“The Death of Porn” – A Brief Review

A few months ago I read The Death of Porn by Ray Ortlund. I meant to do a brief book review back then. However, this book got lost on my shelves. I recently found it while looking for another book so I thought I’d do a brief review now. First off, it is a short book that is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion of pornography. Instead, it’s a series of letters that Ortlund wrote to young men in general. There are two main parts: the characters: women, men, and Christ. The second main part is about the future – that is, moving ahead. The chapter titles of the second part of the book are these: “We Can Do This,” “We Can Work Together,” and “We Can Make A World of Difference.” There is also an appendix by David Powlison called “A Man’s Identity.”

So what did I think of this book, The Death of Porn? In a word, it was a pretty big letdown. It’s very very basic and even simplistic. There’s nothing at all in this book that I haven’t read elsewhere. Basically, the book says that we (men) are created in God’s image and so are women. Jesus saves us from sin. If we pray and read the Bible and fellowship we can win the battle against porn, so don’t give up. I don’t mean to be trite, but that’s what I took from this book.

Another aspect of this book that was frustrating is Ortlund’s attempt at being hip or relevant. To be honest, it sounded like an older man trying to speak to a younger man in a cool way – he calls him “son”. This made it awkward to read. For example, Ortlund talked about forearm tattoos of Bible verses. For another example, he wrote, “Jesus is picking a fight with the world of porn, and he’s recruiting you to fight alongside him”. Or, “…With Jesus, you’re a messy winner, because you’re his mess.” Or, “In his [Jesus’] nuclear-powered presence, we will finally feel fully alive.” “Your God-created you is a strategy he wants to unleash.” The book was full of confusing phrases like that which just made me shake my head. “Jesus’ nuclear-powered presence?” Really? It just felt like the author was trying way too hard to be cool. I wish it had been written in a straightforward way with no trendy language or attempts to be relevant.

Yes, this book gives the basics on what it means for a man to fight porn. It’s not horrible or unbiblical. But there are probably 30 other better books on porn so I’d recommend passing on this one and finding a better one.

Ray Ortlund, The Death of Porn (Crossway: Wheaton, 2021).

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

4 thoughts on ““The Death of Porn” – A Brief Review”

  1. Thank you for this review…I have read other reviews, and they have been good, but this review went right to the heart of the matter, and I am glad I did not buy the book because I have read much much better than an older author trying to be cool…I am an older writer and when I write, I don’t try to be relevant…I write for the glory of God, which is not to say Ray Ortlund didn’t, but to address porn has many profound issues of the heart and issues which are buried underneath many other emotional and spiritual issues, and approaching this biblically and with a reformed view is vital. I often wonder what Thomas Watson, John Owen, Richard Sibbes, and other Puritans would write concerning this, and John Flavel….”keep watch over your heart, for out of it flows the issues of life.” And the words of Christ run deep and porn is about Losing and Saving one’s life…..thank you….I am passionate about this topic, having been on both sides of this subject matter for many years….

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    1. Jeff: Sorry for the late reply. One that sticks out for me is “Wired for Intimacy.” It takes a different angle. It’s not exactly a “manual” for fighting that addiction, but it helps one think about it. One thing you could do is go to the Westminster bookstore website (www.wtsbooks.com) and do a search on the word “pornography.” That’ll give you some ideas!

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