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Reformed pastor Carl Trueman thinks the problem with porn use is deeper than just sexual sin

08 May

And that marriage isn’t a solution:

I remember reading a few years ago a minister’s account of counseling a man with a pornography problem. The advice amounted to ‘Get married and have sex with your wife.’  The advice may have been ironic; but if not, it is surely dangerous. The use of pornography is not simply a result of overactive glands than need some relief; it is a form of sin which is complex in origin and manifestation. Simply finding an outlet for legitimate physical relief of sexual urges does not begin to address the deeper problems. To quote Butterfield (p. 83): “What good Christians don’t realize is that sexual sin is not recreational sin gone overboard.  Sexual sin is predatory. It won’t be ‘healed’ by redeeming the context or the genders. Sexual sin must simply be killed. What is left of your sexuality after this annihilation is up to God. But healing, to the sexual sinner, is death: nothing more and nothing less.” That has profound pastoral implications, one of which is not seeing marriage as the cure for sexual incontinence.

WTF?

Men turn to pornography as a sexual release outlet precisely because they’re not otherwise getting the sexual release they desire. It’s a sinful choice, but it’s certainly understandable. Paul, inspired, told us in Scripture that ‘It is better to marry than to burn’ (and in that chapter encouraged spouses to meet each others’ sexual needs, to not defraud each other); what does Pastor Trueman know that Paul didn’t? How is marriage not a solution?

(It reminds me of how Alcoholics Anonymous argues that alcoholism isn’t caused by excessive, uncontrolled drinking of alcoholic beverages, but stems from various moral failings, and that ‘liquor is but a symptom’ of the ‘real’ issue, a ‘spiritual disease’; from this, they argue that merely being ‘dry’ doesn’t solve such.

Which is bullshit. While people may turn to excess drinking in response to various stresses in their lives, etc., which may still remain even if they quit their drinking, the fact is, quitting drinking will return to them a greater degree of control over their lives, and then they can start to tackle various other problems in their lives. And the problem with alcoholism is drinking too much; not what led to that, which is a separate matter.)

Seems to me that some folks want to make hills into mountains. No doubt it helps pastors and ‘Christian counsellors’ sell books / counselling sessions, theological conferences, etc. (Oops; how uncharitable of me…)

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36 responses to “Reformed pastor Carl Trueman thinks the problem with porn use is deeper than just sexual sin

  1. Carnivore

    May 8, 2016 at 6:19 am

    “No doubt it helps pastors and ‘Christian counsellors’ sell books / counseling sessions, theological conferences, etc.”

    There you go. Can’t have none of that if one sentence explains the cure.

     
  2. Avraham rosenblum

    May 8, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Sometimes the obvious needs to be said.

     
  3. Sean

    May 8, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    I’ve been thinking something for a while.

    Single men and porn is the sin of one person.

    Married men and teh pr0n is the product of two people’s sin.

     
    • Will S.

      May 8, 2016 at 1:03 pm

      Bingo. (Minus, of course, the sins of those producing the porn, being captured on camera for porn, etc.)

      And yes, it’s true that marriage may not be a solution to the problem of pornography, IF one party (usually the woman) in the marriage is not consenting to, and enthusiastically partaking in, sexual relations with the other at the level the other is desiring, and said other party takes refuge in porn.

      And then, as you say, it’s the sin of the two people in the marriage, not just that of a solitary single man by himself.

       
      • Sean

        May 8, 2016 at 3:35 pm

        Exactly. Had the wife assumed her female duties, men would have no need for teh pron. Same goes for chicks reading 50SOG. If her husband isn’t wearing her out then it’s his fault she’s into teh pron.

        Therein, also, lies the issue with church’s refusal to deal with harridan women. They’re so quick to condemn the men for the sin of porn (rightfully) but an abject failure to say to the women they’re a prime and secondary reason for it is totally lacking.

         
      • Will S.

        May 8, 2016 at 5:48 pm

        Precisely; they’re frightened of the possible female reaction, were they to actually hold women as much accountable as they strive to hold men.

