Since sin only effects the person sinning, then why is it so serious? Porn only affects me. It is a victimless crime.


When a rock drops into a pond, what happens? Though the rock sinks out of sight, if you look closely you will see ripples extend from where the rock hit. The water seemingly comes alive as the rippling circles are formed. The rock may be out of sight, but the effects are still visible.

The rippling effects of our sin are similar. Sin affects not only us, it also affects the wider circle of our family, church, and community as well, just like the horizontal ripples you see on the surface of water. However, there is also a vertical effect because it also affects our relationship with God.

The biblical account of Achan’s sin and Israel’s defeat at Ai reveals the rippling effects of sin. Achan purposed in his heart not to consecrate to God all the spoils of Jericho and he chose to keep some items for himself (Josh. 7:11). His sin rightfully angered God. Families and friendships were traumatized and changed forever. In the end his sin caused the death of thirty-six Israelite men along with his family and Achan himself (Josh. 7:5-12, 25).

What should we learn from this picture of rippling sin?

There is no such thing as secret sin; our sins will find us out (Num. 32:23; cf. Prov. 10:9). As with Achan, even Ananias and Sapphira were unable to conceal their sin (Acts 5:1-11). God knows! There are no secret sins.

Our sins are never solely to ourselves. With the sin of pornography, it effects your relationship with God and your spouse. It offers the illusion of privacy and safety, but it will also add to your sense of shame, covering up, hiding, and lying, leading to a life of anxiety, stress and isolation. It affects your entire being.

Pornography's effects are not just on the end user and all his relationships. It goes even further. As a former homicide detective, I’ve observed where porn and sex trafficking have very strong ties. Human slavery to produce and make available pornography is one of the largest criminal business enterprises in the entire world (just behind illegal drugs and weapons). Sex traffickers force their victims to watch porn to desensitize them, then they train them in sex acts they will be forced to do on videos, etc., which are then distributed using the internet and other outlets. So, when one partakes of porn they are often helping to support a criminal enterprise! That is a far-reaching ripple effect of a sin.

Any time we choose to rebel against God, it will affect others. We own not only the individual sin but all the ripples made by it. As with Achan, we too face judgment for it all.

But sin isn’t the only thing that has a ripple effect! Grace ripples from the cross of Christ in all directions. Joshua 7 is followed by Joshua 8 which pictures a renewed relationship with God once the sin was confessed (cf. Josh. 8:1, 18). The Holy Spirit and God's Word assure us that "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). In Christ our sins will be defeated just as Ai was. By the command of the Lord we need to "rise up" daily (cf. Josh. 8:7) and fight against the sins in our lives as God himself is our mighty deliverer.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).