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Behind closed doors

How does porn impact a young girl who discovers her father's stash?  Michelle VanLoon writes about it in My Father The Porn Addict.  This sentence struck me more than any other:

Porn taught me that the single most important thing to grown-ups was this mysterious world of fantasy, pain, and animalistic impulses too powerful to ignore.

Porn peddles a lie that becomes "the single most important thing" for those who buy into it.  Actually it peddles many lies, but here's a prominent one: Porn tells us that love, respect and mutual honour are window dressing.  Behind closed doors it's "fantasy, pain and animalistic impulses."

Loving commitment and kindness are like mating calls.  The real business is mating.  People might talk about relationships and fidelity, actually it's about glands and groans.  On the surface it's love and trust, underneath it's power and gratification.  And that's what's basic, primal, bubbling away.

To believe the lie is to feed it, to participate in it, to grow connected to it and then to see the world through its lens.  Porn sacramentally reinforces the worshipper in that creed and the cycle spirals down.

When a Christian is embroiled in this other religion, what happens when they are told to 'clean up their private world'?  It will likely be heard as the demand to 'put a lid on what's real.'  Renouncing porn will be like agreeing to deny the truth, simply because the truth is too dangerous or shameful or powerful to acknowledge or indulge.  And so the determined porn-denier will commit to living in the unreality of kindness, mutual service and self-control.  All the while power and gratification throb away in heart and mind.

Combatting the lie will take more than a resolve to label pornography as 'harmful' or 'bad.'  We need to know that it's also 'untrue.'  And why is it untrue?  Let's cut to the chase:  God is as He is towards us.  God is not different 'behind closed doors.'  He does not display sacrificial love as window dressing.  The Lamb is at the centre of the throne (Revelation 7:17).    Push through to the deepest depths of God and you will find a faithful marital love that gives itself for the other.  His gracious gospel offers are not mating calls to woo us while back at home He's all about power and gratification.  No!  He is love 'all the way down.'

Not every god will help you to conquer porn.  There are many gods who are power and gratification pure and simple.  And there are many Christian doctrines of God that offer a split-personality God - sacrificial in public, selfish in private.

But just imagine... what if, actually, the primeval passions that determine us are intimate, committed, self-denying deferrals to the other?  What if it's respect and mutual love that are really bubbling away underneath?  What if it's serving the other that drives this world, not using.  What if giving and not getting is ultimate?

And I don't just mean, Let's escape mystically into some godly sphere where that love stuff is true.  I don't mean, Let's affirm these religious truths (all the while knowing that 'the real world aint like that.')  No, let's fling wide those doors that we're always closing because we imagine that darkness rules the roost.  Let's declare that Jesus really is Lord.  This really is Christ's universe.  Light really is this world's driving force, not darkness.   And all that other stuff is parasitic, corrupted, ugly, unnatural, ephemeral and passing away.

The lie of pornography will be unmasked and the bedrooms of Christians, both single and married, will be revolutionized when we see God aright.  Behind closed doors there's not a throbbing, coercive power too dangerous to name.  The primal urge is not grunting but grace.

12 thoughts on “Behind closed doors

  1. David

    Excellent post! I would add to your assertion that pornography is fundamentally 'untrue' to the nature of reality that pornography is also extremely boring. Aside from being symptomatic of lovelessness, being boring is porn's biggest sin.

  2. Dave K

    Great to see how living in God's creation is made to reflect him. So how we understand him affects how we understand our very physical lives.

  3. Martin

    Wonderful post Glen! Thanks.

    It also made me reflect how easy it is in general as a Christian to be "sacrificial in public, selfish in private", e.g. leadership meetings where we're full of criticism and negativity, having been all 'grace and smiles' in our public ministry. Weird how easy it is to believe that grace and mercy are just the tools we are to use when we're doing 'ministry work' and that 'the real deal' on the inside - the thing that really counts - is worldly competitiveness. Praise God that He's grace and mercy all the way through - in the very depths of His heart.

  4. John B

    Great post with a powerful message that's not heard enough in the church! The last line is especially a keeper! Most of the conservative evangelical churches I know of take a 'don't ask; don't tell' approach to porn. They're against it in principle, but they'd really rather just not know about it, because the use of porn is so widespread.

  5. Emma

    Thanks Glen this is great. Huge implications for both women and men who look at porn - though, to be honest it is very hard to escape. So many idealised concepts of women and sex (Christian ones too) are informed and shaped by porn. One example is the expectation on women and waxing. This is just one area where the requirements of the movie industry have set the tone for feminine beauty. But there are hundreds. And women too buy into the fantasy of sex as physical transaction - not just becAuse it is forced on us (tho this can be the case) but also because it protects us from genuine intimacy and the vulnerability of receiving.

  6. Tim V-B

    I think it's the second. I'm sure I read a comment earlier and I remember thinking "This must be Mrs Scrivener's first comment."

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  8. This is That

    This is such an important post. You have put your finger exactly on the problem with so much anti-porn teaching. It is not enough to be told and to tell yourself that it is wrong... if you believe that it is the 'real' world, that it is the way things really are when we get rid of the superficial packaging. When Jesus shows us that the 'real' world, right down in the very depths, is about sacrifice, love, respect, compassion, faithfulness and trust... wow... He shines a light that reveals how porn is so unreal and superficial. Please consider developing this post into a larger work... maybe a paper or sermon. It would be a great evangelistic presentation of Jesus. He saves us from our evil desires not by commanding us very loudly and sternly [and threatening terrible punishments]... but chiefly by showing us the depths of the reality that He has formed and sustains.

    Glory!

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