Jason B. Ladd

Ask the Questions. Embrace the Answers. Make the Leap.

Why You Should Say No to Spiritual Pornography

spiritual pornography

Easy access. New material every week. Guaranteed to satisfy. If you think I’m talking about pornography, you’re right. But not the kind you might think.

While it’s true that Internet pornography has enslaved parents and children alike, there’s something else that might have you hooked.

“You are a slave to whatever controls you” ( 2 Peter 2:19, NLT).

You might be enslaved to spiritual pornography.

Spiritual Pornography

Magic. Power. Secret. What do these words have common? They all tap into your emotions. They might make you excited, and they’ll probably have you coming back for more. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up craving increasingly more intense spiritual experiences. In the end, you’ll be left holding a bag of broken promises with your desires yet to be fulfilled.

Purveyors of spiritual pornography:

  • promise you power
  • offer you healing
  • encourage you to look inward, not outward
  • put heavy emphasis on the self
  • avoid or deny absolutes
  • may claim that you are God

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4, NIV).

What exactly is pornography? The third definition of pornography according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary describes pornography as:

“the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction.”¹

Spiritual pornography offers a moment of pleasure. However, in the long run, indulging in spiritual pornography is unhealthy.

Pleasure and Addiction

Spiritual pornography exploits something good given to us by God—a desire to seek the spiritual things—so that a few can receive money, power, and fame.

The effect of pornography on the brain is similar to the experience of a drug addict. Jeffrey Satinover MD, PhD, testified before Congress:

“With the advent of the computer, the delivery system for this addictive stimulus has become nearly resistance free. It is as though we have devised a form of heroin 100 times more powerful than before, usable in the privacy of one’s own home and injected directly to the brain through the eyes. It’s now available in unlimited supplies via a self-replicating distribution network, glorified as art and protected by the Constitution.”²

In his book The Compass of Pleasure, David J. Linden describes the process of developing a full-blown drug addiction:

“As addiction develops and tolerance, dependence, and cravings emerge, the euphoria produced by the drug gradually drains away. Pleasure is replaced by desire; liking becomes wanting.”3

As Powerful as Drugs

As it turns out, pornography can be as powerfully addicting as drugs. This should come as no surprise since drugs and pornography activate the same neurotransmitter in the brain: dopamine.

spiritual pornography

It’s natural to feel ashamed if you’ve been using spiritual pornography. The human conscience is real and works well. What’s important is that you stop.

Stop buying spiritual pornography (or downloading it for free).

Get an accountability partner. Have them confront you when they catch you watching Oprah. Install software that will send an email to your accountability partner when you visit that Secret website. Use a safe browser with a filter for the words Chopra and Tolle.

Take control of your life. You can beat it.

You don’t have to give up on spiritual things altogether. There is a Spirit who can satisfy your desires.

  • He doesn’t promise you power.
  • He doesn’t guarantee you will be healed.
  • He’s not something inside of you.
  • He is absolute.
  • He, and only He is God.

Jesus doesn’t promise an easy life. In fact, if you follow Him, you will likely face hardship, ridicule, and persecution.

Michael M. Phillips, the author who chronicles Medal of Honor recipient corporal Jason Dunham’s heroism in Iraq, identifies an essential component of Marine Corps “theology” in which “glory derives from suffering.”4

Jesus endured the greatest suffering in the history of man, and He deserves the greatest glory.

Click here to Tweet that.Tweet: Jesus endured the greatest suffering in the history of man, and He deserves the greatest glory. http://ctt.ec/76Boc+

Will you give Him a chance?  I dare you.

Related Briefs

¹ http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pornographic

²Jeffrey Satinover, M.S., M.D., “Jeffrey Satinover Statement to Congress on Pornography,” Woodbury Reports, Inc., May 9, 2008, HTTP://www.strugglingteens.com/news/Related News/JeffreySatinover.pdf

³ David J. Linden, The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good, (New York: Penguin Group, 2011), Kindle edition, loc. 293.

4 Michael M. Phillips, The Gift of Valor (New York: Broadway Books, 2005), 144.

Photo credit: Jacksoncam / Foter.com / CC BY

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About Jason B. Ladd

Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.

13 Replies

  1. Relayed from Ellie: Jason! I tried to comment on your most recent blog “Spiritual Pornography” (which targets tapping into one’s spiritual emotions with controlling power.) But for some reason I couldn’t post it. I’m so glad you commented here. The gist of I wanted to say was that you are so right in that blog: “addiction is addiction is addiction . . .” Addiction searches for something to numb the pain within, alcohol, drugs, pornography, shopping, food. It’s primarily based on self-loathing. The only way out is for someone to surrender to God who loves us faults and all and allow Him to take over. Your post was very thought-provoking and I hope others will search it out.

    Thank you for commenting and yes, I sure dislike those who prey and take advantage of others weaknesses. Of course being a Fighter Pilot, you are always fighting for Truth, Justice, Honor and the American Way! We salute you!

