Is Porn Really That Big of a Deal?

Dr. James Emery White
When it comes to porn, the question facing many men is simple:  is it really wrong?  Is it really that big of a deal?  I mean, it's just an image on a screen.  It's not someone I know (so it's not lust, right?), or someone I'm having an actual affair with, so I'm still faithful to my wife.  It's just sexual release, like masturbation, and we all know that masturbation is not condemned in the Bible.  It's not even mentioned.  And isn't sex a good thing, so what's wrong in watching it happen?  I'm just admiring beauty.  And besides, I'm single, so what do you expect me to do with all this pent-up sexual energy?  It seems like a safe release until I am married.

I've heard all of this, and more, from men.

So is it really that big of a deal?

Yes, and here's why:

It is sexual sin.  Jesus made it clear that when we give in to lust, it is akin the act itself.  It makes no difference whether you know the person or not; lust is not tied to relationship.

It is addictive.  The ubiquitous nature of porn is new to our culture, and to human sexuality, but it is becoming increasingly clear that it is highly addictive in nature.  As a result, it can not only begin to dominate a life, but can demand ever-increasing levels of exposure and ever-increasing degrees of experience to continue to stimulate.

It is degrading to women.  In pornography, women are treated as objects.  They are not fulfilling God's dream for their life as His precious daughter, nor are they fulfilling His design for sexual expression and fulfillment.  You are watching a woman who is being sinned against, treated in a way that is contemptible to her heavenly father (whether she sees it or not - and the fact that many may not only adds to its tragic nature).

It leads to other sins.  Studies are beginning to show that the effects of porn on men is more than temporary sexual stimulation:  as they see women treated as objects, they begin to treat women that way.  They become more sexually aggressive, leading to date rapes and expected "hook-ups."  

It harms your relationship with your current, or future, spouse.  It is absolutely bogus to say that watching porn enhances a sexual life.  Instead, it cheapens it.  Porn quickly becomes a substitute for sexual intimacy with your spouse.  

It desensitizes your soul.  Sin of any kind desensitizes your spiritual life.  Continued exposure to a sin such as pornography is like shooting novocaine into your soul.  It deadens you and grieves the Holy Spirit in your life, forcing Him to withdraw His utmost filling in a way that diminishes His power and presence in your life.

It distorts sex.  "You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act," wrote C.S. Lewis, "that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage.  Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food?  And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was some equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us?"

I'm a pastor.  I talk with men who are dealing with the spiritual torment and guilt of engaging in a sin while trying to rationalize it away; I talk with men who are having to fight it as an addiction; I talk with men who are finding it is leading them to a warped view of women; I talk with men who are experiencing it's direct path to other sins; I talk with men who are seeing its assault on their marriage; I talk with men who are trying to awaken their souls from its deadening grip; I talk with men who have distorted views of what sex is about.

I have a front-row seat to how it's impacting their lives.  I don't need to wait for a host of studies.  I'm in a living laboratory.  So don't tell me it's no big deal.  

I know the men who can prove you wrong.  


For help with pornography, as well as accountability software, visit

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.