A great example is food. if we desire food we are not necessarily a glutton. Yet we have all seen people whose eating is harmful to themselves and others. Eating, working, exercising, giving, praying/meditating, rejoicing, relaxing, and playing are all behaviors that are desirable and needful in moderation. If we find any person who doesn’t perform these behaviors at all, they are unhealthy. But a workaholic, anorexic, sloth, or excessive jokester also have a pathology in need of treatment.
Similarly, sex is not an addiction, but rather a desirable behavior that must be performed in moderation. An ascetic man who defrauds his wife is no more holy than a man who defrauds her by giving himself to porn rather than her.
Addiction is treated by cognitive behavior therapy and by 12 step programs – by sponsors and “accountability partners” – by helping the person to be mindful of their desires and redirecting himself to other desires – by getting them to avoid their triggers. But this doesn’t work in any normal behavior. We do not help dieters by cognitive behavior therapy or 12 step programs. We teach them to use behavioral conditioning.
Conditioning is illustrated by the famous “Pavlov’s dog” example. Pavlov rang a bell and fed his dogs, eventually the dogs slobbered whenever they heard a bell. This is called classical conditioning. We later came up with the concept of “operant conditioning” in which a stimulus is associated with a behavior and a reward or punishment For example, to get people to put on a seat belt we supply a noxious stimulus – a beep – that will not stop until the behavior (seat belt clicked) is performed. This is “negative reinforcement” = the removal of a noxious stimulus.
The removal of the association of a stimulus with a behavior is called extinction. This is what some pastors want to accomplish in their porn-viewing men. The association of the normal stimulus (erotic desire) with the undesireable behavior (porn viewing) is extinguished.
There are many interesting methods to do this – google “operant conditioning” and “extinguish” and you will find many useful ideas. But one rule I want to specifically mention.
—— Associations are weakened when the stimulus occurs in the absence of the behavior —-
In other words, the more often a man has an orgasm in the absence of porn use the weaker his impulse to view porn will be. Similarly, the more often he wakes up in the morning with a nocturnal erection (morning wood) and does not have sex with his wife, the less often he will desire to have sex with his wife.
This fits with how Paul said to “avoid fornication” in I Corinthian’s 7. “every man have his own wife”, “better to marry than burn” and “defraud ye not one another.”
So, if a man is having a problem with porn, the answer is NOT accountability partners, but rather more sex. Instead of using porn till he doesn’t want his wife. His wife should rather keep his balls so drained that he doesn’t have anything left for porn.