Matthew 5:27,28 You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
When I was a teenager, a well meaning youth leader at our church told the boys that it was fine to fantasize about women if it prevented us from actually engaging in premarital sex (which was not fine). He felt that, which went on in the secrecy of the mind, just did not really matter.
That would be great, if it were true. Jesus however, insisted that what goes on in my mind does in fact matter. I know how archaic this is going to sound, but lust is an addiction of the flesh nature. It may or may not stay in the mind, but it causes destruction either way.
The first and most obvious problem with fantasy is that it is practice for real life. If I am constantly indulging in some temptation in fantasy, what will happen when that temptation comes knocking in reality? I will not stand a chance. Thus, if I constantly fail in my mind, I am preparing for actual failure.
The second destructive effect is much more common but much less obvious. The addiction of lust, even if it never leaves the confines of my mind, decimates my spirit life. Sexual fantasies are not compatible with the daily pursuit of God. If I am filling my mind with fantasy and pornography, I am not filling myself with God. I cannot pursue the life of the flesh and the spirit at the same time. The two are mutually exclusive.
So, if I am daily or even weekly looking at pornography, I have become spiritually paralyzed. If I find that God is not working in one area of my life, I have but to look at this other area that I think is harmless and hidden. I cannot evict God from my mind and then expect him to be there when I want him.
I know that some of you will read this and think that this is just too much, to insist that we cannot even think about sex. What a nut…
I think if I were the devil though, I would be ecstatic to get people to think this way. I would find it profoundly successful to get an entire generation addicted to pornography in the secrecy of their own minds. If they do not act out in actual adultery, all the better, as long as it paralyzes them from the real pursuit of God. If I could cripple all the men in the church and convince them it was no big deal, my job would be done.
Jesus insisted however, that what goes on on my mind does matter. If I want to know God’s presence and if I want to hear his voice, I cannot constantly pursue self. I need to pursue him. I cannot engage in the lusts of my flesh and in God simultaneously. I get one at the expense of the other. I cannot have both.