By Craig Gross
Craig Gross of Xxxchurch, the “porn pastor” who regularly debates pornstar Ron Jeremy and evangelizes at pornstar conventions, has written the magnum opus on porn addiction. This is a singularly focused book on the addiction without any mention of morality, the industry, or what the Bible may or may not say about it. It’s a razor sharp work. It’s designed to get you free.
I was certain the book would moralize porn addiction into an argument. But no: the book assumes you’re already ruined by it, and that’s a good assumption. It dives right into the physiological and psychological aspects of the problem. There is not a page wasted on arguing on the “why” of recovery, where Craig Gross and others have written elsewhere. The methods, both physical and spiritual, are covered in great detail.
The most fascinating part of the book is the interview with a clinical professor and a certified sex therapist who reveal the physiological nature of addictive behavior. It is a serious problem: there is absolute destruction to the porn-addicted brain. It is akin to heroin addiction in both the behavioral patterns and the bodily consequences. This chapter by far was a good swift punch in the gut.
The work is also mostly Christ-centered. Some may accuse it of legalism, but I say that’s rubbish. We need methods. Effort is not legalism. We need the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of victorious planning. One cannot work without the other. And Craig emphasizes that porn is not the problem, but really it’s our seeking of life purpose that frees us.
If there is any weakness in the content, I would say it’s written for middle-aged men who have access to accountability partners and a church and support groups. Many teens and elders may not have the luxury of such support nor be able to simply buy blocking software. I wish at least a portion had spoke to a wider demographic. I hope Craig considers this.
I also wish Craig had covered the spiritual consequence of addiction to recovery. Books like these with “sobriety sheets” and checklists can become just as much of an addictive process that can be idolized and abused. Recovery groups can do the same. The point of all these methods should ultimately arrive at Jesus, and though the book is Christ-centered, at times it treated God as an aid instead of the point. I’m sure this wasn’t Craig Gross’ intention, but one could read this book for the methods while missing the big picture.
Many Christian books on porn tell you why it’s wrong with biblically sound reasoning, but Pure Eyes is the other half of the equation: the practical how-to battle plan of victory. If you are struggling with sexual addiction, I recommend this work along with Porn-Again Christian by Mark Driscoll and other works by Craig Gross. No single book can help you overcome, but they can get you started in the right direction.
“The key to getting to the heart of our challenge with pornography is to understand God’s purpose for our lives. In understanding our purpose, we can set our eyes on something more significant, more pleasurable, and more rewarding than pornography or anything else this world can offer.” (44)
“Much of pornography addiction is caused by putting too much focus and attention on ourselves. We stress and worry about what we’re supposed to be getting out of life, and we try to control our lives and get frustrated, instead of accepting that ultimately we are not in control. Frustration may lead us to turn to things that make us feel good in the moment, like pornography.” (163)
“Just as your addiction is not about pornography, your challenge is not just about beating the devil; it’s about letting God show you what’s holding you back from your potential. Let go of the past, let go of the future, and let God dictate the direction of your life.” (171)
Read my post here on Jesus and pornography.