I’ve been asked that question more than once. And though it is clearly an honest, straightforward question, there is another question hiding behind it: is porn really a big deal?

It is a big deal to God, and there are several reasons why it should be a big deal to you. In Matthew 5:28, Jesus states that looking at someone lustfully is considered adultery. Looking and lusting is pretty much what defines pornography, so according to the scriptures porn use is adultery. So, you could rephrase the question as: should I date someone who is currently having sex with multiple other partners? The answer to that question is probably a bit more clear.

But why does Jesus take such a stance on the issue? Remember that when God tells us to do or not do something, He is not being a killjoy; He wants us to have joy. God is opposed to it because He wants what is best for us, and knows the problems that pornography causes.

The act of sex, or more specifically the act of orgasm, is a powerful force. Scientists have found that an orgasm releases chemicals that work to rewire our brains and bond us to our surroundings. This is by God’s design; see Genesis 2:24. With pornography, though, your brain is not bonding to your spouse; it is bonding to a variety of fake, 2D images. It is bonding to pornography itself, which is a big reason why the problem is so addicting. It gives your brain the chemical highs of drug use, without the expense and legal risks.

All of this makes pornography a very powerful teacher. It is like Sesame Street on crack: the use of visual images and repetition that worked so well in teaching us our ABCs is combined with a chemical high that rewires our brains. And what does pornography teach us? Three things:

1. People are objects that exist for your pleasure.

Pornography opens up the “Pandora’s box” of our sexual imagination. A porn addiction makes it more and more difficult to take our thoughts captive. When on an elevator alone with someone of the opposite sex, a porn addict might find themselves wondering intimately about the person sharing that space. Porn does not teach restraint and selflessness. In fact, it trains the opposite: take what you want, when you want, from whoever you want, as often as you want.

2. One sexual partner is not enough.

I’ve never met the porn addict that returns to the same image exclusively. That is the great evil and genius of porn. It offers its partner a variety of sexual pleasures. It teaches you that God’s design of one partner is vanilla and bland, and that you need more: not just variety, but never-ending variety. It is a slippery slope that trains you to be an adulterer of the worst kind.

3. The natural human body is not good enough.

Porn is the breeding ground of a new kind of person. It takes well-endowed (and artificially-endowed) men and women and multiplies their kind on the screen. The acts are often not natural and the people rarely are. Porn consumers are quickly bored with the natural body, and with natural people. Porn is responsible for also multiplying insecurity in the bedroom. For example, a woman might feel like she cannot compete with the women on the computer screen and therefore is less willing to display her body.

You will someday be what you are now becoming. We are people in training. We are training ourselves by consuming God’s word and preparing ourselves for future battles; or, we are training by poisoning our minds and hearts with images that we cannot digest appropriately. Men, even single men, are becoming better husbands and fathers.  Women, even single women, are becoming better wives and mothers. Or, we, even single people, are becoming adulterers, learning from the school of pornography how to have a failed marriage, a low self-worth, and a distant relationship with our Maker.

My name is Jonathan Pokluda. I am a pastor and a healing porn addict. My prayer for you reading this is that you would confess your struggles to someone who loves you and loves God even more. I pray that as you seek to heal from your addiction that you would find a superior joy in Christ that is worth fighting for.