It is one thing to show a man that he is in error,
and another to put him in possession of truth.
— John Locke —
Addiction to Pornography
Victory in a war is often dependent on accurate knowledge about the enemy. This is especially true when the battle is against addiction to pornography. The reason so many have fought and lost out in this conflict is not from a lack of holy desire or spiritual strength, but from wasting energy and ammunition on the wrong target. In fact, they have mistaken for an enemy what could become, through an intelligent truce, their best ally in defeating the power of pornography in their lives.
If you are to stop resisting that ally and start effectively fighting your true enemy, you must first reject what I call “The Pornographic View of the Body,” which is explained in the previous article. That article was written as a foundation for this one. I call that false perception of the body “the porno-prudish view,” because both pornography and prudery promote this same false, ungodly thinking about the body. So, if you have not read that first article, which was intended to precede this one, please, do so now, before going on.
An Unexpected Question
When I was working as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assitant), while attending nursing school, I was assigned to shave the perineum of a 40-year-old woman who was going to have a vaginal hysterectomy. While I very carefully shaved off her pubic hair, she asked me a question that forced me to think on my feet.
“Do you find this hard to do, being a male?”
My response was not something I had ever previously thought through, but it came out honestly and spontaneously.
“No, it doesn’t bother me at all. I guess it’s just too normal, too natural and real. Now, pornography does bother me, because there’s an evil intention behind it. But you’re just being yourself. You’re not acting in a wrong way with your body, and I’m not seeing it in a wrong way.”
My answer must have reassured her, because shortly after this she ignored my male presence as she slipped out of her gown to shower. Even the sight of her fully nude body failed to “bother” me, for it was no more pornographic than the sight of her exposed pelvic area. However, because I was accustomed only to viewing my lovely young wife’s body, my big surprise was at how a woman of her age was still so shapely and attractive. This experience with hospital nudity, and the many years of it that have followed, taught me first-hand an important truth that nips pornography in the bud [see graphic].
Separating Porn from Nakedness
It’s hard to give up a familiar falsehood, especially when it has been rigorously drummed into our minds ever since early youth. But to fight our real enemy, we must first mentally expel the basic deception expressed in the “porno-prudish view” of the human body. Only then can we stand on the solid ground of truth in our fight against pornography.
When it can no longer hide beneath that widely-accepted lie, pornography’s true nature is actually stripped bare and its shameful ugliness is exposed. Without an “obscene” conception of the body to hide beneath, pornography becomes disgustingly unattractive. Its cosmetic glamour and drawing power are neutralized as soon as the true identity of human nakedness is recognized. When nakedness is separated from a false identification with porn and liberated from pornographic abuse, the proper appreciation of the body can become our natural ally and a means by which we can deal porn addiction a lethal blow.
The Goodness of Nakedness
There has always been a “goodness” in nakedness. It might even be called a virtue. Our “porno-prudish” indoctrination has generally blinded us from seeing that. Yet we still get glimpses of its wholesome power. Whenever new little naked humans enter the world, we quickly inspect their genitals and shout out their genders with emotional glee. We see it in such things as the fable of “Naked Truth,” who refused to wear the rags left behind when Falsehood stole her clothes while she bathed, and henceforth she went about openly with her beauty forever unveiled. While the naked truth needs neither embellishment nor defense, falsehood must hide its ugly heart in truth’s dress. This is exactly why pornography has dressed itself up in the lovely outfit given to us by God, the naked body. When pornography wears the truth of human nudity, it can attract those whose hearts would otherwise repulsively turn away from it in disgust.
We get more glimpses of the virtuous power in nakedness in the way God first made us (Genesis 2:25), in the way His Word exposes us to Himself (Hebrews 4:13), and in the intimate way Jesus exemplified His command to mutually serve each other by stripping Himself to wash the disciples’ feet (John 13:4, [lit.]). God intended the frankness and openness symbolized by nakedness to be the condition of our relationship not only with Him, but with each other. The truth is, if the first nude human couple had not listened to Satan (Genesis 3:1), their obedience to God’s command to “multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28) would have populated this planet with nude offspring. In such a naked world, pornography, as we know it, could never have developed.
