The Atlanta shooter was said to “love God and guns.” It turns out he loved pornography too. Apparently, he suffered “sexual anguish,” aka: guilt and shame because of his “addiction.”
What that guy did was wrong. It was misogynistic, hateful, and it terrorized the Asian community in Atlanta. His stated reasons for why he did what he did is also complex. He said he was “sexually addicted.” The idea of the possibility of being “addicted” to sex is highly debated. On the one hand, it is a natural normal biological activity, seen as a physiological “need.” Yet, on the other, one can control the desire for sex.
This is a complex issue in the Evangelical church. Should one who views pornography as a way to manage his sexual desire which is normal and even healthy, feel guilty for doing so? Well, sin has a tendency to do that. It causes one to feel guilt and shame. It comes from the devil and or own self hatred for doing what we know is wrong. Romans 8:1 says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus – the condemnation one feels is not from God, but from the devil who wishes to separate us from God. God desires that we see what we did was wrong, repent of that action, and turn to him for help.
Yet also, on the one hand, sexuality (and desire) is normal and natural and how God made us. God made the man and the woman, in Genesis 1-3, for one another, and he said it was good. Yet, on the other hand, the Bible consistently urges people to “flee (and or avoid) sexual immorality” and condemns such activity such that at the end of the book of Revelation, the sexually immoral are listed among those not allowed into the New Jerusalem (Rev 22:15; See also, Rom 13;13; 1 Cor 6:18; 10:18; Eph 5:3; Col 3:5; 1 Thess 4:3). Christians are explicitly admonished to flee and to avoid sexual immorality.
For many, pornography (and its twin sin “m” which basically has to be done to get release from the viewing of porn, hence why it is a twin sin) is a vice. It encourages, demonstrates the practice of sexual immorality. “Porn” is seen in the Greek word “porneia” (πορνεία) which is the word most often translated as “sexual immorality,” which is simply the act of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse such as through prostitution, unchastity, fornication (or even in the act of adultery), which is having sex with someone not your husband or your wife on an intentionally consistent basis with no regard for what is right or for the other, or for whatever consequence may arise from such activity. Those who engage in it are “πόρνοι” (pornoi – sexually immoral persons; c.f., Rev 22:15). It is an act of dehumanization. Note, sexual intercourse within marriage is not dehumanizing but rather is good, and beautiful, and meant to be enjoyed in married life. It is when it is done outside that context with consistency and regularity and with disregard. This action demonstrates hostility to God and to what is right, which is why also it is so closely tied to idolatry.
I would venture that the person who views porn often and regularly is acting in defiance to God and what is right. this person should reconsider their actions. If they are a Christian, they need realize their defiance and reconsider their commitment to Christ.
What the difference is, is this – the occasional “sin” will not separate one from God or cause one to lose one’s soul to hell. What is worrisome is the ongoing consistent act of defiance against God to do what the self wants with no regard for God, or for what is right – or for the other. This is what will separate one from God. This is what will put one in danger of eternal separation from God and his goodness, his light, his life.
What the Atlanta shooter did was wrong. He should have sought help when he decided to shoot and kill the women he did. He has to take responsibility for his own actions. He cannot blame it on his supposed “addiction.” He worried he would lose his soul to hell and he went too far as to shoot and kill 8 people, 6 of whom where Asian women to try to rid his temptation. Now he will spend the rest of his life in jail as a consequence. It is too bad he did not reach out for help before committing this atrocity.
Perhaps the conversation around sexuality in the church needs to change. Too often the responsibility for men’s moral failures are put on the women (how they dress and or act) (note nothing is ever said about men tempting women and how men should change to make it easier for women). Adam blamed Eve for his own sin. This needs to stop. It must be remembered that each person, in the midst of temptation or the the act is “dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:145-15).
At the same time, the church tends to talk about sex like it is dirty, bad, and immoral, creating a culture of “eww” and “that’s gross,” so that, when couples do marry, sex is way too weird for them – and guys (and women too) who have “porn brain” (you can look it up, it is real thing) risk being dissatisfied due to the false intimacy they experienced viewing porn and then are not able to appreciate or experience intimacy and love that comes through the marriage relationship. So the conversations need to change. How the topic is discussed needs to change, and probably instead of in a hushed tone in quiet places, it needs to be talked about openly in a way that is not weird but is healthy and life giving.