The Death of Porn – Ray Ortlund

Pornography has a stranglehold on countless men and women in our culture. There was a day when one needed to seek porn out but with the rise of the internet, pornography stalks the unsuspecting through means of a phone, computer, or television. Sadly, many of these are naively lured into grievous sin and find themselves in a pattern of defeat.

Ray Ortlund is burdened for people entrapped in the sin of pornography; he also has a burden to see the industry burn to the ground. In his book, The Death of Porn, the author addresses the hearts of men in particular. His aim is to see men become men of integrity who play a vital role in building a world of nobility.

The Death of Porn is a unique book, written with a personal and pastoral tone. It is a simple read and practical in nature. The driving factor in Ortlund’s book is not psychology or self-help. At the very center of the book is the gospel of Jesus Christ. In six short letters, Pastor Ortlund addresses Sons as he would address one of his own.

Part one, Reintroducing the Characters focuses on three specific characters: 1) Men who struggle with sexual sin, 2) Women who have been hurt by the porn industry, and 3) The Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is presented as the conquering Lion, the One who reigns over sin and resurrected from the grave. But Jesus is also presented as the Lamb who was slain. At the heart of this discussion is the need to understand that Jesus is both the Lion and the Lamb:

It helps us that the roaring Lion and the sacrificial Lamb are one and the same person. He respects us enough to confront our sins. But he also values us enough to pay for our sins – at cost to himself alone. Jesus is building his new kingdom in a surprising way. He gives porn stars their dignity back, and he gives porn consumers their honor back. He loves doing this.

This Lion and Lamb calls sinners to the foot of the cross to repent and believe. He calls sinners to drink from the fountain of his grace, the only fountain that truly satisfies. Ortlund urges readers to draw near to the Lord Jesus Christ:

But this letter is about our true King. And I’m asking you to hand yourself over to him. Then he’ll plunge your past under his own blood. And he will provide everything you’re going to need – moment by moment – as he leads you into your future.

Part two, Reimagining the Future offers readers hope for the future as the death of porn becomes a reality. Ortlund assures his Son with timely encouragement: “You’re on the right side of history, not because of your resolve but because of his resurrection.” This is a crucial point as many struggling men attempt to break the power of porn via will-power or promises that are eventually broken. In the end, however, the only One who can rescue men from pornography is the Lord Jesus Christ and the message of the gospel.

The author builds on this hopeful theme by summarizing how to fight well. First, What You’re Fighting For. He adds, “When you take up the fight against evil, you are planning a noble thing. You are standing for a noble thing. If you ever feel like a coward in the face of the battle, you can pivot immediately, turn from your fear back to Jesus, and brace yourself again for the fight.”

Second, How You Can Fight Well. Ortlund encourages his Son to remember that God is with him and rejoices over him. This point assumes that the battle against sin is ongoing until we reach the shores of the Celestial City. He urges, “Let’s support one another as we fight for our integrity. But let’s never make room for sin – even in our thoughts.”

Third, What Winning Will Cost You. The author challenges his Son to be killing sin by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13). Such an endeavor will obviously be costly and will be worth every ounce of gospel-centered obedience. Ortlund concludes, “Jesus calls you to fight for his new world of nobility … joyously, decisively, repeatedly.”

In the fifth letter, Sons are encouraged to work together. The author exhorts him, “ … You, with your brothers, will create a new world of nobility. Moving forward shoulder to shoulder, you can starve that predatory Beast – the porn industry.”

Ortlund underscores the importance of transparency. He draws on James 5:16 and encourages his Son to confess sin, pray with like-minded brothers, which ultimately leads to healing. The sum of the matter is deeply encouraging:

Your brotherhood can go viral. It can easily multiply, leaping over barriers, reaching men far away, men you might never even meet in this life. But in our sick world, healing is a powerful force. Your new freedom of heart can flow out, by the grace of God, reaching even the darkest places of porn. God can do that through you – the real you, with other real men.

The final letter focuses on making a world of difference. Ortlund writes, “Jesus is calling you to build a new world of nobility, to the furthest extent of your influence, for the rest of your life. And he’s in the fight with you.” He includes practical proposals that will enable men to make a maximum impact in their world.

My hope is that The Death of Porn reaches thousands upon thousands of young men who need a strong and biblical challenge from a seasoned pastor who cares about the legacy of the next generation. That legacy involves men committed to holiness and integrity; men who are building a world of nobility.

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