Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I Have Made a Covenant with My Eyes: The Issue of Pornography

In family worship, we have reading from the book of Ezekiel. There are a lot of deep and awesome truths found in that book, some of which unlock other controversies that we have yet to understand.

Throughout the coming weeks, I will write about the book of Ezekiel based on various points my family members bring out each night. I pray that you will blessed.

"Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them.." (Ezekiel 16:17).

My little brother asked Dad, "This is pornography, right?"

To be true, the context of this chapter is spiritual adultery. But God uses physical adultery to describe the grossness of Judah's crime. Therefore, this verse can easily be applied to pornography.

Pornography is a delicate, yet serious issue; and that is why I am choosing to address it bluntly and openly. But what exactly is it?


It is taken from the Greek word pornographos, which is based on graphy for writing and pornē for... prostitutes. Essentially, it is writings or pictures of prostitution. "For without (the New Jerusalem) are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie" (Revelation 22:15).

Merriam Webster's Dictionary says further:
1:  the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement
2:  material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement
Let us first see how God feels about it. In the Sermon on the Mount , Jesus said,
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 
(Matthew 5:27-28)
In heaven's eyes, pornography is equal to adultery - the line of distinction between thinking it and actually doing it is very thin. There is a concept in neurology called mirror neurons. "Mirror neurons are a type of brain cell that respond equally when we perform an action and when we witness someone else perform the same action," wrote Lea Winerman in a 2005 article for the American Psychological Asssociation's Monitor.

This means that when we watch people engage in illicit activity, our brain responds like we are actively participating. Scary?

The issue is so serious that Jesus admonished further, "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell" (verse 29).

Job certainly took it seriously, going so far as to make a covenant - a solemn vow - with his eyes. "I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?" (Job 31:1). He felt it so heinous a crime to even think about another woman that he declared it better for his wife to openly commit physical adultery (verses 10-11). To him, lustful thinking was still adultery, if not worse.

This also goes for erotic literature, for it still uses the eyes and engages the thoughts. A New York Times article said this:

"The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated."
"Your Brain on Fiction" by Annie Murphy Paul, March 17, 2012


But there is a third definition of this vice, according to Merriam-Webster:
3:  the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction 
I was surprised by this, as it makes any sensational material - regardless of the targeted emotion - pornographic. That makes  pornographic on some level. Just as marijuana, caffeine, and soft drinks are all gateway drugs, so are fiction books, some movies and television shows and even the news gateways to to full-blown pornography. And this I can attest to personally.

Though seemingly innocuous, literature (and movies based on them) such as Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Little Women, and even Anne of Green Gables were all factors in developing a taste for the "hard drugs;" and as with any drug, you need stronger and stronger doses in order to get the same "quick intense emotional reaction."

But do not think that only "infidel authors" pose a problem. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg penned this in 1891:
Some of these "religious novels" are actually more pernicious than the fictions of well-known novelists who make no pretense to having religious instruction a particular object in view. Sunday-school libraries are not often wholly composed of this class of works; but any one who takes the trouble to examine the books of such a library, will be able to select the most pernicious ones by the external appearance. The covers will be well worn, and the edges begrimmed with dirt from much handling. Children soon tire of the shallow sameness which characterizes the "moral" parts of most of these books, and skim lightly over them, selecting and devouring with eagerness those portions which relate the silly narrative of some love adventure. This kind of literature arouses in children premature fancies and queries, and fosters a sentimentalism which too often occasions most unhappy results. Through their influence, young girls are often led to begin a life of shame long before their parents are aware that a thought of evil has ever entered their minds.
Plain Facts for Old and Young, p. 184


