In light of this confusion, everyone is enslaved to what they desire most simply because we are made by God to always be worship something. Our hearts are never-ending idol factories. Like an addiction, compulsively viewing porn (or doing anything) to the point that it causes problems in day to day functioning is to be denounced as idolatrous and sinful. In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul declared that he will not be mastered by anything. The "anything" he refers to should also include sex drives. We do not want to be mastered by our sexual desires.
Still, people worship the things (sex, food, science, technology, religion, personal autonomy, etc.) they think will give them what they want, or what they think they want. And people ultimately become enslaved to what they worship. For the addict, it's the lack of self-control to resist a behavior that is the obvious enslavement. On the other hand (and not as obvious), the moralist who is committed to battling natural sexual desires is also a slave, but instead to human asceticism and harmful, unnecessary prohibitions.
Yet while everyone has needs and wants, addiction is different. When it comes to dependency, it is a blatant form of idolatry. We become slaves, even if we are already prone to the thing, simply due to our own physiology. Yes, there may be some component of brain chemistry involved, but on a basic level, any type of addiction is primarily a worship issue. No one can use the excuse of body chemistry alone to avoid responsibility for their sinful problems. Being mastered by legitimate addiction to anything is still sin.
"But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness."
" ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful.
‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be mastered by anything."
1 Corinthians 6:12
“Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.”
Christiansexdeception.com (via web.archive.org)
A critical look at why people think pornography is wrong. However, the real problem is not porn itself. But rather, it's how we think about it.
When it comes to immorality, what some think of as sexual "sin" (such as porn) is really a matter of conscience.
No, not some kind of erotic teetotaling. Unhelpful and unnecessary prohibitions provoke us to moralism. But God’s grace changes that.
By: David J. Ley, Ph.D.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012.
Sexual self-pleasure is a gift from God. Yet many Christians continue to condemn the practice. Why?
Sexual strife is rarely one-sided, and unmet needs of each spouse lead to bitter resentment. We need Jesus's tenderhearted love.
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The intent here is not to do a deep dive on the subject or science of addiction. That information is widely available. With that, there are still many things that need to be said, specifically about addiction relating to porn.
WebMD.com has stated that "porn addiction is, in theory, when you can't stop looking at porn, even if you want to. And the obsession gets to the point that it interferes with work, relationships, and other parts of daily life." The challenge with that, however, is trying to define pornography. It’s not as easy as one may think.
By contrast, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), considered by many professionals to be the gold standard for mental health diagnosis, holds a different view. It’s worth noting that, as of this writing, the DSM does not recognize sexual compulsivity to be a legitimate form of addiction. In fact, neither the DSM-5 nor ICD-11 consider pornography to be addictive.
The apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6:12 says, " 'Everything is permissible for me,' but I will not be mastered by anything." The term “mastered” may be the closest reference in the Bible to addiction. That said, for the purpose of relevance here, a pornography "addiction" may be described by some as something along the lines of looking at nearly or completely naked women (or men) for hours a day, and then suffering any consequences that result.
It's worth pointing out that many good things, even necessary things, would qualify as addictive under the definitions of some. But many of those things are obviously legitimate needs, and not typically considered addictions. For example, do we usually consider natural, God-given physical desires to be addictive? Is sleeping an addiction? Is eating sensibly inherently addictive? Is breathing air a sign of being an air addict? Likewise, does sexually lusting after (desiring) someone automatically cause one to be addicted to sex? In each case, the answer is decisively no. David J. Ley, PhD, in his book The Myth of Sex Addiction, has this to say about the problem.
Its rationale is dubious. Regardless, God tells us to not be “mastered” by anything, including sex. What then shall we do?
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It seems obvious to say that men are generally, in greater numbers, more prone to porn-related compulsive behavior than women. The simple reason is that men tend to be more visual in nature. As a result, the multi-billion dollar porn industry is aimed primarily at men. It can also be said that a majority of men are desperate to view women's bodies. A primary reason for this is that cultures tend to heap shame on men for appreciating feminine beauty, while at the same time shaming them for God-given lusts.
There’s a definite connection between shame and the condemnation from prohibition of certain behaviors, especially natural ones relating to sex, and the resulting compulsive “addictions” that ensue. That also goes for anything else one considers to be addictive. Any natural lust that is denied will only become greater with greater prohibition. It is this unnecessary prohibition along with shame that prove to exacerbate the situation.
Should men and women who respond to legitimate, sexually stimulating hormones in their bodies, which the good Lord gave them, really be required to battle and “conquer” them? Should they try to alter their behaviors or brain chemistry? Perhaps so, if it’s because they've been sexually prohibited by moralistic purity culture. Or if they've been condemned with guilt and shame long enough, then yes, they may want to get some help.
Whenever people talk about viewing porn as a problem, and because sexual desire is so strong, addiction is often assumed to be the inevitable result. But that is flawed and faulty reasoning. Sexual compulsivity is not inevitable. It's not the pornography itself that's problematic, but it’s our view of it that is. It's really addiction, violence, condemnation, shaming, and other ungodly influences that are at issue. Be assured, naked beauty is definitely not the problem.
As Paul said, we are not to be ‘mastered by anything’ because for Christians, our hope is found in Christ. The greatest secret to winning the battle of sexual purity is the knowledge that there actually is no battle. Our victory is in what Jesus has already done, both for the addict and for the religious moralist. In other words, embrace your God-given freedom to appreciate visual beauty in moderation, while loving God and others, and without condemning your neighbor or yourself.
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"When we allow morals, religious values, and laws to dictate medicine and science, it leads inevitably to the current morass of diagnostic confusion. The muddiness of blending morals, laws, and science supports the current social quagmire of sex addiction, where the diagnosis sometimes excuses people for their behaviors at the same time that it is used by society to stigmatize and pathologize certain behaviors and groups of people. Attending to this dialogue is especially important as we address the complex issues of gender and masculinity that are embedded in sex addiction."
By: The Therapist / CAMFT