Porn 101: Waking Up

The world we live in today is so different than the past. Especially in regards to pornography.

I remember, not so long ago, my husband and I counselling a young married couple. The husband had an ongoing struggle with porn. After we had talked and prayed for a while we worked with them to set some practical safe guards. One of the main ones was that he wasn’t allowed to fill up his car with fuel. Why? Because that was where the most accessible porn was for him.

By: Ahmed Sinan

This advice is now so antiquated. Today, the gas station is the LEAST accessible place to get porn. Porn is now easier to get than water. I actually have to stand up and go to the sink to get water. With porn I just reach in my pocket, pull out my phone and there it is. The game as changed. We need to change too.

Porn is no longer simply seeing a lady, in underwear, in a catalogue. Nor is it a trivial issue we should snicker about because “boys will be boys”.

Let’s be honest, this is what porn is and does:

Porn is Everyone’s Problem:

In the U.S. alone there are 40 million regular users of pornography. An average of $14 billion is spent per year on porn. This is more than the amount spent on professional baseball, basketball and football, combined. And get this: most porn isn’t even paid for, 80-90% of people get porn for free. The reality is that 95% of men and 40% of women (and growing) have seen it. If you are a man between the ages of 17-35, there is a 70% chance you’ve looked at porn this week. Combine those odds and it virtually guarantees that either you or your (potential) spouse have actively engaged with porn at some point.

I teach young people from my missions organisation on relationships. These students are the top tier. They are the most motivated, and passionate Christians out there. They are willing to travel to hard places and live in incredible hardships, all for their faith. The above stats are basically what I have experienced in teaching hundreds of these wonderful people.

Porn is Addictive:

The latest research shows us the reality of this, it is not just a compulsion. Porn is an addiction akin to cocaine or heroin. In fact, the latest research shows that porn has the exact same affect, if not worse. Scientists are realising that porn is an addiction taken in through the eyes. Chemically, it releases both dopamine (same as in cocaine) and opiates (same as in heroine). This double whammy makes it highly addictive.

Porn is Progressive:

Because porn actually affects our brain chemistry it can develop very real chemical changes in our brains regarding our sexual attractions. Porn is different than, say, cigarettes. A smoker can tell you their brand and how many packs they smoke a day.  It generally doesn’t change. But pornography is built on novelty. You rarely find a man or women addicted to certain, single pornographic picture. Once sucked in to repetitive porn viewing, they are always on the pursuit to find newer and more novel forms of porn to get the same effect as before. Thus the porn gets more severe and unusual in order to create the same satisfaction.

Porn is Destructive:

As we have seen thus far, porn is not a small problem. The true danger, though, lies in the effect on actual lives and relationships.

Well known pastor, Dr. Russell Moore, recently recounted that in the past he would counsel couples that were having sexual problems because the wife did not desire sex as much as their husbands. Now, he finds the complete opposite. Men no longer desire sex with their wives because either; (a) she doesn’t look like the porn pictures and they are no longer turned on by her or (b) they have depersonalised sex and no longer desire to engage in sex with a real person.

Even non-Christians are seeing the destruction. Professor Gail Dines says, “When you interview young women about their experiences of sex, you see an increased level of violence: rough, violent sex. That is directly because of porn, as young boys are getting their sexual cues from men in porn who are acting as if they’re sexual psychopaths. Pornography is sexually traumatising an entire generation of boys.”

Porn is a Liar:

Porn treats people like objects for your own personal viewing pleasure. In porn they are not people of value because they are made in the image of God. When we view porn, we are a user. A user of God’s precious people for our own personal pleasure.

Porn also tells us the lie that the goal of sex is about satisfying your own sexual appetite. This is selfish lust not unselfish love. Porn says that it is ok to make sex about what I want and crave. As Dr. Russell Moore says, “Pornography promises orgasm without intimacy”, that this will truly satisfy. Ultimately this lie rots our soul and destroys our own life and the lives of others.

Finally, with porn we delude ourselves. We believe it won’t entice me. It won’t happen to my relationships. Or the big whopper of them all for some of us… last time was the last time, I will never do it again.

My next three posts will be some of my practical ideas on living with hope in a porn-filled world in marriage, raising children and as a single person.

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Conflict in Marriage: These are the Rules of Fight Club

In my own marriage we have had our fare share of disagreements.  We have argued, disagreed, been in conflict, fought well, fought poorly… you know, general married stuff.

Fight ClubRecently, I was talking about this to another married woman.  She talked about how challenging their marriage was because of the constant conflict.  I quickly understood it was more than the “general married stuff”.  There was always conflict.  Always.  I asked her what they fought about. She began to list pretty much everything you could imagine.  Now, there were obviously deeper issues going on.  But, it got me to thinking. An important part of marriage is to know when it is healthy to be at odds and when it is healthy to “just let it go”.

The Bible lives in some sort of tension with this.  In one place it says, “it is to one’s glory to overlook an offence” (Prov 19:11) and in another place, “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15).

What are principals for when to confront and speak hard truth to your spouse and when do you just “let it go” and “move on”?

If we bring up every issue that annoys, hurts or aggravates, we will have an emotionally volatile, draining and suffocating relationship. We will have a relationship where there is constant drama and it is never safe to be your imperfect self.

If we never speak hard truth then we have no relationship at all.  A good relationship is not problem-free  It is when we can be honest, say hard things, ask forgiveness and extend forgiveness.

How do we know when something should be overlooked and when it should be confronted?

Here are 5 questions we can ask ourselves:
1. Is it sin?  If it is sin, then sin needs attention.  Sin destroys marriage.  If we ignore sin then we are allowing a destroyer to live in our marriages.
2.  Is it actually my issue?  Here is something I ask myself regularly, “Was my husband being impatient or am I having a bad day and being overly sensitive?”  Often when we consider an issue we can be honest and say, “I’m over reacting and just need to go to bed”. Honesty with ourselves keeps true peace and blesses our spouse!
3.  Does the issue break trust? Sometimes the issue is not sin and it is definitely my own issues.  But, it is still important to confront because it breaks trust.  For example, when my husband teases me about being disorganised.  That is not a sin.  It affects me because it is actually my issue… I overreact every time! (I know, I have issues)  But, repeated teasing in this area breaks my trust with him and he knows that.  So, I confront him, communicate my sensitivity and he stops.
4. Is it ongoing and repetitive? It is one thing if I had a bad day and was emotionally absent from my husband.  In grace he forgives me, lets it go and loves me.  But if this behaviour is frequent and ongoing then it needs to be brought up and dealt with.

A healthy marriage overlooks a multitude of offences and speaks truth in love.   Grace and truth always go together.

What are your rules for Fight Club?  When do you know to walk in grace and when to walk in truth?