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In our series #NOFILTER, we talked about the importance of using our devices and viewing media in a way that is sexually pure. As technology has advanced, so has sexual sin through the use of such technology. Therefore, we must guard against sexual sin so that we can use technology in a way that is helpful for use and honoring to God. We must have digital discernment.

This is seen primarily in two ways. We must use discernment to guard against sexually suggestive content. We must use discernment to put to death sexually explicit content.

Sexually Suggestive Content

This is any type of content—website, movie, picture, song, etc.—that suggests the pursuit of sexual sin, whether in thought or action. Essentially, it is anything that leads to lust.

As we scroll through social media, surf the web, flip thru channels, and listen to music, we should ask heart-examining questions to discern sexually suggestive content. The goal isn’t to be legalistic, but to be realistic about the threat of sexual content:

  • Is the media that I’m looking at or listening to suggest a sexual message?
  • Does it promote sinful values?
  • Does it make me think sexual thoughts?
  • Does it make me want to see more, or think more?
  • Does this help or hinder me spiritually?
  • Can I thank God for it?

Most of the time, such content comes out of nowhere. It’s on billboards, advertisements, commercials, pop-ups on the computer, etc. Even if you’re not looking for it, it can come to you. So, we need to have discernment in our reactions to it.

The Three-Step Rule [1]

Like the three second rule with food, we need to make a quick decision when sexually suggestive material appears. Here are three steps to try to make within three seconds:

  1. Realize: Immediately realize that you are in a tempting situation and see something inappropriate.
  2. Remove: Like touching a hot pan, our reaction should be removal. Look away or close your eyes; turn the TV off; scroll past it. Do whatever it takes to remove it ASAP.
  3. Reaffirm: Avoid the temptation off the second look (or third or fourth) by recognizing that you did the right thing. Congratulating yourself over the small battle can lead to great victories. Let such quick reactions reaffirm your commitment to purity in that you did the right thing.

Often times, the acceptance of sexually suggestive content leads to the viewing of sexually explicit content. We must guard against the one to help prohibit the other.

Sexually Explicit Content

This is sexual content where nothing is held back or covered. It includes any form of pornography, which often leads the viewer to act out sexually. The statistics are in and it is clear that there is an epidemic of pornography. But, why is it like this?

The AAA’s of XXX

Psychologist, Dr. Al Cooper, narrowed down pornography’s popularity and influence to three main factors: anonymity, accessibility, and affordability.[2]

stool

We must counter these three factors with strategies. As we cut off the different legs of this three-legged stool, the whole thing fill fall apart.

Anonymity (Confession and Accountability): Since this is so easy to keep secret, the obvious strategy is that we need to be open and real with God and with others. This includes confession and accountability. Be honest about your struggle and find the forgiveness and strength that you need by confessing to the Lord (1 John 1:9). Share your struggle with someone who is spiritually mature, so they can help walk you through it by asking you questions, pointing you to the cross, and by going through helpful resources.

Accessibility (Radical Measures): The reality is that you have to do whatever it takes to cut off the source of sin. To remove the source of access that causes you to stumble, or to avoid the place of temptation, is to gain victory over the battles before they even begin. Jesus talked about this in Matthew 5:29. It may be difficult to do, but it’s worth it. Are there movies or magazines you need to throw away? Music to delete? People to unfollow on social media? Restrictions to put on your computer or phone? Cut off internet access?

Affordability (Passionate Pursuit of God): Porn may be free or cheap, but it will cost you greatly. Here are five proven ways pornography warps the mind:

  1. Watching porn decreases our sexual satisfaction. It trains us to desire the variety and “designer sex” of porn more than the familiar sexuality of marriage.
  2. Watching porn disconnects us from real relationships.It trains us to detach emotional involvement from sexual experience.
  3. Watching porn lowers our view of women. It trains us to see women as sexual commodities, not people created in God’s image.
  4. Watching porn desensitizes us to cruelty. It numbs us to the seriousness of verbal and physical aggression.
  5. Watching porn makes us want to watch more porn. It taps into the neurocircuitry of our brains, making us desire the rush of sexual energy from porn again and again. [3]

Even more than these negative effects, the greatest cost is spiritual, as it damages your relationship with God. Therefore, our greatest tactic is to have a passionate relationship with Jesus. In his book, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace, Heath Lambert writes,

“You cannot look at Jesus and look at porn at the same time. You have to stop doing one to do the other. A living, breathing relationship with the Savior of the world will drive porn out of your life quicker than anything else. When you turn your eyes to Jesus, there isn’t room for anything else in your heart because he fills it up. When you open the blinds of a pitch-black room, the sunlight drives away the darkness. When you place an unfiled pitcher under a faucet, the water drives away the emptiness. When you visit a lonely friend, your presence drives away the isolation. In the same way, when the presence of Jesus floods your life, he will drive away the impurity of pornography. If you fight to consume Jesus, you will inevitably stop consuming porn, sooner or later.”[4]

He concludes by saying, “When you find yourself working to look to Christ more than you find yourself working to avoid porn, you’ll know you’ve turned the corner.”

When we use discernment to guard against sexually suggestive content and to put to death sexually explicit content, we will be able to use our devices in a way that is helpful to us and honoring to God. Don’t use your devices with #NOFILTER. Rather, filter everything through the instruction and discernment of God’s Word.

Recommended Resources:

Sex is Not the Problem (Lust is): Sexual Purity in a Lust-Saturated World — Joshua Harris

Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace — Heath Lambert

Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys Who are Sick of Porn — Tim Challies

 

Sources:

  1. Adapted from Sam Black, The Porn Circuit. Covenant Eyes, 2013. p. 37 (www.covenanteyes.com/science-of-porn-addiction-ebook)
  2. Luke Gilkerson, Your Brain on Porn. Covenant Eyes, 2014. p.22 (http://www.covenanteyes.com/brain-ebook).
  3. Ibid. p.19
  4. Heath Lambert, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace. (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), p.144-145.

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