Part Two – Be informed. Know the Facts
Last week we talked about the dangers of pornography in marriage from a Biblical perspective. This week let’s get informed about some of the facts surrounding this issue. This article was originally published for the site young-wives.com, which is no longer active. So I am publishing it here in order to be sure the content remains available. I am grateful to the ladies who worked at young-wives.com for trusting me with this topic, and giving me the opportunity to speak out. It’s no small issue to tackle. Here is what I wrote:
To the readers, let me start by introducing myself. Perhaps my story will help you understand why I was chosen.
I write under the name Esther Hosea, but that’s not my real name. In real life, I’m just a regular woman; a wife, a mother, and above all else, a follower of Jesus. My husband and I met when we were in high school and fell in love right away. We’ve been a couple since I was 16. We’re best friends.
Most of our 17 years together as husband and wife have been wonderful. As I said, we are, and have always been best friends. But there was an ugly demon hiding in the shadows of our happy life. A monster that had been there long before we ever met, though I knew nothing of it.
My husband was an addict. Specifically, my husband was addicted to pornography which escalated into a full blown sexual addiction. It was a side of himself he kept expertly hidden from me and the rest of the world. A side he often hid even from himself!
No one can hide from God, though, and eventually these ugly things always come out into the open. When my husband’s addiction was revealed it nearly ruined us! He had been involved in so many devastating things: Compulsive pornography use, multiple affairs, and so much more. But just as God is faithful to reveal truth, He is also in the business of making beauty out of ashes. He is a God who takes what is broken and redeems and restores.
We are in the process of rebuilding a healthy marriage from the wreckage, and I now write about our journey in hopes that our story will be an encouragement to others who find themselves in the same devastating place.
With that as my background, you can imagine my horror when I read through a thread of comments on the young wives Facebook group which revealed a shocking number of young women consider pornography to be an innocent or even exciting aspect of sexuality. I wasn’t the only one who was distressed. It was decided that I would write this post in response to that conversation, as it had become obvious that the topic needed much further attention.
So let’s discuss the issue from a scientific perspective. Let’s dissect pornography and how it affects the brain, and then try to address the devastating societal effects it has had on our world. If you think pornography is harmless or even a fun way to spice up your marriage, I encourage you to read this whole piece!
If I can share a little information with you now that could save you from the devastating pain of a broken marriage 10 to 20 years down the road, I want to do that! I don’t ever want anyone to have to endure what I’ve been through!
Pornography and Addiction
There is much debate about whether or not pornography is actually addictive, especially among those in the mental health community. Much of this is due to the fact that as more and more information surfaces, “the experts” are having a really hard time defining what an addiction even is. New technology has provided a wealth of information about how the human brain works that just isn’t what they expected. Trying to fit this new information into their old models has proven difficult, and for many of them, perplexing. They are resistant to change. (Aren’t we all?)
*EDIT: As of 2018 the World Health Organization has finally recognized compulsive sexual behavior as a mental health condition.
When you look at the actual scientific studies, though, it’s hard to deny pornography’s addictive power. In fact, many of those who understand the intricacies of neurochemistry would tell you the evidence suggests not only is pornography addictive, but it is more enslaving than cocaine, heroin, or alcohol! And like any of those compulsions, its hold is escalating. It will sink its teeth deeper and deeper until it has ruined its victim. As simply as possible, here’s why:
The data is beginning to suggest that addiction has less to do with what we PUT INTO our bodies, (drugs, alcohol, etc…) and more to do with how our bodies RESPOND to stimuli. The same neurochemical responses that are created when alcohol, or cocaine, or even food is ingested also occur when people engage in things like gambling, riding a roller coaster or watching pornography. These chemical reactions are what then create the compulsive need for more, eventually resulting in an addiction.
