Pornography use is at epidemic levels among men and women. The problem is staggering. This is not an issue for a few “dirty old men.” This is an issue for many men today, even in the church, sadly – and, it is increasingly a problem among women, as well.
You can check out some interesting statistics here at www.covenanteyes.com about people’s online pornography watching habits to see how widespread this is. If you are a parent, you need to read this piece, and, please read the more complete statistical information that is linked at the bottom of that post, as well, to see what teenagers are facing today.
Pornography is addictive, exactly like an illicit drug. Many young men (and girls, now, too) are exposed in their elementary school or middle school years. Once the addiction is born – it is always a battle. Porn use alters nerve pathways in the brain permanently that are involved in arousal, ideas about sex, and women. Porn use triggers dopamine release in the brain exactly the way that crack cocaine does. That is a big problem. It makes the user feel good, or better (at least temporarily) emotionally and mentally. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is involved with pleasure and reward signals in the brain. Oxytocin is a hormone that creates bonding for men during sex with their wives (or during masturbation with pornography). This is the same hormone that is involved when a mother nurses a baby that allows her to bond to her baby. So, porn use delivers a powerful dose of neurotransmitters and hormones that reward a man and cause him to feel more bonded to the porn habit. It is an counterfeit to God’s good design for human connection and intimacy. Some argue that pornography may be one of the most difficult addictions to overcome. Of course, with God, all things are possible!!!!
The best way to avoid addiction is to completely avoid exposure.
Currently, the average first age of exposure to porn for boys is about 9-10 years old, according to our student minister at church earlier this year. Yes, you read that right. 🙁 How heartbreaking!!!!!!! How I pray God will give us wisdom to shield our precious children from this destructive, addictive, filth. Porn is destroying countless people, marriages, and families today.
THE REAL ENEMY
Our husbands, our children, our brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with addictions of any kind need our prayers. They are not the enemy.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
If we are not careful, we will turn on those we love most as if we are so much better than they are, if we don’t struggle with this particular temptation, treating them with scorn. It is easy for someone who has other temptations to look down on someone with a porn addiction and think, “I would NEVER do THAT! He is such a horrible person!”
Of course, we may forget much too quickly that we were also wretched sinners before Jesus rescued us. And we may forget that pride and self-righteousness are ugly sins, too. Jesus spent more time rebuking the Pharisees for their pride and self-righteousness than He did rebuking prostitutes and thieves. God hates ALL sin. But He loves each of us dearly. I pray that we will hate all sin the way God does – even our own sin. I pray that we will love others, including our husbands, with His love. I pray that we might approach our husbands humbly, gently, respectfully, and be on their team against the true enemy, realizing that the ground is level at the foot of the cross and that we are not “better than” our husbands, we have no good in us apart from Jesus, either.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2
- Some men come into marriage addicted to porn from a young age. This has nothing to do with their wives, their desire for their wives, their happiness in the marriage, or anything about their families. It is a deep-seated addiction, just like a drug addiction. Many men say that their porn use has nothing to do with their love for their wives and are surprised that their wives take their porn use “so personally.” It is interesting to me to hear how men view porn use at times and how they can see it as being completely compartmentalized from their marriages and their wives. I have also heard from women who struggle with visual temptation and porn describe that their addiction is not related to their desire for or love for their husbands, as well. There is a wide range of the level of addiction people have to pornography. Some are occasional users – that is pretty easy to quit. But others use it every day or multiple times per day – which makes for a much more difficult situation.
- Men who struggle with an addiction to pornography tend to turn to porn in times of great stress, depression, boredom, spiritual weakness, times of exhaustion or loneliness – as a “comfort.” This is similar to the way that some people turn to food for comfort, perfectionism/control, romance-addiction, erotica, romantic books/movies, pleasure-seeking, an insatiable longing for an emotional connection with someone (even someone outside the marriage if someone is feeling very lonely), flirting with other people, an obsession about having a baby, popularity, power, wealth, materialism, false-religions, shopping “therapy”, social media addictions, insecurity, neediness, or any number of destructive addictions for short-lived “comfort.” Of course, only Jesus can truly meet the deepest needs of our hearts. We will never find contentment in anything but Him alone.
- I have seen husbands who feel disrespected by their wives turn to porn. I have heard from MANY men who say, “When my wife disrespects me, I have ZERO sexual desire for her. I don’t even want to be around her.” But they still have a sex drive. What are they going to do with that? They are responsible and accountable to God for their own sin. But many times, there is a cyclical dynamic in a marriage where one spouse’s sin feeds the other and then both add destruction to the marriage.