No, the nude body is not what Satan originally convinced our first parents to believe about it, nor what its abuse by pornography has continued to convince our culture of. But in spite of its misuse, God has never withdrawn its powerful ability to attract human attention.
Be as philosophically abstract as you dare, but the words of Scripture clearly reveal that God calls the naked human body He formed from dust (Genesis 2:7) nothing less than made “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27). How can we deny our natural attraction to this one physical reality in all creation that our Designer handcrafted in His own likeness? How can we fail to appreciate the divine beauty of the one temple structure in the entire physical universe where all Members of the Triune Godhead have chosen to make Their dwelling (John 14:23; 1 Corinthians 6:19)?
Placing the unadorned human body conceptually and practically into this God-honoring context brings its conflict with “porno-prudery” into full view. In fact, your careful meditation on this godly view of the naked body will invariably expose the subtle rift that lies between nakedness and pornography. It is so culturally well hidden that most people do not see it. But this seemingly tiny rift, my friend, is the key to porn addiction’s undoing. Find that rift and drive the wedge of truth into it! The two will divide like oil and water. You will see clearly that the unnatural marriage of nakedness with pornography was the fruit of an ancient demon’s crafty scheming. Hammer the truth deep between them, and they will forever fall apart in your thinking! Their divorce cancels pornography’s exploitative manipulation of God’s creational goodness in our bodies. With this attractive asset stripped from it, all that porn addiction has left to offer is the sordid ugliness of sinful lust, which is so unappealing that the average person, Christian or not, will quickly fling it aside as mental garbage.
After all, what is pornography anyway? The root-word “porno-” derives from the Latin word for prostitute, a woman or man who sells their body to briefly gratify a customer’s sexual appetite. Physical sexual affection and intercourse are divine blessings that come with God-given responsibilities and boundaries that limit them to expression within the marital vow alone. Sexual union inside that wedded bond is intended to be a uniting and endearing demonstration of mutual love between a couple.
Prostitution offers to take a person through the sensual mechanics of that marital relationship, but only at the price of reducing another human to a mere object through which sexual lust is temporarily satisfied. There is no relationship, no commitment, no love—just a short series of “feel good” spasms that quickly come and go, leaving both the customer and prostitute more emotionally empty than before. This is sin, because it clearly misses the mark of God’s intention for our sexuality. No one should use another’s body or offer their body for such a distorted misuse of this awesome gift that God ordained to be preserved and protected within the commitment of marriage. But in prostitution, another real, live human being’s body is been selfishly used, and then abandoned. This is intensely ugly and humanly degrading for all involved.
Pornography, like prostitution, takes the mind down exactly the same alley to exactly the same dead-end. The porn model’s posture, facial expressions, and longing stares turns her lovely body, which might have served modestly as a sculptor’s reference, into that of a vicarious prostitute. She uses her eyes and lips and the parting of her hips to broadcast a gross lie that requires just as much imagination for the viewer to believe as it does for the prostitute’s customer. But the addicted viewer feels compelled to let her performance overstretch his imagination. And what’s the result? His underwear gets wet with semen; another fellow human, made in our Creator’s image, gets devalued and toyed with as an object of mental lust; the porn junkie’s heart comes away from the episode more emotionally empty than ever. There was no love in it, no real human relationship, no true reality at all—just a defiling tangle of filthy thinking where the mind was dragged into a totally fake world to pull away empty-handed and empty-hearted.
Why does anyone go back again and again to this miserable cycle of despair and defeat? What could bring someone to become addicted to something so obviously unreal, so totally imaginary, so abysmally “empty?”
It is pornography’s strategic employment of something that is real, something very real, something to which God gave all of us an inborn attraction.
Porn’s enticing photograph contains the naked image of God, the potential temple of the Holy Spirit, the “fearfully and wonderfully made” habitation of another real human soul. That, and nothing less, is what our naked body really is, and because the reality behind it is so meaningful, it is extremely attractive. But when forced into a contaminating union with pornography, that same awesome temple becomes as void of its true meaning and as empty of life as a haunted palace. The beauty is still there, but not appreciated and not satisfying. Its virtue and its sacred significance are smothered by unholy dreams and selfish desires that true beauty can never satisfy.
When the repeating cycle of attraction, stimulation, and fantasizing runs its course, the most dazzling porn model’s allure is gone. Her beauty has been used up and abandoned for the next pornographic fantasy.
