Sex and porn are not addictions because the treatment for “Sex Addiction” is not to quit sex.
There are two main reasons for people to call people’s sexual behavior an “addiction”. The first one is to excuse their own behavior. An example of this is this week’s Harvey Weinstein scandal. A man caught in predatory behavior declares that he is now seeking treatment for “sex addiction.”
But it is not just the predators of the world who are pushing this agenda. Most of it is by confused Christian leaders. I think that the reason they are pushing it is because they feel guilty about their erotic desire and are trying to subsume their desire in fighting against other people having sex. As I remember someone saying years ago (I don’t remember who) “Democrats view porn after they go to the store and buy it. Republican view it together in anti-porn group meetings.”
There are addictions in the world. Alcoholism, opoids, etc. I am a doctor and I drink alcohol. I have no problem with occasional moderate use. But when I have a patient who is an alcoholic I tell them that they have to quit drinking. I have occasionally, in order to get free parking downtown, gambled enough to get a card at the casino’s. But I tell gambling addicts that they must not go near the place on any condition.
But there are several behaviors that are often over indulged in that are not addictions. Overeating is not an addiction. Sleep is not an addiction. Running is not an addiction. Work is not an addiction. Vacation is not an addiction. The cure is not to stop eating, stop sleeping, stop exercising, stop working or never go on vacation.
But the hidden agenda of the anti-porn people is, let’s face it, to stop having sex. Do an image search on Google for “quit sex” and this is what you get.
And dozen’s more like it.
Oh yes, they tell you that sex is supposed to be holy in marriage, but if you read deeper, almost all of these people start making even more rules. You will find that they often end up in marriages with no sex at all. You will find that they are usually divorced.
Give up your own ways and start doing things God’s way. Rejoice in your sexuality. Watch some beautiful girls screw around, jack off with joy and let your spiritual energies be used in helping others.
There is a way to help men stop viewing porn – at least as much or as often. If a man must, by his convinced religious beliefs, forbid himself this behavior, then he ought to be helped to do so in the most healthy way possible.
As you know if you read this site, I don’t believe that Christians should be forced to quit viewing porn. I believe that the healthy male life includes erotica. However, there is a set of Christians who will never be able to believe this. These men will continue to suffer the guilt and self-destruction from indulging in this natural behavior. These men have been led astray into unhealthy ways of trying to quit. Firstly, the “Cognitive Behavior Therapy” method doesn’t work. That is like treating a stomach ulcer with NSAIDS for a headache. It just makes the situation worse.
So, for these men, I say this. Stop trying to treat a sex “addiction.” You are not addicted. There are many sinful or undesirable behaviors that are not addictions. These are behaviors that are normal, correct, and desirable but are often performed in ways or at times that are sinful or unhealthy.
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.
According to “Dr.” James Dobson (he is not a physician or a psychiatrist folks!) he found out from the psychopath Ted Bundy that porn use accelerates. You start with Playboy and end up having to have cannibalistic sex.
But those of us who have been married for any number of years know that sex doesn’t work this way.
Ok, Adults, admit it. Your first experience at sex was pretty disappointing. You thought, “This is it? This is all? This is what everyone is talking about?”
It takes a while to really enjoy it. To get over the self-consciousness to give yourself to the moment. And frankly, to really give in to the pure fun of it.
That’s because the brain has not yet “potentiated” the pleasure. The paths are tentative and not well formed. The electrical signals are spread out all over the striatum and not concentrated in the dopamine/pleasure circuits in the nucleus accumbens.
Those of us who have been married for many years know that sex gets better and “sweeter as the years go by…..”. After many years one doesn’t “need” sex as often or as much, but when you do get a “round tuit” well, I’ll stop describing now.
This is exactly the opposite way that an addiction works. CS Lewis’s devil in the Screwtape Letters described the perfect Satanic addiction.
Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. . . . An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula. . . . To get a man’s soul and give him nothing in return–that’s what really gladdens Our Father’s heart.