         
  4. Sanne

    May 8, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Porn can be addictive, in which case the husband may prefer it to a normal sexual relationship with his wife. If a man strays, it’s not always his wife’s fault just as when the wife commits adultery, it’s not always because her husband drove her to it.

     
    • Will S.

      May 8, 2016 at 1:03 pm

      Certainly that’s possible. But in most cases, people who truly are happy with their spouses, because they are receiving all the love and attention from them that they desire, do not cheat on them or seek satisfaction by other means.

       
  5. Sanne

    May 8, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    That’s true, I just wanted to point out that porn appears to be different from just visiting prostitutes or some such thing. It can be close to heroin addiction, and, unfortunately, with internet porn some guys start very young and later are unable to have normal relationships with women. Not so long ago, before WWII, porn was prohibited though prostitution was allowed. Nowadays it’s often vice versa, i wonder whether they knew something which we don’t.

     
    • Will S.

      May 8, 2016 at 5:39 pm

      Well, I don’t know. I know it is said that porn re-wires the brain, and overstimulates the sex drive, etc. But surely fornicating with actual prostitutes could do the same thing, if engaged in repeatedly, as with porn usage. I think the main reason pornography was banned while prostitution was accepted, in previous times, is simply because it is impossible to enforce prostitution bans thoroughly, whereas until the advent of the internet, it was possible to clamp down on porn, to a great extent (though not thoroughly, of course).

       
  6. feeriker

    May 8, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    For Trueman to have reached any other conclusion would have been puncturing the FI and –*gasp* horror of horrors!– holding wlmen accountable.

    How much longer will it take us to realize that the church today will NEVER, EVER hold women accountable for ANYTHING? To expect any other type of message from churchian “leadership” than what Trueman delivered is to expect horses to grow horns or turkeys to set new height and speed records for flight.

     
    • Will S.

      May 8, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      I’m indeed inclined to believe that such is part of the reason Trueman holds to his POV.

       
  7. feeriker

    May 8, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Not so long ago, before WWII, porn was prohibited though prostitution was allowed. Nowadays it’s often vice versa, i wonder whether they knew something which we don’t.

    No, they’re just using the powers of the State to exercise a sort of Skinnerian control over male sexuality in a manner that is fairly obvious to any thinking and observant person. Unfortunately, the adjectives “thinking” and “observant” exclude most of the world’s population today.

     
    • Sanne

      May 9, 2016 at 3:37 am

      Feeriker, before sexual revolution there wasn’t really an overabundance of sex for an average male, either.

       
      • Will S.

        May 10, 2016 at 3:27 am

        I know you’re addressing feeriker, Sanne, but I don’t think there’s an overabundance of sex for an average male, today, either; only for the top dogs, so to speak; the alphas, adored by PUAs and considered cads by trads (though we can still recognize their talents, even if opposed to the ends to which they are applied).

        In that sense, the sexual revolution did nothing for the average male, while liberating average women to be sluts. It’s still the amoral top dogs who get the bulk of the women who put out, and not those men of lesser skills and/or greater morals.

         
  8. feeriker

    May 8, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    And that marriage isn’t a solution:

    I really wish churchian “leadership” would just admit what their obstructionist tactics toward marriage betray as being one of their primary ideological tenets: “marriage” as defined and described by the Scriptures flies in the face of the Modernism that is the “church’s” true creed. Such an institution tramples on the FI and can thus not be tolerated; indeed it must be be actively discouraged at every turn (it was, I believe, over at Deep Strength’s blog that I recently asked rhetorically how many marriage ceremonies the typical church conducts each year, wagering that for even the large megachurches that are full of marriagable young people the number is well under half a dozen per year).

    The continuing pretense of holding up marriage as something sacred while actively undermining and trampling upon it at every turn is, to put it crudely, really fucking insulting as is getting really fucking tiresome to behold.

    To Trueman and all of the rest of his fellow benighted churchian hucksters: knock it off!

     
    • Will S.

      May 8, 2016 at 5:45 pm

      He wouldn’t or couldn’t be bothered to spell out any of these ‘deeper problems’ which ostensibly are ‘complex in origin and manifestation’; he just asks us to trust him, that they’re real and yuge.

