The Cruelty of Not Knowing God

In his book Knowing God, J.I. Packer writes,

“Knowing about God is crucially important for the living of our lives. As it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesmen to fly him to London, put him down without explanation in Trafalgar Square and leave him, as one who knew nothing of English or England, to fend for himself, so we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it.

The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction, and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.” 

This truth resonated powerfully with me when I first read it, and it immediately came to my mind a couple of days ago upon reading an article about how watching porn negatively affects the brain (or at least it “might”). Now this really isn’t new; many studies show the harmful affects porn has not only on one’s brain, but also how it effects emotional states, how it makes men and women view the opposite sex more negatively, how it ruins real sex, etc.

What stuck out to me in this article however, was the following statement:

It’s not clear, for example, whether watching porn leads to brain changes or whether people born with certain brain types watch more porn.

Now I am not saying that brain chemistry or how we are born does not play a part in things. And I do not doubt that watching porn does lead to changes in your brain. But I am saying that when you don’t recognize the truth that human nature has been corrupted by sin at every level, you have to create a million of other reasons to make sense of our world.

In the book of Romans Paul writes,

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

-Romans 8:13-14

The “flesh” is a metaphor used throughout the New Testament that refers to our selfish human desires. But followers of Jesus are to strive to live lives that honor Christ, and many times this means either doing or not doing things we may want to do in the moment (denying our flesh) in order to honor God and ultimately bring more joy to our life.

I know engaging in pornography is growing among women and it is a real issue for many women, but I am just going to speak from the man’s perspective for a minute.

Men are sexual beings who are easily stimulated visually. Every man who believes in and strives for sexual purity does so against what Christian’s so call “fleshly” desires. And this is why knowing God who has revealed Himself through his Word helps us make sense and navigate our broken world.

The Bible tells us that God originally created a perfect world, but that the world has been corrupted by sin. This means we are not inherently good people but inherently bad people and that we have all sinned against God. As Packer says, “we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it.” 

And then I came across the following statement in the same article:

Because the study can’t prove that porn caused the changes to the brain, Kühn said it’s not possible to say whether watching porn is actually harmful.

Do we really not know by now that watching porn is harmful? Even if you think there is nothing wrong with pornography, we are all aware of its addictive qualities and how it does change the way we view and talk about the opposite sex (among many other negative things). Or is it because we desire to be the own god of our life that we say things like “porn actually may not be harmful at all?”

Without knowing the God of the universe and understanding the brokenness of the world and our very own being, we are like and Amazonian tribesmen being dropped in the middle of London who knows nothing of English and England and left to fend for ourselves.

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