Redeeming the man starts with breaking free.
Millions of Men are Struggling with Porn
Multiple large-scale studies have demonstrated the enormous breadth of the pornography problem. About two out of three adult men watch porn monthly, half view it weekly, and one out of four are daily porn users. Even more tragic is that these stats apply to Christian as well.
A study of over 700 practicing Christian college men showed that 89% watch porn at least occasionally and 61% watched it at least weekly.
Porn Holds You Back
Porn is holding so many men back from the life God has for them. Hebrews 12:1 challenges, “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”. God has a race for you to run, but porn is the weight slowing you do and the sin entangling you so you can’t run free. Porn keeps you from experiencing God’s best in relationships, in marriage, in sex, and in your walk with God. It negatively impacts your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Why Do Men Watch Porn?
Men typically start watching porn as boys out of curiosity and to seek sexual stimulation. For many, stimulation paves the way to medication, as men learn to dull the discomforts of life with porn to medicate emotional pain or loneliness. The desire for sexual stimulation is always there but the strong need to numb all negative emotions leads back to porn again and again. When this happens, the emotions themselves become a trigger. The brain knows that the resulting dopamine high will bring relief fast. The trouble with porn is, shame always follows relief and shame is often the fuel for the negative emotions and the vicious cycle continues.
To understand how a man is addicted, it’s helpful to know the six roots of addiction.
The Sexualized Society Practicing Practical Purity
Isolation Building Authentic Relationships
The Addicted Brain Renewed the Mind and Coping Mechanisms
Negative Emotions Emotional Intelligence(E.Q.) and Processing Emotions
Shame Living An Identity in Christ
Trauma Replacing lies with truths
We address the source of the drug by looking at how to address our sexualized society and the addicted brain. The remaining four roots – isolation, negative emotions, shame, and trauma – deal with the source of the pain, teaching you to effectively process emotions instead of burying and then medicating them.
When a person gets hooked on porn like this they start chasing the same dopamine high that any addict chases. The need to get their fix begins to dominate their thinking and decision making. Many truly want to quit, but their brains have been hijacked.
Porn use negatively impacts a person’s spiritual life. Porn users are less committed to spiritual practices and service and they are more likely to have religious doubts. They are also less likely to talk to their children about spiritual things.
Porn users report less sex, and less satisfying sex, than those who don’t use porn. A growing number of men are not able to have sex at all because of Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction.
Men spend more time than they realize seeking isolation from their loved ones so they can get their fix. They often feel uncomfortable being around people because of the guilt and shame that sets in after using porn. More than half of divorces mention porn use as a contributing factor in the divorce. Porn is toxic to relationships.
Men who use porn have learned to medicate their negative emotions and have stunted their emotional development. When people numb their negative emotions it also numbs their experience of their positive emotions. Researcher Dr. Brene Brown says, “We can’t selectively numb emotion. Numb the dark and you numb the light.” The downward spiral of negative emotions can only end when we learn to process them in a healthy way.
Do you remember how you felt the last time you experienced something positive – Your team won, you got a promotion or you ate an incredible meal? When you experience pleasure your brain releases the neurotransmitter called dopamine. It is one of your brain’s pleasure chemicals. This chemical strengthens the specific neurological pathway your brain wants you to take again in the future.
When the brain experiences something pleasurable it wants you to remember and repeat it. A behavior you do repeatedly gets more ingrained in your mind, especially if that behavior is pleasurable.
Your brain’s limbic system gives a value and an emotional attachment to your behavior. This enables you to remember the things you want to repeat as well as those things you want to avoid. When you recall a really good or a really bad experience you feel a certain way about it. The brain’s reward system gives the highest reward possible with an orgasm. The brain makes note of this positive experience and wants you to repeat it. As you repeat it, those connections grow stronger and the porn rut in your brain deepens.
Two key areas of the reward system are pulled in different directions: the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system. The prefrontal cortex is the front region of the brain responsible for executive functions such as logical reasoning, distinguishing good and bad, and impulse control. These are your brakes keeping you in line based on your morals and future goals. This part of your brain isn’t fully developed until you are twenty-five.