And porn works the same way. The first time a boy finds a dirty magazine in a shed or under his daddy’s mattress he is fascinated and yet confused. It is only after seeing it many times that he can really get a good jerkoff session going.
In fact, sexual dysfunction is marked not by to MUCH sex, but by to LITTLE. We treat sexual dysfuction by desensitizing the patient not to sex, but to the ANXIETY of sex.
For example, read this 1969 article arguing that the treatment for homosexuality (yes, they used to do that) was to DESENSITIZE the patient to heterosexual sex.
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.
Ok, I will confess up front. I’m actually discussing whether porn is addictive, but I am coming about it the long way.
Dr. David Ley, a clinical psychologist, recently treated a young christian man of 18 who was “addicted to masturbation.” He masturbated once a week.
(I wonder if he ever splurged and did it twice?)
I had hoped that the Christian world has gotten past the churches trying to destroy their young men this way, but I’m afraid not. I know that in my day the church made us feel terrible. I know of one young man in the late ’70’s who would come home to his parents after making out with his girlfriend on her front porch (a girl he married the next year – the baby was born 8 months later). He would have them get up and pray with him to overcome temptation. He was being tempted to relieve his blue balls using “Mother Thumb and her 4 sisters.”
No one thought to complement this virtuous young man on his restraint. No one told him to possibly relieve some of his tension and maybe help him limit his explorations with his girl. No, his parents continued to instruct him to “overcome his flesh.” The resulting baby was very beautiful and has grown into a very wonderful and Godly young man.
Few churches teach against masturbation anymore. But I have a question. What is the upper limit for “holy” masturbation in a day? Is there a limit? Once a week? Twice a week? Once a day? Can he splurge and go twice Ok, you don’t want to put a number on it, but let’s see how many times you think is unreasonable. Three times a day? Four? Five?
I am a psychiatrist. I have treated manic people who were hypersexual. They masturbated until they raised blisters on their penis.
But my point still holds even for them. There is a biological limit on how much a person can masturbate. After a while it just ain’t no more fun. You can “edge” as long as you want but eventually you are going to bust a nut. And there is just so many times you can do that till it gets boring. Ok, so let’s admit that some men can spend a whole day thinking about sex and playing with themselves. Can they spend EVERY day this way?
No they can’t. This isn’t “Call of Duty” Eventually it just gets boring.
MASTURBATION IS NOT AND ADDICTION BECAUSE IT DOESN’T INCREASE
One of the most important parts of “Addiction” is tolerance. Yesterday 4 norcos made you feel good. Today you need 6. Tomorrow you want 8. Eventually you need so many to feel good that you take enough to stop your breathing and you die.
But masturbation isn’t like that. The first squirt of the young man’s week produces a quarter cup. The next a table spoon. After while a few drops come out and the resulting orgasm is merely “ok”. In order to get that first body-shaking seizure-inducing feeling again he is going to have to
So masturbation is not addictive. The sad young man above who believed he was “addicted” to masturbation had simply not choked the chicken to death.
Let’s talk about masturbation some more (please!)
Today, of course, most churches know that masturbation is a normal and healthy part of growing up. Even Focus on the Family has waved the white flag on this issue. But for some reason they still want their young men to carry a load of guilt. James Dobson instructs boys that they can jerk it as long as they don’t “lust” at the same time. In other words, it should be a purely physical act – kind of like scratching an itch. No imagination of females should play on the back of closed eyelids.
Amazingly, he is supposed to instantly change his attitude on the night of his marriage. Suddenly, sex must not be merely scratching an itch, but must be rather be a holy act that is almost entirely about the female.
But let’s be real. No boy jacks off without imagination. (If a female reading this thinks that this is not true, ask a man). So all boys imagine sex while doing “hand to gland combat.”
And – let’s be even more real – today those boys are not simply imagining it on the back of their eyelids. They are watching porn.
Now let me ask you. Do they watch porn and NOT jerkoff?
No they do not. Watching porn and jacking off for the male species is synonymous. Watching porn without jacking the beanstalk is boooooooring.
