FamilyLife Today®

Addicted to Porn? This Way Out

with Ray Ortlund | February 11, 2022
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Addiction to porn can feel -- hopeless. But author Ray Ortlund reminds us God meets us in our moments of deepest shame to offer freedom for a lifetime.
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Addiction to porn can feel — hopeless. But author Ray Ortlund reminds us God meets us in our moments of deepest shame to offer freedom for a lifetime.

Addicted to Porn? This Way Out

With Ray Ortlund
|
February 11, 2022
| Download Transcript PDF

Ray: Porn will not go away until using porn/consuming porn becomes unthinkable.

Dave: Right.

Ray: Right now, we all know it is kind of bad; but it’s not yet unthinkable. When we see women for who they really are, that’s when the needle moves; and it gets re-categorized in our minds to something horrible. That’s when we’ll see a change.

 

Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.

Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.

Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.

Dave: Ray Ortlund is sitting in the studio with us. By the way, let me say, welcome back, Ray.

Ray: Oh, it’s a privilege to be with you.

Dave: Glad to have you back. I mean, you flew in from Nashville, where you’ve pastored a church there for years. I mean, I don’t remember; how many grandkids?—14?

Ray: Fourteen.

Dave: That’s crazy.

Ray: They are wonderful.

Ann: Four kids and fourteen grandchildren.

Dave: How many years married, by the way?

Ray: You know, it will be 50 years this year.

Ann: Yes!

Dave: Wow!

Ray: Yes!

Ann: Congrats!

Dave: That’s a big one. What are you doing special? You’ve got to do something.

Ray: We’re flying in the whole family to Nashville to spend some time at the Opryland.

Ann: That’s fun; at the hotel right there?

Ray: Yes; we’re going to have a blast.

Dave: That’s going to be great; that’s awesome.

Ann: That’s so fun.

Dave: Not only have you pastored a church, you’ve written. We joked on the last one that you wrote the ESV Bible; [Laughter] you were a translator on it.

Ann: He helped translate it.

Ray: —a translator.

Dave: Yes; exactly, which is a pretty amazing—

Ann: —honor.

Dave: —honor to think—

Ann: And a weighty responsibility.

Dave: —that what you are translating is going to be read as the Word of God. That’s heavy.

But here is what happened: so we’re driving in here today; and Ann goes, “Hey, let me read you what I was inspired by from reading your [Ray’s] book, The Death of Porn”; and I said, “Okay!” By the time we got here to the studio, I am in tears. This is powerful.

Ann: Well, I didn’t have any intention of reading it.

Dave: Oh, when I heard it, I’m like, “You’re reading it on air.” [Laughter]

Ann: But as I read your book, Ray, I was inspired because you cast this vision of: “What would it look like if we eradicated porn?” I wrote this last night as I was just kind of putting my thoughts together. I just said:

Let me speak for myself on behalf of millions of other wives, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers. We are mad. Underneath our anger is fear that porn is taking out our amazing and godly men. It started as magazines and then movies; but it felt far away from the shelter of our homes. Today, it is not only in our homes, and on our TVs, and computers; but now, it is available to every single person with a cell phone and internet.

It is stealing our men/our sons. It’s paralyzing them, shaming these godly gifted heroes. Now, more than ever, it is capturing the hearts of our daughters as well. It is destroying our faith, our fathers, and our families. We don’t know how to help or what to do. So let us together stand up and fight for our men and families by calling upon the only One that can set the captives free.

Let us go to battle on our knees, asking King Jesus to fight for us and for those we love. And let there be a cry and a roar that rocks the heavens. This is our Goliath of the day. Let us call upon the name of the Lord. What would it look like for all of us, as women, to pray, maybe, every single Friday at noon that porn and this hideous industry would be eradicated and our men and our daughters would be set free by Jesus to become all that He created them to be?

Ray: Oh, my! I’ll give my life to that.

Ann: Yes! It is a war; it is a battle. Maybe, it starts with prayer. For women, we can do that; because we feel lost as we watch, as you call it, our men lose the sparkle in their eye; and they become hollow. We see it, and we feel helpless as women. I know that we can, at least, be praying.

Ray: Here is where I move all my chips over onto the resurrection of Christ.

Ann: Yes.

Ray: I believe Jesus, the risen Jesus, is today sprinting through this world, saving people left and right, and having a blast doing so. [Laughter]

Ann: I love this!

Ray: I totally believe that.

Ann: Yes!

Ray: And let’s dare to have that hope in our hearts: that confidence; that conviction. We see the evils, and they are disheartening—they are terrifying—but we turn our eyes to the Lord; and we say, “Okay; let’s build homes, where the tone is confidence in the risen Christ—

Ann: Yes.

