The Conceit of Porn

It is another evening and you are reluctantly heading to meet with your “accountability” group once more. The setting sun only slightly reflects the dark overcast you have been carrying for the past few days. You’ve been hashing and rehashing your contrite confession. You rehearse and rehearse. “I looked for fifteen…well wait, more like five….well ok so I looked for it for ten, but only actually looked for five once I found it….yea…that’s what I’ll tell them…”

All men and an increasing number of women have been there and are going there even today as you read and I write. And since pornography is such a growing epidemic, the “Christian cocaine” if you will, I want to provide some differing ideas and thoughts to launch this discussion, both publicly and in your pre-group confession session, beyond the realm of a simple “slaying of lust” and into the comprehensive picture of our problem. This is simply because our view of God is often too small, hence our view of our sin is too small, as well as our view of redemption.

First, I want to tackle the issue of conceit, or pride in pornography. Pride is an element of all sin types, though it has a nuance within various forms of sin. In the instance of porn, I have seen pride manifest differently in a boastful, high “I am better than thou” type of pride only to be shortly followed up by the other form of lowly “I am the worst of the worst” type of pride.

Let’s take the high road first- no pun ended. Typically, I see this form of pride appear when searching for porn and looking to act out sexually. It has this particular sentiment, whether it is a conscious thought or a feeling: “I deserve this,” or “I will only say it was for a few minutes and I’ll call it a slip.” Or “I do not really have to tell about this one.” If not one of those, I would bet there is a moment in which we construct a tagline to soothe the guilt and shame we are beginning to feel.

So what is really going on there? Well, God’s word answers it first in Genesis 3. We wanted to be like God, so we ate the fruit. And now, we still want to be like God, even in these moments of boastful conceit. What we are truly doing has multiple layers. First, our pride is allowing us to pretend as if God cannot see us because we are, in that moment, our God, and constructing our excuse that makes sense in our universe. Second, in our pride, we attempt to dismiss the Holy Spirit from our universe, as if that was ever actually possible, believing we may be beyond God’s realm.

And on the low road, we exhibit pride and conceit in a greater “self-pity” form. This type of pride tends to creep up after the “deed is done”. We feel the sentiment of “I cannot be forgiven” or “I am dirty”, or even “I do not deserve to live or have friends”. It is quite a yo-yo, going from “above” God to suddenly “below” humanity, but have the same root issue of wanting to be God.

Now, you may think I am slightly off on this, but allow me to explain. Our pride is coming out in these moments in as much, if not more, of an integrated expression of exercising “dominion” over our tiny, insignificant, imaginary kingdom of the internet and thought life. First, we are being proud in our intense self-focus and refusal to accept forgiveness, conceited with ourselves instead of truths about who we are, who Christ is, and what he has done for us. We are denying the sufficiency of the Cross, lowly boasting about the gravity of our sin, as if the Cross of Christ cannot cover such things. Second, we are still elevating ourselves to the position of God because we are appointing ourselves to the seat of judgment over who?….ourselves. We are pretending in our conceit that we are in charge of exonerating ourselves from our sin, rather than seeing God for who he truly is, creator and ruler of all, (whether we acknowledge it or not) and what Christ has done for us, which is atone for our sin and free us from it.

So what do we do with this? Begin to repent of our pride. The next time you are dragging your feet to your “accountability” group, preparing your contrite confession, consider confessing both your lowly and boastful pride, rather than how many minutes you “sorta, kinda” looked at porn.