Pornography is a topic embroiled by contrroversy in our church culture, as well as our culture in general, today. There are numerous programs, monitoring services, workshops, books, accountability software, and internet blockers, who claim to be the ‘solution’ to the problem of porn. Our churches attempt to address the issue from the pulpit through fact based talks on the effects of porn, and feeding us ‘inspirational’ lines like “God won’t tempt you beyond what you can handle,” or “God has already defeated this sin for you, live in victory!” (yes, that really happened) People who mean well, but have never struggled with porn, often offer advice that is not applicable, or is a bit extreme, like have your sister sit beside you every time you are on the computer, or even better don’t use the computer at all. (again, yes) While all these things have their place, facts about porn can be really helpful to understand what it does to us, encouragement from the pulpit can be that boost we really needed, and guidance of those who know what purity looks like can be a great way to set goals to work towards. But, all these things miss the point of what is going on.
The reality is that the problem is sin. Not pornography. We devote our discussion of this issue to talking about why porn is bad, and why purity is good. We talk about how to manage our addiction and put in place safeguards to mitigate the damage. However, our conversation rarely revolves around the topic of obedience, and transformation. Our understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ seems to be missing the core idea of the very Gospel we claim to be preaching. When we miss this point the Gospel means very little for us. We reduce the application of it’s message to eternity, and completely disregard the impact it has on the here and now. When we pursue behaviour management as a solution to the symptoms of a deeper sickness we show that the Gospel has no effect for us now. We end up treating this life changing, earth shattering, message as a get out of hell free card. When we focus on the behaviour we take the tranformative power of Jesus’ message, and reduce it to a spot treatment. It’s like we are trying to put Wite-Out over the coffee stain on the white t-shirt of life, instead of getting out our miraculous Tide-to-Go Gospel and removing the stain completely. (Tide-to-Go is not a miracle, but it’s pretty close) The Gospel of the death and resurection of Jesus Christ is the stain remover, not just the cover up. It is a message of transformative power, and renewing love. It changes who we are at our very core, not just our outside behaviours.
Our behaviours remain a significant part of our lives, but only so far as they are an indication of what lies in our heart, transformed or not. The reality is that transformation of our hearts begets the transformation of our behaviour. When our hearts are changed our behaviour then has a significant foundation to stem from.