Ray: —“and hope.” I quote from The Shawshank Redemption.

Ann: Oh, it’s one of our favorite movies.

Dave: Love that movie. Every time I’m flipping around and it is on, I just stop; I’ve just got to watch it again.

Ray: Do you guys remember the scene, where Andy goes into the office of the warden and locks the door, and he turns on the record player?

Dave: Oh, yes.

Ray: He puts on records of opera.

Ann: Yes.

Ray: It goes out over the loud speakers into the prison yard. Red speaks; he says this: “I have no idea, to this day, what them two Italian ladies were singing about. [Laughter] I like to think they were singing about something so beautiful it can’t be expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you those voices soared higher and father than anybody in a grey place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away. And for the briefest of moments, every last man at Shawshank felt free.” That’s what hope does.

Ann: Yes.

Ray: The music of the gospel comes into the prison camp of this world, where everybody is wondering, “How do I even survive this?”—and the music of the gospel comes in—the risen Christ speaking to us through the gospel, bringing hope, bringing energy, bringing joy in life again; and prisoners start coming alive. We want that to happen in our homes; we want our kids to experience that. We want that to happen in our churches. We want it to bleed out into our cities. We want to see a movement of hope. Evil doesn’t stand a chance; evil is secondary and parasitic. It’s not primary and original. Evil is the ultimate wannabe. [Laughter] And it cannot endure the presence of hope in the risen Christ, so that’s what we want to unleash.

Porn is not the issue. Despair is the issue. The battle against porn is a battle for hope; and when men and women, dads and moms, and kids have hope burning in their hearts—man!

Dave: When you said, “Jesus is sprinting,” I just started smiling, like, “Yes! That’s what’s happening.”

Ann: He’s not wringing His hands.

Dave: But we don’t always have that inspiration in our heart; we’re like, “Uh; is He? It doesn’t look like it”; you know?

Ray: What’s really going on in the world is the unreported story of Jesus reaching down into the low places, and the dark places, the places of despair, and failure, and betrayal, and pain, and anguish, and regret, and wishing for do-overs; that’s where Jesus loves to go.

So what happens when we get together—Dave, you and I for example—if we got together for coffee, you would bring something of that spark of hope to me. I would bring something of that spark of hope to you; and somehow in God’s mercy and grace, the collision of your little hope with my little hope would erupt into something bigger. It’s not 2 + 2 is 4; it’s 2 + 2 is 1,000.

Dave: Yes.

Ray: That’s what happens—I can’t account for that—but getting together makes everything exponentially better.

Ann: Okay, talk to the women, who are married to these guys. Their men have no friends: zero.

Ray: Wow.

Ann: So they are like, “My husband needs somebody. I’m his only friend.” I’ve heard so many women come to me; and I’m encouraging, “Oh, yes; he needs men. That’s why we need the church. We need to gather ourselves together.” How would you guys encourage those women? I mean, do we just pray about that?

Ray: How does a magnificent, godly wife facilitate a better marriage? This is a perennial question. [Laughter] My poor wife is married to me—I don’t know how she does it—well, sometimes, I wish this weren’t true—but it is—we just need to fail badly enough that we can’t deny it anymore. We can’t hide: “I wish it were better,” “I wish there were another way.”

Ann: Yes.

Ray: But I remember, for example, one time, when we had been married for seven years. I was working crazy hard, way too hard. I was neglecting my wife and children.

Ann: We’ve gone through that phase.

Dave: We’ve been there.

Ray: Okay; well, you know what I mean.

Ann: Yes.

Dave: Yes.

Ray: Jani was incredibly wise. I mean, this was not one episode; this was a whole life pattern that I was establishing, and I was oblivious to it. I was the only one not seeing it. Jani and I sat down; we had a talk. Because she did not yell, and scream, and freak out—because she was so gentle, and understated, and respectful, and kind—I didn’t see it coming; I didn’t have time to duck. [Laughter]

She said to me, “Ray, the children and I—we will always love you—we’re not sure we will always have you.” Immediately, I knew she was right. I knew her point was valid and relevant, and it was true. I needed to hear that, and it worked.

My wife rebuked me—

Ann: —gently.

Ray: —gently, and it worked. She leveled with me; she was honest with me; she treated me with respect. She respected me enough to tell me the truth and to help me see where this was going without threats. In that moment—it was a moment of grace—it was a divine moment in our marriage when my wife rebuked me; and I realized, “It is time for me to change.”

