It is my habit, once each week, to write a brief piece answering a question from a reader. I also write one piece each week wherein I set my own agenda. Truth be told, even the question answering pieces tend to morph into something on my agenda. These pieces are published and promoted in sundry corners of the world wide web, many of which leave opportunity for comment. Earlier this week I was asked about the Bible’s response to polygamy and concubinage. Though there are missionaries who have to deal with such things, I doubt many of my readers are tempted in this particular direction. I took the time to answer the question, however, because it gave me an opportunity to address something that interests me, the patient way God deals with our folly.
In one particular corner a discussion ensued that touched on how rare this problem is, and why oh why didn’t I address a far more important question related to sexual fidelity- pornography. And so here I am. I suspect there are not a handful of my blog readers, Facebook friends or even twitter followers who have been seriously tempted to take a second wife or a concubine. I suspect that less than a handful, at least among the men, are never tempted by pornography, and that literally thousands of them are caught in its terrible grip. I suspect, however, the whole of that universe of people who read me on the internet have another related problem- we don’t believe the Bible.
I could here take some time to collect some shocking statistics or share some anecdotes related to pornography. I could discuss my own theory on why this evil is skyrocketing- (the short version is that the internet is the first pornography delivery system that does not involve doing business with a human being. The shame of buying a magazine or renting a video, when you, the salesman and everyone else in the store knows how this product is “used” is a fairly potent deterrent.) Instead I want to share the wisdom I preach to myself, to my sons, and to those sheep who have been under my care over the years. Pornography isn’t merely a sin. It isn’t merely a shameful sin. It isn’t merely an assault on your marriage bed and the whole of your family. Pornography, according to the Bible, is the very pathway to death:
With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, With her flattering lips she seduced him. Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, Till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, He did not know it [would cost] his life. Now therefore, listen to me, [my] children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth: Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, Do not stray into her paths; For she has cast down many wounded, And all who were slain by her were strong [men.] Her house [is] the way to hell, Descending to the chambers of death. Proverbs 7:21-27
We are as foolish as the young man whose liver was so struck, not because we succumb to the temptation of pornography, but because we succumb to the temptation to belittle God’s Word. We think this is just talking about, you know, real adultery, not the kind Jesus talked about in the Sermon on the Mount. We think this is but a word picture, an analogy, a metaphor designed to scare us away. What it is instead is the Word of God, designed to warn us away from death.
Though I can’t cite them, I have read studies have shown that what men look at the most when viewing pornography is not what is usually covered in public. They look instead into the face, into the eyes. There she speaks the lie that she is ours, that we can enjoy the blessings of sexual union apart from covenant fidelity, that she will give herself to us. She lies as she seeks to lead us to death.
Our problem isn’t pornography. Our problem is that we don’t believe God. Her words lead downward into the chambers of death. His Word is a lamp unto our feet. Whatever internet tools you need to fight this, get them. Whatever books you need to read, read them. Whatever Biblical counseling you need to be set free, heed it. But above all, remember to believe His Word. Believe her and you will die. Believe Him, and live.