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I don't quite know how to review this book.

I am familiar with Tim Chester's writings explaining passages from the Bible. I know that the subjects of sexual immorality and pornography appear in passing those writings and when I discovered that he had written an entire book on the subject, I was intrigued.

I would be a liar if I were to say that I have never owned pornographic material or looked at it on the computer but I would never consider myself to be 'in thrall' to it. From a secular perspective, I would say that excessive porn use would indicate frustrations within one's marital relationship and for single people, it emphasises loneliness i.e. it's a bit 'sad'. With this in mind, it would seem healthy to avoid porn as much as possible.

Tim Chester says all this and much more in the book. He tells about the fakery of porn, the corruption of the industry and the insidious hold it has on users. He is uncompromising in stating that porn use is adultery of the heart and is as much an act of betrayal as any actual physical act of adultery. He provides statistics indicating the size of the problem as he sees it and shows that people who are avowedly Christian are likely to be as prone to use pornography as anyone else.

Rather than simply telling people to avoid using porn, Tim Chester asks his readers to embrace a Christian life in full so that the sheer beauty, scale and completeness of God's creation provides a fuller and more glorious experience than porn could ever do. I feel that this book has expanded my religious faith and understanding in many ways completely unrelated to a simple avoidance of pornography and for that, I am extremely grateful.

Tim Chester quotes G K Chesterton, "Every time a man knocks on the door of a brothel, he is is calling on God". It suggests (to me anyway) that in the depths of sin and despair the path to righteousness may begin.
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on 29 May 2010
This is an incredibly helpful book addressing a vital issue facing the 21st Century church: the need for radical holiness in the area of pornography. In many ways, the underlying principles behind this book are those laid out more fully in Tim Chester's other book "You can change: God's Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behaviour and Negative Emotions", but even if you've read that this book is a must read for those who struggle in this area, or who are supporting those who do. The first two chapters of "Captured" are worth the cover price on their own:
* The first chapter sets out the importance of this issue and how destructive it is, as well as all of the ways in which pornography is ultimately a lie, set out in 12 reasons to give it up. A lot of this stuff is common sense, but for those in the midst of the fight it helps to be reminded of it again and again
* The second chapter is dynamite: Tim lays out 7 false promises made by pornography and the different idols that they appeal to. When asked "why do you find pornography attractive?" the answer may seem obvious, but this chapter shows what's really going on in the human heart and how ultimately porn fails to deliver in every single way and how God alone offers what we seek after. The specific idols Tim highlights are incredibly insightful and a valuable weapon in the fight.
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VINE VOICEon 14 June 2010
This is the heart of a review I was asked to write for the journal, Themelios:

It is a brave man who talks openly about sexual sin. It is an even braver one who writes a book about it! But Tim Chester now has an established track record of writing well-crafted, profoundly theological but deeply pastoral books. This book, specifically tackling the blight of pornography head on, follows naturally from his 2008 publication, You can change. That Captured by a better vision is needed and timely should not be in doubt. The statistics for pornography usage and the sex industry's profit margins are truly terrifying. Porn's repercussions (for users, for those involved in the sex industry and for society as a whole) hardly bear thinking about. Its pervasive presence amongst Christians is the western church's vast, unspoken secret - in one survey quoted by Chester, it is suggested that out of every 100 adults, twenty-five men and ten women are struggling with regular porn use (p. 11). Yet, despite its prevalence, it is a problem of such shame that it is confined to the shadows and never properly addressed.

So how to tackle it? That is the painful question for pastors who minister to such people, not to mention those who themselves struggle. The age-old resort of the well-directed rebuke, or naming and shaming, has never worked. Many caught up in pornography are wracked by crippling shame as it is, but that is barely enough to halt their indulgence. Furthermore, such an approach falls headlong into the trap of legalism, which can never bring transformation (only pride and defeat or both) and which is fundamentally incompatible with the authentically Christian gospel of grace.

This is something that Chester understands deeply - which is precisely why he is able to navigate so successfully through this pastoral minefield. His tactic seems to be as much about displacement as it is pastoral diagnosis. As his quotation from an anonymous article makes clear, porn addicts `need something more than mere information: they need to be wooed by the true and pure lover that their heart secretly seeks.' (p. 76)

Chester is determined to offer precisely that. This does not, of course, mean he is afraid to provide important information or to speak very frankly (as he warns in the introduction) - a topic like this demands straight talking. He thus rightly begins, in the first of his five sections, by piercing porn's façade of consensual pleasure and `harmless fun'. He ruthlessly exposes what the sex industry actually does to people at every level - his list of twelve reasons to give up porn is brutal in its trenchant but indisputable analysis. It thus easily achieves his aim to make pornography abhorrent.

Fortunately, however, this is not the book's exclusive agenda - as the title suggests, Chester has a far more encouraging and inspiring concern. He wants to move us from abhorrence to adoration of God, with its resulting confidence of forgiveness and determination to battle sin. He has sought to understand, at a deep level, what insecurities and idols cause people to get hooked in the first place - and then proceeds to expose why the gospel is both infinitely better and far more compelling. Especially powerful was his articulation of the new confidence brought about by a believer's justification in Christ. He nicely applies the apparent paradoxes of this divinely-granted status: we are freed by Christ to be free, we are cleansed by Christ to be clean, we are made holy so that we can be holy (pp. 90-94). As he says, `battling porn in our lives is not an exercise in denying pleasure. It's about fighting pleasure with greater pleasure.' (p. 76) `So with every false promise of porn there is a true promise of God. Whatever porn offers, God offers more.' (p. 51)

Along the way, some inevitable pastoral conundrums need handling with care. What of the struggles of those who are not married? Chester tackles this, though probably not as fully as some might hope for (that is the remit of other books). Still, he makes clear how great the gospel compensations are for all, married or not. Or what of those who are in Christian leadership and struggle in this area? He was especially sensitive here. He does not pull his punches and explains how detrimental porn can be for ministry. Yet he reminds us that `using porn doesn't disqualify you from serving God. For one thing, you were never qualified in the first place!' (p. 87) This is something everyone in ministry needs to hear, porn or no porn. His advice is to keep battling but earnestly look to Christ for our righteousness.

Chester's writing is always lucid and biblical but, in this book, his compassion is even more evident (as it needs to be). He makes frequent use of personal testimonies and experiences, from other books or from the anonymous research he carried out. These ground the book in reality.

Above all, though, the book is encouraging! I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised by that; but I was. The presenting issue of the book is a crucial and painful one, and his critique and analysis are relentless. Nevertheless, I found myself swept up by a refreshed enthusiasm and excitement for the gospel as he spoke with relish and delight about the grace of God, the glories of Christ and the wonders of sex in its right context. To my mind that clearly demonstrated he had fulfilled his aim of capturing us with a better vision. I certainly was.
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on 7 May 2012
This is a most timely book and will be a great help to people struggling with the scourge of easily accessible pornography. It is also a valuable resource for those seeking to understand the depth of the problem and help others in a compassionate and appropriate way. I would recommend it for church leaders, congregations, counselors and anyone concerned about the harm that pornography does to individuals and to society.
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on 29 August 2011
I've not yet used this book with those for whom pornography has been a problem but pastorally I feel it brilliantly covers the subject biblically, shows great sensitivity and is packed with wise discipling insights.
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on 24 September 2015
A great and much needed book.
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