Internet Pornography, Sham Repentance and the Gospel

In light of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s actions on Internet pornography, here’s why I think we ought to care about digital porn.

There’s a situation in counseling I come across all too often: A couple will typically tell me first about how stressful their lives are. Maybe he’s lost his job. Perhaps she’s working two. Maybe their children are rowdy or the house is chaotic. But usually, if we talk long enough about their fracturing marriage, there is a sense that something else is afoot.

The couple will tell me about how their sex life is near extinction. The man, she’ll tell me, is an emotional wraith, dead to intimacy with his wife. The woman will be frustrated, with what seems to him to be a wild mixture of rage and humiliation. They just don’t know what’s wrong, but they know a Christian marriage isn’t supposed to feel like this.

It’s at this point that I interrupt the discussion, look at the man, and ask, “So how long has the porn been going on?”

The couple will look at each other, and then look at me, with a kind of fearful incredulity that communicates the question, “How do you know?”

For a few minutes, they seek to reorient themselves to this exposure, wondering, I suppose, if I’m an Old Testament prophet or a New Age psychic. But I’m not either. One doesn’t have to be to sense the spirit of this age.

In our time, pornography is the destroying angel of (especially male) Eros, and it’s time the church faced the horror of this truth.

A Perversion of the Good.

In one sense, the issue of pornography is not new at all. Human lust for covenant-breaking sexuality is rooted, Jesus tells us, not in anything external to us, but in our fallen passions (Matt. 5:27-28). Every generation of Christians has faced the pornography question, whether with Dionysian pagan art, or with Jazz Age fan-dancers or with airbrushed centerfolds.

But the situation is unique now.

Pornography is not now simply available. With the advent of Internet technology, with its near universal reach and its promise of secrecy, pornography has been weaponized.

In some sectors, especially of our young male populations, it is nearly universal. This universality is not, contrary to the propaganda of the pornographers themselves, a sign of its innocence, but of its power.

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Russell Moore
Dr. Moore is the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as a preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church, where he ministers weekly at the congregation’s Fegenbush location. Moore is the author of several books, including "The Kingdom of Christ," "Adopted for Life," and "Tempted and Tried."

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