    1. Ellie, You’re right about the only way out. The challenge is lovingly showing others how they are trapped.

  2. Susan Irene Fox

    Jason, great post. I think it’s the same with the “prosperity gospels” – Osteen and the like. Some of your readers may heartily disagree, but those who promise monetary wealth, or ask for money online, or collect exorbitant “donations” for “preaching” or “healing” (Benny Hinn) are some of those who take advantage of those earnestly seeking righteousness.

    1. You raise an important question. I’m aware of the criticism toward the kind of preahcing you metion. I’ve also known people who lean on their messages for inspritation and hope despite the broad contexts in which they share the message. There’s no doubt that they are bringing people to the pews (or stadiums) to hear about the greatness of God. But are they gettting enough about the horribleness of sin? I’d like to hear what others think about this.

  3. delightintruth.com

    Great post. Not much difference between spiritual adultery and physical adultery. Same thing with porn. Worshiping idols by the chosen nation was classified as adultery. And it is interesting that in many situations, prostitution, adultery and pornography was associated with occult temple worship in the OT.

    Such a deep connection between these unholy items.

    1. Most people recognize the destructiveness in pursuing every possible sexual desire. However, people these days are encouraged to try every spiritual fad under the sun. Fortunately, Jesus knows the human mind better than any man. He connects something we are frequently unaware of (spiritual deception) with something we are always aware of: physical attraction. Both will lead to danger if not properly handled.

  4. arkenaten

    Interesting. And you don’t regard evangelic apologetics pornography?

    Oh, well. one man’s meat and all that, I suppose, right?

    1. The atrocities in the Old Testament rightfully invoke a visceral response. However, this is not a sufficient argument against the existence of the Christian God. We must be able to distinguish between what is prescriptive, and what is descriptive in the Old Testament. Just because a slaughter is mentioned in the Old Testament, it does not follow that God condones slaughter. While the application of revealed truths differs between the Old and New Testament, the principles which follow for these truths remain remarkably consistent. If you’d like to know more about this perspective, I recommend Is God a Moral Monster by Paul Copan; he covers Old Testament atrocities in depth.

      As for your question about whether or not Evangelical apologetics qualifies as a spiritual pornography, the answer is no. The pornography example fits any spiritual belief system which depends upon intense emotional responses, devalues the importance of truth, requires no commitment, and worships the pursuit of pleasure.

      Christianity depends only upon an earnest response, holds truth to be the most important pursuit, requires a deep and lasting commitment, and puts the worship of God above all other pursuits. It is the natural relationship for which we were all built. It is the perversion of Christianity which makes the worst kind of porn.

      Thanks for commenting.

      1. arkenaten

        Just because a slaughter is mentioned in the Old Testament, it does not follow that God condones slaughter.

        He not only condones it,but on many occasions he commanded it, thus placing the guilt on the heads of those he forced to carry out his “judgement”.

        I think the last couple of verses of Joshua illustrate this point adequately

        Furthermore, it has never been explained to the satisfaction of even the majority of Christians why it was necessary to liquidate humanity simply because of ”sin”, and then Yahweh suspends ”sin” and forces Noah and his relatives to commit incest to repopulate the earth.

        Arguments like these are contrite and illustrate the depths of depravity the believer is forced to sink in order to make their belief fit and also allow them to sleep at night.

        Would you suspend ethics and morality and encourage such action among your own kin on the say so of the ”voice” of a so- called god?

        William Lane Craig invokes Divine Command Theory which nicely allows your god an escape route. However, it begs the question as to why any omniscient deity would require a puny human such as Craig, a rank apologist, to defend such a god, merely to allay said human’s fear?

        The pornography example fits any spiritual belief system which depends upon intense emotional responses, devalues the importance of truth, requires no commitment, and worships the pursuit of pleasure.

        Yet this is exactly what apologetics is, as it encourages inculcation of children who are not in any position to make an educated decision as to whether the god and the religion promoted are the right ones.
        This is evidenced by the millions upon millions of other religious people who do not believe in the god you do, and their children are in the same metaphorical boat, are they not?

        I must stress that I do not believe in any of this,( the bible or other religious text) but raise the issue simply because people like yourself, sadly indoctrinated in such belief, pass it on to children.
        Also, extreme religious views have seen such atrocities as 9/11 and on your own soil such tragedies as Waco, committed by people whose interpretation of the religious text led them to believe they were carrying out a form of divine will.

