Some of the most compelling lies we tell are the ones we tell ourselves. In my own struggles with pornography, many of these lies were key helpers in fighting off my conscience. Even as my heart screamed, “You are rationalizing this” I needed some half truth to quiet its incessant voice. Here are a few of the better lies I would tell myself.
1. It’s only looking and nobody is getting hurt, so it must be OK.
This lie is nearly true. If nobody is getting hurt, then it is OK. The problem is that whenever someone is sinning they are getting hurt. I am hurt by lusting (Matt 5:28) and she is hurt by degrading herself in front of a camera. God is right to be outraged that I would treat a daughter of his like that when she is hurting herself (Romans 1:24).
2. As long as it is consentual, it is OK.
There are no relationships that involve only two people. In every relationship there are three: you, me, and God. So even when a girl and I agree that I should look at images of her while she profits from that, God is a third party who is NOT consenting and does NOT approve. It is not good enough that two consenting adults agree when there is a non-consenting God watching.
3. This won’t hurt my marriage or my view of women.
This is ridiculous because I know how much my porn problem has hurt Sam. Also, when my lust is out of control, I clearly do NOT view the women in my life in a loving way. We as Christian men are responsible to treat every woman as a mother or a sister (1 Tim 5:12). To look at a woman as an object for my pleasure most assuredly warps my view of women and hurts my marriage.
4. I won’t be happy unless I give in this time.
God knew what he was doing when he made sex. It is between a man and woman who are married to each other. He did this not as a burden for us to bear but as the ideal way to maximize our joy. A person makes love to a person, not a body. There is a holistic person who has dreams, fears, joys, and sorrows. It is the most delightful to enjoy a whole person. It is degrading to our own bodies (1 Cor 5:18) and we are using the bodies God has set aside for himself to dishonor him!
5. I don’t need to confess my sin to anyone except God.
Sin is like a fungus. Usually all you need to grow it is a warm, wet, dark place. When we hide our sins in the dark recesses of our lives, we plant it in a place that it loves to grow. You and I are too self-deceived to ever really deal with our sins on our own. This is a major function of the Church, to help us overcome our sins in a gentle, but firm way. You are lying to yourself if you think that you can do this one alone.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16
James wasn’t stupid and your sin is not the exception. Tell another believer about your sin.
6. I am a good person.
No, you’re not.
7. I have sinned too many times. God won’t forgive me now.
This is one of the most insidious kinds of pride. We spend most of our lives convincing ourselves we’re good people. When the evidence of our sin becomes so overwhelming we feel we’re so evil that the stunning promises of scripture (1 John 1:19, 1 Cor 15:9-10, John 3:16, Mark 3:27) don’t apply. How arrogant! God says he can handle our sin. Who are we to say he can’t?
If you feel this way, there is a lot of hope. It is much better to be overwhelmed by your sin than to think that you aren’t that bad. Check out my post on Encouragement for Sinners. There is hope for you: lots of hope.