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THE PORN GATEWAYS

As I began to reflect on the multitude of struggles amongst my Christians peers, lust and pornography were the biggest problems that they wrestled with on a consistent basis. At first I did not understand how this possibly could be such a difficult struggle, “If they don’t go on the websites there won’t be a problem,” is what I thought. Yet time and time again as I received the late night phone call of a friend that had recently fallen into pornography, I knew that their battle against pornography and lust was taking a turn for the worst. While taking a deeper look into the heart of the sin, I noticed that people were battling their sins (of pornography and lust) at a shallow surface level, and deep at the root of the problem were “innocent” gateways sins that were feeding into their daily struggles.

WHAT IS A GATEWAY SIN?

The term gateway sin was adopted from a popular word that I once heard in health class called “gateway drug.” A gateway drug is defined as “a habit-forming drug, that is not addictive, but its use may lead to the use of other addictive drugs.” Alcohol and Marijuana are both labeled as gateway drugs because usage of those drugs lead its users into the abuse of other heavier addictive drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and etc. Therefore a gateway sin can be defined as “an unhealthy habit that at first seems innocent, but its continuation may lead to the indulgence of other sins.”

FACEBOOK, SOCIAL MEDIA, AND THE GATEWAY               

As I scrolled down the news feed on my Facebook homepage, I noticed that many of my friends, who happened to struggle with pornography, were “liking” the pictures of different girls on Facebook. Also I noticed that these guys were posting comments on multiple pictures within these girls photo albums. At first I thought this wasn’t a problem, it was only Facebook. But one day while I was hanging out with one of my friends, I saw him spending fifteen minutes going through an entire photo album of one of his female classmates from school. His face was intensely glued to the computer screen as if he were reading a suicide note, and as I started analyzing the situation I began to realize that things were beginning to add up.

If we calculated the time that most men spend looking through girls pictures and photo albums on Facebook it would equivilate to those men staring at that particular woman intensely, which we call creeping in the 3D (real) world. And if someone was to see any professing Christian gazing at a woman for a long period of time he would say, “Stop staring at her and lusting.”

With that idea in mind, it’s reasonable to say that the way most guys treat Facebook can be viewed as a gateway sin, because of the countless hours they spend each day going through pictures of different girls without the purest of intentions. What is the difference between looking at a Sports Illustrated swimsuit magazine or going through Suzie’s spring break Panama City Beach photo album? There is none. The problem of the sin is the heart, not the action. And if we are honest, our struggle with lust has nothing to do with the action or dress of the girl, but with the posture of our hearts.

THE VISUAL DILEMMA

We as men are visual creatures that are stimulated from visual images. Our struggle with lust has nothing to do with a woman being naked or not. Our hearts are so desperately wicked in regards to our view of women that I believe that if the women who are viewed in pornography were to keep all their clothes on in their pictures and videos men would still pay money and fall into sexual sin, because we are enticed by any visual stimulation of an attractive woman clothed or unclothed. As men (and women) we have to fight not only the external sins such as lust, masturbation, and pornography, but also the internal sins such as the lustful posture of the heart and mind.

CLOSING THE GATEWAY

In the book of Ephesians Paul wrote these words to the church,

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” – Ephesians 5:3

When Paul said “not even a hint of sexual immorality” he was saying that we as Christians should make sure that we are doing whatever it takes to  prevent Satan from coming in and destroy our lives. Therefore we should be doing all that we can to abstain from sexual immorality and impurity. I believe that we need to challenge the hearts that we have behind spending large amounts of time looking at girl’s pictures on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. If we know that it’s inappropriate for a man to stare at any woman for a long period of time, why are we justifying that action because it’s a 2D image of our “friend?”

