A central part of my clinical work involves providing treatment for men who struggle with the painful emotional and relational effects of pornography addiction. At their core, these men want to be successful in life. They want to be sexually pure and emotionally healthy, and they long to have strong marriages. Yet they have become caught up in a pervasive global phenomenon that continues to impact the lives of millions of men every day, and ultimately prevents them from achieving these noble desires.
Pornography Masks a Greatly Damaged Heart
As I work with these men, it becomes increasingly clear to me that pornography addiction is really only the outer face of something much deeper. There is a much greater issue in their lives that they need to address before recovery will ever be possible. This bigger issue is a greatly damaged heart. This is a heart that has lost its sense of focus, vision, purpose, connection with others, and connection with God. When the human heart is damaged in this way, it becomes aimless or discouraged. It searches for the quickest way of finding comfort or pleasure. For many men, pornography becomes an effective means of masking this pain, for the fantasy involved in pornography, and the ritualization elements inherent in its use, produce a neurochemical high that enables them to avoid their emotional pain. (Ron Weiss, 2013)
Recovery Begins by Acknowledging Your Own Brokenness
So how do we address these issues of the human heart? We have to begin by going back to our foundations, namely, humility and the fear of the Lord. For us as Christians, this means revisiting God’s work of salvation in our lives, and truly understanding what it means to be humble and broken before Him. Interestingly, the men I work with who seem most successful at overcoming their pornography addiction are those who have had a profound sense of their own brokenness before God. These men didn’t shy away from their wrongdoing. They didn’t blame someone else for their actions. They acknowledged their sin and felt its pain. With a humble heart, they made key decisions to:
- Seek treatment;
- Seek accountability with others;
- Be truthful with their spouses about their use of pornography;
- Start counseling to learn how to break the bonds of pornography addiction in their lives.
From this place of brokenness they were able develop a clear vision of the kind of man they wanted to be – for themselves, for God, and for their families. With these foundational elements in place, they began to work steadily at applying the clinical and Scriptural principles necessary to remain healthy – emotionally, relationally, spiritually and sexually.
I cannot overemphasize how important this is in overcoming something like pornography addiction. If our hearts are determined to honor God, and if we desire to honor those around us by loving our neighbor as ourselves, then we have a basis for resisting the temptation to view pornography. This basis further provides the motivation for us to “choose” to avoid it and to turn away from such temptations when they arise.
Make Choices that Enable You to Overcome Your Addiction
At the end of the day, pornography use really comes down to a heart issue. This heart issue may be lust, selfishness, pride, greed, loneliness, fear, weariness, depression, aimlessness, or something else. But whatever it is, those men who are willing to recognize these patterns in their lives, and to learn how to deal with them effectively from a clinical and Biblical standpoint, provide themselves with a firm foundation for successfully overcoming their use of pornography.
Pornography Addiction is More Dangerous than Ever Before
We live in a world in which the human body has been objectified and exploited for the purposes of profit and pleasure. This has had a numbing effect, so that the depravity inherent in the production and use of pornography has become widely accepted. However, the truth about pornography is finally becoming known as people begin to see how pornography ravages the human mind and heart. Its dark depravity does great damage not only to our societies, but also to those individuals who use it and to their families.
More than ever before, men today have to be ready to guard their hearts from pornography’s ever-present lure. The stakes for not doing so are incredibly high. Far too often I hear the stories of men, their spouses and their families who are utterly hurt and traumatized by their use of pornography.
Pornography Faces You with a Clear Choice
The question of whether pornography is harmful is obsolete. Rather, what we face today is the challenge of how to assess how much damage its prolonged use has caused to people’s hearts, minds, and relationships. For us as men, there is an additional question:
“Will I love?”
Our answer to this question really means everything. To love our neighbor necessarily involves not abusing and exploiting them for our own selfish purposes – which is what viewing pornography entails. My great hope is that great numbers of men will answer “yes” to this question every single day of their deeply valuable lives.
Christian Counseling Can Help You to Overcome Your Pornography Addiction
Overcoming an addiction to pornography is a challenging task and you cannot do it alone. However, working with a trained Christian counselor who focuses on treating the effects of pornography addiction in individuals, couples and families, can be a powerful way to begin to learn how to break the bonds of addiction in your life.
“Autumn leaves” is the sole property of Eric Gomez, MS LMFT MHP. “Single Blade Of Grass Stock Photo” by sritangphoto, courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net.
Weiss, R. (2013). Sex and the cycle of addiction. Retrieved from http://blog.counselormagazine.com/2013/12/sex-and-the-cycle-of-addiction/