In Ezekiel 16, the Lord describes the way in which a young woman broke her marriage covenant.
  1. She gave her monetary substance -- which God had given her -- to her lovers.
    •  "My meat also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou hast even set it before them for a sweet savour: and thus it was, saith the Lord God" (verse 19).
  2. She destroyed her children.
    • "Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, that thou hast slain My children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them?" (verses 20-21).
  3. She became addicted: she needed more and more to be satisfied.
    •  "Thou hast played the whore also with the Assyrians, because thou wast unsatiable; yea, thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet couldest not be satisfied" (verse 28).
But these are actually results of pornography as well.
  1. In 2006, the industry brought in $13.33 billion in the  United States alone, according to Economy Watch. And roughly $3,000 per second is spent by consumers.
  2. Children pay the price for this vice in two ways:
    1. Disadvantaged Offspring. Many years ago, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg made this statement regarding excessive sexual indulgence:
      • "That those guilty of the transgression should suffer, seems only just; but that an innocent being who had no part in the sin, no voice in the time or manner of its advent into the world, -- that such an one should suffer equally, if not more bitterly, with the transgressors themselves, seems anything but just. But such is nature's inexorable law, that the iniquities of the parents shall be visited upon the children; and this fact should be a most powerful influence to prevent parental transgression, especially in this direction, in which the dire consequences fall so heavily and so immediately upon an innocent being.
        "Says Acton, 'The ill effects of marital excesses are not confined to offending parties. No doubt can exist that many of the obscure cases of sickly children, born of apparently healthy parents, arise from this cause; and this is borne out by investigations among animals.'

        The "physical and and nervous exhaustion which the parents bring upon themselves, and which totally unfits them to beget sound, healthy offspring." 

        Plain Facts for Old and Young, pp. 480-481

    2.  Child Sex Trafficking. Of the 20 to 30 million slaves trafficked in the world today, nearly 80 percent of them will be sexual exploited, according to DoSomething.org. That includes being forced into the porn industry. Sadly, "The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 to 14-year-old." And it is a known fact that children are made to appear over 18 in some pornographic works. Get the facts from Thorn's National Survey
  3. Addiction is very possible, though everyone may not become addicted. "Porn addiction can be defined as a behavioral addiction that is characterized by an ever-growing compulsion or need to view pornographic content or material," according to ProjectKnow.com. And Focus on the Family has outlined five stages in addiction, which ultimately ends in physical acts of fornication (or worse).
But there is hope.

Consider Rahab, a harlot. Because of one act of faith, she earned a place in the lineage of our Lord and Savior (see Hebrews 11:31, Joshua 6:25, and Matthew 1:5).

That is all it takes: one act of faith.

If you have fallen into the vicious habit of pornography, do you have faith in God's power to restore and make new? You may, like the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda, find it difficult to take steps in the right direction. But fear not: Jesus only asks, "Wilt thou be made whole?" Do you want to be freed from your condition? If you say yes, you have taken the first act of faith.
"For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:10).
Then a change of action is needed. In Kellogg's book Plain Facts for Old and Young, an entire chapter is devoted to the subject of continence, the refraining from all sexual indulgence. In this chapter, he offers a multitude of helps for building self-control in this aspect of life. Take time to read it, especially beginning on the bottom of page 162.

Now a change of thought is needed. When the house is "swept clean" (Matthew 12:44), it needs to be occupied, or it will be inevitably swept away. In the book Child Guidance (p. 50) is penned these hopeful words:
If the frivolous and pleasure-seeking will allow their minds to dwell upon the real and true, the heart cannot but be filled with reverence, and they will adore the God of nature. The contemplation and study of God’s character as revealed in His created works will open a field of thought that will draw the mind away from low, debasing, enervating amusements. The knowledge of God’s works and ways we can only begin to obtain in this world; the study will be continued throughout eternity. God has provided for man subjects of thought which will bring into activity every faculty of the mind. We may read the character of the Creator in the heavens above and the earth beneath, filling the heart with gratitude and thanksgiving. Every nerve and sense will respond to the expressions of God’s love in His marvelous works.
But "no outward observances can take the place of simple faith and entire renunciation of self. But no man can empty himself of self. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish the work. Then the language of the soul will be,
'Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul.'
Christ's Object Lessons, p. 159

And if you have never been trapped by this sexual sin, do you have faith in His power to keep you from falling?

Praise God. He can and will keep you from falling; but only through trust in His power and obedience to His expressed will. Read Christ's Object Lessons chapter 13 and Plain Facts for Old and Young. Share with those who you know are trapped by sexual sin. Pray constantly for His power to win them and keep you. Help and encourage those who are struggling for the mastery over appetite. God will surely use you, if you let Him.

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