THE DAILY BATTLE

I hope that no one is reading this article thinking that I am labeling Facebook and all social media as evil, because I am not. Neither am I trying to be legalistic and say that a person cannot look at another’s individuals picture on Facebook. I am only trying to guard and protect the hearts of the millions of believers who struggle with lust and pornography on a daily basis. I want to challenge everyone (including myself) to look into our daily lives and to find and kill the gateway sins that are leading to our constant defeat in our battle against pornography and lust. For some individuals it may be that attractive women on their favorite television show that may cause them to stumble, or the girls in the music videos, or even the female underwear clipping from a Sunday newspaper. Regardless of the situation we should be cautious about the time and energy we spend looking (lusting) at other women, and we should all remember the words of Job as he said,

I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.” – Job 31:1

While there is no reference in scripture where the word gateway sin is used, I want everyone to understand that I am not making a biblical absolute statement, nor am I putting degrees on particular sins. As believers we must hold holiness and purity to a high esteem, and we should remove any unhealthy habit possible that is detrimental towards the achievement of that goal in our lives.

About The Urban Gospel Mission

"The Urban Gospel Mission desires to be the bridge between the gospel and urban culture by presenting articles, videos, testimonies, music, and discussions that not only answer culturally relevant problems, but also point to solutions for each issue. We believe that most young adults in our culture are fed up with dry, traditional, moralist, irrelevant religion, which causes them to want to get as far away from anything Jesus-related as possible. Therefore, we strive to show the dynamic, culturally relevancy of the Faith in every day issues in order to lead people to a gospel explanation, which will transform their lives and then the world."

22 comments

  1. This article merely says, “Your heart is wicked through and through. Try harder.”

    A much deeper approach would have been to address the reality of the Christ-follower’s heart; that it’s really been made new.

    My heart is not desperately wicked anymore, Jesus gave me a new one. Yes, I’m still sinful, but my heart’s inclination is no longer bent toward sin. It’s deepest desire is to walk God’s paths.

    It wasn’t helpful for me to just put off what I wanted to look at (the female figure). I needed to see how I was using porn as a way to cover my deepest wounds, to feel powerful.

    I was greatly helped by this book: Surfing For God (amzn.to/Ruf4T0).

    • I’m sorry that you felt that the article was a “pull yourself up by your boot-strap” self-help guide. We were not at all trying to communicate that idea. This article was more so trying to help believers by telling them proactive steps they can take with their daily battle against pornography. We believe that through Jesus Christ we have the ability to put away our sins. And only through the power of Christ can anyone put to death the wickedness of the flesh. Yet we believe that through the scriptures that God has called us to proactively fight our sin as well (Philippians 1:12). And the article was telling believers how to prevent themselves from going into compromising environments.

      • Thanks for the reply. I kind of came off strong in my original post.

        I guess that, in my own personal walk, I have only been doing what your article says to do: Avoid and flee and try harder the next time. Pray for help in the moment. Put your faith in future grace to battle against the false promises of sin. Etc.

        But every time, I would find my desire too strong and give in. Or I would “do well” for a while, a month, then relapse.

        And I can’t be alone. We all know the cycle of sinning, washing, committing ourselves to God, then falling again. Then after enough cycles one begins to question his own salvation; begins to think that he’s just messed up. This is doubly so when he knows that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning (1 Jn 5:18).

        I’ve found that, at least for me, the problem ran deeper than just gateway moments/sins.

    • Joe, it sounds a little like you’re advocating preaching the Gospel to yourself as the primary means of sanctification, which is a popular error in modern Christianity. Yes, the knowledge that we have been saved by a loving God can and does drive us to want to please Him but, according to far too many verses to list in a short comment including 2 Cor 3:18, James 2:14-26, Roman 8:13-14, ect, it is also true that we do need to “try harder” to defeat our own sin. It is by the spirit of God that we are able to war against the flesh, but that doesn’t mean it is something that happens just by looking back at our own salvation. We are to WORK OUT our salvation with fear and trembling.

      Good article!

      • I don’t believe you have enough information from my first post to make that sort of assertion on my soteriology.

        Why would I not understand mortification?

        What I didn’t understand was the depth of my own sin prior to my conversion and the greater depth my God was willing to go to truly heal and make new my malicious disposition.

