Christian Sexual Ethics

Addicted to Porn

Target Audience: Christians, Men, Women, Addicts

In this post I will discuss:

  1. An Anatomy of an Addiction to Porn
  2. Porn and the Single Person
  3. Porn and Marriage
  4. Three Observations
  5. Conclusion

Intro

One understanding of an addiction is something that a person cannot live without, or that he or she believes they cannot live without. For millions of people pornography is that something. Statistics may not help understand this problem. I have herd that about 60%-75% of men have an addiction to pornography, but the numbers may vary and may not be entirely accurate because of the nature of this problem. Women may not be as addicted to porn by percentage. Their numbers are about 30%-45%, but again, numbers may be inaccurate, and knowing the numbers may not help understand the problem.
So there is no misunderstanding, this post is not written from a personal perspective. I have chosen to write this post as a narrative to a broader audience. One of the reasons, I believe, that the numbers are unreliable, and therefore not really helpful in understanding this issue is because this addiction can vary from one person to another. There are, I think, characteristics of an addiction to pornography (porn) that are fairly common. It is those common characteristics that will the the focus of this post. As addiction to porn affects more men than women, I will defer to the male gender.

An Anatomy of an Addiction to Porn

I am convinced that an addiction to porn isn’t altogether about sex. I think there are other factors involved, not just lust, not just sex. I am not sure if it is power people are seeking, or perhaps freedom, or perhaps identity other than the ones they experience in real life, or attachment to some community where they are accepted at face value. That could be a powerful magnet to some evangelical Christians who align themselves with the more conservative Christian churches.

Porn and the Single Person

The only light in the room is the glare from his computer monitor. The glare from the monitor flickers on the blue walls of his room as he sits at his computer. Empty soda bottles litter the floor beside his desk. A couple of empty pizza boxes sit on the edge of his desk. He has been at it for hours, fixated by the images on his computer monitor. He lost track of time hours ago. He had nowhere to go, nowhere to be. Everyone else in the house has been asleep for hours. He wears a headset so he can hear the sound of the videos he has been watching. He has “lived alone” in shared accommodation for years. No one comes to his room. No one will knock on his door at this hour, or at any other time, for that matter. He lives a solitary life. He does have friends, but his social life is primarily online. The porn sites that he visits often have chat features, an extension to the chat rooms that existed years ago. Over time, he created an anonymous ID, and a profile, and got to know people on his favorite porn site. Now, he looks forward to not only watching porn, but chatting with people on this site. He has other sites he visits too to satisfy other fetishes. He is active in his church, in his men’s Bible study, but once he starts watching porn, it is very hard for him to stop. Porn has been a part of his life since his early teens. Many times he has confessed his addiction to friends, church leaders, even one or two counsellors, but no one wants to talk to him about it. Most of the time they avert their eyes. They make feeble efforts to disguise their discomfort and uneasiness with this topic. If only he had an addiction to something more “normal”, like booze, or gambling, or drugs, they wouldn’t mind nearly as much. But porn? The last time he confided in someone at his church, the minister reached back and handed him a pamphlet with a phone number on it. He suggested that he call for counseling.

Porn and Marriage

It is early Saturday morning. His wife and kids have left for the day to visit her relatives. He begged off using overdue work assignments, which really didn’t exist, as an excuse to not go on the trip with them. He had begun using porn again a few years earlier, telling himself that he would be more than happy to have sex with his wife, but she just didn’t seem interested anymore. This had developed into a routine with him. Sometimes it was on Saturdays when his wife would go out with the kids, or the kids would be busy with friends and he was reasonably sure they would not return home. Often, though, he would use porn late at night in his office in the basement, two floors below where his wife and kids slept. Sometimes it would be two or three in the morning before he would crawl into bed beside his wife. At first, he would just pull up a video of a woman and masturbate. As time passed, though, he began seeking different kinds of women, then fetishes began to develop that had never been a part of his sex life with his wife. Sometimes, he could spend hours at his computer, as he would this Saturday, bingeing on porn, to appease what seemed like an insatiable appetite. There was little spontaneity about his addiction. He would plan, sometimes days in advance, before a porn binge. In his mind, it was this unfettered freedom in which he was free not only to do what he wanted, but to be a man that he could not be around his wife and kids. He knew he was addicted. His greatest fear was that his wife, or his kids, would catch him. He spun masterful lies about working late and he doubted that anyone knew. Sunday mornings he would lead his family into their conservative evangelical church and worship with other Christians as if nothing had happened the day before. In his mind, he wasn’t hurting anyone. It wasn’t like his wife wanted to have sex but he refused because he preferred the women on the porn sites. It was harmless, in his mind. He reached out to one of his friends from church. He thought his friend was open minded enough, progressive enough, that he would be able to show some compassion. In an instant, his friend flashed an icy stare that left no doubt that he was no prepared to have this discussion. He never approached another person, resigned to live with the addiction and make the best of it.

Scenes 1 and 2, or variations of them, occur everyday all over the world. It is not my intention to build a case against porn or for it in this blog post. The people who will read it are, very likely, intelligent, mature individuals and you are able to come to a conclusion for yourself. It is my hope that if you follow Jesus that you will find freedom, however you define it.

Three Observations

  1. Porn is progressive. Perhaps, as a teenager, all you wanted to see was an image of a naked person to satisfy some innate curiosity or lust. As time passed, though, the image of a naked person became old, common, and you wanted something more, something kinkier. That is the progressive element of porn.
  2. I have often thought about porn as a snake coiled behind the guy in Scene 1 or Scene 2. He is fixated on the images on the screen and is unaware that there is a snake behind him, its fangs sinking into his brain. One fang contains venom that acts as a powerful tranquilizer, lowering his moral filters, his sense of time and obligation, his awareness to people in his life, numbing his sense of right and wrong, and allowing him to entertain taboos that, when fully conscious, he would never find appealing or attractive. The other fang contains a powerful venom triggers an insatiable appetite for sex and things that are taboo, forbidden, putting his imagination in overdrive.
  3. Satan’s ultimate goal, I believe, isn’t to have people addicted to porn. That is short term. He plays the long game. If someone is addicted to porn, they may find relief the first few years they are married or in a relationship, but when sex begins to wane in the relationship, the person returns to his addiction to porn. If he is caught, all too often the relationship is damaged or destroyed. Satan’s goal is to destroy God’s children, not just to imprison them in something like addiction. He may not be able to harm us physically, but if he can neutralize us as servants of God, he has won a victory.

Conclusion

Evangelical Christianity has turned a blind eye to this problem that sweeps across church communities like a wildfire. Much like the proverbial ostrich which sticks its head in the sand, churches have ignored this problem, pretending that if they never talk about it, it probably does not exist, or that it will go away, magically. It shatters marriages and destroys families. It incarcerates people in virtual prisons that are far stronger than any physical prison that houses people who break our laws. I am not about to take a stand against pornography because condemnation is what most addicts expect from others. I have no answers, no magic potions, no miraculous prayers to offer. It may be cold comfort, but to every Christian who is addicted to porn is not alone.

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