      Bullshit.

       
  9. Jeffrey S.

    May 9, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Porn does screw up your brain:

    http://www.amazon.com/Wired-Intimacy-Pornography-Hijacks-Brain/dp/0830837000

    I suspect that a healthy, married sex life is a big help for some men. The problem is how to get there, especially if you have been exposed to pornography at an early age and therefore have a warped view of sexuality to begin with (for men and women?)

    I suggest you get off your high horse and listen (or read) about the experiences of pastors (or counselors) who are trying to help men deal with their pornography problem.

     
    • Will S.

      May 10, 2016 at 2:27 am

      I know porn messes with one’s brain; I referred to that in a comment, in fact.

      I do believe one can quit things without a counsellor; a decade ago, I knew a man who quit his excess drinking – in fact quit drinking altogether – cold turkey, and stuck to it. I’m not saying that pastors and counsellors can’t do good, and no doubt some are helped by them. But I wonder why this pastor felt the need to criticize another’s methodology.

      Anyway, if it’s okay for Pastor Trueman to criticize that other pastor, it’s equally okay for me to criticize him.

      I do, and I will.

      We are bloggers; being opinionated and bloviating is what we do. I’ll stay on my high horse as I please, just as I know you’ll likewise do, too.

       
  10. thedeti

    May 9, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Good post, Will, but there’s more to it than that.

    First, a quibble, but it’s a big one. “It’s better to marry than burn” should have “in hell” added after it. That quote is often misconstrued as meaning “better to marry than to burn “with passion”. It’s not. The true meaning of that phrase is “better to marry than to burn in hell” because of your sexual sin of fornication, adultery, etc.

    The rest of the quoted material is terrible.

    Counseling for men using porn shouldn’t be “get married and have sex with your wife”. A huge problem in the American Christian church now is that there’s a “shortage of marriage”. Pastors think that, oh, these men will be just fine if we can just get them married off to someone! And who better than to get those hapless, hopeless men married off to than the “reformed sluts” who litter our doorsteps, attempting their Christianese, their “tired of the games and the playas” and the “ready to settle down” because “I want to do it the right way this time” and “I promise I’ll be worth the wait” BS. The idea is to get these men and women married to each other. Presto change-o! He gets sex!! She gets a husband and respectability! Win Win, right?

    Wrong. What happens is that these relationships last a few years, until she’s seethingly angry, he’s miserably frustrated, and they divorce with her getting cash and prizes, custody of the kid(s), and an income stream. Neither the man nor the woman are ready for marriage.

    The next problem is a conflation of “man’s sexual urges” as “sexual sin”. If you read carefully, you’ll see it. The author in the quoted piece isn’t saying a man’s porn use is sinful. He’s saying the man’s sexual urges are sinful. He’s referring to “purging” the man of his “sexual sin”, meaning the man has to have God “annihilate” his sexual urges. This is completely wrong, and toxic. These men are brainwashed into believing their wanting sex is sinful, evil, wrong, and perverted. It’s just not true, and these men ought to be ashamed of themselves for getting that so wrong and turned around.

     
    • Will S.

      May 10, 2016 at 2:45 am

      Hey deti, I agree that just ‘get married and have sex with your wife’ may be a bit simplistic, but it IS in line with what Paul counsels, as a solution to burning with passion then burning in hell because of giving in to such passions (I think the one can lead to the other, so no need to worry about the translations). True, Paul was just discussing lust in general, not the specific case of porn, but fornicating with loose women / whores / masturbating to pornography, I can’t see the difference, lust is lust…

      And yes, we shouldn’t counsel men to just up and marry ostensibly reformed sluts; that’s why I, thinking about this possibility, referred to marriage specifically in my post as ‘A solution’, not ‘THE solution’, because it isn’t the only one. (I have, BTW, previously lamented about Protestantism’s doing away with monasticism, which I’m not certain was completely justified, nor the most ideal course of action.)

