Dealing with lust, sex & porn

Dave Walker | Jan 5th, 2013

When it comes to dealing with lust, sex and porn, many of us already have our own version of a sexual mess, little or big. If you’ve been spared all this, then give thanks to God — you’ve been spared a lot! But for most people in a super-sexualised society, by the time they reach uni, there are things written in their history (and present!) that they know shouldn’t be there.

The starting point for dealing with lust, sex and porn is the gospel. The grace of God in the gospel is sufficient for the forgiveness of all things we have repented of, and the cross is powerful enough, in time, to heal the deepest hurts — that’s why Jesus came in the first place. If the solution to our lusts was possible by ourselves, then Christ died for nothing. But Jesus is our Mediator (our advocate with God; Heb 10:19-22; 1 John 2:1), and our Shepherd (who binds himself to us by his word, and promises to guide us in paths of righteousness). Even those who have come from a ‘clean’ background will need to learn this — as all eventually discover the inadequacy of their own resources to counter sin’s power to condemn and tempt.

Sex is good

Sexuality itself is good, easily one of God’s best gifts! It’s about the most powerful way two people can connect, and God designed it for just that purpose in the context of marriage: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). Sex is like super glue. It’s a very fast, powerful and effective way for two people to become permanently ‘joined’. That’s why the Bible is so committed to sex within marriage — it’s the only safe place for sex to be used, where the commitment of the relationship matches the power of the act. In that context, sex is meant to be a wonderful, powerful, joining thing; a great gift from God.

Worshipping the good rather than God

But our society, like many others past and present, has taken this good thing and has treated it like a god. A general rule is that the better the gift from God, the more we are likely to treat it as a substitute for God. It’s no accident that ancient pagan religions were sexual religions, with temple prostitutes, fertility rites and so on. In one study, 59% of Australians who use porn said it was a positive thing for them.[1] The majority of current university students had sex by the time they were 16.[2] When we stop worshipping God, we serve our bodily desires instead.

The problem is that our desires are distorted by sin. Desire is not in itself evil — it’s a God-given response to the good things we see in his creation. But one of the effects of sin is that our desires have gone into overdrive. We desire the wrong things, or desire things too strongly, and it becomes a driving compulsion for us. We need to know this in order not to be ruled by our desires. The Bible says it is God’s will for us to know how to use our bodies, not being under the control of our passions, but in holiness and honour (1 Thess 4:4).

The grace of the gospel is sufficient for the forgiveness of our sin. The grace of the gospel also teaches us to say no to sin (Titus 2:11-14). But the big question God’s grace confronts us with is this: whose purposes will you use sex for? God’s purposes or your own? Almost every decision you make about sex, lust and pornography will depend on which way you go with that question. It’s an important one!

Part 2: Striving for sexual holiness

 

[1 ] Stephen Lunn, ‘Bare facts about porn’ (The Australian, 22 February 2008).
[2] www.latrobe.edu.au/ashr/papers/Sex%20In%20Australia%20Summary.pdf

Note: Bible quotes in this article are taken from the English Standard Version.