The Symptoms

Pornography is a snare to a man’s soul.  It’s addictive.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I realize in a previous post that I wrote on the idea that pornography is an extremely bad habit.  I still believe that.  By using the term addiction, I only mean to show how this habit has a psychological effect.  It is not meant to give anyone a pass by blaming it on addiction.  That’s why I hesitate at all to attribute addition to the problem.  To interject the word addiction, it is only meant to describe pornography in a descriptive way.  Since addictive can mean “causing a strong and harmful need to regularly have or do something,” it seems to fit the narrative.

However, it is the symptoms of pornography that I really want to touch on.  To suggest pornography is only a symptom is to suggest there is a greater problem beneath the surface.  To be sure, pornography is a huge blight on our society.  But what is it that is at the root?  Like an onion, for each layer there are other problems.  What I believe to be at the core, though, is idolatry.  Think about it.  God should be our desire.  The Bible says we should love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Instead, we give our focus and energy to other “gods” that demand our attention.

Idolatry is a difficult concept to grasp.  We all think that it has to be a bronze statue where someone is kneeling down and chanting prayers.  That’s true but there are other ways idolatry shows up.  The definition of idolatry is “extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.”  If something, like pornography, has become an addiction (remember the definition of strong or harmful need), then it has become an idol.

What about other areas in life?  For some, it may be difficult to believe that there are certain habits that could be considered idolatry.  However, it’s only a matter of recognizing some thing that you think or do that is not healthy or beneficial.  How many in our nation suffer with weight gain?  Is it gluttony, the habit of eating or drinking too much, that they desire more than God?  Or how about gossiping?  Do people love unconstrained conversation meant to hurt others more than God?  Why is it when you learn some juicy tidbit about someone you know that you find it difficult to keep it to yourself?  These are some of the less extremes of bad habits.  But in context, can’t you see how each of these can be considered idolatry?

Again, I go back to the idea that idolatry is the core issue.  None of us likes the idea of putting something or someone before God.  Well, most of us anyway.  But to identify the problem is to recognize the symptoms.  And I believe viewing or being involved in pornography is one symptom.  Although, the symptoms may show up in varying degrees.  We need to recognize these.

Pornography is similar in its effects as other habits.  But what may be different is that its symptoms are devastating internally and externally.  Speaking only as a man, I recognize that it creates inner turmoil.  It creates a hormone and chemical process in the brain that stimulates the body.  The brain responds to visual images quite rapidly.  In a moment of what may seem like only a brief second, the brain has the capacity of responding to an image and releasing chemicals that are just as powerful as cocaine.  So, whether intentional or not, when a man sees even “soft porn” it has an effect on him.

Many may not realize how difficult the culture can make it for a man that wants to be pure in spirit.  Women today often dress so provocatively it actually doesn’t leave much to the imagination.  This can be a form of “soft porn” that triggers the chemical release in the brain.  Of course, there are billboards, window dressing in malls, television shows, etc. that provide the same handicaps.  This is not to say that a man doesn’t have any control.  It only makes it that much more difficult.  This is the internal battle that takes place in a man’s soul.  The effects can be damaging spiritually, as well as emotionally and relationally.

Of course, pornography doesn’t take place on an island.  How this medium affects the culture and the world is devastating and destructive.  These are the external symptoms.  In creating the pictures, images, videos, etc., many young ladies and girls have been manipulated and exploited.  It’s becoming more widely known that girls are often kidnapped, raped, abused, and forced into this form of media only to add to the wealth of the oppressors in this multi-billion dollar industry.  It’s hard to imagine a society that prides itself on respect and dignity would allow this to continue.  The contradiction and the hypocrisy from the government, the courts, colleges, and various private and public institutions are very telling.  In allowing pornography to become this heinous monster that feeds upon its most vulnerable citizens, it speaks loudly to the corrupt and sinful nature of every person.  In other words, idolatry.

No one can say that there is nothing that can be done.  Politicians can change laws, courts can rule on the side of life and dignity, the public can demand accountability and hold its elected officials to higher moral standards, men can turn from aiding and abetting an industry that destroys lives in more ways than one, and women can learn purity and modesty that is honoring to God.  These are only a handful of ideas and suggestions.  But nothing truly is going to change until people recognize their own sinful nature, repent from idolatry, and turn to God.  It’s only through the power of the cross and the message of hope through the Gospel of Jesus Christ that true and lasting change can ever take place.  Until then, the symptoms of a culture going under is only going to increase and intensify.