Tim Challies

There are certain topics I return to on a regular basis and, if you are a regular reader of this site, you know that one of those topics is pornography. I return to it again and again because I see the damage it is doing and I see the despair of those who are caught up in it. My goal for today is simple: I want to give you 7 good reasons you need to stop looking at porn right now.

1. The Cost to Your Soul

I want to begin here: With the cost to your soul. If you are consumed with pornography and unwilling to put this sin to death, you have every reason to be concerned with the state of your soul. God promises that if he has saved us we will gain new passions and new affections. We will have not only the ability but also the desire to replace sin with holiness, to replace immorality with sexual purity. If you have no sorrow for sin, if you have no real desire for victory, if time and again you recklessly choose your sin over your Savior, you need to ask yourself this: Do I love pornography enough to go to hell for it? If this sin continues to dominate your life, it may stand as proof that you do not have a saving, sin-slaying faith. For the sake of your soul, stop looking at pornography.

2. The Cost to Your Neighbor

Even those who know next-to-nothing about the Christian faith know this: Christians are commanded to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Just like Jesus, Christians are to esteem others higher than themselves and to place the concerns of other people ahead of their own. Of all people, Christians should know that pornography exacts a high cost of those who create it—the cost to their bodies, to their souls, to their mental well-being, to their dignity, to their future. A vast amount of the pornography you enjoy is created by people against their wills. The simple fact is, by watching porn, you are watching rape and deriving pleasure from it. You become a willing participant in sexual violence and you allow that actor on the screen to suffer for your pleasure. For the sake of your neighbor, stop looking at pornography.

3. The Cost to Your Church

At a time when the Christian church is crying out for more and better leaders, an entire generation of young men and women are infantilizing themselves by their dedication to pornography. They are in perpetual pornolesence, that period between the conviction of sin and the determination to do anything to stop it. In this time they constantly choose sexual immorality over God and their spiritual growth is stunted. For the sake of your church, stop looking at pornography.

4. The Cost to Your Family

There is scarcely a pastor ministering today who has not seen a family crumble and fall under the weight of pornographic addiction. Men are tearing apart their families for the sake of illicit pleasures; women are shunning the attention of their husbands in order to read or to watch what is forbidden and what seems to promise greater and easier satisfaction. Children are being exposed to pornography through the trails their parents leave behind. Fathers are inviting Satan into the home by their commitment to what God forbids and what Satan loves. For the sake of your family, stop looking at pornography.

5. The Cost to Your Mission

The Lord’s commission is an urgent commission because it is a matter of eternal life and death. Time is short and hell is forever, which makes the Christian’s business an urgent business. And yet so many Christians are distracted by something as evil and as wasteful as pornography. Their attention is arrested, their energy depleted, their usefulness undermined. Don Whitney says it well: “If there are any regrets in Heaven, they will only be that we did not use our earthly time more for the glory of God and for growth in His grace. If this is so, this may be Heaven’s only similarity with hell, which will be filled with agonizing laments over time so foolishly squandered.” For the sake of your mission, stop looking at pornography.

6. The Cost to Your Witness

Christians are called to be different, to stand out from the rest of the world by their desires and by their behavior. Christians are to put sin to death and to display the power of God in removing and destroying all competitors. And yet so many Christians have had their witness shattered when the sordid truth comes out and when others learn that they profess faith in Christ on the one hand, and are consumed with lust on the other. Parents undermine the gospel they have been telling their children, pastors undermine the gospel they have been preaching to their congregations. For the sake of your witness, stop looking at pornography.

7. The Cost to Your Savior

By making light of pornography you are making light of the death of Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian, you acknowledge in your profession of faith that the cost of forgiveness was nothing less than the death of God’s beloved Son. Jesus suffered and died for your sin. How can you, as a Christian, then toy with your sin and take it lightly? How can you cling to it? As Spurgeon says with his customary eloquence, “Sin has been pardoned at such a price that we cannot henceforth trifle with it.” For God’s sake, stop looking at pornography.

noah-movie-posterThis has been a question buzzing around social media for several weeks, stemming from early reports, some even pre-release, of the grossly unbiblical content of the story.  The filmmakers have even touted this unbiblical content as a selling point for the film.  So if this is no mystery, why are Christians still lining up to see this film.  And why are other Christians so angry about the film and so determined not to support it financially.  This blog post isn't going to be about the Noah film in particular, but about the dangerous mindset of acceptance and the message that sends to exploitative filmmakers.

The whole point of the objection, from my perspective at least, is the idea of letting filmmakers milk the wallets of the faithful by putting together any form of godless drivel they want, but as long as they put a biblical character in the story, doe-eyed Christians with more money than discernment will line up to hand it to them.  The point is not whether or not one movie will corrupt our faith as believers, it is the message we send to these types of exploitative filmmakers.  Basically it tells them that Christians are rubes and they can get rich passing off whatever they want to them as long as they use at least the thinnest thread to tie it to the Bible.