You know, that was one of the great moments in our marriage. We’ve had great moments of romance, and joy, and profound affection, and so forth; but that moment of kind of a piercing sorrow—that was great moment—

Ann: Yes.

Ray: —the Lord was in that.

So a young wife, who is worried about her husband, can pray: “Lord, prepare me for that painful great moment when this falls apart. Help me get ready to be a faithful, wise wife when my husband hits the wall.”

Ann: That’s helpful.

Dave: Hey, Ray, what would you say to—you know, we are both in the older generation—what would you say to the younger Ray in his 30s/40s? You know, they are listening right now, hopefully; and we get the chance, as someone who has been there—two grandpas in the room and a grandmother—to say, “What would I say to myself?” What would you say to the younger man, who is on that?—we don’t see it when we’re doing it; but man, we are obsessed with building our kingdom; and hopefully, His kingdom—but we are obsessed with it.

Ray: I’ve come to realize that the most evil part of me, commonly, feels good. It doesn’t feel evil; it’s a spirit of self-assurance: “I’ve got this; I just know.” That is actually very destructive, and I spent too much time there in my 20s and 30s. My dear wife found a box of prayers she had written from the ‘70s the other day. I really had not realized what a pain in the neck I was, and she just hung in there with me.

Guys, now, we just have this crazy, wonderful marriage—right?—we are just giddy in love with each other. But I give her so much credit for being a serious woman of God, who stood by her vows to God on her wedding day, and just kept praying for me; and then God gave me moments of confrontation, and failure, and self-discovery along the way. Little by little, I grew up. [Laughter]

Dave: One of the things you do in the book is you reintroduce the characters when you talk about the death of porn. Again, didn’t see that coming; but do you feel like, when we are young men—30s/40s—and we’re racing forward, do you think porn becomes an escape?

Ray: Well, actually, I wrote this book, as you pointed out Dave, in the form of a series of letters—

Dave: Yes, yes.

Ray: —“Dear Son…” because I wrote it for one guy, who was a composite portrait of these hundreds of guys I’ve been interacting with through the years, these magnificent young men. I gave him a name; his name is Jake. I wrote the book for Jake; I think that’s a cool name. [Laughter] If I could choose my own name, it might be Jake.

Dave: Jake?

Ray: Right. I don’t really like Ray, but Jake is cool. So I wrote this for Jake. Let me tell you about him: he is just a great guy; you would love him. He is a lot of fun; he’s in his early 30s, married, a couple of kids, working hard. He’s on an upward career path. Things are going pretty well. He goes to church once/twice a month. He’s not involved in anything bad; there is a lot of good about his life. He’s got this sidebar of porn use. He doesn’t feel good about it; he’s not proud of it, but he’s not worried about it either. There are so many guys like that.

What Jake doesn’t realize is this: ten years from now, there is a good chance he will be divorced. Twenty years from now, there is a good chance his kids won’t respect him and might not even be talking to him. Thirty years from now, Jake might not even believe in God. He doesn’t see it coming, because what he is making an allowance for is metastasizing into the depths of his being.

I care about Jake. I care about his future, and I care about his wife and his kids. I think he can still have a great life. He can let go of this above-average existence, settling for that, and he can become a formidable man of God—but he has got to turn against that porn that he is making an allowance for—and believe in his own magnificence, created in the image of God; see his wife with new eyes—her royalty, her magnificence—his children—everybody around him. He is living in a world filled with wonder; he doesn’t see it. He doesn’t see the path that he is actually on.

I wrote this to help Jake see a new Jake, a new reality, a whole new life, a new future. I want to help that guy get there into a great life.

Ann: [Emotion in voice] I just want to cry; it’s so inspiring. It’s what we all want.

Ray: Yes.

Dave: I think, as I started reading it, you start with: “You Are Royalty”—talking to Jake, which is every man—then you say, “She Is Royalty.”

Ray: Well, the Bible is very clear—Genesis 1:27—“So God created man in His image. In the image of God, He created them. Male and female He created them.” Now, there are other creation accounts from the ancient world. For example, the Babylonians had their own sort of version—

Dave: Right.

Ray: —of Genesis 1. In the Babylonian creation account, we are not created in the image of God; the creation of the woman isn’t even mentioned. But in Genesis 1 and 2, everybody is.

In Babylonian mythology, it was only the king who was in the image of God, and the elite was in the image of God. The Bible democratizes the image of God—gives it to everybody who is human—and the climax of the creation account in Chapter 2 of Genesis is the creation of the woman; she is the hero of the story. [Laughter] In the Babylonian version, she’s just assumed. In the biblical version, she’s celebrated. The Bible really gives us new eyes to see how magnificent a woman is.

