Porn… If you are a guy over the age of 13, you probably don’t need an explanation of pornography or statistics about how pervasive in your life it is. You know it is because of the barrage of sexual messages sent in advertising, social media streams, and television. Here are the stats anyway:
- The average American is exposed to over 14,000 sexual images and message each year.
- According to Google, sex and porn are both in the top 6 of most searched terms.
- 43% of addictions start during the teenage years, yet 75% of parents have never discussed pornography with their children.
- 88% of porn scenes include physical aggression & abuse. This is warping teenager’s minds of sexual intimacy and creating a war zone in the dating world for teenage girls. One case and point is that it is now common place for teenagers to send naked pictures of themselves to each other regardless of potential sharing and how it will impact both the sender/receiver. Teenage girls feel incredible pressures in dating to satisfy their boyfriend’s expectations (which are fed by aggressive and abusive porn).
More Than A Feeling
“Porn allows men to feel like men without actually having to act like one (Somebody’s Daughter).” If you are a Christian man, you are not magically inoculated to the effects of these sexual images and messages. Bill Perkins said it this way, “If you think you can’t fall into sexual sin, then you’re godlier than David, stronger than Samson, and wiser than Solomon.” We have the same flesh, and it is drawn to porn. It’s not just a mental pleasure, it is a chemical release. Sex was designed by our Creator within marriage to be euphoric and a chemical (PEA) is released in the brain during sex to facilitate that feeling. There is a physical, mental pathway created when men/women masturbate and view porn that tells the brain there is an easier, self-reliant approach to feeling that release.
The addiction created is as strong as heroin addiction (Dr. Jeffrey Satinover). When they see an image, they struggle as they fall into their habit loop around that addiction similar to an alcoholic (Neuroscientist Valerie Voon). You can’t avoid the stimuli in today’s culture. In many cases, men need an accountability group, a season of abstinence, and counseling to get over the addiction and establish healthy mental pathways in their view of sex.
What does sexual addiction look like? Expert Patrick Carnes’ definition – Any sexually related, compulsive behavior that interferes with normal living and causes stress on family, friends, loved ones, and ones work environment. Psychology Today describes it as the moment the hope of an unhealthy sexual experience constantly outweighs the individuals concerns for their spouse, family, and friends. There is a constant weight on the addict’s shoulders – the fear of exposure and an undercurrent of severe shame.
Those that struggle with porn/sexual sin are clinically being diagnosed with an addiction. It is a disease caused by sin, but if it is caught at the point of addiction, it needs to be handled as an addiction while it is being defined as a sin. Otherwise, we are just “shooting the wounded” and with no path for them to be restored. (Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction, Mark Laaser).
If you feel you do not have an addiction, but you still participate in consuming pornography and masturbating, I challenge you to try a season of abstaining from both. You may realize you are more addicted and compulsive in this area than you realize.
Competition In Your Marriage
Many women simply view this as adultery. Many men justify porn and masturbation as a private way of dealing with the sexual stress in their marriage, but it is cutting out the God-created “carrot” for you to pursue your wife the right way. A husband is 3x more likely to be caught than to confess. In one study, 70% of wives affected shared most of the criteria of a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. This is an incredible barrier to trust in the marriage which takes a lot of work to reestablish. Pornography also feeds the objectification of women. It can kill a husband’s desire for his own wife as his mind pursues something unrealistic and fake. They can lose the ability to be stimulated at all by their wives.
We must train ourselves to have one “type.” It should be their wives. They rarely feel compelled to do this. “If their wife is short, they have to be really into short,” etc. (Mark Driscoll, Real Marriage). 70% of sex addicts admitted that the one of the costs of their addiction was severe marital problems and 40% lost their spouse (Porn Nation, 2008). Of couples affected by addictions to porn, 68% lost interest in relational sex. It is much better to confess your struggles to your spouse and ask them to come alongside you in support than to be caught cheating, but men need help to know how to disclose to their wives. They also have to be ready to stop participating in porn if they bring their wife into the equation or the results can be even more damaging to the marriage.
It is vital for us to have an appetite for our spouse as God designed. Think about how Adam viewed Eve where there was no woman to compare her to. How far is your mindset from Adam’s? Pornography trains our brains to be attracted to sex with a kaleidoscope of women that no one woman can compare to. We have to start the process of retraining our minds and cultivating our attractions for our spouse.
