Sexual idolatry and impurity is one of the most formidable and defiant of vices known to man. The moment you enter this high citadel of Satan you are in for the fight of your life because it is one of the chief ingredients of Satanism. And if the truth be known, most Christians/Messianics fear to face it.
As readers of my essays well know, I am definitely not of the Catholic-Augustinian school which views sex as 'bad' or 'sinful'. Sex is what you make of it or do with it. Like nuclear power you can use it for good or evil. Misuse it, and catastrophe will shatter your spiritual life. Use it as Yahweh has ordained it, and much joy can be its fruit.
Impure sex is one of the last bastions of the carnal nature and it is well defended. Justifications are legion. I was first made aware of the extent to which the spiritual lives of Christians/Messianics have been penetrated by it when I was confronting the bisexual issue in polygamy last year (2002). Here, and elsewhere, the chief justification is that any kind of sex goes provided it is within a marriage covenant, a lie quickly nullified by a careful study of Torah. Yahweh has made it clear that there is unclean sex within marriage too.
Yah'shua (Jesus) taught the radical doctrine that a man commits adultery in his heart just by lusting (eagerly desiring) an already married woman, or vice versa. Now adultery, as you know, is not a venial sin (one that is easily excused or forgiven) but so obnoxious to Yahweh that He mandated the death penalty for it. And it's not as though Christ subsequently came along and minimised it in some way - yes, He forgave the woman caught in adultery but sternly warned her not to sin again. There is grace, but it is not unconditional.
From this account alone we learn that sexual sin is not simply in the act but in the mental pictures and feelings as well and may well be totally disconnected from the physical act. If committing adultery in the flesh mandated the execution of the body, what then is the penalty for committing it in your mind and heart? Clearly there is a cause/effect relationship in this part of the soul too.
Few Christians/Messianics really bother to consider why such a harsh penalty was instituted by Yahweh for sins like adultery. The idea has crept into Christian/Messianic thinking that somehow Yahweh has changed His mind and, misreading the story of the woman caught in adultery whom Yah'shua (Jesus) forgave, have wrongly assumed that sexual crimes have somehow been lessened. One thing they typically miss is the fact that this story is as much about the sin of adultery as it is about who can accuse and who cannot. One might say that this woman was let off on account of a legality - there were no accusers! Each man who bore a stone and was ready to slay her with it discovered that they were condemned as well. They were probably as guilty in their own hearts and minds as she had been in the flesh. And that was the point of the story. It is possible to legally justify someone else's sins whilst the accusers are covering up their own. Judgment, in the New Covenant, is Yahweh's, who was present as Yah'shua (Jesus). This incident was used by Yahweh to expose the hypocrisy of hidden sin. But nowhere did Yah'shua (Jesus) minimise the crime. She had got away with it on this occasion but was warned in no uncertain terms that she should definitely sin no more.
Frightening though it may be, we are accountable not only for our deeds but for our very thoughts and feelings too. Were there no way we could bring these in line with holiness one might justifiably go crazy. However, the Scriptures plainly teach - and the lives of tens of thousands bear ample witness - that when a person truly repents and receives Christ, their whole being is renewed, including their minds. We are empowered in Christ to think righteously and are no longer 'obliged' to yield to the carnal man.
Satan has, beyond question, infiltrated the churches/messianic assemblies and arranged for demons to whisper false teachings into the ears of its teachers. Today any number of watered-down versions of the Gospel are available for those with itching ears. The way this is done is for the most part to emphasise the saving experience whilst setting our discipleship to one side. This is not unlike celebrating admission to college without ever thereafter studying the program. Today Christians/Messianics never 'graduate'. They are left in swaddling clothes and the diapers/nappies are never changed. The presented diet is milk, and only milk. They rarely move on.
Our eyes are assaulted by sexually immoral pictures every day whether it be on the internet, on TV, on billboards, or wherever. And as any politician with psychological savvy will tell you, repeat something often enough - especially a lie - and people will believe it. See sexually immoral images often enough and you will become numbed and indifferent to them. How often have you heard a believer say that, for example, nude pictures no longer bother him? It is, of course, possible that he has attained to such a pure state that they do not, but in my experience when the vast majority of people make such statements it is not because they are beyond temptation but because they have accepted the unacceptable. They are, in a word, brainwashed.
The same is true of violence in the media. Today people think nothing of it and then wonder why there is such a rise in violent crime. They wonder why children are committing unspeakable acts of violence. It is because they have mentally 'accepted' it. They are no longer resisting it - no longer fighting against it. The moment we cease struggling we have accepted sin as simply fait accomplis or matter-of-fact.
We all deep down know this to be true. Satan certainly does. Why do you think he saturates email boxes with invitations to pornographic websites? According to the Observer newspaper (30 March 2003), $3 billion are paid by people to view Internet porn sites, 60% of all websites are sexual in nature, 30% of unsolicited emails contain pornographic information, 37% of men aged 18 to 24 have visited internet porn sites, 26 popular children's characters such as My Little Pony and Action Man led to thousands of links with porn sites of which 30% were hard-core, 25 million Americans visit porn sites between 1 and 10 hours each week and of these nearly 20% spend 11 hours each week looking at porn, there was a 345% increase in child porn sites between February and July 2001, there are 100,000 websites worldwide which offer child pornography (which is illegal in every country supposedly), there were 27.5 million visits to adult-related pornographic websites in the USA in January 2002 of which 72% of visitors were men and 28% women, children aged between 10 and 17 who regularly use the internet will receive a sexual advance in cyberspace, and 325,000 US children aged 17 or younger are prostitutes, performers in pornographic videos or have otherwise become victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
Now why have I cited these statistics? It is simply to point out that people's brains are so saturated with pornographic images that this is what has subconsciously defines sex for them. What they view is what they want. Even after conversion to Christ, those who were exposed to such images (and that would be a very large number of people) will find themselves looking for sexual fulfilment in marriage based on what they have 'seen'. Can you understand why many former unbelievers might be attracted to polygamy ... because of the group-sex images that are still lodged in their minds? Can you see how they might view polygamy as an outlet for such programming? So much compulsive sexual behaviour in believers stems from this mental pollution.
