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:
“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).
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. Pornography 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.
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.
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.
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. 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. If that is your route, pray over that interaction first and understand it may be a foreign concept to her. 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 that you can use as well.
All of this is good, but the best thing is to develop 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.” One of the most effective ways to combat a habit/addiction is to replace it with a healthy one. Abiding in the power of Christ can also be addictive. It can radically transform all facets of your life. Its not natural for men “to abide” – to pray for guidance, to read His Word for instruction, and to listen as He guides us through the narrow path, but it can be addicting when you start to feel the effects of it. You still need to understand your addition, disclose it, confess it, and protect yourself from it, but cap it all of by replacing it with your relationship with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is much stronger than PEA if you give Him the opportunity to work on you. The Holy Spirit in your life is simply the greatest addiction ever created. Abide in His power.
Walking Free Men’s Groups
If you are interested in attending a Walking Free group, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is completely confidential, and we will help you with the times and location of the study.