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Porn and the Problem of Impatience

Updated: May 31, 2023

Original article is here


Fast food. High-speed internet. Instant message. Streaming on demand. Same-day shipping. Our culture doesn’t like to wait. And there’s little reason to bother with waiting these days—if your current provider can’t do it now, someone else probably can.


Porn is the fast-food variety of sex. It’s right there, a ready-made, cheap, clickable imitation of the real thing. Porn provides sexual experience for impatient, busy people, who don’t have the time or opportunity for the real thing. Porn is impatient sex—instant access and instant gratification.


In the Apostle Paul’s thinking, this is the opposite of love. 1 Corinthians 13 is perhaps the most beautiful and comprehensive description of love ever written. The very first aspect of love he highlights in verse 4 is patience. Love is patient.


What is biblical patience?


The word “patient” is a composite of “makro,” which means “of long duration” and “thumos,” which can mean an outburst of passion or anger—either positive or negative. It’s a vivid image of patience isn’t it—stretching out the passions of the moment over a length of time? That’s why some versions of the Bible translate “patient” as “longsuffering.”

What does it mean for love to be longsuffering? And why is porn the opposite of this?


Love means embracing delayed gratification.


Wrapped up in “longsuffering” is the concept of “delayed gratification.” From our culture’s perspective, gratification is something to be streamlined, optimized, and expedited. If anybody tells you to wait, they are either a self-loathing, pleasure-hating Puritan, or more likely they’re trying to rip you off with an inferior product.


Despite what our own culture tells us, we know this isn’t true. From the Bible’s perspective, the highest experience of gratification is delayed until after death. 2 Corinthians 4:17 puts it magnificently, “For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.”


Paul tells his readers that whatever suffering they experience in this will pale in comparison with the afterlife. Real love waits patiently for genuine fulfillment. This knowledge should make Christians happy to forego instant pleasures that God has called “sin,” such as gluttony, pride, or porn.


Porn promises sexual pleasure and immediate gratification. But the more you give into temptation, the more it breaks down your ability to wait for something better. Porn is a cheaper and easier way to get sex than a life-long commitment in marriage. And certainly easier than waiting to experience the “eternal weight of glory.”

But it’s not real love, so it’s ultimately unsatisfying.


Love means a slow process of healing.


Why does Paul include suffering in his definition of love?


The Bible gives us Job as the great example of patience in the face of suffering (James 5:11). Job lost everything in an instant—his children, his wealth, and his own health and comfort. On top of this, Job’s friends came to encourage him but instead inflicted him with deep emotional wounds. However, as James 5:11 says, “You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” In the end, God healed Job from his wounds and blessed him—Job experienced God’s healing love.


Porn and Pain Relief


Many people turn to porn because it promises quick relief from suffering. When having sex—or watching porn and masturbating—the body releases endogenous opiates, a natural pain reliever. Pastor and sex addiction therapist Jay Stringer has noted that many people hooked are hooked porn are those who have experienced deep emotional wounds and despair. These are suffering people like Job.


Porn is an unloving solution to suffering because it doesn’t deal with the problem. While the pain-killing effects are real, porn can never deal honestly and thoroughly with deep emotional wounds. When those wounds are tied to shame, turning to porn will only deepen them, dragging the sufferer into a cycle of shame. Porn can’t heal the wounds that cause your suffering.


Porn can’t heal the wounds that cause your suffering; only love can.


Love means commitment.


Genuine love requires steel-tempered steadfastness. This runs counter to our instincts, counter to our culture of instant gratification, and counter to the fleeting pleasures of porn. Real love is committed and doesn’t look for an out.


Preaching on patience, Charles Spurgeon applies this idea to the Christian life:

“Nowhere does either the Old or the New Testament speak of our being saved by a kind of temporary faith or a spasm of love—but herein is seen the patience of the saints… they still hold on their way despite all opposition and persecution, even to the end, and so they are saved.”

“Temporary spasm of love” might well describe a porn binge! Porn is the opposite of love because it lacks steadfastness. As soon as you’re bored, you click to the next page—there’s no commitment. Christian love, as Spurgeon tells us, holds on with a steely-fingered grip in the face of all opposition.


A former porn user commented on our website:


“I also did not realize how porn was affecting every area of my life. My wife says I’m more thoughtful, compassionate, caring, loving, giving, patience with her and the kids, selfless and contented. I have made no specific effort to improve in any of these areas. It simply seems to be a by-product of denying myself the instant gratification of porn.”

Since porn is the opposite of love, removing porn from his life made him a more loving and patient person. How else might “love is patient” show that porn is the opposite of love? Let us know in the comments!

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