I saw this billboard on Interstate 70 near Abilene, Kansas, not long ago. It was positioned directly in front of an “adult store” called the Lion’s Den. It seems to me a clever tactical move to give someone hankering to patronize such a place at least a second thought.
Does pornography have a destructive effect upon its consumers? Clinical psychologist Dr. Victor Cline of the University of Utah, whose academic and professional qualifications are unimpeachable, is famed for his “five stages of addiction.” In order, they are (1) early exposure (seeing pornography at a young age), (2) addiction (it becomes a regular part of your life and you cannot quit), (3) escalation (a continual search for more graphic material and desire for what once would have been repulsive), (4) desensitization (numbness and loss of thrill no matter how graphic the material), and (5) acting out sexually (the dangerous step of moving from fantasy to reality, including rape, molestation, and worse)(information via Gene McConnell, Keith Campbell, focusonthefamily.com).
What Cline says about sexual addiction mirrors addictive behaviors in other realms. Drug addicts often move from through these same phases, as well as those addicted to gambling, food, and other things that can be addictive. As you examine those phases, you can see the desperation, guilt, damaged relationships, and danger intrinsically involved. Pornography leads to objectifying people, desiring what is perverse and even illegal, and experiencing dysfunction on a number of levels.
The good news is the first half of the message on that billboard. That message is as old as the New Testament itself. Paul told the Corinthian church, steeped in all kinds of ungodly behavior, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). That good news extends to those enslaved to pornography, too. A changed, penitent heart and mind, that longs to be free and exerts the effort and self-control, can be healed and restored. Pornography, like every other sin, promises freedom and pleasure. It cannot deliver. But one can be delivered at any time they desire. No sin is bigger than Jesus!