Amy: Recently we have had a lot of questions about women and pornography. Typically this is addressed as a male problem but it is also a common struggle for women though it may look a little different. All Christians are called to flee sexual immorality and pursue purity but what does this look like in a sex obsessed culture? What does it look like to be set apart?
Heath: When Christians talk about pornography, typically we talk about it like it is a male problem. When we do that it creates a couple of issues.
First, it can make it more challenging for women who do struggle with pornography to feel like there is a place for them to discuss it. It can isolate them and that is not good. Isolation will undercut their efforts at help.
Second, it makes it harder for the church to know how to help those people. Because the church is aware that pornography is a problem for men, and I think that growing numbers of people are aware of that, we have been able to grow in our wisdom and really help men. But if we are not aware it is a problem for women and if we are not talking about the problem, then we will not be able to grow in our wisdom about the problem. This will lead to an inability to help and care the way they need. This is an important subject for us to talk about because pornography is a problem for women as well as men. We know it is a problem that women will have because the Bible tells us so. The demands in the Bible for sexual purity are directed at men and women. They are not just directed at men, but are directed at women as well. Since the commands are directed to men and women and since both men and women are sinful then all of us will struggle as we fight by grace to realize the demands for Biblical purity in our life. In addition to this reality, you have passages like 2 Corinthians 10:13 which says, “No temptation has come upon you except that which is common to every person.” So this issue is something that is not just a male problem, it is a female problem as well.
There are also statistics that back this up. In one survey 87% of women indicated that they felt out of control about the issue of masturbation. In the same survey 47% of women said that they became habitually and compulsively hooked on porn when they were between the ages of 13 and 17. So this is a female problem. The situation is not that guys are looking at porn and women are not. We need to encourage all people to pursue sexual purity, not just men.
Amy: I think one of the ways that men and women are different in the struggle is that sometimes women read romance novels that may even be labeled as Christian but have sexually charged romance in them. Is this an acceptable thing because it is not an image?
Heath: No it is not acceptable. 1 Corinthians 6:18 says that we are to flee all sexual immorality. We are supposed to run away from it. We are not supposed to get as close to sexual immorality as we can. We are not supposed to find that element of sexual immorality that is acceptable to us and say that it is okay for us. We are supposed to run away from it. When we see sexual immorality, whether it is in a book, on a screen, or in our mind, we are supposed to run away from it. Ephesians 5:3 says that there should not be any hint of sexual immorality mentioned among the saints. Not even one hint of it should be mentioned as being part of who Christians are and what they do. Christians are guilty of sexual sin when they look at pornographic movies on the internet, they are guilty of sexual immorality when they read about fornication and adultery in novels, and they are guilty of sexual immorality when they cherish those things in their mind and heart.
We are not allowed to love and be entertained by things that God believes will kill us. When we read a book about a sexy romance between a couple that is not married and there are graphic depictions of their involvement with one another that is not allowed. It is outside the bounds. And it shows and reveals in our heart that we have a love and an interest in the things that God says are deadly. We should repent of that. We should flee sexual immorality. We should run fast from it in the other direction. We should get rid of the books. We should put passwords on the computer. We should get help for our thoughts and we should not do it.
Amy: So as you said in the beginning, women have expressed embarrassment and shame in struggling with pornography since it is often set up as a male problem. So what steps should women take to address this struggle and how should women specifically strive for purity?
Heath: I would say two things. First, remember what I said at the beginning. This is not a sin that you are the only one who struggles with. If these statistics are right that 87% of these women feel out of control by masturbation, then the woman listening to this who is struggling is not alone. She knows people that struggle as well. People are drowning in their silence and somebody has to break it and reach out for help. You are not alone. Nothing has befallen you except that which is common to everybody. You have to fight the lie. I think the function of 1 Corinthians 10:13 in the Bible is to give us a kind of comfort. Not that misery loves company but that you are not alone. That you are not some freak out here in the struggle but that you have the same kinds of struggles that everybody else does. This understanding is helpful when we are trying to be motivated to talk about these problems.
The second thing I would say is that in Hebrews 3:12-13 it says, “Take care brothers lest there be in any of you an evil unbelieving heart leading you to fall away from the living God but exhort one another every day as long as it is called today that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” So Hebrews 3:13 commands Christians to exhort other Christians so that they will not fall away and sin against the living God. That is a command to you and to me and to everybody listening to this that we have to speak into the lives of the people we know and love and walk with in our Christian community. But there is a second command in Hebrews 3:13 that is implicit and here is what it is: I have to be honest with you about my struggle. I have to open up to you. If I am not opening up my life to you and being honest about my struggles with you then you cannot exhort me and you cannot help me in the way that this text commands. So on the face of the passage is a command that we have to be speaking to one another. But right underneath that is this command that we also have to be opening ourselves up to one another so that people will know how to speak intelligently to us. You have to trust the Lord. You have to trust Jesus Christ.
God put this command in the Bible for you so that you could get the help that you need. The help of people speaking into your life to protect you from falling away from the living God. You might be concerned, you might be scared to death, you might be very apprehensive about reaching out for help but you should trust the Lord. You should believe that it is going to be good for your soul to get help with this and then you need to look around for another wise, mature, godly woman. Maybe its your mom, maybe its an older woman at your church, maybe its a dear and precious friend that you know is walking with the Lord and pursuing purity. You can just say, “Hey, can I talk with you about a struggle that I am having and see if you could help me with it.” And then let that person work the means of grace in your life that is commanded in Hebrews.
The questions that we answered on the podcast today came from you. We love to answer your questions and we want to invite you to send them in. You can email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can tweet them at us using our twitter handle @ACBC and the #truthandlove.