Yesterday I came across an article that revealed, “5 proven ways pornography warps your mind.” The list is good. I agree in large part with the list. It rings true both to research studies and anecdotal evidence:
- Watching porn decreases our sexual satisfaction
- Watching porn disconnects us from real relationships
- Watching porn lowers our view of women
- Watching porn desensitizes us to cruelty
- Watching porn makes us want to watch more porn
Again, what I know of the topic makes me agree with that list. Those are my observations as well, and I have used several of those arguments myself. That’s a helpful list.
What’s interesting, however, is that Scripture has a list of reasons to avoid sexual sin, and none of those things are on the list.
Hmmm. That makes one wonder if the way that we are fighting against sexual sin is not as powerful as it might be if we used the reasoning of Scripture to transform our minds.
God’s list is given to us in 1 Corinthians 6:15-20. (Admittedly this is not the only passage in Scripture that deals with sexual sin; however, it is one of the most explicit in providing the reasons why one should avoid sex sins, and thus also how one’s mind is to be transformed and renewed into the likeness of Christ.)
Here then are four reasons from God to avoid — flee! run from! — sexual sin:
1. Avoid sexual sin because a believer is joined to Christ, not a prostitute (vv. 15-17).
The believer is a member of Christ. That is, he belongs to the Lord and is connected to Him. The believer is part of God’s family — an adopted son of God, the brother of Christ and the bride of Christ. So when one engages in sexual sin he uses part of Christ’s body to engage in that sin. It is to make a member of Christ a member of a prostitute.
The believer is not “just” watching or looking at pornography. He is inviting Christ to that viewing as well. He makes Christ’s body to be intimate with a prostitute. Such an action is disgusting and incomprehensible. And the believer who is engaged in pornography is not meditating on his relationship with Christ. He has, in fact, disconnected his position in Christ from his sin. He has assumed that it is possible to live a two-souled existence, living partly for Christ and partly for the flesh. He has not considered that such a life is not only unstable (Js. 1:8), but that it is anathema to his position in Christ.
Let the one who is tempted to click the link to the pornography site say aloud, “I am connected to Christ, not to the prostitute who is on the next page!”
2. Avoid sexual sin because sexual sin is a sin against yourself (and against the spouse with whom you are one flesh, v. 18).
All sin is equal in that it all violates the law of God and is worthy of the condemnation and wrath of God. Yet sins have different consequences and results. Not all sins are equal in weightiness and significance. And this verse affirms that there is a uniqueness to sexual sin that makes it different from many others. Sexual sin is not only a sin against others, but it is also a sin against himself. He not only destroys others with his sin, but he destroys himself.
As John MacArthur has noted, “[Sexual sin] drives like no other impulse and when fulfilled affects the body like no other sin. It has a way of internally destroying a person that no other sin has. Because sexual intimacy is the deepest uniting of two persons, its misuse corrupts on the deepest human level.”
It may also be that Paul when Paul mentions “his own body,” he is also referring to the one flesh relationship that comes about between a husband and wife when they marry (Eph. 5:28-31). When a married person engages in any sexual sin (including pornography), he sins against not only against his own body, but also against his one flesh mate. He sins against his body by sinning against his wife. He has selfishly indulged his sinful desires instead of nourishing and cherishing his lawful, God-given bride — and in so doing, he is sinning against and destroying his one flesh fellowship with her.
3. Avoid sexual sin because the believer is indwelt by the Spirit of God, and thus every activity of life should be appropriate for God’s dwelling (v. 19).
Paul is explicit in verse 19 that every believer is a temple in which God dwells. His body is a sanctuary, inhabiting God’s presence. So there should be a dignity attached to every activity of his life, and every activity that is unbecoming of Christ should be excluded. Again, the emphasis is not only on the reality that God sees the activity, but that God’s presence with and connection to (vv. 15-17) the believer actually joins Him to every activity of the believer’s life.
When a believer engages in sexual sin, it is worse than if one were to broadcast pornographic images through the power point projector on the screens of a sanctuary during the worship service. Again, viewing pornography is not a “personal sin that doesn’t hurt anyone.” When indulging in pornographic desires, the believer joins Christ to that activity; he identifies Christ with voyeurism of the basest kinds of sins.
When tempted to linger over an image on the sports page or delay in turning the TV channel to enjoy a few more moments of forbidden images, one must remind himself that he is engaging in an act of worship that is contrary to the worship intended by Christ’s redemption of him. All his actions should conform to the dignity of the Christ living in Him, and to the sanctuary for Christ’s habitation that his body has become.
4. We live for God’s glory, not our own (v. 20).
Verses like 1 Cor. 10:31 tend to flow quickly from our lips but do not dwell richly enough in our hearts. We know the first question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism — our purpose is to live for God and to enjoy Him forever.
But the decisions we make each day reveal what we really live for.
A man who habitually engages in pornography is not living for Christ. He is not glorifying God. He is living for himself. The price God paid in the death of Christ redeemed him from sinful passions and desires. And when he engages in sexual sin, he is asserting that Christ’s salvation is compatible with the selfish indulgence of sexual sin.
But Christ died so that we might learn the wonders of loving and living for Christ more than anything else. We live for Him. We want His wonders to be magnified and we want the sinfulness of sin to be revealed for what it is — and shunned. Christ did not die so we could continue to engage in the paltry, short-lived and deadly activities of the flesh. He died so we would be freed from that bondage. Instead of engaging in the sin, we do well to give thanks for that great gift of freedom from every sexual sin (Eph. 5:4).
So there are the four reasons God gives to abstain from sexual sin. They are counter-intuitive in that they are not the first reasons that come to mind when we think about the fight against the flesh. But they are the reasons that God has given us, and they are the best means of transforming our minds and not being conformed to the mind of the world.
When you are tempted by pornography or any other sexual sin, meditate on the truths that God has given you to fight against those sins.