Making love is about more than fulfilling a physical desire

Written by Bonnie Pue

“Those pictures pull my eyes like magnets.”

Our sons were seven and nine years old. They were describing the way they felt walking through the checkout aisle at the grocery store. I was surprised by the angst in their voices as they expressed their frustration. The models on the magazine covers were so beautiful, their bodies posed to invite a second glance.

Those pictures do pull us like magnets, don’t they? We have to admit there is an innate beauty in the human body. It is attractive. Unfortunately, because of the brokenness within our humanity, admiration can quickly turn to lust and attraction can quickly turn to seduction. Humans can also use their bodies as bait, weapons, and collateral. What God designed to be wonderful and life-giving ends up dividing us.

The historically orthodox biblical perspective holds that sexual pleasure is designed by God to rest securely between one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage. It is a life-long commitment where a husband and wife can offer their entire selves—body, soul, and spirit—to one another in the giving-and-receiving act of “making love.” 

In contrast, the word “pornography” is made of two ancient words, “porneo” + “graph.” “Porneo” means “to be bought, purchased, to traffic, to sell,” and “graph” means “to write, to draw.” So a pornographic culture is not simply about an abundance of explicit photos or videos. A pornographic culture pushes us to sell ourselves and consume others.

There is a cultural onslaught of pornography coming at us from every direction. Not just on magazine racks, but on porn sites, in TikTok videos, or nudes sent in the middle of the night. It is in the song lyrics of the top songs on Spotify, it is in the fashion choices of the rich and famous, it is in pre-teen fiction, and it is in advertising tactics. 

The book of Proverbs has some insights for us in this matter. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 hold the imploring words of a father calling to his son. He warns, “Guard over your heart. Be on guard against that pornographic culture. You won’t find true happiness there!”

Proverbs 6:25-31 in the NASB translation reads: “Do not desire her beauty in your heart, (the woman who tries to seduce), nor let her capture you with her eyelids. For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread, and an adulteress hunts for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Or can a man walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is the one who goes in to his neighbour’s wife; whoever touches her will not go unpunished. Men do not despise a thief if he steals, to satisfy himself when he is hungry; but when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; he must give all the substance of his house.”

I find it fascinating that both the “harlot” and the man who would use her are described here as hungry, even starving. Their hunger may be legitimate, but these Scriptures show us that the means they chose to satisfy those desires were not. 

When we think our sexuality is only about filling a hunger, it becomes transactional, void of love, tenderness, and commitment. When we think sex is only a physical act for a physical need, we forget to see people as multi-dimensional persons with a body, soul, and spirit and instead objectify them.

This is the essence of prostitution. It is the essence of pornography.

Pornography is not a victimless activity. Everyone involved suffers—both in the production and the consumption. The kingdom of this world exploits human bodies, proclaiming that sexuality is transactional: “I’ll give you this if you give me that. I’ll perform for you if you perform for me.” 

The kingdom of heaven says, “Do not buy and sell one another. Humans are not for sale. Give and receive. You do not have to perform or be perfect. You can be known for who you really are and truly loved.”

If followers of Jesus are going to walk in love and resist this current pornographic culture, we’ll need to have an understanding that runs deeper than obligatory religious morality. We will not be able to fight lustful temptation with sheer willpower. 

God does not hate our sex drives, and by His grace, we can learn to govern our desires instead of having our desires rule over us. As we surrender all to the Lord Jesus, we can trust Him to teach us His ways. Through the power of His Spirit, we can learn to uproot every thought and habit that is contrary to His kingdom and see the tides turn in our nation. 

Bonnie Pue is a mother of six and co-founder of the Union Movement living in Mission, B.C. Read more from the “Making love matter(s)” column.