Culture

Consider this before you decide to quit porn

JH Kwek // June 1, 2019, 3:54 pm

3 checks porn

Our lives revolve around our desires. We hunger, so we eat. We thirst, so we drink. Desires like these are easy to identify, easy to solve. Who would debate with someone if they said they were hungry? You’d smile at them and then hand them some bread. Simple.

That is often how we think about our fight with sin. Wanna quit porn? Great, here are 10 steps you need to follow. Wanna do more Bible study? Great, here are some online resources to get you started.

On the surface, these desires seem incredibly simple. Wanting to quit porn, wanting to read the Bible more regularly – who wouldn’t want these things?

And we rightfully celebrate these desires as we see them.

But perhaps in our zeal for holy behaviour, we ignore its right foundation – a love for Jesus Christ, dependence on His Word and Spirit, and a humble heart.

What I mean to say is this: There are plenty of ungodly reasons for wanting to behave in a holy manner.

My love affair with pornography

Regarding porn specifically, perhaps you feel like you want ultimate control over your life, where you have the final say over every action you take, unbeholden to any biological desire. So you want to quit porn. Or maybe you feel fatigued each time you masturbate and want to be at peak physicality all the time.

The action desired here is good: Wanting to quit porn.

Yet when we take a closer look at the root of this desire to quit, we see a heart that is not interested in being more like Jesus. At the root of this “holiness” is a heart that is still more concerned with its own authority, its own plans, its own desires.

What then should be the proper root of our desire to stop watching porn?

Self-control isn’t easy

Taking a look at Genesis 3:6, we see that Eve ate the forbidden fruit not because she was bored, or simply because she was told to – she ate of it because she saw that “the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes”.

Nobody sins for fun. We sin because we want to. At the heart of our sin – the “essence of our evil”, as Piper puts it – is not that we break rules.

It’s that we want to break them.

Through the prophet Jeremiah, God calls out his people for two evils – they have forsaken Him, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:12-13).

That is what sin looks like. We look at God and in our hearts prefer something else.

Porn and the things I’d rather love

So if sinfulness is more than bad deeds, then holiness is more than good actions. It is about preferring rightly.

What we run toward is more important, more relevant, more crucial to our Christian walk than what we run away from.

If sinfulness is more than bad deeds, then holiness is more than good actions.

Coming back to the specific issue of watching pornography, listed below are some questions that can help test the root of our desire to stop watching porn:

1. Do I care about what God has to say about pornography and more broadly, my sexuality?

Are you interested in what God has to say about who you are and how you should live your life? Are you running away from pornography because you “feel” that it’s wrong, or because someone else told you it’s wrong?

2. What am I doing with the time not spent watching pornography?

We spend time doing things we delight in. If I am not delighting in pornography, what am I delighting in?

3. How do I react when I do watch pornography, especially after I have tried not to?

This is perhaps the clearest indicator of the state of our hearts. If I desire to stop watching porn because I want more control or a healthier body, then every moment of failure is devastating to my ego. Every time I fall becomes a testament to my own inability to control myself.

The hope we have in Jesus is that He Himself will change our desires as we put our trust in Him.

But if I desire to stop watching porn because I delight in Jesus and desire to give my life to Him, then every moment of failure is a time where I run back to Him. I can do that because I have put my trust and confidence in Him, not in my own ability.

And above this, He has promised that if I confess my sins, He is faithful and just to forgive me and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Hence, I put my trust in Him, knowing that all those who wait for Him shall not be put to shame (Psalm 25:3).

I give in to sexual temptation again and again. What hope do I have?

When Jesus saves us from our sin, He does more than free us from the consequences of our sins – He gives us new hearts with new desires. As Ezekiel 11:19-20 tell us:

“I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”

The hope we have in Jesus is that He Himself will change our desires as we put our trust in Him, shaping our hearts that we may delight in Him as He rightfully deserves.

If today you desire to stop watching pornography, I celebrate with you! It is a wonderful thing that we flee sin.

Yet I will celebrate more with you as you run toward Jesus, putting all your trust and confidence in Him.


The author’s name has been changed for confidentiality.

THINK + TALK

  1. How have you dealt with the sin in your life?
  2. What godly revelation have you had in your fight against sin?
  3. What are things you can delight in with your time?
  4. How would you like to react the next time you fail?