Pastors against porn should not use the “Addiction” argument

Why treat porn addiction won't work.
Wrong Diagnosis – Wrong Treatment

So I was talking to a pastor recently who was looking for ways to help men overcome their porn habit.  Since I am a psychiatrist, he was asking me about the parts of the brain that were involved in reward.

I know why he was asking.  He had been exposed to Gary Wilson’s “Your Brain on Porn” and wanted to preach a sermon to men about how viewing porn was just like using crack cocaine.

It isn’t.  Here is what I explained to the pastor.  If you approach porn as an addiction then you will try to “cure” it using the anti-addiction methodology that we use for cocaine, meth, gambling, and heroin addicts.  But this is like treating gall stones with lung cancer medicine.  It won’t accomplish your goal and it will just make things worse.

For example.  One of the first anti-addiction drugs of choice that we use is Wellbutrin.  Wellbutrin reduces addiction cravings.  I have given it to alcoholics, smokers, and today I thought about prescribing it to a crack cocaine addict.

But Wellbutrin does not lower sexual desire at all.  In fact, when we have a patient whose use of Paxil/Lexapro/Celexa/Zoloft is reducing libido, we switch them to Wellbutrin.   If porn/sex was really an addiction, the Wellbutrin would reduce desire, not increase it.

So, if a Christian pastor wants to help their disciples to stop viewing porn, they should approach it from a different standpoint than addiction.  They should treat it as an sinful – but natural- behavior like fornication or adultery.

Christians are not addicted to porn

Using science to support a religious position
No, Christians are not “Addicted” to porn

Every temptation is not an addiction.  Addiction is a medical term, not a spiritual one.  As the churches have stopped preaching the gospel of Jesus, they have begun preaching a secular “health” gospel.  But while surrendering the authority of the Bible and Christ, they are attempting to argue for the same traditions that held over from more religiously oriented times.

Therefore, while no longer preaching against “lust” they wish to preach against “sex addiction.”

The problem is that medicine is a very poor substitute for God.  This article fairly represents how the “porn addiction” nonsense started and why it is not science.  If you want to argue against pornography based upon scripture – great – let’s have that discussion.  I admit that you have at least a few strong points to make.  But if you want to attempt to use MEDICINE then you have nothing of interest to say.

Firstly, the porn addiction advocates have nothing interesting to say because they are not physicians.  None of them have any degree higher than a bachelor of arts – except for the occasional, Doctor of Divinity.  They don’t do original research, they don’t know how to conduct a clinical study.  They don’t know the difference between cohort studies, cross-sectional studies, longitudinal studies, clinical trials, etc.  They can’t separate between correlation and causation.  They don’t know a category I statistical error from a p-square analysis.   They just go searching through google (not google scholar) for any article that supports their pre-determined view.

This is called “confirmation bias” and no one who is participating in it should be allowed to treat anyone.

Secondly the porn addiction advocates have nothing interesting to say because they are arguing dishonestly.  If you have a moral or religious position, then that is fine – I have several items that I believe on faith myself.  For example, I believe that Jesus was born of a virgin.  But it would be insane for me to start trying to prove parthenogenesis (scientific virgin birth) is possible in human beings.   It is not.   The virgin birth is a miracle, it is not subject to the reasoning of science.

The religious argument against porn is based, I believe, on tradition.  A tradition that is very old and has gained ascendancy in the evangelical church for the past couple of centuries.  Tradition is not unimportant in religious and moral arguments.  Tradition does not always arise by accident and usually has or had a good reason for it in the past.    But don’t try to defend it by bringing in poorly understood subjects in science.  You simply make yourself foolish.

Finally, the porn addiction advocates have nothing interesting to say because the science doesn’t support their position.  Addiction is a very specific thing.  At its most basic, it always includes progressive tolerance and pathological effect.

Progressive tolerance is the need for greater amounts of the drug in order to gain the same effect.   At first 2 beers could get me buzzed, but now I need 10.  But porn only has this effect in the short term.  Once the participant has masturbated, it requires more arousal for him to reach climax.   But porn does not have this effect over the long term.  In fact, the exact opposite happens.  The porn viewer becomes more sensitive to porn as he watches more.

