There are lots of resources out there about the dangers of porn—what it does to your brain, and the evil inherent in the industry—which goes far beyond just people having sex in front of cameras. I won’t rehash all the statistics about pornography or the various mechanisms people use to break their addiction (and casual viewing). I’ll just share how God changed my view of porn. In a sentence: that person whose picture (or video, or whatever) you’re staring at while pleasuring yourself is a human being created in God’s image and for his glory.  

I saw the first pornographic image when I was eleven or so. Maybe ten; I can’t really remember. I continued looking at pornography well into my twenties, but not in the compulsive way that usually is associated with exposure to pornography at such a young age. Drugs and alcohol appealed to me more than anything else. But still, from time to time I would return to porn, even after becoming a Christian. For the most part, I stopped viewing porn when I got married, but even then I looked at it every so often. Each time I was wracked with guilt at what I’d done to my wife. I would remind myself of the evil of lust, pray, read the Bible, all those things that accompany trying to assuage guilt.

Abstaining for me wasn’t some massive war that I had to wage every day. It was pretty easy for me because it didn’t consume me that way it does some folks. But I wasn’t abstaining from pornography because of its evil (though I knew it was evil) or because I loved God. It was just because it didn’t appeal to me the way other things do.

The change in my thinking, what allowed me to really see the evil of pornography, came from teaching through Genesis. One day in my Old Testament class I was talking about the image of God and asking students to think through the implications for our being made in God’s image. We talked about things like racism and abortion, about how we must value life because God created all humans in his image. Then it hit me—this has huge implications for pornography as well. I already knew all about the sacredness of the marriage bed and that sex was to be enjoyed between one man and one woman married for life. And I’d heard and agreed with the “that’s someone’s daughter” argument. The part that hadn’t hit me, the part I stated in my first paragraph, was that porn stars are human beings made in God’s image. That’s not just pixels on a screen. That’s God’s image bearer, whom he created for relationship with him.

My goal in sharing this story is not to guilt or shame anyone. Like I said, I know what addiction is like. And I know what’s it’s like to want to have some escape from problems and pain. My goal is simply to relate something that most folks probably already know but that maybe some people (like me) hadn’t truly realized before. Next time you find yourself staring at people having sex, stop and think for a moment about who those people are—image bearers of the almighty God. 

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