The citizens of the United States of America are united in their worship of sex. Personal freedom no longer has anything to do with the right to live and worship according to one's conscience and beliefs; now it applies only to the ability of individuals to do whatever they want under the approving auspices of the government. Lots of sex is no longer the only goal, but because sin breeds more sin the goal has become as much deviant sex as possible.

Things weren't always like this. How many of our grandparents would have believed there would be public advocates of bestiality, pedophilia, and public orgies in their lifetime, let alone of homosexuality, polyamorism, and sado-masochism? Of course, these sins have always existed, and they've proliferated at certain times more than at others, but never in the United States have they been so widespread, so accepted, so much a part of the public sphere and discourse.

It would be wrong to suggest that this profusion of sexual sin is due to humanity becoming more wicked. Since Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, all people have been desperately wicked, given to sin and not to righteousness. The U.S.A. is in a pretty bad way right now, but there have been other times and places just as sinful in the history of the world, all because one man broke the Law of God. Americans don't worship sex because they're more sinful than the last generation.

The apostle Paul said, "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company ruins good morals'" (1 Corinthians 15:33). The reason sexual promiscuity and sin is so widespread today is that, as people are allowed to sin without fear of punishment, they spread their sin much more widely than if consequences were attached to specific acts. The more people sin, the more people will begin to sin in the same way; there is strength in numbers.

Not only will people begin to sin more, they'll begin to sin in more and more depraved ways. It's sad when adultery doesn't seem so bad because there are so many other "worse" sins being committed, like necrophilia or child-prostitution. And, as these sins increase, our sense of holy indignation becomes less and less, and gradually even the Church looks, if not with approval, at least with unconcern on shameful acts of immorality.

All this begs the question: what happened to get us to this point so quickly? While there are all kinds of legitimate answers to this, many of them related to worldview shifts in the culture at large, one of the most obvious is so prevalent it's affected nearly every home at one time or another. It's pornography, the bane of old and young, men and women, those with access to a computer and those without.

Porn is deadly. It's chemically-addictive and habit-forming; it's progressive, with users needing increasingly greater quantity and bizarre content to stimulate them; it's entirely selfish, with no relational element, and with corrosive effects on existing relationships. Studies have even shown that, in many cases, addiction to pornography will eventually lead you to actually committing the heinous acts you've seen.

It's easier to become addicted to a relatively secret sin than tosomething perpetrated in the open. At the same time, if enough people are enslaved to pornography, its effects will eventually spread throughout society, corrupting at all levels. To a great extent, this has already occured. Even housewives and ten-year-olds are admitting to porn addiction; should we be surprised that a book series like Fifty Shades of Gray is overtly and wildly popular?

We need to be careful as Christians not to make sexual sin worse than other sins. All sin is evil, as all sin is direct disobedience against God and His law. At the same time, we need to take sexual sin as seriously as the writers of the Bible took it: in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, the apostle Paul makes it plain that sexual sin is a sin against the body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. This includes all sexual sin, from the most "innocent" to the most disgusting and troubling.

If you don't think pornography is a sexual sin, consider Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount. "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-28). Clearly, each of us who has lusted after anyone or anything that isn't their spouse is an adulterer or adulteress, and that means nearly everyone.

But the story doesn't end there. Yes, we're all guilty of sin, and yes, sexual sin is probably the most prevalent form in 21st century America, but that's just the Law half of the equation. The Grace half is the good news that Jesus Christ died for all our sins, and that He gives us strength to confess and repent for everything we've done that breaks His perfect law. Though we've stained our minds and bodies with sexual impurity, Christ saves us even from this damning behaviour.

Losing yourself in the Gospel is the first step toward recovery from sexual sin and addiction. The next step is to get help. We weren't intended to fight our battles alone, and while the Holy Spirit is our greatest ally in sanctification, Jesus built his Church to make disciples, and that means that fallen humans are intended to help other fallen humans to put sin to death and to glorify our Lord and Saviour.

Because pornography (and most sexual sin, really) is done in secret, it's easy to cultivate. Asking a trusted brother, sister, or church elder to help you fight the sin of lust is difficult, but necessary. The books in this section will convict, encourage, and challenge you, and many of them are excellent tools to fight sexual sin and addiction, but at the end of the day you need community and not just books to conquer lust.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." This is ultimately a message of hope, and it is extended to all those who trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviewshere.


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