A better kind of intimacy
I struggled for years in my addiction to porn, but ultimately I was set free through an encounter with Jesus, writes Jack Skett. Since that encounter, God has been teaching me about the better kind of intimacy that He offers.
If you were to ask someone to identify the most important thing in their life, you might get one of several predictable responses. Some will immediately say family, others having a healthy view of themselves, still others a happy marriage or a good and fulfilling job.
But whatever the response, underlying it will be a way in which we connect with others. Why? Because inbuilt within every human being is a need for intimacy.
For me, and for many others, that unmet need for intimacy led to an exploration of pornography. I was a lonely thirteen-year-old when I first started looking at porn. Initially it was out of curiosity, but before long it had a hold on my life. I longed for a deeper connection with someone, but settled for the more immediate pleasure offered by porn. I thought that my longing for intimacy would be satisfied in a relationship with another human, and in consuming porn I settled for a pale comparison to that human intimacy.
However, the true longing of my heart – of all of our hearts – was, is and will always be for intimacy with God.
The Psalms are full of heartfelt cries which deeply express the writer’s need for God.
My soul longs, yes, even faints, for the courts of the Lord. (Psalm 84:2)
My soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land. (Psalm 63:1)
As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. (Psalm 42:1)
Since this longing is built into us as human beings, anything which seeks to supersede intimacy with God ultimately fails to satisfy.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t also desire intimacy within human relationships. God has designed us that way as well. What we must be careful of is the pursuit of pleasure, of self-gratification, over and above intimacy.
Why is that an important distinction to make? Because pleasure is often self-serving, but intimacy requires giving. So much of our culture is geared around the pursuit of pleasure. It seems to be generally accepted that if something feels good, it is good. If that is our focus, then the result when applied to sexual relationships is a self-centred sexuality. That is what porn offers.
The vast majority of porn is produced for male pleasure. The kind of sex portrayed in porn is very one-sided: the man does what he wants to the woman, and she is supposed to enjoy it because he is. The whole performance is presented in a way which aims to bring pleasure to the viewer. This inevitably has an effect upon the viewer’s own sexual relationships.
William Struthers writes:
When pornography is acted upon, sexual technique replaces sexual intimacy … Pornography teaches its students to focus on the physiology of sexual sensations and not on the relationships for which those sensations are intended.
Sex was never meant to be a performance. Sex was designed as an expression of intimacy. That is why sex is best expressed within a marriage relationship. There is no human relationship more intimate than marriage. In marriage, two people promise to prefer one another’s needs over and above their own. When this is applied to their sex life, pleasure becomes a by-product of the couple’s intimacy rather than a self-gratifying goal.
I struggled for years in my addiction to porn, but ultimately I was set free through an encounter with Jesus. My book, A Better Kind of Intimacy, gives more detail on this. Since that encounter, God has been teaching me about the better kind of intimacy that He offers.
It is available to you too. If you’re reading this and you’re struggling with porn, I want you to know that there is a better way for you. The pursuit of pleasure will not satisfy you, so I urge you to pursue intimacy with God instead.
Jack Skett is an Associate Pastor at Elim Church, Selly Oak. His book A Better Kind of Intimacy is published by Instant Apostle, ISBN 978-1-909728-81-3, RRP £8.99, and is available from Christian bookshops or online.
 W. Struthers, Wired For Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain, (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 2009), p.55.