The limbic system is a complex network of nerves in the center of your brain that contains the pleasure center. It is known as the survival brain. The limbic system regularly overpowers the prefrontal cortex for the sake of survival. When you touch a hot stove your limbic system doesn’t wait for the prefrontal cortex to analyze the situation. It moves you to pull your hand away without thinking.
After repeatedly acting out sexually, especially as a way to medicate pain, the limbic system can begin to treat porn or other unwanted sexual behaviors as a survival issue. It overpowers the prefrontal cortex everytime. Porn use has been rewarded in the brain repeatedly because it has brought great relief and pleasure. This is why you sometimes feel powerless to the urge that seems to take over.
The American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM) asserts that addiction is fundamentally a brain disease. Any addiction: drugs, alcohol or porn occurs when your brain’s reward system is hijacked to cause you to crave and seek pleasure from sources that are ultimately harmful. What ASAM calls ‘disease’ the Bible calls being in bondage to sin and “carrying out the desires of the mind” (Ephesians 2:3). The cravings of the addicted brain take over. Understanding the biology of what is going on helps the struggler more effectively renew his or her mind.
One study shows that 33% of men under forty have E.D. issues. This means one out of three men have E.D. and for the vast majority it is Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction.
Pornhub, the largest pornography website in the world, released their traffic statistics for 2019. The website boasted:
115 million daily visits
170 years of new content created
The site’s outrageous statistics show that the United States is by far the largest consumer of pornographic content (approximately 20% or more of all visits). That’s enough visits for every man, woman and child in the U.S. to visit the site 25 times, and that’s only one website out of tens of thousands.
Some would claim pornography isn’t so much of an addiction as a bad habit. What is the difference between a bad habit and an addiction? Consider this –
is a pattern of behavior that begins with a cue or a trigger and ends with a memorable reward, often referred to as a “habit loop”—trigger, behavior, reward (think Pavlov and classical conditioning).
begins with a behavior and evolves into a dramatic dependency that interferes with the normal functionality of your life and brain.
When a person desperately wants to stop a behavior they see as harmful, and they repeatedly try to stop it but can’t, it may be an addiction. When the unstoppable behavior changes the brain in such a way that it locks them into the behavior, it really is an “addiction”. Whether you call it a bad habit or an addiction, the steps to admitting and quitting are the same.
One tool that most sex addiction therapists use is the SAST (Sexual Addiction Screening Test). This simple 20-question test has been taken by tens of thousands of people. The test is more than 90% accurate in predicting sexual addictive tendencies in a person. Find out now where you fall on this scale.
The goal is not just to stop unwanted sexual behavior, but to live the life you were meant to live. When you are free from porn you’ll have a clear conscience before God and people. Instead of hiding who you truly are and living in the shadows, you can be fully known and loved. Instead of being held back you will be free to live the life that God has designed for you. A life of building deep and fulfilling relationships, walking closely with God, and running the race God has for you.
You can’t break free from the chains of porn on your own. God clearly tells us that certain healing only comes from community. He says, “Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed” (James 5:16). This is especially true with a porn or sex addiction.
Any addiction recovery program talks about the essential nature of small groups because you need someone to hold you accountable. You benefit from someone to help lock up your devices, teach you to process emotions, and encourage you after a stumble. You succeed with someone to help you see unhealthy patterns and challenge you to be more committed to the process when you slack. The Freedom Fight solution puts these tools in your hands and guides you and your small group to stay connected and accountable.
The Freedom Fight is a completely-free-to-use, proven program for men and women who want to stop using porn. You will:
- Understand how porn affects your life
- Learn to identify your individual triggers
- Practice using tools to help you overcome your triggers
- Choose a system for confidential accountability and support
- Find a community of men and women free from porn
Porn has defined sexuality for many young people, especially those who had access to it during their teen years. Porn is fake sex. It offers feelings of fake intimacy. It distorts our view of and ability to enjoy the real thing. But with time and the right plan and support, your mind can heal.