Let me preface this article with this: Engagement with digital media and pornography is a complex issue. Please don’t equate the brevity of this article with the extent of these matters. There’s no way I can treat this entire topic in 800 words, but perhaps there is something here that might spawn some thought and prompt you to make some steps in this struggle.
What’s Your Guess?
If you guessed they all take place on a screen, you would be right. But that’s not the answer that I have in mind.
Before we proceed, let’s be very clear. There is a correct time and a correct place for some social media platforms and some video games. (I am not endorsing the video games or social media platforms mentioned in this article.) There is never a right time for pornography. It is always a sin.
If you guessed that all three of these things have the power to suck the life out of a young man’s mind and heart, you would be closer. You may have also guessed that all three of these things can be done anonymously and without accountability. If so, you’re even closer. But I have something else in mind. Something simpler.
These three things are always-available, effortless, and easy substitutes for the real thing. They require very little hard work and commitment.
A Seamless Transition
Online games like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battleground discourage young men from ever getting out and going on a real adventure like hiking, camping, hunting, or fishing. Why should you, when it’s possible to stay home in your pajamas and pretend to be an end of the world survivor?
Social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok hinder you from regularly getting out and carrying on a real conversation, going on a real date, or even getting dumped by a real girl. These things are conditioning you to hide behind emojis and disappearing images, rather than pursuing healthy and holy interactions with girls your own age.
This kind of mindset that you’re accustomed to with online video games and social media—this always-available, effortless, and easy kind of stuff—provides a seamless transition to a pornography addiction. Committing to a healthy and holy dating relationship is hard. Then getting married and maintaining a healthy marriage while raising children, holding down a job, and staying faithful to God is hard. On the other hand, pornography is always available without the effort of a real relationship. Young men who are not committing to the hard things when they are 12-17 years old will almost never do so when they are 18 years old.
There Is Help and Hope
This is a complex issue, and complex issue often require complex solutions. But, please know that there is help and hope. The first step to getting help is acknowledging your sin and acknowledging that our hope for every matter in this life is in Christ.
God provides the strength and ability for you to stand firm in your commitment to Him and be the person that He wants you to be. Notice the path to victory in these verses all promote doing the hard things:
- “Endure” in 1 Corinthians 10:12-13
- “Resist” in James 4:7
- “Crucify the flesh” in Galatians 5:16-24
- “Flea” in 1 Corinthians 6:16-20
- “Stand, wrestle, and persevere” in Ephesians 6:10-18
God is faithful. He will do His part. But you must step up and do the hard things while refusing to settle for the always-available, effortless, and easy substitutes offered by our culture.
This article originally appeared in my Man to Man column.