You should not indulge in pornography for at least seven reasons: (1) It will send you to hell. (2) It does not glorify God with your body. (3) It is a poisonous, fleeting pleasure. (4) It foolishly wastes your life. (5) It betrays your wife and children. (6) It ruins your mind and conscience. (7) It participates in sex slavery.
Boys and men today regularly indulge in pornography—even guys who profess to be Christians.1 By “indulging in pornography,” I mean that you sinfully allow yourself to enjoy the pleasure of printed or visual material that explicitly describes or displays sexual body parts or activity in order to stimulate erotic feelings. The most common way this is happening in our culture is by viewing sexually charged images and videos on the Internet.
My goal is to motivate you to say no to pornography by God’s grace. This article does not comprehensively address how to deal with pornography. Other resources do that well, and I recommend several of them below. My burden in this article is to motivate you not to indulge in pornography. I am particularly burdened to motivate people who habitually indulge in pornography and who are not killing their sin of lust. If that describes you, then this article is a way of metaphorically taking you firmly by the shoulders, looking you directly in the eyes, and soberly warning you, “Wake up! Do you realize what the consequences are for indulging in pornography?!”
You should not indulge in pornography for at least seven reasons.2
1. Indulging in Pornography Will Send You to Hell
In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addresses lust:
You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Matt 5:27–30)3
Jesus authoritatively interprets what “You shall not commit adultery” means. It does not merely prohibit you from stealing someone else’s wife. It prohibits you from lusting. Jesus says that looking at a woman for the purpose of lusting is sin. So if you indulge in pornography, you are sinning.
Jesus then reaches a logical conclusion: Since it is sinful to look at a woman with lustful intent, therefore, you should tear out your eye if it causes you to sin, and you should cut off your right hand if it causes you to sin. (The “right hand” is probably “a euphemism for the male sexual organ.”4) And Jesus supports those conclusions with two parallel reasons: it is better to lose your eye or genitals than for your whole body to go to hell.
People who habitually and unrepentantly indulge in pornography will go to hell. One evidence that you have genuine faith in Jesus is that you are fighting lust. Indulging in pornography is a form of sexual immorality. And the sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God. God’s wrath is against the sexually immoral:
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Eph 5:3–6)
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:9–11)
“The sexually immoral” includes people who indulge in pornography. Here’s a paraphrase of 1 Cor 6:9–10: “Don’t think that you can get away with an unrepentantly sinful lifestyle. Don’t think that you can live that way and still be a citizen of God’s kingdom. Unrepentantly sinful lifestyles do not characterize citizens of God’s kingdom.”
And 1 Cor 6:11 is a reminder to Christians: You are not inherently better than non-Christians. The sins that characterize non-Christians used to characterize your heart before God saved you. The sinners in 1 Cor 6:9–10 are exactly who Christians used to be—past tense. The only difference is that God intervened: he “washed” you clean from your filthy lifestyle and forgave you; he “sanctified” you as God’s holy people, who are the Holy Spirit’s temple (1 Cor 3:16–17); he “justified” you, legally declaring that you are righteous.
So don’t think that your indulging in pornography is no big deal. Don’t think you can get away with an unrepentantly sinful lifestyle. The sinful people in 1 Cor 6:9–10 represent the type of people who are not citizens of God’s kingdom. If indulging in pornography characterizes your life, then you can have no assurance that you are a Christian.5 Yes, Christians sin. But Christians are repenting sinners. So become what you are: clean, holy, righteous.
Your eternal destiny is at stake. Indulging in pornography is a treasonous sin against God. That is why Jesus pronounced, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt 5:8). If you are indulging in pornography, then you are not pure in heart. And only the pure in heart will see God. I’m trying to scare the hell out of you—or more precisely, to scare you out of hell. Do you believe that indulging in pornography will send you to hell?
Do whatever it takes to win the battle over lust—even if it means plucking out your eye. Of course, plucking out your eye won’t solve the problem because lust is a heart-issue. There’s not a one-size-fits-all strategy for fighting lust, but you need to fight the battle with multiple weapons. It may mean that you install software like Covenant Eyes on your electronic devices. It may mean that you maintain transparent accountability relationships with godly men. It may mean that you refuse to go certain places, own certain devices, watch certain movies, or view certain websites. Whatever it takes for you to win the battle over lust, it is worth it because indulging in pornography will send you to hell.6
2. Indulging in Pornography Does Not Glorify God with Your Body
Glorifying God is a way of feeling and thinking and acting that makes much of God. It shows that God is supremely great and good. It demonstrates that God is all-wise and all-satisfying. We most glorify God when he most satisfies us.7 That’s what God created us for. And you glorify God with your physical body when you use it the way God intends. Indulging in pornography does not glorify God with your body:
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food—and God will destroy both one and the other.” The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. “Every sin a person commits is outside the body,” but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Cor 6:12–20)8