Sharon

Why Porn Addiction Affects Us All

Sharon Sex 3 Comments

One of my all-time favorite t.v. shows is 30 Rock. It’s so smart and so funny, and I just love Tina Fey. I especially like an episode called “The Tuxedo Begins,” in which Jack Donaghy, one of the show’s main characters, decides to run for Mayor of New York.

There is so much about the episode that I enjoy, but there is one scene that stands out in my mind. In it, Jack announces the internet domain name for his new campaign, and he does so in a way that is both hilarious and culturally perceptive. Jack explains,

“I just registered the domain name for my campaign website:

JackDonaghyisRunningforMayor2013NewYorkThisistheWebsite.com.

“That’s the closest I could get. Everything else was already pornography.”

I think about that line a lot. Although it was meant to be funny, there’s an element of terrible truth to it. Pornography has become ubiquitous in our culture. It’s everywhere, and it’s easy to access.

Slowly, our culture is realizing just how scary that is.

This past week Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s new movie Don Jon hit theaters. The film tackles the addictive side of pornography, and the damage it can inflict on real life relationships. The same week, an article titled Experiment that convinced me online porn is the most pernicious threat facing children today went viral. If you haven’t read the article, you should. Fair warning that it deals with some explicit issues, but it’s worth the read. Especially if you’re a parent, or think you might be a parent one day.

The author of the article, Martin Daubney, was once the editor of British magazine Loaded. I don’t know anything about the magazine, but I imagine it’s in the same vein as Maxim.

Surprisingly, Daubney confesses regret over the work he did at Loaded, wondering if he contributed to a culture that is now wreaking havoc on our children’s understanding of sex. He goes on to share anecdotes from his conversations with children about pornography, and his findings are shocking. Kids are seeing this stuff, and they’re accessing it quite easily.

They also admit that their parents have no idea.

As upsetting as these findings were, Daubney noticed an even more sinister consequence of the children’s and teen’s exposure to porn: it was shaping the way they viewed women, and it was shaping their expectations of sex. Daubney writes,

“While teenage boys will always be fascinated by, and curious about, sex, what’s now considered ‘normal’ by under-18s is an entirely distorted view of intercourse and the way relationships should be conducted. It seemed as if the children’s entire expectation of sex had been defined by what they see in online porn.”

The weight of this perversion falls heavily on women, a problem that Lena Dunham has tackled in her HBO show Girls. In Dunham’s own experience, and that of many young women, men subject women to unrealistic and often humiliating sexual expectations that are a direct result of porn.

However, women aren’t the only victims of porn culture. Daubney discovered some ugly consequences for men as well. Not only does porn addiction affect the brain in the exact same way as drug addictions, but it can swallow the addict whole. He writes of one young man:

“Take the 19-year-old man I got to know. He was handsome, articulate and in full-time employment as an apprentice electrician. But his life was dominated by his porn habit.

‘Every bit of spare time I have is spent watching porn,’ he says. ‘It is extreme. I can’t hold down a relationship for longer than three weeks. I want porn sex with real girls, but sex with them just isn’t as good as the porn.'”

In response to the threat of porn, the U.K. has taken an interesting step: by the end of 2014, British internet providers will contact every single home to inquire whether the parents would like family friendly filters placed on their service.

This idea, though well-intentioned, has one major problem: it will not work if the parents are already addicted. And friends, this very problem is happening in our churches: parents in our communities will not take the necessary steps to protect their children from internet pornography because they want to have access to it themselves.

Throughout his years working in youth ministry, my husband has run into this obstacle time and time again. A teenage boy wants to cut off the temptation of internet porn so he asks his parents to filter the internet. Unfortunately, his dad still wants access to porn, so he says no. In doing so, he passes his struggle onto his son, instead of shielding him from it.

Now I know this topic is hard and embarrassing and terrifying. It’s not the kind of thing I write about often on this blog. However I am bringing it up for one important reason:

The battle against porn is not a David and Goliath kind of fight. This battle requires an army.

