God creates us as sexual and spiritual beings, and when we are fully integrated, we function well. But few of us are fully integrated beings, so we often misunderstand and misuse our God-given desire to connect with others ….

If we're disordered in our hearts, our approach to connecting is fractured. This brings us to lust. We lust when we co-opt something or someone to meet a legitimate desire we have in a way that honors neither us nor the person/thing we desire. Lusting is fragmented living. Lusting comes out of desires that are normal—even God-given—but our bent vision and short-cutting strategies mean that even when we attain what we desire, we do not find fulfillment or contentment.

For us to live lives of wholeness and goodness, lust must be surrendered to love. And that means a death of sorts. If lust has become our way of expressing our desire to connect with others, we must die to it so that we may take up a healthier way of living. C. S. Lewis wrote, "Lust is a poor, weak, whimpering, whispering thing compared with that richness and energy of desire which will arise when lust has been killed."

Pornography is a tool for facilitating lust. I discovered the realities of sexual attraction and sexual imagining, and then learned I could cultivate those thoughts into an imaginary world of my making. It was powerful and intoxicating. And when I discovered images that excited my erotic imagination, it was like pouring gas on a fire.

Pornography takes something very real, very human—something everyone can relate to—and distorts it. Our sexuality is meant to be lived and expressed in the context of a healthy, integrated life, and pornography is never an expression of good health or integrated living. Pornography is dis-integrating. While our sexuality is but one aspect of who we are as human beings and needs to be integrated with our other aspects, pornography isolates that one human dimension and distorts it by magnifying and minimizing it at the same time ….

Saying that porn cheapens our sexuality doesn't go far enough. Porn magnifies human sexuality, distorts it, makes it larger than reality, isolates it for trade—I'll show you this and you give me that. At the same time, it makes the magnificence of being a creature made in the image of God something as insignificant as a sheet of paper or a glob on a screen. It's a most malicious smearing of the divine image in us. Simply put, porn is uncompromising, progressive, destructive evil.

Taken from Ashamed No More: A Pastor's Journey Through Sex Addiction by T. C. Ryan. © 2012 by T. C. Ryan. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com.

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Ashamed No More: A Pastor's Journey Through Sex Addiction
Ashamed No More: A Pastor's Journey Through Sex Addiction
237 pp., 13.36
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