So, I ask you. How much porn can a young man watch?
Do I need to go through this again? Obviously porn – like masturbation – is self-limiting. The more you see the less you need to see. You need a “cooling off period” (or maybe that is a “storing some up” period) before you want to do it again.
Now, some of you may be saying – what about James Dobson’s interview with Ted Bundy the serial killer? Bundy told Dobson that regular porn got boring so he had to watch more perverted porn, then more perverted until eventually he had to sexually slaughter people in order to feel good.
Ted Bundy was a sociopath who was conning a gullible mark in order to possible get a pardon from President George HW Bush. This was nonsense. He was not led to mass murder by porn. Sociopaths are created at a very young age – usually by extreme neglect and abuse. Certainly this was true of Bundy’s childhood.
Ask yourself – those of you who have watched porn (that would be EVERY ONE OF YOU MEN) Did you really find it so boring that you had to watch bestiality in order to shoot your wad? When you did see the extreme stuff did it really turn you on or did it repel you. Come on, be honest.
The “escalating nature of porn” is a stupid myth. No one ever experienced it himself, he just projected his fears onto other men.
Let me (finally) make my point.
Porn is not an addiction because it does not meet the minimum requirement of addiction – an increasing need with decreasing reward.
The essence of being a man includes rescuing women and children in a flood, it includes hunting and fishing, backpacking, and, yes, watching porn. Hurricane Harvey this week has shown us that the manly virtues are not things that can be quickly thrown away.
Yes, I know that the feminizing movement is active in the church. It wants to redefine manliness to be estrogen-laden males. it wants us to vacuum the floor and to communicate fully our inner lives. But when we need real men, it is not these beta-males who show up.
When the feminizing movement showed up in the church, it did not directly attack courage, instead it told boys that they shouldn’t fight back – even if attacked or defending a weaker person. It didn’t directly attack hunting or fishing, instead it told husbands that they ought to “spend more time with their family.” But men have been spending time with their boys for many centuries – by hunting and fishing. It didn’t tell men to stop having sex with their wives, it just attacked their erotic desires – called it lust – and tried to convince men that the only Godly sexual desire involved candlelit dinners and long walks in the twilight.
But Godly sexual desire also includes pure physical desire, pure desire to grab their wives sexual parts and go to slurping and humping. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, ungodly about this.
Yes, there is also a place for romantic, sweet, and tender lovemaking. But there is nothing inherently more Godly and holy about tender and sweet versus hot and fervent. I dare you to find any scripture that even hints differently.
Christian men should be encouraged to be manly. To want sex – early, late, and often. The best way to encourage this is by depicting sex to them and not placing a guilt-trip on them for liking it.
Looked in the church bulletin this morning and saw the same thing that was in every bulletin. Events this week for the high school teens, the college youth, and the women’s weekly fellowship.
Hmm, do you notice who was left out? The men, of course. There was no place for the men to socialize. There were no hunting, fishing, or four-wheeler/camping trips. There were no trips to see sports games or monster trucks.
Do you think that men stay home all week and don’t go out with their friends? Of course not. The young men are hitting the single’s scenes (They are certainly not showing up to the “college youth” meetings. Who wants to be sneered at as a sex-addict and probable future “emotional abuser”)
Their are lots of social events that men go to, but none of them are sponsored by the church. There are soccer groups, bowling leagues, amateur baseball teams. There are hunting groups, fishing friends, and bars where men can just hang out, drink beer, play cards, and talk about women. Men get together to go to the rodeo or see wrestling or monster trucks. None of these are approved by our new female-led churches. We are more likely to be told that we have to go on “Daniel Fasts” that don’t include meat. Certainly we can’t drink beer or talk about sports and boobies.
But the fact is that men have always done these things and always will. The masculine pursuits are as Godly as weight-watchers and diabetes education workshops. Jesus and his 12 disciples, along with the many other disciples including wives and single women, spent time in the wilderness, resting just before the crucifixion week. I guarantee you that during that time there was some wine drinking, some wrestling, some races, and I think that the married couples did a lot of humping and the singles flirted.