The reason pornography is such a potently addictive stimulus is that the concoction of neurochemicals released with its consumption are unmatched. Heroine, for example, which is considered the most addictive substance on earth, effects only our Endorphins and Enkephalin. Cocaine, the third most addictive substance, effects dopamine, and norepinephrine. But pornography’s addictive power comes as a result of its effects not just on Endorphins, Dopamine, and Norepinephrine, but also Testosterone, Serotonin, Oxytocin, and Vasopressin! That is one powerful hormonal and neurochemical brew!Those who understand neurochemistry know, not only is pornography addictive, it is more enslaving than cocaine, heroin, or alcohol! And like those, its hold is escalating. It will sink its teeth deeper and deeper until it has ruined… Click To Tweet
It’s also true that not everyone who consumes pornography is addicted to it, just as not everyone who drinks alcohol (the second most addictive substance on earth) is an alcoholic. However, greater use equals greater risk, just as the chance of becoming addicted to alcohol increases as consumption increases.
I’m sure most of us know at least one alcoholic (or other addict) who doesn’t think he/she has a problem. Despite how obvious it is to the rest of the world, these people live in denial, never able to get the help they need because they refuse to face the reality of their situation. Pornography addiction is no different. It lives and festers in the world of denial.
If something inside of you bristles at the suggestion that you or someone you love might be addicted, I challenge you to prove me wrong! Walk away, or ask the other person to walk away for one year. Heck, walk away for 90 days! I dare you! It certainly won’t hurt you, and you might just learn something.
However, if the suggestion to walk away for a time is met with excuses, deflections, or anger, you probably have a problem on your hands. Please get help from a qualified sexual addiction therapist as soon as possible. This road doesn’t lead to anything good, and the sooner you get off it, the easier it will be to do! Don’t wait until it’s too late, and has ruined your life!
Pornography Hurts People
One thing I seem to run into a lot is the idea that pornography is a victimless practice. Friends, it breaks my heart to know that so many people really believe that lie! The truth is, there are more victims than we have the time and space to address, but we’ll try to hit the big ones. Pornography hurts men, it hurts women, it hurts families and marriages, it hurts children, it hurts our society as a whole, and it hurts the world! The harsh truth is that we are all the victims of pornography’s devastation! Every last one of us!
There are SO many reasons that pornography hurts men. Its use is linked to increased incidences of depression and anxiety, (No surprise when we look at the neurochemical war it wages on the human brain!) it is the undisputed culprit of a massive increase in erectile dysfunction in men under the age of 40, it creates in the users an inability to connect with living, breathing people in any significant way, (Likely another source of the depression!) and it hijacks the cognition of the users in such a way that they literally become stupider.
But to me, the greatest harm comes as a result of our societal demoralization of men. We have somehow accepted that they are no better than animals, unable to control their sexual desires. Friends, they are not animals. They are MEN, created in the image of Almighty God! We need to stop degrading them and have enough respect to demand they treat all women with dignity and honor!
In a society that is so vocally feminist, it’s always shocking to me that the hyper sexualization and objectification of women is not only tolerated, but promoted! Ladies, we are so much more than a means to an orgasm or a tool for pleasure! We are created in the image of the Lord God Almighty! Our value is in the whole of who we are: Our capacity for love, our unique gifts and passions, our hunger for knowledge and capability to learn and grow, our quirks, and our beautiful individual personalities.
There is so much more about that in last week’s article, which you can read here. But for now, please know that the God who created you exactly the way you are did it on purpose, and He loves you. So much, in fact, that He gave His own life to save you. You are not an object to Him, but a precious dearly loved daughter. When anyone treats you or any other woman as anything less than that, it breaks His heart.
Marriages and Families
Obviously, if something hurts men and women, it hurts marriages. And if it hurts marriages, it hurts families. Pornography is devastating to families! One statistic even suggests that 56% of divorces come as a result of one partner’s excessive pornography use!