This is why the porn-maker must be careful with nudity. Often the porn model is shown partially clothed, but only in order to tease the imagination with a promise that there is something hidden underneath, something that somehow will provide more than the bare human anatomy actually has to offer.
No gimmicks are needed in true art and good marriages. You can go back again and again to view and appreciate the same nude figure in a lovely sculpture or painting, always learning more from it, and never tiring of its attractive beauty. In a happy marriage, couples can rejoice in the naked bodies of their spouses and stay comfortably enthralled with the ongoing beauty that always remains there, despite the changes aging brings. In a similar way, if the fully naked body is posed too simply or naturally, without the cosmetic gimmicks or half-removed lingerie or the lurid facial and postural ploys, it can actually defeat pornography.
This is what I learned in the hospital. This is what art students learn in figure drawing classes. This is what missionaries learn who go to “naked people groups.” Yes, an unpretentious, nonsexual display of God’s naked handiwork offers only the frank beauty of truth. It can even lead us into holy praise, as most of God’s other works in nature can do.
If it does, pornography is sabotaged. It’s on death row. It completely loses its foothold. The chains of addiction loosen and fall off. When that happens, the human body is restored to its rightful place and can be fully appreciated in the way God meant it to be, as a reflection of His image.
Years ago, I wrote a poem called Pornography. I will close with this, hoping that it will seal in your mind a new, wholesome view of the human body and a renewed hatred for the way pornography degrades and misuses it. If you are addicted to porn, and still trying to fight it using the “porno-prudish” lie so commonly preached about the body, I don’t believe you will ever meet with full victory. Jesus alone must set you free, and He already told us that He uses the truth to do it (John 8:32)
For a lasting break with porn addiction, embrace the naked truth.
— Pastor David
by David L. Hatton
A poet and pornographer were arguing out loud
Upon a city street where their debate had drawn a crowd.
But fed on mocking satire from the smut-shop marketeer,
The gathering was led to chide the poet’s “prudish” fear.
A screaming female cry rang out to cheer the rights of porn:
“My naked beauty’s mine to sell! Free speech!” she yelled with scorn.
But then an aging prostitute brought silence with her shout:
“My beauty’s gone! Let’s have free speech, and hear the poet out!”
Conviction filled the poet’s voice: “I stand for womanhood!
Who markets nudity for lust, no beauty understood!
Who sold her flesh as slop to fill the feeding troughs of swine,
Was swindled of her value, doesn’t know her worth, or mine!
“Our dignity as humans teach the secrecy of love.
The privacy of mating is a treasure from above.
But make the sacred common, and you lace the truth with lies:
Love’s intimacy wasn’t meant for wanton public eyes!
“I welcome mothers’ lovely breasts exposed to nurse their young!
Bring on bare photographs of birth! Its beauties I have sung!
Display a sculpted portrait of your wife, a gorgeous nude,
But strip her for a show of sex, and you’re a fool, and lewd!
“No healthy woman really wants the hurt that lust inspires,
Nor can a spouse compete against a fantasy’s desires.
Just analyze the rapist’s diet: what’s his daily fare?
Enticing looks that porno-pimps pay unclad girls to wear!
“The question’s not of freedom, nor is it of rights denied.
We’ve sold our children’s safety, while our family honor died.
An endless carnal thirst is gushing from pornography
To drown the due respect that each man owes womanity.
“Unclothe the youthful nude they pay to twist the gawker’s mind:
Below the skin of powdered breasts and spreading legs you’ll find
A misled sister, daughter, cousin, mother, niece or wife
Who’s auctioned by a trade that drains her image of its life.
“Beneath the painted hide they hire to pose for filthy fame,
A woman’s raped of self-esteem and wrapped in sinful shame.
But sons who buy their sister’s theft have been the most untrue:
They fail to guard the woman’s worth that manhood calls them to!”
The prostitute began to clap . . . a teacher joined nearby,
Some older men took off their caps . . . two girls began to cry.
One mother lifted up her blouse to sing while baby nursed.
But most were very quiet as the gathering dispersed.
(from Poems Between Death and Life ©1999 by David L. Hatton)
Next up: The Imago Dei