In an addiction, the sufferer needs more and more of the substance and enjoys it less and less.  This does not happen in porn and sex.  When a virgin couple first get married, their sexual unions are awkward and not terribly enjoyable.  Only after practice and frequency do they find greater and greater fulfillment.  All of sex works this way.  Including porn.

The stories of men who started with playboy and ended with torture porn are nonsense.  This fairy tale was made up by mass murderer Ted Bundy in an interview with “Dr.” James Dobson.  Bundy was trying to find a way to get out of the death penalty.  Unsurprisingly, Dobson fell for it and began a movement to get Bundy off.  Dobson has a long history of being a good patsy for anyone with a good story.

As any regular viewer of porn will tell you.  We do seek higher quality porn, but not more perverse.  If porn had to get more perverse in order to be enjoyable, then I should be pretty deep in the mud by now, since I looked at my first playboy at age 11.  But, in fact, I don’t like perverse porn.  I like a nice high quality video or a couple who show love for one another.

One might argue that my desire for “higher quality” is an increasing tolerance, but this is like saying that enjoying steak is an addiction because one looks for a better restaurant as we grow older.

Secondly, an addiction requires pathological effect.  It must hurt the participant.  This is why tobacco is an addiction, but caffeine is simply a habit.  Porn has not been shown to increase pathological behavior.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Sex crimes go down when porn becomes more available.  Single men seek out fewer illicit liaisons and seek a higher quality of relationship in the women that they court.

If you reply that porn is pathological because it causes problems between couples in which the wife has been indoctrinated with an anti-porn belief, then I am going to tell you that meat is an addiction because you upset vegans by consuming it.

 

Christians should watch porn

What All Christian Boys Do
A Normal Christian Young Man

I grew up with the typical Christian upbringing.  Which means that as a young teen, I sometimes went to the supermarket, hung around the magazine wrack, hid the playboy in a Sports magazine and looked at naked girls.  I felt horribly guilty after I had done this, of course.  Because I knew that I had “sinned.”

The Bible says that all have sinned, but does it say that all have sinned in exactly the same way?  So what Christian American boy will tell you that he didn’t do this?  The liars.

I spent much of my Christian teenage years feeling guilty about sex.  About 19 years old or so I managed to stop feeling guilty about masturbation.  But my guilt about my eyes accidentally straying to those girls in tight jeans continued until marriage.  Even after that, I managed to keep myself in a constant state of weepy repentance by picking up a “dirty” magazine from the convenience store every year or so.   Eventually my wife caught me, of course (they always do).  And then my guilt was exacerbated by seeing how badly she was hurt.  Then I was shamed because she took this “sin” to the pastor so that I could get “help” with my “addiction.”

So, all in all, I have had as good of a life as any sincere American Christian male.  Others who were not blessed with a wife like mine, had to deal with their spouse using their “sin” to win arguments.  “Well, I may have wrecked your car, but you looked at porn!”  Some had wives who used this as an excuse to accomplish the wrecking of the marriage that the wife intended to do all along.

Of course, there may be a few Christian men whose wives haven’t caught them yet.

Then there are those sincere Christian men who have never looked at…. hahahahaha.  Sorry, I couldn’t finish that sentence without laughing. No there are a few boys who don’t jack off – but they can be cured with a testosterone shot.

I finally realized that I and every other Christian male were losing this battle because God didn’t intend for us to go without erotica.  In fact, God created erotica.  This was his intent all along.  God likes love and sex.  He intends his people to be aroused by thinking about naked people.  He created boys to think about bobbies and butts.  He knows we think about having sex.  He also knows that the more we think about sex, the more we have sex.  He knows that boys are rubbing one out  and he approves.

Contrary to what you see in the Christian literature out there, a husband and wife who view porn do not cease to have sex with each other, and they do not start having sex with other people.  There are no longitudinal histories which show such a finding.  The studies that are published with the intention of “proving” porn causes sin are all “cross-sectional.”  These studies only prove correlation and not causation.  People with higher sex drives watch more porn and have more sex.  This is a “duh” finding.

