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.
Look, if you want to make a biblical or religious argument against porn, by all means do so. I encourage you to comment and we will discuss it. But if you want to make a scientific argument, you ought to at least look at the science, and it does not say what the new pharisees are proclaiming.
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.
Lu 1:1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believedamong us,
To listen to the sermons and read the web pages of the modern evangelical church, you would think that the principles of the gospel are freedom from “addictions” and helping people overcome their “hurts”.
Not long ago I passed a small church with a sign out front that said, “We help hurt people.” I thought, yeah, you probably do. People come to you for help and you help to hurt them.
I once attended a church in the Texas panhandle who thought that the principles of the gospel were to keep the women in “modest” apparel – long baggy dresses with long sleeves. To keep their hair long and uncut. To keep them from wearing jewelry which might gain attention. In short, to keep women as uglified as possible in order to keep the men of the church from lusting after them.
This worked as well as you might imagine. The pastor snuck off to Lubbock to look at porn and purchase prostitutes. He slavered after the young wives of the church, committed adultery with them, and broke up their marriages. He felt guilty about these things, of course. He went to other pastors in towns to confess his sins in order to attempt to use “accountability” to recover from his “addiction.” It didn’t work. – Of course, it didn’t work. Making up your own gospel never does.
The principles of the gospel – those things “most surely believed” are not the things MOST IMPORTANT TO US. Just because we have been raised in the prudish Victorian principles of anti-erotica, and just because our God-given biology forces us to behave in opposition to these unscriptural principles, does not mean that these are the things MOST IMPORTANT TO GOD.
God cares about the gospel. Jesus came to tell us God’s word. He didn’t come to back up the Pharisees in their traditions. The Gospel of Jesus is about dying for our sins, being resurrected for our regeneration, promising us that he will return for our hope of the resurrection. The sins that he wishes to deliver us from are Adultery, Fornication, Hatred, Murder, Rioting, Drunkeness (Galations 5:19-20) not “addictions.” He came to give us the source of the fruits of the Spirit – Love, Joy, Peace, etc. We help people overcome their addictions (the true addictions, I mean) because they prevent the fruits of the spirit from being expressed in their lives. But the centrality of the Gospel is not MEN but GOD. It is about Jesus and our relationship to him.
The Church must return to preaching the gospel instead of being a self-help group guided only by Pop Psychology that has no source in either the gospel or science.
Erotica – or what today we inaccurately call porn – is, as God showed us in the Song of Solomon, part of a healthy lifestyle. If we are guided by Scripture, the we would be promoting Holy Erotica (as I do in my website HolyErotica.com)
Today’s church is being seduced, like the foolish Galations so long ago, into believing a gospel of works. That living a Christian life means living and talking about Jesus, not running around talking about the most current fad to preach against.