)

You have been saved to delight in God, and one day that delight will be complete and full. Look forward to that day. I urge you: be found in Christ on that day.

This piece is excerpted from “The Cross and Christian Sexuality, Part 2 — 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, a sermon by the author. You can find this sermon and other resources from David Platt by visiting Radical.net.

Image courtesy of Patryk Sobczak.

David Platt
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  • Pedro Rodas

    Very nice and constructive. Do you mind if I translate it into Spanish? If so, let me know. Blessings.

  • Helen Gichuhi

    Praise God for one willing to talk about something many in the church don’t or fear to.

  • CryingCons

    I had no idea the perfect church had this problem. Why hasn’t Jesus found a solution for this?

  • allinthistogether

    Ponder the very real possibility that pornography is not just about you/oneself. Ponder the fact that eternal salvation is very likely a fiction, and that basing your moral system on chasing salvation is a very selfish model for life. Though the use of pornography is generally deleterious to one’s own psychological and moreal self, and may cost you your salvation, the real sin is against the person whose pornographic image you are abusing. Pornography damages all involved – it reduces the person in the image, etc. to somethinghing less than fully human. Christians should not focus primarily on saving themselves, but on avoiding the damage that the porn industry causes to all involved.

  • nwcolorist

    One of the attacks that are directed against Christians is that their behavior is no better than non-Christians. And it’s seems to be, unfortunately, true. Divorce statistics, alcohol, pornography, and other addictions, pretty much mirror the rest of society.

    It’s interesting to note that every major Biblical character had major faults. Noah was a drunk, Moses, had serious anger issues, all the disciples abandoned Jesus at the most critical moment. There is no record in the Bible of any model citizens playing a part in God’s plan.

    There’s a good reason for that. It also might be worth pondering.