You see porn addiction is deceptive in that it seems private. It seems like it’s just between the individual and his or her computer screen.

But that’s the core lie of pornography. In truth, pornography is not private at all. It affects everyone. It affects our marriages, it affects the way men view women, it affects the women and children exploited by the industry, and it affects our own children as well.

It affects everyone.

And that means it is everyone’s problem.

As easy as it would be to point fingers at the men and women who struggle with this sin, finger pointing only heaps shame upon shame. And let’s be honest: many who struggle with porn addiction are already ashamed of it. They feel helpless and even paralyzed, unable to change.

So we don’t need more shame. We don’t need more finger pointing.

What we need is for the community to stand together and fight. We need to own this problem as a community problem, not an individual one.

Porn addiction is like a man-eating dragon that will devour any person who fights it alone. We can only slay the dragon if we face it together, so that’s what we need to do. We need to link arms with the men and women who are in bondage to this sin, and help them find freedom.

To do this, the church needs to be a safe place where individuals can confess their sin without fear. For the sake of our children, and the world we will leave to them, let’s replace shame upon shame with grace upon grace. Let’s do this, because it is the very thing Christ did for us.

***

If you yourself are in the throes of an addiction to pornography, friend, there is grace. There is mercy. There is restoration. It is all waiting for you, if you will simply bring your sin into the light.

John 3:20 says, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” The hardest step is the first one, the step of bringing your sin out of the shadows and into the light of day. It’s so terrifying, I know. But please, for the sake of your soul, for the sake of your marriage, for the sake of your kids, and for the sake of your future, tell someone.

If you’re a man, find a trusted group of guys, and if you’re a woman find a trusted group of other women. Share your struggle, and invite them to help you. Do this knowing that you are SO loved, not just by your church, but by the One who gave his life to cover your sin.

You have already been forgiven. It is finished, and it is time to walk in the freedom that was bought for you. Porn addiction is like a dragon, but the dragon has been hurled down (Rev. 12:9). You, my friend, are on the side of the victor.

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments 3

  1. Lynn Johnson

    I stopped looking at porn when I started having a real sex life. Ironically, I watched porn more as a Christian than I have since I left the Church. Inversely, I also have more meaningful interpersonal relationships, and sex may or may not be a part of those relationships based on a number of factors.

    That said, I only got about four paragraphs in before my brain started to shut down to get behind your train of thought. No offense.

    1. Lynn Johnson

      And, just to add to what you wrote about porn harming children. I do know that. First hand. However, I made sure my kids didn’t have access to it while I was there raising them (long story, don’t ask): every computer was password protected, and there was an awake adult in the room while the computer was in use. It comes down to being a good, attentive parent. Not religion or government intervention.

  2. Post
    Author
    Sharon

    Hi Lynn, I appreciate you dropping by, and I’m so glad you took the necessary steps to protect your children. That is exactly what every parent should do, and I hope this post encourages other parents to do the same.

    Generally speaking, it’s important to avoid about blaming porn addiction on lack of sex. Since addiction to porn shapes the brain in the same way that drug addiction does, breaking that addiction is just as difficult and complicated as any other. Having sex won’t do it, and that fact matters. For all the marriages out there that have been ravaged by porn addiction, it’s important for us to be able to tell the wives, “No, this is not your fault.” For women who have done EVERYTHING to help their husbands, making themselves more available sexually, etc. and nothing helps, they need to know that it’s not their fault. The blame doesn’t rest on their shoulders. Addiction to porn requires counseling, and the path out of it is not easy.

    As for your comment about religion, I think you’re right–parents don’t have to be Christian to takes these precautions. I hope all parents will. But as a Christian myself, I can certainly think through these things from a Christian perspective, which tells me that the path forward is honesty, and abundant grace.

    Take care!

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