The Porn We Don’t Talk About: Erotica

The Bible talks a lot about “abstaining from sexual immorality”; and aside from premarital sex, one of the first things that comes to mind is pornography.

Porn is a terrible struggle—it’s embarrassing, it’s hard to break free from, and it’s permanently altering. It’s also often shrouded under stereotypes and lies. Porn is a guys-only struggle. Porn is only what the worst sinners struggle with. Anyone who watches porn is permanently messed up. In my opinion, though, the worst one is porn is pictures or videos of people engaged in sexual acts.

What? How is that a lie? Well, it’s not completely a lie. Porn does include images and videos. What’s often not discussed, though, is another form—erotica.

Visual versus Verbal

We’ve heard some of this before in the awkward youth group “modesty” talks—guys are generally very visually driven. What they don’t usually tell you (or what’s simply brushed over) is that girls are very verbally and emotionally driven.

Guys look at a poster of a great-looking underwear model and go, “Huh. Maybe I should pick up some Calvin Klein boxers. They look pretty neat.”

Girls look at a poster of a great-looking underwear model and go, “’Sexy.’ ‘Believe in yourself.’ ‘Be confident.’ Huh. Maybe I should pick up some Victoria’s Secret stuff. It makes me feel confident.”

That’s not to say that guys aren’t affected by words or that girls don’t choose things that look nice, though. A better example might be this–in general, guys tend to prefer action movies. Boom! Smash! Guns! Explosions! It’s visually appealing and full of fast-paced novelty that boys crave from a young age when they first smash Lego buildings with their Tonka trucks. Girls, on the other hand, are often drawn to romantic movies; they like the emotions, the romantic confessions, the things guys tend to avoid because they’re “too mushy” or “not exciting enough.” The Aww factor and #RelationshipGoals factors play a big part in what we enjoy in movies.

Of course I love me a good action movie—and of course there are guys who don’t mind “chick flicks.” I don’t mean to speak for everyone; but the point still stands. As a general rule, where guys are stimulated visually, girls are stimulated verbally and emotionally—which is why so many girls aren’t affected by videos but are sucked into the world of romance novels and graphically described sexual encounters. 50 Shades of Grey is a well-known example, but there’s more innocent-looking, yet just as bad, stuff out there.

I know because I, a church-attending, God-seeking Christian, was addicted to it for years—all without ever knowing it was sin.

Is it really porn?

Erotica is different from visual porn because it caters to emotions. You experience the feelings rather than simply witness them. Romance novels like these are popular because girls love to feel loved. The scenarios described instill desires in us—a desire for love, a desire for total acceptance, a desire for sex.

All these things are good… and that’s where I went wrong. I told myself that, “These things are all good. It’s different from porn! Porn doesn’t have any of these good desires, it’s just lust.”

No one ever told me that erotica was porn, too.

The truth is, sister, that it is. Erotica does the same thing for us girls as visual porn does for guys—it gives us false expectations, it shows us things we’re not supposed to experience apart from our husbands, and it inspires lust. It does the same destructive things for us that visual porn does for guys—it taints our perceptions and will eventually leave us dissatisfied and sexually impure. Even if the images are only in our minds, they stay in our brains forever. This was not a fun truth for me to realize—in fact, it took me years of denial and justifying before I could finally turn around and see that yeah, this is actually porn.

The word porn comes from the Greek porneia, meaning “sexual immorality.” This is the very word Paul uses when he speaks to the Corinthians about sexual sin—when he uses it, he means “any and all forms of sexuality outside of marriage between a man and a woman” (taken from Loveology, by John Mark Comer). This includes everything from premarital sex to viewing porn to reading about people in sexual situations.

Fighting the Temptation

If you’re feeling convicted—or if you’re feeling defensive, uncomfortable, or angry—please don’t ignore that feeling. If you’re trying to make excuses for something you’ve read or seen, if you’re trying to say to yourself, “What I’m doing is different!” … stop and pray. That nagging doubt in your mind could be God’s prompting. Don’t ignore it.

Girls, porn is just as much of an issue for us as it is for guys. My heart hurts for anyone struggling with this right now. It’s embarrassing, I know. It’s awkward, it’s shameful, and it’s not something most people talk about when they preach about “pornography.”

Please know that you’re not alone. There are people in your life who would be more than happy to pray for you, to guide you, and to help you break this habit. (And if you’re a guy, you’re also not alone. I’m addressing the ladies simply because it’s more common among us, but if you’re dealing with this, this article applies just as much. Jesus heals, and he wants to heal you.)

If you’re struggling with this: first, stop and pray. God wants so badly to help you and to hear from you. He isn’t angry. He knows your feelings, and he longs to help you.

Secondly, decide what you need to do to avoid temptation. Delete, sell, or give away books or stories you have with unwholesome content. Use applications or extensions to block yourself from certain websites. Find an accountability partner. (Don’t want to talk to someone in person? E-mail me; my inbox is always open.)

Finally, if you’re still struggling, get help. Talk to someone. Ask God to give you strength. E-mail a trusted adult. You might feel ashamed to tell someone, but I promise you won’t regret your decision.

Together, you and God can fight this.

1 Corinthians 10:13

 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Psalm 119:37

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
    and give me life in your ways.

Photo credit: Isaac Araujo Guimarães, text added