Overcoming Pornography PART 2: Reasons People Watch Porn and the Vicious Cycle
Why do thousands of men and women watch porn? I wish I could give you a good Christian response and simply tell you it’s because of “sin.” While sin is at play with any wrongful act, I don’t believe someone who is struggling with pornography or some other sexual act should be told that it is solely because of sin that he or she is struggling. I find it incredibly interesting that most people struggling with pornography can trace back it’s use to their childhood and adolescence years. During a time of life, when the brain was not fully developed, (the brain is not fully developed in men until around the age of 25), they saw something on the computer they were not supposed to see. They might have been forced to look, or even worse, been sexually abused by someone else. Either way, the seed was planted. Not only the sinful seed, but this occurrence also affected them in a very physical, mental, and emotional way. Real, actual, physical chemicals were released throughout their body, and caused certain feelings and sensations to take place within the body.
As it relates to the above paragraph, have you ever considered watching pornography to be a sex addiction? Like a person can be considered an alcoholic, a person can also be considered a sex addict. Would you call yourself a sex addict? It’s hard to accept isn’t it? Mark Laaser says that sexual addiction is “any sex that is not the expression of spiritual and emotional intimacy between a couple. It also means that sex is a substitute for, or an escape from, intimacy.” He also goes on to say “sexual acting out (watching pornography, masturbating, having sex outside of marriage, etc) is an expression of the addict’s loneliness and anger. Part of this person is rebellious and feels entitled to get his or her needs met. So a sex addict is at war with himself or herself. A part of the addict wants to stop, and another part doesn’t.” Addictions have powerful affects on our moods. Considering this particular topic, if a person is depressed, watching pornography can elevate that person’s mood immediately. If that person is anxious, watching pornography can have a calming effect on the person’s anxious feelings. However, without question, these “fixes” are temporary and do not last long and the person is depressed or anxious once again.
As I've stated, it’s not enough to call this an issue of sin and move on. For a person to watch pornography, there has to be brain chemicals (neurochemcials) involved in this process. And in my unprofessional opinion, this makes this issue of pornography not just a spiritual problem, but a physical problem as well. You see, as a person continues to do anything that brings him or her pleasure, the brain gets bored. The brain liked the pleasure of looking at sex. So, we continue to respond by watching more. However, over time, in order to achieve that initial pleasure feeling, the brain needs more….
Just like a person addicted to alcohol will eventually need to drink more alcohol to feel the desired effects, so to a person that is addicted to pornography. This is what we call “tolerance."
I was not surprised to hear about a pastor that got caught last week in a brothel. What once began with simply watching pornography with his buddies as a kid has now led to him being arrested on charges that he, and especially not the members of his church, ever thought could happen to such a godly man. I don’t say this to cause fear. This is simply the reality of the vicious downward cycle. Not only is it a cycle that repeats itself, but it is a cycle which maintains only a downward direction. The cycle is simple:
1st Stage | Fantasy
Whenever you’ve been down about something, do you ever just fantasize about a better situation or circumstances? I know I do. It’s not inherently bad to fantasize, but it is bad to let our minds be ruled with fantasy. Sexual fantasy is “what we might consider to be ideal sexual or relationship situations."
2nd Stage | Ritual
This stage is all about preparation. This is the stage where blame and all kinds of justification is involved. For example, let's say a pastor starts looking at pornography. Laaser goes further with the example of the pastor and discuss the downward, vicious cycle. After his addiction with pornography begins, the pastor meets someone he finds attractive. Over months these two form a friendship, perhaps even around church business. They start having lunch, talk as friends, then share intimate details of their lives. Eventually they realize they are "soul mates." What are the two star-crossed lovers to do but consummate this relationship? You might detect an element of anger in their saying to one another, "Why didn't God let us find each other?"
Along with the final two phases in the vicious cycle, the rest of PART 2 COMING in the next post...
(Also, hope is coming, I promise! However, I hope you already feel hopeful simply by gaining more knowledge about this sensitive issue).