Redefining Addiction to Pornography

Christians are in a dangerous predicament today: we do not know where to look in God’s word for the solutions to our problems. So writes, Rachel Coyle in HELP! She’s Struggling with Pornography. She continues, “this is often because we use non-biblical words to describe problems and struggles. It is not wrong or sinful to use words such as addiction, but it does pose some potential problems. When we do not use biblical terms to define our struggles, it is easy to think the Bible is not adequate to address all the problems of life. We find ourselves turning elsewhere for solutions to sin. Let’s get back to the Bible and develop the skill of biblically defining the problems with which we struggle. Identify the biblical terms that describe sexual addiction in the following passages:

For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness … (Romans 6:19b)

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)

… [B]y what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. (2 Peter 2:19b)

God addresses sexual addiction in terms of slavery to sin and idolatry.

Addiction Redefined as Slavery to Sin

Every one of us is born as a slave to sin: “[W]hen you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods” (Galatians 4:8). We are not inherently good. We are inherently sinful. We come into this world separated from god, being dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1). Praise God that Jesus Christ can set us free from slavery to sin and make us servants of righteousness and children of God (Romans 6:16–18). But freedom from slavery to sin does not mean we will never sin again. Even believers in Christ continue to battle the flesh—indwelling sin. This is why the apostle Paul penned these words:

… [W]alk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (Galatians 5:16–17)

By nature, sin enslaves. Hebrews 12:1 says that it “easily entangles us.” By our choices and habits, we can even put ourselves in bondage to particular sins (“sins,” not “sin” in the general sense, as we are born in bondage to sin). Forming a habit of any sin—from complaining to lying or pornography—leads us into bondage to that sin. Remember 2 Peter 2:19b: “… by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.” When you are overcome by a particular sin, you are enslaved to it. Pornography and masturbation both have the capacity to overcome your mind and body so that you find yourself thinking about it anytime, anywhere. You plan it, plot it, and pursue it. And this happens again … and again. You can almost feel the weight of steel chains around your mind and your body! This is slavery.

Addiction Redefined as Idolatry

What do you think of when you hear the word “idolatry”? Bowing before wooden objects or clay statues? Actually, idolatry is an issue for all of us. A key passage on this subject is Ezekiel 14:1–11. I encourage you to find a Bible and read through the whole passage. Notice from the following verses what God says about the residence, result, and his requirement concerning idolatry:

  • The residence of idolatry: the heart. “[T]hese men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity” (v. 3; see also v. 7).
  • The result of idolatry: separation from God. “[T]he hearts of the house of Israel … are estranged from Me through all their idols”; “… anyone … who separates himself from Me …”  (vv. 5, 7).
  • God’s requirement: repentance. “Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations” (v. 6).

We all have the tendency to give other people or things God’s rightful place. We worship something other than God, thus committing idolatry that only he sees. Idols of the heart are formed when we do not heed the instruction in Hebrews 12:1 to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us,” but put those stumbling blocks right in front of us instead. Addictions are good indicators that heart idolatry is going on. One definition of addicted is: “devoted or given up to a practice or habit …” (emphasis mine). That sounds like worship to me. Involvement with pornography is the fruit of an idolatrous heart. There is something you want more than pleasing the Lord Jesus and honoring Him, something you want more than being content with what God has (or has not) given to you.

[Today’s post, as well as yesterday’s, is excerpted from HELP! She’s Struggling with Pornography.]

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