God wants young men to watch porn and masturbate.  In so doing, they learn about sex without committing fornication.  If they are taught to respect girls and love them, then they will treat the porn as a promise of what they will get when they get married.  This is how I used porn before I was married, even though I felt guilty about it.   If we produced holy porn, then they would learn how to love women.  This sort of erotica exists, although it is outnumbered by the porn that humiliates women.

God wants young girls to watch “chick flix” and learn how good men romance good women.  They can watch sweet porn and see how they will one day make love with their husband.

Couples who watch porn either singly and together become erotically excited and have more sex.   Despite what the preachers tell you, they do not become estranged from each other.

Now, there is one way in which porn will estrange a couple – if the wife is counseled by the church to fight her husband’s “addiction.”  He will rightly resent her holier-than-thou attitude.  He will continue to act according to the biological mandates that God created him with, and the result is, eventually, a church-caused divorce.

But God’s ideal is a couple who enjoy erotica both together and separately.  A couple who can laugh a sex jokes together and jump in bed and make wild love – or tender love – or just have maintenance sex, preferably 10 to 20 times a week.

Now, there are some people who claim that this doesn’t happen.  They have told and listened to horror stories (that the church created) about the “dangers” of porn that they simply don’t believe that a Solomon-like erotic love like this can exist.  But I can tell you that it can and does.  Once my wife and I surrendered the false traditions that we were raised with, we began living it.  I once estimated that we have had sex between 10 and 20 thousand times in our lives.   Both of us were virgins when we married and have never had sex with anyone else.

God’s plan is erotic love, erotic art, erotic speech, erotic masturbation, and erotic sex between two people who love one another.

 

Rick Warren’s wife on porn. Sincerely wrong

Commanding to abstain from God-created pleasure
Thou shalt not enjoy thyself

Rick Warren’s wife recently admitted to occasionally viewing porn.  Because she is part of the evangelical movement she has to call this occasional use “addiction to porn” even though what she is describing is no more addiction to porn than a vegetarian’s occasional McDonald’s burger is an addiction to meat.

What is happening in the evangelical community is that the traditions of the Victorian age have become internalized until most Christians don’t even realize that we are encourged, not forbidden, to view erotica.   As a result, sincere Chritians are spending much of their spiritual energy on an ascetic attempt to “deny the flesh” instead of serving God.

Paul dealt with the same impulse in the early church when he said that “forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats” was a doctrine of devils.  (I Tim. 4:3)

The flesh and erotica was created by God, and were intended to be enjoyed by men and women.  Christians sexual actions and their erotic thoughts are to be enjoyed either solo or within the boundaries of marriage, because it is within those limits that human beings can best live a holy, healthy, and fulfilled life.

Commanding to abstain from erotica is not Christian anymore than commanding to abstain from meats was Christian in the first century.

 

Telling your wife that you watch porn

So you have used porn for years secretly.  Your wife has caught you a few times and you sincerely promised to never do it again.  But a few weeks/months later, you saw a link and… well.  There you were.

Then you started wondering why all men look at porn no matter how religious, Christian, or sincere they are.  What if the reason you keep doing it again is because God never intended you to stop.  There is no “way of escape” because there is no “temptation.”

So you want your wife to understand and (fantasy) maybe even join you.

There are lots of websites telling you how to confess to your wife but you didn’t come here to find that out.

I’m a psychiatrist and the art of psychiatry is the skill of getting people to act in their own best interest even when they don’t want to.  We do this by realizing their perceptual distortions and helping them overcome them.

Everyone, not just schizophrenics, have perceptual distortions.  Remember when we used to read comic strips (I know, dinosaur age)  Cathy had a perceptual distortion about her weight.  Much like an anorexic

Now you think that only sick people think that way, but you are wrong.  Everyone does this.  I recently got a hair cut and the hair falling in my lap was grey.  This is strange, because the hair I see in the mirror is brown.  I have to actually cut off a piece and look at it separately before I can perceive it’s true color.  I once dyed it and was confused because it didn’t change color (in my mirror) while everyone else laughed at my attempt to look younger.

So your wife thinks that she is fat and ugly.  When she looks in the mirror her baby stretch marks stand out like beacons.  Her breasts sag like a tribal woman in National Geographic.  Her hair is a straggly mess of grey that should belongs in the Salem Witch Trials and her butt is a dimpled mess.