For example, I love this in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien—

Ann: One of my favorites.

Ray: Oh, yes.

Ann: Yes.

Ray: Oh, yes; Galadriel, the elvish queen, wants to give each member of the fellowship a parting gift, everything sort of noble and wonderful. She asks Gimli the dwarf what he wants; and he says, “I wouldn’t dare ask anything.”

She’s surprised; he’s very humble, you know; but she urges him to go ahead and dare to make a request of her. He says, “There is nothing Lady Galadriel,” said Gimli bowing low and stammering, “Nothing unless I might be permitted to ask to name a single strand of your hair, which surpasses the gold of the earth, as the stars surpass the gems of the mine. I do not ask for such a gift, but you commanded me to name my desire.” The other elves that are looking on are like: “No way! Did he just ask that? Did he say that?” [Laughter]

Galadriel says, “None have ever made me so a bold a request and yet so courteous. How shall I refuse since I commanded him to speak? But tell me, Gimli, what would you do with such a gift?” He said, “Treasure it, lady. And if I ever return to the smithies of my home, it shall be set—that strand of hair—shall be set in imperishable crystal to be an heirloom of my house and a pledge of goodwill between the mountain and the wood until the end of days.”

Then Tolkien says, “The lady unbraided one of her long tresses and cut off three golden hairs and laid them in Gimli’s hand.” I believe every woman is a potential Galadriel, whom we will perceive in the new heavens and the new earth with awe and wonder. She will be formidable; she will be wise; she will be awe-inspiring. Every woman in this humiliating, degrading world can have that destiny; she, too, is created in the image of God.

My privilege is to create conditions in this world where she can dare to believe that and, through Christ, reach for it; because she deserves it.

Dave: That is such a beautiful image.

Ann: You do that, Dave.

Ray: Wow.

Dave: I do that?!

Ann: You do that for me. I feel like you have believed it in me more than I have. I think that is true of every husband as he speaks and he sees things in his wife that maybe we don’t see. It lifts our heads, and it reminds us that we were made in God’s image. It gives us hope that we can live out what He has called us to live out.

Dave: That’s beautiful. I do think if we, as men, see women that way, as we should from Genesis 1 and 2—they are image-bearers and princesses created by God—we will treat them as such. That destroys porn.

Ray: Yes. Porn will not go away until using porn/consuming porn becomes unthinkable.

Dave: Right.

Ray: Right now, we all know it is kind of bad; but it’s not yet unthinkable. When we see women for who they really are, that’s when the needle moves; and it gets re-categorized in our minds to something horrible. That’s when we will see a change.

Bob: I think that is such an important and powerful observation that Dave and Ann Wilson and Ray Ortlund just made about the essential dignity of women and how that truth/that reality works against the stronghold that pornography is in the lives of so many. We have to see the fundamental worth and dignity of both men and women in order to understand how degrading pornography is. If we really do want to see the death of porn in our own lives and in our own culture, our minds need to be renewed with a fresh way of thinking about who God has made us to be as His creatures.

This is something that Ray Ortlund speaks to clearly in his book, which is called The Death of Porn. It’s a book that we have in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center, a book we are suggesting that fathers and teenage sons could work through together or, for that matter, fathers and college-aged, or young adult son, young married sons. This is a book for all men to work through together, and I think in community is the best way to do it. Maybe, you get together with guys from church to go through this book.

We have copies in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go online to FamilyLifeToday.com to request your copy, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the book is titled The Death of Porn by Ray Ortlund. Order online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

Now, we want to ask you to join with us and pray for thousands of couples who are going to be gathering this weekend in four locations: Napa Valley, California; Hershey, Pennsylvania; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Hilton Head, South Carolina. We have Weekend to Remember® getaways happening in those four cities this weekend. Next weekend, we’ve got getaways taking place in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Appleton, Wisconsin; and in Kansas City.

If you’ve never attended a Weekend to Remember getaway, we have dozens of these events happening throughout the spring. You can find out more when you go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. Again, pray for the couples who will be gathering for these weekend getaways this weekend and next weekend.

And we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and we hope you can join us back on Monday when Gary Thomas and Debra Fileta are going to be here to talk about what is a challenge for so many couples today, something that is not often addressed the way it ought to be. That is the subject of intimacy in marriage and what couples can do to experience what God designed when He created married sex. I hope you are able to join us for that.

On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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Porn Addiction: Your Exit Strategy
with Ray Ortlund February 10, 2022
Porn addiction can seem inescapable. But its power isn't unbreakable. Author Ray Ortlund helps replace pornography's dehumanizing lies with startling truth.
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