How to Fight Addiction in a Pornographic Culture
Voddie Baucham explores how to help young men and young women escape the clutches of porn.
The following is a lightly edited transcript.
Young men and women struggle with pornography. I think one of our greatest mistakes is that we talk about pornography only in terms of young men. There are young women who struggle with pornography. Not in the same way, not in the same numbers, but it is real.
We live in a pornographic culture and that is one of the things that makes it very difficult. We have been so inundated with pornography and as a result we are desensitized to pornography. The line at which we will say, “That is pornographic,” has been drawn so far out into the realm of the inappropriate that we have people who dress pornographically and they are not bothered by it and we are not bothered by it anymore.
One thing that I say to people in this area is that we need to recognize that we are living in a pornographic culture. The reason I say that is because part of dealing with the root of pornography is acknowledging the fact that we have been desensitized to it. Let’s say that there is a pornography scale of one to ten and ten is full on—I am engaging in the worst examples and extremes of pornography. Well, I think culturally we probably live every day around a three or four, just in commercials and just in the things that we become desensitized to.
So if I am living at a three or four and a five or a six really doesn’t bother me anymore, then when I get to a nine, my goal in dealing with somebody who is at a nine is not to say, “Come back to a five or six.” My goal with them is to say, “I want you to recognize not just that this is an issue, but that even those things that are down here in the areas that we are not even bothered by are issues.” Not so that the person becomes afraid of looking around, but so that the person becomes aware of their need for Christ to cleanse their minds, not just of the website where I am watching pornographic sex, but also of my lack of sensitivity to those everyday examples of pornography that are around me.
If I go on accepting them and am no longer bothered by them, to that degree I am setting myself up so that the leap from that five to that nine is a very short leap. It is not just so that I won’t leap over into the worst of pornography. But it is so that I can understand the dignity inherent in human beings made in the image of God and how my embrace of a pornographic understanding of my fellow man, my fellow woman, is the embrace of the destruction of their dignity.
If I see a young woman who is presenting herself in a pornographic way and that is not bothering me, I have just said something about the dignity of that woman, as made in the image of Christ. Until that becomes an issue for me—not in the sense of walking around with my eyes blocked off, but in the sense of asking for God’s grace and asking him to appropriate that grace in me even at that level—until I am there, I am not really dealing with this issue of pornography. And ultimately, when it comes down to it, not only is it that issue of the inherent dignity and value of human beings made in the image of God—the not defrauding my brother and my sister—but also this idolatry of believing that it is OK to use another human being in order to gratify myself in any way, sexual or otherwise.
So what I want to do when dealing with this issue of pornography is to uproot and uncover all of that so that we cannot just have this sort of legalistic response: I am not going to do that and I am going to put things in place so that I don’t do that anymore. We need a response that goes all the way back to the cleansing of our minds to be able to appreciate one another as being made in the image of God and not just accepting this ordinary pornographic predisposition that has become so normal.