        • Judging from the authors response to you, he reached a similar conclusion about your understanding of mortification. Glad to hear it isn’t true!

  2. If there is one thing I love to do, it’s to blame other people for my own sins. It’s not my fault I lust after women, if they didn’t post pictures on Facebook I’d never sin! Yeah, right.

    I find it ironic that you quote Job 31:1, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.” … Interesting Job didn’t say, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look at a young woman.” or “I’ve made a covenant with young woman not to appear in my sight”

    No, he made a covenant with his own eyes to look upon young woman and think of them like regular human beings, to treat them respectfully. The young woman he was looking at weren’t some gateway to lust, his sin was the only gateway to lust.

    What we need is to be trained up to be able to look at a woman, even a bikini-clad woman without lusting after them. We need to be trained up to see women as God sees them, not as our nature sees them. We need to rely on God to help us keep covenants with our own eyes and stop blaming pretty girls for our late night pornography binges.

    Godspeed.

    • I agree whole wholeheartedly that we as believers must be proactively attempting to kill our sin at all cost. And I was not in anyway or shape stating that anyone has the ability to blame our sin on someone else. The main point that I was trying to say is that we must be cautious to not put ourselves in predicaments where we are going to be more prone and tempted to sin. For example, if an recovering alcoholic is going to the bar every night to hang out with buddies it would not be in his best interest, because he putting himself in environments where temptation is most powerful. Similar I would advise believers who are struggling with lust and pornography to not spend all their time staring at women on the internet. While the fault is still on the individual, we should still be aware of putting ourselves in compromising environments.

  3. I appreciate the article. Yes, it’s a heart issue. Yes, practical behavior alone won’t cure you. What you are admonishing a guy to do is to avoid areas where he could be sensitive to sin. I am astonished at guys that have a porn problem but see no issue with watching movies with nudity or sexual scenes or look at borderline friend pics on Facebook and say “well, that’s not porn” or “my problem is porn, not the bikini pics on my friends Facebook”.

    It needs to be recognized that lust is not just the blatant stuff, and we need to consider that in order to help kill sin, we may have to avoid things that may not be “bad” because they could be a subtle trigger. One of the warning signs in own life is that if I have to defend it (“it’s not that bad”), then I should probably run in the opposite direction.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  4. I get it, but I am troubled by one thing. It seems like, the principle you are communicating could be summarized as: deliverance from sin (or, at least, this particular genre of sin) is to be found in certain actions we can perform or strategies we can embrace. Doesn’t that amount to salvation by works?

    • “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9. By no means are we advocating that a person is saved through works. We are only adhering to Philippians 1:12 where the bible says, “Work out your own salvation in fear and in trembling.” Which refers to us believers proactively doing whatever it takes to kill our sin in our lives. While sanctification is God cleansing us, God gives us the strength to kill our sins alongside of the Holy Spirit.

  5. Such a powerful and needful article for men. It really caused some thinking in my mind about other areas in our lives and “gateway sins”
    Thank you for being a clear voice amidst the filthiness of this world.
    God bless… Rev. J. Herrera

  6. Thank you for the thoughtful post to a difficult topic. I think the earlier posts are missing your point, or at the very least, this quote from your article.

    “The problem of the sin is the heart, not the action. And if we are honest, our struggle with lust has nothing to do with the action or dress of the girl, but with the posture of our hearts.”

    Pornography/lust etc. are problems of the heart. However, we should not ignore passages like Proverbs 7 and Proverbs 22:3. It is a matter of obedience for the believer to avoid areas where sins such as this is more readily accessible.

  7. This absolutely nailed it. As a guy its still something I struggle with – but have had much success the last two years as I sought out strong accountability and learned to identify the triggers so I could keep myself as far away as possible. But facebook is very hard. It’s a gray zone in many ways – completely acceptable but dangerous in its own right. This reminds me of 1 Cor 8 and the weaker brother.
    Anyways you gave me some things to think about, thank you.

