A lot of times when we think of idolatry we think of statues of false gods that people bow down to. Other religions such as Buddhism or Hinduism, or maybe doing something like what the Israelites did with the golden calf when Moses went up to receive the ten commandments come to mind (Exodus 32:4). We think, “Oh we would never do anything like that! That’s crazy!” But so often it is exactly what we do, because idolatry isn’t about statues and outwardly bowing down to something you see. Idolatry is a heart issue. It is holding anything up higher in your heart than you hold God.
When we look at idolatry as God sees it – as a heart issue – we see how pornography is idolatry. We run to it again and again, trying to fill the void within us. But we always need more because pornography cannot ever really satisfy us. It is a cheap fix — the illusion of a solution to the emptiness in our heart. It is like trying to fill a bucket that has a hole in the bottom of it with water. We think adding more water is going to help; maybe by adding larger amounts water or by filling it up quicker we can get it. Yet no matter what we try, it only lasts a moment before the bucket is still just as empty as before. In a desperate but futile effort we keep trying the same broken method over and over as it captures more and more of our attention and becomes what we worship instead of God.
It is like what Romans 1:21-25 talks about, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”
In this idolatry of porn, or any other form of sexual sin, there seem to be two main false gods that we can be worshiping. Those gods are the god of love and the god of pleasure. Our culture throws these in our face all the time, as they tell us that we absolutely have to find love from another human being to be complete – that in fact our value depends on it. And they tell us that really we are here in this life to just have fun and “do whatever feels good, and makes you happy.” We begin to believe it and start chasing these gods.
Desperately, we look for love. We try to make ourselves better, more attractive or impressive; anything to catch someone’s eye and make them desire us. Maybe you find that significant other, but you find that it isn’t enough. Or maybe you come up empty, with no one stopping to say, “I choose you”. So you find yourself with this hole. Human love is our idol, but we can’t seem to get what we need, so we chase it farther and farther down a road we thought we would never walk.
Not only do we worship human love, but we let pleasure rule our lives, too. It’s something that makes us feel good, and so we begin to take part in it, but then we become more and more obsessed with seeking our own pleasure. We selfishly idolize ourselves and anything we find that may provide us with even a fleeting moment of enjoyment. Pornography promises us pleasure and fulfillment, but we quickly find that it doesn’t last. We crave something more, something deeper, something enduring, and so we run to it again and again as it consumes our every thought.
These idols, although we make them, begin to completely take over our lives. Their lies creep into every recess of our mind and trick us into doing things we never dreamed we would do. It’s like a trojan horse of the enemy. At first it appears so innocent and subtle, so we let it in, but then rather quickly it becomes very powerful within us. We become slaves to the very system we chose, and our gods become our slave masters.
This doesn’t have to be our life, though. We find love and pleasure enslaving when we idolize them because they were never supposed to be the object of our worship. They are here to point us back to the only One who is to receive our hearts’ worship. When we come before God in worship we find freedom, not oppression, but we cannot truly worship God and hang on to our idols at the same time.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” — Matthew 6:24. Although this passage talks about money as an idol, it applies to anything that competes with God for our attention.
We either bow down to the false gods of love and pleasure or we bow down to God. There is no in between. One we will love, and the other we will hate. The choice is ours, but no matter what we choose and what we live out, only God can satisfy our souls, and He is the only one truly worthy of our heart and our worship.
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” – Revelation 4:11
~Amanda & Grant