I grew up during the time of the blacksploitation films.  They were horrible caricatures of African Americans, and basically cast them as either slaves, dullards, pimps or thugs.  The filmmakers made a mockery of an entire race, but you know who lined up at the theaters to give their money away to these exploitative filmmakers?  Blacks.  Why?  Because it was their only chance to see someone even remotely representative of their race on film.  It wasn't until well after the civil rights movement, decades later, that blacks actually began to start getting serious dramatic roles in film and television.  But in the meantime, these huckster filmmakers made a mint exploiting the fact that they had a brand new market that would line up to line their pockets.  The filmmakers had to make blacks look ridiculous in these films, or else they would have lost their mainstream, largely racist, white audience.  But by making these exploitation films, they got the best of both worlds and raked in profits from both whites and blacks.

These godsploitation type films are exactly the same thing.  These filmmakers don't want to alienate their secular audiences, but the commercial success of truly God-based films like Passion of the Christ, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, etc, have put these greed-hounds on the scent of a whole new pile of money sitting in Christian wallets.  So how do they tap into that cash without alienating their normal film-goer base?  Easy, make a film that is as ridiculous and outlandish as any secular film, but put a Bible character in the story and watch these undiscerning Christians line up to empty their wallets to these filmmakers.

If Christians are not willing to stand together, to unite to send a message that “hey, you aren't getting our support making these ridiculous godsploitation films”, then they are going to keep on doing it, and keep on getting rich, and generations of unbelievers are going to be forming their opinions of what God has to say to them from these types of films.  They certainly aren't getting it from Christians, because the overwhelming majority are too busy making themselves comfortable inside the church walls to be out in the neighborhoods, the parks, the workplaces and the schools telling others about Christ.

I'll climb down off my soapbox now, but as a Christian author, I care as much as anyone about things like this.  If I write things that DO glorify God, and I want to win the general public over with glimpses into the truth through both non-fiction and our fiction work, then why in the world would I want to help the enemy establish his stronghold in the marketplace.  If I, and other Christian authors, and Christian readers, aren't willing to take a stand on moral ground, we ought to at least be willing to stand on self-preservation as Christian authors, readers and film-goers.

We have no shortage of excellent books on the subject of holiness. J.C. Ryle’s Holiness has stood the test of time while R.C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God and Jerry Bridges’ The Pursuit of Holiness represent two modern classics. We might well ask whether we really need more books on the subject. Kevin DeYoung’s The Hole in Our Holiness answers with a resounding “Yes!”

DeYoung believes there is a hole in our holiness, a gap between gospel passion and the pursuit of holiness. The hole is simply this: that we don’t really care much about holiness. “Passionate exhortation to pursue gospel-driven holiness is barely heard in most of our churches. … I’m talking about the failure of Christians, especially younger generations and especially those most disdainful of ‘religion’ and ‘legalism,’ to take seriously one of the great aims of our redemption and one of the required evidences for eternal life—our holiness.”

J. C. Ryle
J. C. Ryle

I have thought about this often over the years and am inclined to agree with DeYoung’s assessment. All the way back in the nineteenth century J.C. Ryle was teaching that holiness “is one grand end and purpose for which Christ came into the world.” But then, as DeYoung says,

My fear is that as we rightly celebrate, and in some quarters rediscover, all that Christ has saved us from, we are giving little thought and making little effort concerning all that Christ has saved us toShouldn’t those most passionate about the gospel and God’s glory also be those most dedicated to the pursuit of godliness? I worry that there is an enthusiasm gap and no one seems to mind.

We would do well to ask the reason for this gap, and here DeYoung proposes several answers: In the past Christians equated holiness with abstaining from a few taboo practices such as drinking and dancing; our churches have many unregenerate persons in them who are necessarily uninterested in holiness; we emphasize a culture of cool that pushes the boundaries with language, entertainment, alcohol, fashion, and whatever else is deemed cool; labeling something as unholy or ungodly feels judgmental; we fear legalism and are frightened by words like diligence, effort and duty; we face the reality that pursuing holiness is hard work; and finally, many Christians have tried and just plain given up.

Through nine short chapters, DeYoung goes on to show what the Bible says about holiness, to answer some of the contemporary objections to it, and to offer challenges in a few of the areas where we may be accepting and even celebrating unholiness. The chapter titled “Saints and Sexual Immorality” is especially to the point as he challenges us to see that maybe, just maybe, we’ve allowed the world to squeeze us into its mold in the area of sexuality. This is true not only in our sexual ethics and behavior, but also in the things that entertain us and the things we laugh and joke about.

One of the book’s strengths is in its constant encouragement that we actually can be holy. What God calls us to he also empowers us to attain. Yet too many of us have tried holiness and have found it too difficult, too insurmountable a calling. DeYoung says rightly that “There are a hundred good things you may be called to pursue as a Christian. All I’m saying is that, according to the Bible, holiness, for every single Christian, should be right at the top of that list.” I couldn’t agree more.

While Ryle, Sproul and Bridges have written books that are almost timeless, DeYoung’s humor and references to culture keep it bound in the here and now. But this is exactly what makes it such a great complement to those other works. It does not replace them, but stands beside them.

If holiness really is meant to be at the top of the Christian’s list of priorities, then we do well to equip ourselves by regularly reading about the subject. The Hole in Our Holiness will challenge, equip and encourage you to put sin to death and to be relentless in your pursuit of holiness. I don’t think I can pay the book a higher compliment than that.