      And indeed, I am concerned very much that people like Pastor Trueman, and a Christian counsellor I once knew, do conflate man’s natural sexual urges with sexual sin, and the former dyke he quotes, who I note is now happily married and a mother, saying that in killing our sin, “what is left of your sexuality is up to God”, as if sexual sin so permeates our sexuality that it in no wise whatsoever is redeemable, perhaps, and that God might have to kill it entirely to root out the sin (though, again, that former dyke is now a happily married mother, so I guess it pleased God to graciously reform her sexuality, but that may not be the case for a porn-addict man, doncha know…).

      I am suspicious, indeed, of misandry under the guise of ‘helping men’; just as I am suspicious of organizations like AA, which appear benevolent, but really seem to be all about mind control and creating a new religious cult, and selling lots of books.

      http://www.orange-papers.org/

      That is an interesting site, BTW. Most interesting, indeed.

       
  11. thedeti

    May 9, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Following up: The author in the quoted material is saying that a man’s sexual urges, the male sex drive itself — that these things are evil, wrong, and sinful.

    This kind of thinking is a huge part of why the Church is in the state it is in.

     
    • Will S.

      May 10, 2016 at 2:45 am

      Agreed, deti. Agreed, very much.

       
      • Will S.

        May 10, 2016 at 3:08 am

        Her name is Rosaria Butterfield, and she used to be a radical lesbian. Now she’s a pastor’s wife and mom.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosaria_Butterfield

        Good for her. But I wonder if she completely left all her man-hating ways behind; if she let God completely kill all of what she used to be…

        Just sayin’…

         
      • infowarrior1

        May 10, 2016 at 11:11 pm

        I don’t think God needs permission 😉

         
      • Will S.

        May 10, 2016 at 11:30 pm

        Of course not. But He COULD ALLOW us to resist Him, should it please Him to do so; heaven forbid, but it isn’t impossible…

         
  12. Bonald

    May 12, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    On the one hand, it’s fair to warn Christian couples that marriage isn’t going to make chastity easy. You’re allowed to have sex, but you probably won’t be able to have it all that often (at least, if you can’t handle a new baby every year and you abstain from acts that all Christians a century ago would have considered gravely sinful).

    On the other hand, Christian moralists often work to make sexual morality even harder than it has to be, as when they say that a man may only sleep with his wife if his motives are sufficiently pure and non-carnal. I had once wondered if this was a purely Catholic thing, because only celibates could dream up a morality that demands non-lustful sex, but this minister seems to be implying the same thing, dismissing the idea of giving men the legitimate sexual outlet of wives.

     
    • Will S.

      May 13, 2016 at 3:33 am

      I don’t know that it need be that rare; shoot, I’ve had married friends who were actively attempting to, or who were at least not taking steps to stop from, conceiving who had great difficulty doing so, some of whom didn’t do so for a few years or more after getting married; one couple took five years…

      Anyway… Yes, in the modern conservative Protestant world, alas, one finds pastors / counsellors who seem to seek to make things more difficult than they need be.

       
      • feeriker

        May 13, 2016 at 11:37 am

        Anyway… Yes, in the modern conservative Protestant world, alas, one finds pastors / counsellors who seem to seek to make things more difficult than they need be.

        But of course. If they didn’t create problems for themselves to solve, they’d have to find gainful, productive employment (perish the thought!).

         
      • Will S.

        May 13, 2016 at 2:10 pm

        Indeed. 🙂

         
    • Carnivore

      May 13, 2016 at 6:43 am

      That never was a “Catholic thing”. The traditional teaching is that the primary purpose for which God created sex is procreation (within marriage). The secondary purpose being for the pleasure and enjoyment of a man and his wife. That is why Catholics do not practice birth control (and some do not even practice the rhythm method for this reason) – it thwarts the primary purpose of God behind the act.

      The non-carnal and pure motives relate to the decision to enter into marriage. The modern (and crude) way of putting it is that a man shouldn’t think with the head between his legs when deciding to marry. Unfortunately, too many men do exactly that these days.

       
  13. evilwhitemalempire

    May 17, 2016 at 6:26 am

    Plenty of time to debate porn and masturbation AFTER the wall is built folks.

     
    • Will S.

      May 17, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      Which wall? The one Trump promised to build but make Mexico pay for it?

      I’ll believe it when I see it.

       

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