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.
Looking forward to the Game of Thrones Season Premier tonight, especially the nude parts…..
Predictably, the “Christian” position being preached in the churches today is that Christians can’t watch because of the nudity. We aren’t allowed to admit that breasts exist or that we like to look at them.
I remember when we couldn’t watch television because of the cursing. This was always strange. The Bible contains curse words. Elijah said that God would kill all of Ahab’s children that “pissed against the wall” – in other words, all the males. But Elijah didn’t just say “males” he wanted to throw the extra curse because God was really angry and wished to express that angry clearly.
So, also, the Bible contains many clear descriptions of nudity. Often those descriptions are explicitly sexual and intended to arouse. Solomon was clearly a breast man, but he liked legs and butts, so he included those.
Now, the sex in Game of Thrones is rarely marital (except those great Danerys-Drogo scenes (hubba, hubba). But I think it is noticeable that the fornication and adultery is usually described as poor behavior and consequences follow. Explicit rape scenes are shown, but they are shown as horrid and deserving of the inevitable consequences. The Dothraki engage in public orgies, but this is used as an example of their continued bad treatment of women. And when Danerys makes a pact with the Iron Islands, she explicitly insists that the raping must stop.
The church’s attempt to preach against watching the Game of Thrones is self-defeating. Here is a series that speaks explicitly to the morality of our time and strongly supports the idea that evil is tempting, but is ultimately self-defeating. National Review has a great article which argues for this interpretation.
I, of course, don’t believe that the modern evangelical church has the right attitude toward nudity to begin with. If we would adopt a biblical, instead of a Victorian, attitude, we could start to reach out to the men who are either not attending or just attending nominally, without letting it have any effect on their lives.
The article explains why men have left the church. I would add that it was after men were driven from the church that proper masculine erotic desire was demonized. Now today the “supporting” church wants to draw men in and cure them of their porn “addiction”
If the church had kept it’s proper masculinity, this would have been laughed out of the pulpit in the first week.
Christian men of a certain age were warned against masturbation by our mothers. One day you and her were in the kitchen and no one else was around,
“You don’t ah… play with yourself,” she whispered.
“No, Mom, no. Of course not.”
She nodded and accepted your answer. She never bothered to ask how you knew exactly what she was talking about. You were consumed with guilt for months and years. Not only did you commit that terrible sin of jerking off, you compounded it by LYING and we all knew that ALL LIARS HAVE THEIR PLACE IN THE LAKE OF FIRE.
You couldn’t even repent of your sin, because you knew that then you would have to confess to your mother that you had lied. The sermons were universally agreed on this.
Did any of you actually go and confess to your mother? I did. She turned white and went and talked to Daddy. He then had to have a “talk” with me. Now, of course, I know that his talk was done tongue-in-cheek. He was just doing it to please Mom. He, along with all of the Christian men of his generation, had taken as an article of faith that the thing that they had all done for years was sinful. That’s why so few of them actually went to church. We were raised in a church full of women. Even though the churches now agree that boys can masturbate (as long as they don’t “lust” while they are doing it) The churches are still full of mostly women, because the church has failed to come to grips with the single simple fact that erotic arousal IS NOT LUST.
So choke your chicken, flog the one-eyed monster, jack the beanstalk, burp the worm. Enjoy your God-given ability to experience the joys of sex. It is a God-intended pleasure.
Job 36:11 If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.
Psalms 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Psalms 36:8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.
So you’re a sincere Christian man and you have looked at porn your entire life. You feel terribly guilty about this. Your prayers are hindered as a result. All of the “Men’s retreats” at your church concentrate on one subject and one subject only – “Pornography Addiction”. You have tried giving it up multiple times. You confessed to your pastor and got an “accountability partner.” After the first couple of times you stopped telling him how you have “fallen” again. Maybe you even lost him as a friend as a result.
You feel all alone, because your church has placed you on a merry-go-round of eternal guilt. After decades of trying to beat your “porn addiction” you sense that you will always watch it. Maybe you even dropped out of church, since you knew that you must not be a Christian. Christians should be able to overcome at least one addiction!
You have fallen prey to the modern Pharisees. You have been duped into a falsehood. There is no command in the Bible telling you to avoid erotic stories or images. In fact, the opposite is true. The Bible is full of erotica. It describes and treats masturbation just like it treats sex, pregnancy, and menstruation – as normal parts of a holy life. The command to avoid pornography is man’s tradition, not God’s command and certainly not Bible.
Here are the links proving that you are a good Christian with whom God is well-pleased.
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.
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.
My heart goes out to her. I am a psychiatrist who deals with narcissists on a regular basis and they are very, very difficult people.
But I am also a little wary. People getting divorced almost always discover that their spouse had a personality disorder.
So, I want to give a word of warning to ladies reading this. Don’t be quick to make a psych diagnosis of your husband. Personality disorder diagnoses are easily given and often wrong – even by experts. They are also used as justification for mistreatment.
For example, a woman who struggles with Borderline Personality traits could write everything in the article and believe it all to be true, when the fact might be that she is the one with the personality disorder traits and is projecting her poor coping skills onto him.
In fact, every Borderline woman (and that is hundreds) that I have treated has told almost exactly this story – including the “Emotional Abuse” part.
NOTE: I AM NOT CLAIMING THAT THE AUTHOR IS THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEM.
I am saying that before you use the popular label “narcissist” to justify leaving your husband, consider the possibility that you may be the one in need of cognitive behavior modification
30 years ago today in Loving v Virginia, the Supreme Court ended bans on interracial marriage.
Do you remember how “Evil” black/white marriages used to be? I am ashamed to say that I used to have some racist friends. I told one of them, one time, that there was nothing wrong with it. He blew up. “It is Worse than Adultery” No Christian could marry a (N-word). God would bar the gates of heaven against such abominations. They even had Bible to back them – Cain’s Mark, Ham’s curse, etc.
We now know that people didn’t get these opinions from the Bible, but from their traditions. The Bible is very explicitly Anti-Racist and Anti-Sexist (“With God there is neither Greek nor Jew, Male nor Female” – Galations)
But people use the Bible to back up their opinions, not vice-versa.
So also the modern opinion of porn is not from the Bible, but from Victorian tradition. It would be foreign to the writers or readers of either the Old or New Testaments.
So many people are saying that we are in a “Civil War” in the United States. NO WE AREN’T and if we were then that would be terrifying and we ought to do everything in our power to make peace.
At Shiloh – just one battle of the Civil War – there were over 23 THOUSAND casualties. That’s 9/11 times 7. Come on, folks. Let’s tighten up our language a bit before we start a LITERAL war.
Similarly, I wish my anti-Porn Christian friends would tighten up their language about “Addiction” You don’t just toss around words like that loosely. Porn is rarely an “Addiction”. Addictions cost people their lives. I deal with Addicts every day. They have lost everything with DUI’s, they stole from the Mothers, they couldn’t stop themselves even when it meant jail and even after and while they were IN jail. Binge Eating disorder (food addiction) turns people in to thousand pound invalids inhaling whole bags of chips.
The only reason that porn causes breakups is because these “PornAddict” and “YourBrainOnPorn” advocates are telling women to break up with their husbands because of his “Addiction”. If these frauds had left the family alone, then they would be close, intimate, and be having hot sex until they died.
Loose lips sink ships, and countries, and marriages.