What pornography does for men especially is to remove sex away from the sphere of spiritual communion between man and woman and turn it into a compulsive need to fulfil visual expectations. To be aroused their wives are expected to do things. Women have similar problems though theirs tend to be more romance-orientated. Again, the men are expected to do certain things. In true, spiritually-centred sex there are no expectations. The core of the sexual experience in a true Christian/Messianic marriage is giving ahavah/chesed/agapé love to ones spouse. Today, though people have been conditioned to 'expect' all kinds of things - things which ought not even to be talked about, let alone visualised, until the marriage night where the couple can explore and build their sexual relationship as innocents. The only techniques we need to know are expressed, albeit it allegorically, in the Song of Solomon.
Pornography and romance novels have done much to destroy the purpose for which Yahweh created sex. Because pornography is mental and emotional fornication and adultery, it opens demonic channels too. And although only a quarter of pornography addicts are women, their numbers are increasing, though mostly this is catering to lesbianism and bisexuality. It should come as no surprise to learn that the pornography industry is run by Satanists who have a vested interest in corrupting morals. Many of the porno stars are actually victims who have been forced into the industry. Pornography tresspasses on the mind in so many ways and invites an audience to view women as inferiors, as objects who are only good for sex. One married woman remarked: "I knew something was wrong in our intimate relationship," who discovered her husband was using internet porn, "and I always wondered who he was making love to because it was never me."
One man, who went through many disasterous relationships, spoke of the obsessiveness that gripped him in pornographic addiction:
Now as a deliverance minister who works with Satanists this matches exactly the 'drive' that compells these demonised souls. The drive is to deflower virgins in mass orgies and dedicate them to Satan. Once this drive has been 'fulfilled', it leads them to search out others. The same evil spirits that drive Satanists drive the 'casual' viewers of internet porn.
"Virgins were a speciality. The pattern would be to find someone who was clearly innocent, and to pursue them with great ardour and romance for about 6 months. But as soon as I had sex with them, I'd leave. These poor girls had been made to think they were the centre of the universe for six months, and so finally gave in, and I was gone."
The Torah teaches that you are not supposed to view the nakedness of anyone who is not your wife or husband. That is because such images are exclusive. The gift of marriage is not just the right to enjoy the fullness of intimate sex but also the right to LOOK at someone naked. King David was led to adultery and murder and caused, in part, the fall of his dynasty because he saw an 'image' of a naked Bathsheba. That 'image' was the first in a series of links that led to disaster for tens of thousands of people leading to murder and civil war. Ham was cursed because he did not turn his eyes away from his naked father.
The Ten Commandments warn us about 'images' - not just statues but any kind of image because they lead to IDOLATRY if we start worshipping them. Pornography leads to addiction and idolatry because people end up worshipping sex. One of the core principles of satanism is the worship of sex and of images of sex and leads to occultic fertility cults.
I met a man on-line a couple of years ago who used polygamy to justify his pornography addiction. In his mind the two were somehow equivalent. And unfortunately I dare say there are many out there who are like him. Another man I met some years ago told me of the problems he had had in a polygamous marriage because his latest wife was visualising one of her former lovers when they made love. Such is the power of the image. And that is why I expect a minimum of one year's complete celibacy before I will consider a woman as a potential wife who has been in a relationship with someone else.
A marriage cannot thrive sexually so long as any of its members have their heads full of impure sexual images of any kind. And the only way you can be rid of them is supernaturally - they need to be washed out by the blood of Christ. This is not, moreover, merely a prayerful declaration of intent - it is a process and it requires consistent effort to be cleaned out. Those who have been into pornography in a big way often find that support groups like Sexaholics Anonymous (www.sa.org) quite helpful in getting out of their addiction.
Images are powerful - do not underestimate them. Even if you have accidentally looked at a hard-core picture sent in unsolicited email, it can linger. And if you are not at once revolved by it - not because sex is revolting but because sinful sex is revolting - then the chances are you may have a spiritual problem to contend with. The pressure to accept such things is, of course, great because such filth is so commonplace, and this can in turn set up an artificial guilt. Such pressure has to be resisted even if one does not necessarily like being called a 'prude'.
Internet porn (to cite but one example) is not going to diminish and those child porn sites are not going to disappear. Already bestiality and snuff sites are appearing in huge numbers judging by the unsolicited email one gets - 'farm sex' as it is disgustingly called. The article in the Observer newspaper I cited is only concerned about non-consensual sex - they unashamedly state that the rest is OK. And governments agree with them - even the illegal hardcore porn attracts little attention.
I made the decision to get rid of TV from my home 25 years ago and have never regretted that. Every time I watch it when abroad or when visiting friends I am appalled by how much worse it has got. But when you watch it every day you don't notice because of the incremental conditioning. The internet isn't much better. And whilst it is still an invaluable tool in so many ways it is hard not to come across porn and be exposed to it. Of course, one who is firmly built on the rock of Christ is less likely to succumb, but given the susceptibility of men in particular, one should never relax ones guard. If you look at the Seven Churches/Assemblies of Asia Minor in the Book of Revelation you will see that sexual immorality was one of their biggest problems - and then before the advent of the Internet and TV. The fact the the culture was saturated was enough. Another reason for Elohim's (God's) people to "come out" of Babylon the Great ... Babylon the Whore.