Now you don’t see her that way (or you shouldn’t – if you do, then some family counseling is in order – more in a later post).  You see her through eyes of love.   Those stretch marks are from your babies that nursed at those lovely breasts.  You have mounted that butt with joy uncountable times.

This is why your wife has such a violent (literally sometimes) reaction to the thought of you viewing porn.  She thinks that you are wishing to be out of your marriage, to be able to “hit that.”  She thinks that you are “lusting in your heart” that you want to sneak off and “get a piece” of that pretty young thing.

Your job is to get her to see it through another lens – through the lens of romantic chick flicks on the Hallmark channel.  When Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Sully make out, is she thinking – “Oh, I wish I could kiss that manly tomahawk-wielding hunter in buckskins with long wavy hair”.

Quinn kissing Sully. Porn For Wives
If only my husband looked like that

No, of course not, she is seeing herself as Dr. Quinn and you are her Sully.  That’s why you take her to the theater and sit through chick flix right?  For the sex afterwards.  Yeah, I know you do and YOU know you do.

Ok, so in this feminized society where masculinity is hated, and normal men’s erotic desires are despised, how do you convince your wife to go against the Christian culture that pervades your life.

Don’t try to argue your side.  That will only lead to many long arguments which you may or may not win, depending on your marriage dynamics.  You need to tell her how you see her while not giving up your masculinity.

For example.  Let’s say that your wife has watched Game of Thrones with you (even though she makes you fast forward through the good parts).  Someday, when she is naked, stare at her breasts for a long time, lick your lips, play with a nipple and say, “You know, you look like Daenarys Stormborn but with LOTS bigger boobies.”

Now, you are going to get a rise out of her.  She is going to ask what you are doing looking at Danni’s tits.  You reply, “Hey, I’m a guy, I like titties. Wanna make love?”  She’ll continue to argue, you just keep touching her and telling her how turned on she makes you and asking for immediate sex.  Tell her that you are a man, show her your erection and prove it.  Even if this ends with, “I’m not have sex with you if you are thinking about other women” You have begun to make your point.

Then, a few days later,  after you have had great sex and are cuddling together, you say,

“God, that was hot, I just feel like I fucked <famous pornstar>”
“Who is that”
“A pornstar”

Yes, she is going to hit you.  Be prepared.  You’re playing the long game here.  She is going to be angry that you just confessed to watching porn.  Make sure that you are prepared; don’t lose your temper; don’t raise your voice; just don’t.  Your line is “I’m a guy, aren’t you glad that I’m a man and like girls.  I sure like you.  You turn me on and I love having great sex with you.  You’re the only porn star that I have ever made love to. Let’s have sex again.”

You might even ask her, “You’re so hot, can I take some pictures of you to beat-off to when I’m at work.”  If she lets you do this, then make sure and call her from work and tell her that you are jacking-off to her pictures.

Her line of attack will be to try to get you to promise to stop it.  Tell her, “Ok, if that’s what you want.”  But then say that she knows and you know that you will just do it again – no matter how hard you try.  Ask her if she wants to know when you look at porn the next time.  Then say, “I need you to drain my balls, right now, let’s have sex.”

She will try to get you to get “help” from “mindfulness” or “porn addiction”  snake oil “experts” like Gary Wilson.   This is your line in the sand.  Tell her these guys are doing just as much porn as anyone else and they are not experts and do not have a cure.  And then drop it and return to telling her how sexy she is.  “Let’s have sex.”

Now, you used a porn actresses name on purpose.  That name is going to drive her nuts.  SHE IS GOING TO LOOK THAT NAME UP AND WATCH IT. I hope that you didn’t use a name of someone you actually liked, because even after you win the day THAT actress is going to be off the table.  You won’t be able to watch anything with her in it ever again.  Ok, yes, I may have made that mistake.

So this argument is going to go on for weeks and months.  Hold the line without getting mad.  Your line is that God made you like this. You like looking at naked women.  You are a man and isn’t she glad of that.  And (the ultimate argument terminator) she is turning you on by talking about sex this way, “Let’s have sex.”