  8. I don’t think it affects only men. I realize that men are more visually affected and led into pornography, but social media has been making it less difficult for women to fall into the same trap.

  9. First off, I want to say that I found this article both helpful and encouraging in my battle against lust/temptation. So, thank you for your commitment to God’s glory and to His word. A few thoughts I had on the topic:

    The battle against lust/temptation/pornography can be a tricky one in trying to find a balance on how to fight. On one hand, you have a lot of people who are of the idea that you should focus mainly on what you should and should not do; getting rid of certain things, not going certain places, having accountability, confessing struggle quickly, etc. On the other side, you have those that speak mainly about it being a heart issue, and that at the end of the day one should get down to the root heart issue, which ultimately is desiring this physical pleasure above God alone, and to begin weeding it out from their. (Just to be clear, I do not think this article is saying to focus only on one or the other) I think that both of these approaches are important and necessary! And, I think scripture speaks to both of them (i.e., digging out broken cisterns and cutting off hands & gouging out eyes). I think we need to have a balanced approach in realizing that, yes, we do need to be active in striving for holiness and purity before God, which does mean doing and not doing certain things. But also, it is important to realize that do’s and don’ts alone are not enough to have lasting victory in the battle, and one most realize that it is a heart issue of what one is desiring in the depths of their heart and why they keep finding the need to go to pornography night after night. I like how John Piper says it: (in paraphrasing) you must fight desire with desire. You can’t simply take a desire away and expect that to be enough. You must remove whatever it was that you were trying to satisfy yourself with (in this case, pornography & masturbation) and replace it with the all-satisfying God of Heaven. The bottom line issue, in my eyes, is indeed a heart issue, and I believe this should be a good starting place in the battle. So when it’s all said and done, I think we should be taking active approaches in our battle (looking for those gateways, setting up filters, getting involved in accountability, etc.) but all the while constantly fighting to redirect our hearts to Christ as our full source of satisfaction. And, prayerfully, over the years we will find ourselves easily choosing the full steak dinner over the bag of candy each day of our lives.

  10. How about Psalm 101:2
    “…I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. I will set no worthless thing before my eyes. I hate the work of those who fall away. It shall not fasten its grip on me. A perverse heart shall depart from me, I will know no evil. “

  11. There is much to be said, though, about the power of a password-locked internet filter to at least screen out a lot of the “gateways”. Not a catch-all by any means, but if you’ve got this, and you allow your spouse to set the password, something like freebie K9 can make a difference.

  12. My main struggle over the years has been with anger and I go through the same cycle many of you have mentioned. For me to have victory is to get up in the morning and ask for help from the Holy Spirit that indwells me. In fact I have to ask several times daily. I recently finished a biography on Leonard Ravenhill, an evangelist of this century. In the back of the book are some “hot arrows” of his sayings. One that has helped me a lot is that “most Christians want to make peace with Jesus Christ, but what Christ wants is absolute surrender.”.. Thats me!.. I need to surrender everything to Him including my delusion that I can win without prayer and asking for help daily if not hourly. Good article

  13. Am with Joe M….“Your heart is wicked through and through. Try harder.”I’ve found that, at least for me, the problem ran deeper than just gateway moments/sins. Ya the Victorious Life is a Joke….I don’t obey the Law matter of a fact preaching Law only adds more Sin. I sin in Thought-Word-Deed, You got anything for that? I tend to Hate God, Hate Neighbor. You got anything for that? The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer simply put. I Hate Sin and Praise God He Saved me. Romans 4:5 God justifies Sinners

  14. Rock Solid Post. I reason some commenters may be missing the main point. Quite possibly they minimize some sin in their own life. Sin they may not be calling… sin. With that said, it is also true not everyone has the same degrees of temptations that are common to man. I wrote something similar on this topic here…. jessecmartin.com Scroll down and read Must Read for Men Part 1 and 2, it’s very helpful to most. Most men do have what many call “Every Man’s Battle.” This site is very solid. I will be back. A Big Thanks!!

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