While not officially considered by many in the field of psychology as a disorder, sexual addiction is a very and real and disabling factor in our society. With the advent of the internet, pornography has contributed to the problem of sexual addiction. It’s estimated that over 40 million adults in the U.S. regularly visit porn sites on the Internet (blazinggrace.org/pornstatistics.htm). While both men and women use pornography, viewing pornography tends to predominantly be a male issue. You may be asking, what is wrong with pornography. Jeff Olson writes in “When A Man’s Eye Wanders” that it is detrimental to society through an increase in violence towards women, that it’s degrading to women; it damages marriages and ultimately is destructive to the viewer. Men who repeatedly look at sexually graphic images are so affected by what they see that they often only see females as sex objects. Instead of learning how to enjoy and enhance the mind and heart of a woman, they end up focusing on her body and fantasizing about how to exploit her physical beauty.
Jeff Olson has identified signs that men enslaved to pornography will identify with. One or more of the following statements are danger signs that a man may be adversely affected by their pornography use:
• I regularly seek out pornography
• I often spend parts of the day looking forward to viewing pornography
• I shift back and forth between feeling that my problem is out of control or under control
• I often compare my wife or girlfriend to the women in pornography
• I often choose to look at pornography rather than be sexually intimate with my wife
• I refuse to tell others about my secret problem
• I tell lies to cover my struggle
• Looking at pornography has led to serious problems in my life
A sexual pornographic addiction doesn’t develop overnight. It slowly sneaks up on a person, and there are multiple factors involved. People don’t just become addicted to X-rated material, rather they become addicted to what looking at it does for them. Pornography provides a personal payoff to the viewer as an easy escape. It provides false affirmation that somehow the images on the computer screen are admiring and desiring the viewer. It provides a sense of false adventure for the viewer that is out of touch with reality.
As mentioned, a sexual pornography addiction is enslaving to a person. Many sexual addicts genuinely desire to move away from this enslavement and into a life of freedom. Freedom can be achieved by first admitting your secret and confessing that you are enslaved to the use of pornography. The second step, once you have come to the point of admitting your sexual addiction is to wrestle with and understand the story of how you have come to the point of your addiction. Patterns of wrong behavior often point to a long history of a hurting and empty heart searching for life in all of the wrong places. Thinking through the shaping events in your own personal history can be a difficult task, but it will provide you with the chance to start challenging the truthfulness of what you’ve believed about yourself. People who regularly seek out pornography are often in a crisis of faith. These people may appear to put on a “good spiritual face”, however deep inside they are spiritually empty and need of a close relationship with God. Walking away from pornography isn’t easy. If you surrender to God and allow yourself to find the life that your creator meant for you to have, you will see there is an incentive to walk away from it- not only because it’s immoral and fake, but also because He has made you for a life that is so much better than what you have been settling for. Although the ongoing hassles and heartaches of life in an imperfect world can make it hard to believe, there is so much more that God has and wants for us. If you confess your sexual sin to God and walk away from porn, you can return to God, find your place in History, and begin to really live.
Once you turn away from the false world of pornographic images, you won’t find a God who is waiting to hammer you with shame and condemnation. God’s story is no ordinary story. And while playing your role can be risky and it will take some getting used to, engaging in what matters for eternity turns life into the meaningful adventure it truly is. You will begin to see that the freedom and life you have been searching for in all of the wrong places is found in an intimate friendship with Jesus Christ.