As I briefly mentioned before, pornography use deadens the user’s ability to have meaningful relationships in real life. The reasons are complex. In short, the neurochemistry of pornography use causes the user to become emotionally attached to the porn. For real. I know it sounds crazy, but as the addicts become more and more attached to their fantasy world, they naturally detach from the real world. This leaves them with an inability to connect with their spouse, their children, their friends, anyone who comes with complications. After all, fantasies do whatever they want them to. Fantasies don’t demand anything from them in return.
Unfortunately, in the wake of those fantasies are real people left broken and hurting. When the addicts are confronted with the needs of their families they often become abusive. They’re angered by the fact that reality inevitably shows up to demand their time, energy, and resources. They will try their best to escape back into their fantasy worlds no matter who they have to hurt in the process.
Beyond that, the escalating nature of pornography addiction often leads to further sexual acting out. It is very common to find that the porn addict will need something more exciting in time, and will begin to enter live chat rooms for sex fantasies, pay for live online performances, frequent strip clubs, hire prostitutes, hook up with people from dating sites, and engage in countless other forms of extra-marital infidelity. This not only breaks hearts, but it opens the door to serious, life-threatening STDs. Yes, pornography hurts marriages, and it hurts families!
Children, Society and the World
I don’t feel like I can talk about the issue of pornography without discussing the great big elephant in the room. No one wants to admit it, but the pornography industry is, without question, the driving force behind our world-wide sex trafficking crisis. It wouldn’t be fair to direct this article at millennials without appealing to your strong sense of justice and social activism.
Folks, it is an atrocity that horrifies me to my core. I can’t even imagine the life of hundreds of thousands of real, living, breathing people (far too many of them children) around the world who have been forced into sex slavery. SLAVERY!!! That includes at least 300,000 teens each year from the US alone! They are taken from their world, either by force, or out of some desperation, and they are forced to perform sexual acts day in and day out. It is a horrific abuse.
Several studies have shown that most people who consume pornography believe that the individuals they are viewing are consenting participants in what is being filmed. They don’t want to believe the men, women, boys, and girls they are watching are being forced to perform. But, in 2009 a study showed that 49% of women in sex slavery had been filmed for pornography during their time in captivity.The pornography industry is, without question, the driving force behind our world-wide sex trafficking crisis. It wouldn’t be fair to direct this article at millennials without appealing to your strong sense of justice and social… Click To Tweet
The industry leaders know what they’re doing. They know people don’t want to think they’re participating in that horrific world, so they’re careful and intentional about the way they package their product. Sites like youporn, pornhub, and others tout their goods as user created, causing consumers to believe the videos have been uploaded by free and consenting adults. Unfortunately, this is rarely true. In fact, investigators have reported that 100% of the pornography performers they have interviewed were forced or coerced into performing at one point or another. 100%!!!
I hope that turns your stomach as much as it does mine! This is NOT okay people. We have to do something!
What Can We Do?
To be honest, I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of this topic. There is so much more information out there, and we just don’t have the time or space to cover it all. But I hope I’ve given you, precious reader, enough information to convince you that pornography is not a victim-less practice. I hope I’ve been able to convince you that it is all together devastating. I hope I’ve convinced you to put your foot down and do something!
Get informed. There are many resources out there to help you. Here are a few great ones to get you started:
Fight the new drug – http://fightthenewdrug.org/
Your Brain on Porn – https://www.yourbrainonporn.com/
Ever Accountable – https://www.everaccountable.com/blog/
Covenant Eyes – http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/
Precious sisters, you are worth so much more than a compromise! You can and should expect total fidelity in your marriage. It’s what you promised one another on your wedding day, and you are enough! I promise you, You. Are. Enough! Don’t settle for less. Don’t share your husband. Start the conversation now. Talk about it today. It’s not going to just go away. You’re going to have to fight for it! But it’s worth the fight.
You. Are. Worth. The. Fight!!!
*How about you? How much do you know about the facts behind porn addiction? Were you shocked by any of the information in this article? Will you take the time to do a little research and educate yourself on the topic?