Jesus’s Compassion for Those Who Love Porn

For more than a decade I silently wrestled with a fixation on pornography and sexual exposure. From 8 to 18 I quietly sought out and filled my eyes, my mind, and my heart with shameful things. I learned to please my own body, sought out others to please it for me, and ultimately worshiped lust and lonely pleasure at a shadowy and anonymous altar.

But at the root, I knew it was empty. I knew it was debasing. I knew it was temporary and unfulfilling and demoralizing. I felt void of actual love. I didn’t think I was worth much to any man unless he first knew I was valuable sexually.

What my eyes had taken in for years and years, my heart had translated into feelings of insufficiency, into dependence on affirmation from others consuming the same perspective-warping things.

But then Jesus collided with my story.

His Compassion

At 19 I met a King who stared right at my sexual brokenness, filth, and defiled body, and then picked up my heart and called me redeemed. It was radical love, radical grace that changed everything. Just as Jesus met the woman at the well and offered her living water. Just as he cast no stone at the guilty adulteress.

Just as he used Rahab, the prostitute, in the lineage of the Messiah—he met me in my wandering. The fact that he stood amid my filth—mercy outstretched and immovable—began to peel back the scales from my eyes in understanding how God responds to sexual sin.

All throughout Scripture we see Jesus traveling from town to town, place to place, having compassion on the afflicted, the sick, the lame, the suffering. And all throughout Scripture we see his love and mercy colliding with their trust in him to bring about miraculous and life-changing healing.

The culture in which Jesus was carrying out his ministry, and the religious culture we live in now, are different in detail but unbelievably similar in the big picture. A culture plagued by unrealistic expectations and rigid rules enforced by religious leaders that motivated behavior modification rather than renewed and reverent hearts that longed to serve a loving God. And as a result, people were—and are—weighed down by shame, guilt, desensitization, and ostracism. People pumped full of rules but robbed of guidance toward the greater why will always be dehydrated of love and afflicted with desperation, addiction, and a lack of direction in their lives.

We see a more beautiful way in Scripture: “When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36).

When we invite the Holy Spirit to censor our lives and make sensitive our eyes, his response changes our vision.

Jesus saw the desperation of impure hearts that didn’t even know the depth of their own depravity, and he was overwhelmed with compassionate pity. His love for them revealed the deep mercy of God—and if that was Jesus’s heart toward the people then, I must believe it remains his heart toward people now.

We’re living in a society that is feeding off our sin inclinations, our easily addicted natures, and our naïveté. We, the masses, are harassed by overexposure to sexual material. We’re drowned in constant visual content that battles for allegiance and infatuation in our hearts. And we’re blinded by images that muddy the clear vision of God’s desire for purity. We’re sheep without a shepherd, addicted to our lost wandering.

But even here Jesus meets us with compassion. His grace extends salvation to us and, in the same breath, refuses to leave us the same. The compassion of a God who sees us in our filth and washes us clean has the power to alter our perspective. Because when we invite the Holy Spirit to censor our lives and make sensitive our eyes, his response changes our vision.

Reclaim Your Sight

One of the most detrimental effects of sexual overexposure is that it changes the way we think about people—far more than we even realize. Humans become objects; humans become body parts. Individuals made in the image of a holy God ultimately become things to be used rather than people to be loved, valued, and seen. And when we reach a place where we’re capable of dehumanizing others for our own sexual fulfillment, we’re not only harming others but also draining our own soul of vitality.

If we want to understand the root of so many of our sexual issues, we’d be wise to pay attention to what we see and watch and read and how we’re being desensitized.

If we want to understand the root of so many of our sexual issues, we’d be wise to pay attention to what we see and watch and read and how we’re being desensitized. Our prayer must become, God, give me eyes to see the world as you do. Then we will actually think about what we’re consuming.

When the naked man on your screen is seen as an image-bearer of the King being exploited for sexual reasons, your vision is renewed.

When the sex scene in the movie is seen as another cheap attempt by the box office to make money, your vision is renewed.

When you realize the reality TV show about singles willing to compromise just about anything to get a rose and a ring looks nothing like a pure and holy and God-honoring reality, your vision is renewed.

If we are what we see, may we fight to reclaim our sight and set our gaze on things that are true and holy.

But most notably, when you begin to see the beauty of God’s design for sex, you begin to understand why sexual sin breaks his heart.

We’re called in Scripture to guard our eyes and guard our hearts fiercely. May we have the commitment of David, who promised, “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes” (Ps. 101:3).

If we are what we see, may we fight to reclaim our sight and set our gaze on things that are true and holy (Phil. 4:8). May we fix our eyes on Jesus—the One whose love has the power to give us new eyes, new hearts, and new vision toward a world that is hurting.

Editors’ note: 

This is an adapted excerpt from Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot (Baker).

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