- If we are refusing our husbands sexually (unless they are involved in adultery, we are apart and unable to be together, we have a major medical problem, or some legitimate reason we cannot be available to them) – we may be contributing to increasing the temptation for our men. (I Corinthians 7:1-5, God desires husbands and wives to be sexually available to each other and not to defraud one another by withholding sex.) Not only does a man not have anywhere legitimate to turn with his sexual appetite when his wife rejects him, but he also feels further away from her, unloved, disrespected, and often, like “less of a man” in every area of his life. Some men feel like they have “no choice” but to turn to porn if they desire sex with their wives, but their wives refuse them or don’t enjoy sex with them. (Of course, God can empower any of us to overcome temptation, thankfully. But if a husband is not Spirit-filled, he may feel very weak when facing temptation when he feels rejected by his wife, just like wives may feel very weak against temptations to hold on to anger and unforgiveness or resentment when they feel lonely and unloved in ther marriages and are not Spirit-filled.)
- If we are pressuring and demanding that our husbands give us sex often, and they reject us, we may be pressuring them so much that they may feel disrespected and may decide to turn elsewhere rather than feel forced into sex. No one enjoys sex when it is demanded of him/her. (Keep in mind, some husbands just have a naturally lower drive than other men. That is not wrong. Sometimes we think that every husband wants sex every day or something is wrong with them. There is a wide range of normal. We will be miserable and make our husbands miserable, too, if we expect them to want sex every day but they simply have a lower drive.)
Many husbands do not feel safe sharing their struggles, weaknesses, and temptations with their wives because many of us do not have any grace for our husbands on these issues, unfortunately.
We often expect them to be just like we are and not to have temptations or needs that we don’t have. We want our husbands to have much grace for us even though they can’t personally relate to our hormonally-based temptations during PMS, pregnancy, menopause, etc. And we want them to be understanding and supportive of us if we have our own addictions or temptations, even if they don’t have the same ones. Since we often can’t relate to struggling with visual temptation, we may tend to be condemning and to assume our husbands are “worse sinners” than we are because they have different sin struggles and temptations than we do. How we must be so careful here not to slip into the sin of self-righteousness or pride! We are not better than our husbands. We all desperately need the blood, forgiveness, mercy, victory, power, and grace of Christ Jesus.
I am not saying that anyone is justified in using porn. Sin is never excusable in God’s sight.
We have no free pass to sin – men or women. God commands us to be holy as He is holy! (I Corinthians 3:10-15, I Peter 1:16) If we are in Christ, we are now dead to sin and alive to God through Christ. We are no longer slaves to sin, but we can choose to be slaves to righteousness because of all that Jesus has done for us! Thankfully, there is every reason for hope in Christ. No sin is beyond the power of the blood of Jesus! He is able to give us victory over any and every sin, stronghold, and addiction!!!
HOW DO WIVES’ REACTIONS AFFECT THEIR HUSBANDS AND MARRIAGES?
“We are most tempted to sin when we have been sinned against.” Gary Thomas – Sacred Marriage
- What if we rallied around our husbands and apologized for our own sin (if we have anything to apologize for) and became accepting wives who joyfully engage in sex with our husbands and don’t withhold sex to punish them?
- What if we were careful NOT to tell everyone in our families and among our coworkers and friends about our husbands’ sin, in order to prevent gossip and show loyalty and respect to our husbands? (If we were caught in a sin, wouldn’t we appreciate our husbands not announcing our sin on Facebook or to our friends and family?) If we need to talk to someone for help, what if we find help anonymously online or from one trusted, godly wife mentor we know will not share with anyone else?
- Or, if our husbands feel pressured too much for sex, what if we backed off a bit without condemning them and try to bless them in the ways that are most helpful for them?
- What if our men saw the light and faith in our eyes for them, and the mercy, grace, and forgiveness of Christ in our hearts?
- What if they found acceptance and understanding in our arms and our expressions? Not acceptance of sin, but acceptance of them.
- What if they found that, by the power of God’s Spirit in us, we will help to gently restore them from their sin instead of judging and condemning them as more evil than we are
- What if we approached our husbands with humility, understanding the massive sin debt we owe to God ourselves?
- What if we became a safe place for our husbands to share their struggles and fears?
- What if we offered life-giving words instead of crushing our men when they stumble?