  5. Annie

    Jason, I think you deeply misunderstand non-religious spirituality. The teachings are not that you are GOD, or that it’s all about you in a selfish way. There is a big difference between understanding you are GOD as being something special, better in some ways and understanding it in a self-empowering way. Isn’t your Christian Bible states that we are all created in the image of God? What does that mean to you? I am pretty sure this doesn’t mean that we were created literally as reflection of God’s physical attributes or even psychology. For I doubt even you believe that God is a man in the sky or some sort of personal being. We are all god in the sense that we are all powerful in creating our own destinies and our lives are reflection of our inner state/being. This is the power that spirituality teaches you. It teaches you to get our out fear of God, that all Abrahamic religions teach you, and start acting out of real LOVE. For most Christians are not actually spiritual. You cannot be said to be a good person if you do good things, because you fear the God will see or that you will go to hell. You are constantly in fear of judgement, and from fear you can only act our of fear. The Bible tells you to fight the urges that you get in order to be a true Christian, but spirituality teaches you how to become the person who doesn’t have them. It teaches you how to cultivate love and inner peace and get out of feeling fear. It empowers you in a way that you start to realise that it is about you, but not in a selfish way. Let me explain.

    There is a difference between selfishness, selflessness and self-love. Both selfishness and selflessness which is often experienced by atheists and religious theists, because they are based on fear. You are fearing that there isn’t somehow enough love that you can give to people, so you become selfish; or that you don’t have enough love to give to yourself if you chose to give it to others and become selfless. Self-love is about understanding that unless you can truly come to understand yourself, your values, your desires, you belief system you are not going to be able to be in control of your life and therefore make any real positive impact on lives of other people. Because if you don’t understand yourself, how can you come to understanding why you have certain desires and urges, and worries and anxieties. By simply suppressing them as religion teaches you, you are not acting out of self-love. You are not respecting yourself or others. You are asserting that the way that ‘God’ told you to live is one way and that anyone who doesn’t accept it, not worth your time. You waste your energy on fighting yourself, rather than becoming the person who is truly loving and who can therefore feel empowered in the way that they can share this love with others; therefore making a real impact. From that perspective you learn how to understand that your life is the reflection of what is inside you. And if you want to be a good person, you gotta understand what is stopping you from becoming that person. It helps you yea yourself and act as a true example for other of real love and compassion. Not fear of God’s judgement and condemnation of other who are not like you.

    Often through spirituality people learn about childhood traumas, toxic beliefs they buy into and social conditioning. People truly realise that it’s not about what you do, but how you respond to what happens in your life. It gives you power to respond with compassion, love and real value of people’s lives. Which is what it means that you are God, you create your reality, like God has created this one. We are all part of the same whole. No one is better and no one is worse; all growing, evolving and experiencing in different ways. You start to realised that everyone has that power and everyone can be love. Not condemning people like religions do, if they do not have the same beliefs.

    I do not want to offend you, but I do not understand how you can be a soldier and preach spirituality. For real spirituality comes from love and compassion for everything and everyone. Not just people who fit into your framework of “American” or “Christian”. There is no nationalism or Ego involved in true spirituality. You say you are for peace? But there is no peace in war. It is a fear based belief. America is by far the most aggressive country in the world if you look at the historic record. They invaded more countries and killed more people than any other. What are you defending? Real spirituality stops you from blindly accepting what you are told. It teaches you that your body and mind is your temple. You got to protect it, educate it and respect it. If you read some history you will understand how religion is created and has been used against people to commit war crimes for rulers’ own purposes. You have to find it in yourself to open your eyes, educate yourself on history, politics, philosophy and come to realisation that you are living in self-contradiction.

    I believe God to be the infinite whole, we are all part of. There is no absolute in the whole, for everything is equally as valuable as every person, every belief is causing us to change and evolve and learn new things. Even from the negative there can always be a positive. It is all a matter of perspective. And a truly spiritual person is not about trying to dissociate with negative or fight it, but with compassion understand it and turn it into something positive. It’s embracing the negative and turning it into something that can have a positive impact. As it’s all that matters. Not the situations, but how you react to them. And to react to situations with wisdom and love you have to take your time to understand yourself first. Turning negative into positive means taking your ego out and beliefs, and seeing what we can learn form what happened, so it doesn’t happen again. I hope I haven’t offended you.

    1. Annie, Thank you for your comment. I always appreciate when someone takes the time to enter into a thoughtful discussion. Let me highlight a few points of agreement, and then I’ll provide some responses.

      I’m glad you pointed out the difference between selfishness, selflessness, and self-love. I think it’s important to make proper distinctions, as you have done. The main thrust of the article is not against selflessness or self-love. But it does highlight that many spiritual systems are focused more on the self than on others.

      I also agree that we must be students of all the arts and sciences in order to give a good apologetic for the worldview we have chosen. Finally, turning negative into positive thinking is always a good aim.

      You are right that I do not believe that God is a “man in the sky.” Anyone suggesting such, or arguing against such, is not taking the topic seriously. I do, however, believe that God is a personal being. In fact, he is necessarily a personal being, which means he cannot NOT be a personal being if he were to have the qualities traditionally ascribed to “God” (namely, the ability to love).

      I must point out that your statement that “[America has] invaded more countries and killed more people than any other” is flagrantly untrue. I would like to see your facts to support that statement before I give you my own to refute it.

      Finally, I am glad to see your awareness of avoiding self-contradictions. I challenge you to continue testing your own worldview to ensure you are not embracing any yourself.

      How does your worldview address origins, meaning, morality, and destiny?