This is not how the modern church treats its men. It sneers at sweat, hunting, and bloody sports. It treats their God-given sex-drive as an addiction.
Oh, by the way, there was one event scheduled that the men were encouraged to go to – Celebrate Recovery. The church wants them to deal with their “addictions.”
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.
Firstly, Christian men aren’t getting married because there are so few single Christian men.
When is the last time you saw a Christian single man at church? Was he available? Of course not. He was grabbed up. There are few single men at the church because the church makes no attempt to reach them. Oh yes, the women are trying to reach them and bring them to church with them. But the men don’t show up, and are not being sought, by the church. When the grace of God reaches down and touches a young man, and he shows up to church, then the feminized church will drive him away. Masculinity, sweat, hunting, fishing, competing, are all treated as a vaguely distasteful necessity of having men at the church. But the “real” Christian men will be feminized. They will have great “listening” skills and their gestures will be comfortably familiar to females. When the church later discovers that they are homosexual, they will be shocked.
The only “men’s” program at the church is the program for families. The singles groups are full of women and the lessons are all about dieting, diabetes education, communication, and recovery from “emotional abuse” of their ex-boyfriends and husbands.
If a man is a real man, if he likes beer and naked women. If he has a beard and a likes to look at women’s boobs, then he will be shunted to a Promise Keeper’s group to be properly educated out of his gender.
And, God help us, if these men like sex, if they like to look at naked women, if they go online to look at pornography and erotica, then they must be disciplined, they must be discipled, the must be cured of their “Porn Addiction”
Are you surprised that masculine men don’t want anything to do with Christ?
And it is a shame, because Jesus and his disciples were men’s men. They could stand up in front of the Sanhedrin and tell them that they would obey God rather than men. They could work all night, naked, on a boat in the middle of the sea of Galilee, even if they caught nothing.
Christian men aren’t getting married because the church has decided it doesn’t want Christian single men, it just wants properly schooled girly-men.
And yet, when you peer closer at the data, it turns out that extramarital sex is changing before our very eyes. While the overall rate of people reporting extramarital flings is the same, the demographics of the people who report the adultery are changing dramatically. And not necessarily in the direction you might think.
The millennials, with their Tinder and their sexting and their God-knows-what-they-get-up-to-on-those-interwebs, are not driving this trend. It’s the baby boomers, with their Jimi Hendrix box sets and their Viagra prescriptions and their dog-eared copy of “The Joy of Sex” that they thought they’d lost four moves ago. People under the age of 55 are actually having markedly less extramarital sex than people in that age group did in the 1990s. But people over the age of 55 are busy making up for their missed action.
Think about what this means. The same generation X that has decided that porn is not a problem has decided that adultery is. It is not that porn has not changed their behavior – of course what you watch changes your behavior. More women engaged in lesbian sex before marriage, more anal sex, and more genital grooming, but when this generation of men and women got married, they decided to stay faithful.
Why, I am sure that the “your brain on porn” advocates told us that they would all become sex-addicts, that watching porn would cause them to become more and more addicted, that their brains would shrink, that they would lose the ability to control their sexual desires….
It seems that the opposite has happened – as real scientists told us that it would – that these people would become more discriminating about sex, that they would be able to enter marriage without the passion of unresolved sexual tension, that they could therefore stay married longer and be more faithful during their marriage.
But I didn’t have to wait for science to tell me this (though I am a psychiatrist and I make sure that my opinions are always informed by science). The Bible told me this a long time ago. God told me that erotica was part of normal and holy life, he inspired Solomon to write it for me to enjoy. He also told me that erotica ought to point toward and idealize marital love. That is why I created the Holy Erotica site, so that Christians could take back erotica from the sinners.
If more people would make sites like this, more Christian couples would make erotica for others to enjoy, then we would not find lesbianism and anal sex increasing, instead you would find Christian marriages lasting longer and being stronger.