Creating Wolves in Society
Pornography promotes a mental switch in men’s minds which all women become a catalyst for their issue. Voyeurism, a mental side effect of pornography, is when a man observes an unsuspecting female in public and cannot help but undress her in his mind (Dr. Gary Brooks). Women in today’s culture don’t realize that their obsession with showing their bodies off actually makes them a constant target of lust with a high percentage of the men they pass every day. The pool and the beach can be a huge trap for these men. A man in East Cobb could put up all the defenses possible on his electronic devices and still struggle with immorality because of the abundance of attractive women dressed to impress people with their body on the sidewalks and in the grocery stores around town. It also desensitizes us to other types of sexual immorality in our culture (Romans 1:24-27). It redefines what is natural and unnatural outside of God’s Word just like Paul warns. If you want a really sober look at what pornography can create, watch this video interview by Dr. James Dobson as he questions Ted Bundy on death row. It is astounding that this was filmed in 1989.
Our Relationship with God
1 Corinthians 6:18 says “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” The only safe response is flight, not fight (Gen 39:12; Job 31). It is not a secret sin to God (1 Sam 16:7). But if you are stuck in an addiction to porn, these verses are like a knife to your heart.
As Paul says in Romans 7:14-15, “I am of the flesh, sold into bondage of sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” Romans 8:6-7 tells us that we cannot idolize our flesh. It is the path to death, not life in the Spirit. Paul offers us guidance to put our identities and our dependencies in the Spirit. Understanding who we are as a adopted child of the Father is foundational to our ability to fight against the flesh. Satan loves to shame us into our fleshly identities so that we don’t experience our true identities.
So what can I do for my addiction?
First, you need to understand it. It’s like smoking. You think you can stop cold turkey, but the mind is a powerful thing wanting a fix. It literally takes abstaining and studying your thoughts and desires over time. Start counting the number of time in public you are looking at women sexually. Count the moments that your drawn to pull up an image on a device. Make it an experiment, a bet, or a challenge. Whatever you need to do to understand it. In college, I took the “Seinfield bet” with several guys (google Seinfield, The Contest). It changed us dramatically. Abstaining from it totally (in competition), we start discussing the effects 1 month out, 3 months out, and then 6 months out. The normal triggers were still there if we allowed them to be, but we stopped staring at girls as objects and started interacting with them (especially our girlfriends) on a much more meaningful level. I praise God that a funny moment between friends created a challenge that later created an awareness to how deep we were in sexual sin.
Second if not first, tell someone else. Disclosure is a powerful thing. Satan loves to torture us into a state of loneliness and isolation. As Bonhoeffer says, “Sin demands to have a man by himself. The more isolated a man is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him.” For some, it would be telling your wife. You will need to disclose to her at some point, but make sure that you are ready to address it completely before pulling her in. It is a difficult process for wives. While it may feel like a relief to tell her, you have handed to weight of it to her now for her to carry. For most of us, we need a trustworthy man in our life. Find that man, find him quickly. In most of our minds, we think that disclosure to another man shows weakness. The reality is most men will respect you more for your courage to share. Find a guy that is not going to barrage you with advice, but he will not be afraid to ask you how you are doing. A sin in the light leads to meaningful confession and a path to redemption. For the East Cobb guys, I highly recommend attending Walking Free. It gives you a safe, constructive, and biblical environment to disclose and work through your struggles.
Lastly, protect yourself. If a certain app on your phone throws you the wrong direction, take it off your phone (If your eye causes you to sin…). Let your wife know that you need boundaries with the shows and movies you watch. She may not want full disclosure of your problem, but she would like to protect you. If you travel, use the time constructively to work really hard or exercise – don’t follow the same paths that lead to the same places…There are accountability tools and apps like Covenant Eyes that you can use as well (see link below for trial).
All of this is good, but the best thing is to persist in your personal relationship with God. Satan knows its a weakness so he is going to attack, but Christ tells us in 2 Cor 12:9-10, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” If you struggle, don’t step away from God, step closer. Don’t miss a day with the Lord and let Him convict and help you. The Holy Spirit is much stronger than PEA if you give Him the opportunity to work on you. Don’t step away, step closer.
Walking Free Men’s Groups
If you are interested in attending a Walking Free group, email us at email@example.com. It is completely confidential, and we will help you with the times and location of the study.
- Books – Unwanted by Jay Stringer / The Fight of Your Life by Clinton/Laaser
- Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of great counselors in our area
- Covenant Eyes – Use this URL to get 60 days free!