Pornography & Sexually Addicive Behavior

We live in a world where almost anything goes.  Things that were considered illicit or hidden in the past are now available all around us.  Every day we're bombarded with messages, images and a continuing narrative that says:  "Do whatever you want.  If it makes you feel good, even for a moment, how bad can it really be?"  This is especially true when it comes to sexually explicit content on the internet.

 

It may begin as a dare, a joke or even accidentally.  Simply seeking research on an otherwise benign topic can net a pageful of unsolicited images and videos that appeal to our sexual drives and interests.  At first you're shocked, maybe even disgusted.  But then you go back for a second look.  "After all," you tell yourself, "everyone sees this stuff.  Why should I be any different?"  As you minimize the behavior in your self-talk, the urge to participate grows.  You become desensitized to the images and begin to think about them even when you aren't engaged in viewing them.  Then one day, much to their horror, and your shame, someone you love discovers your secret. When you were engaging in the behavior alone, and nobody else knew, it seemed more normal.  But now, in the light of your relationship with your spouse or other loved ones, it's clear that this is wrong! This is how many people find out they have a problem with sexually addictive behavior.  It may have begun innocently, and no harm was intended, but that doesn't matter.  Now the trust that forms the basis for your relationships is under attack.  Now your mind seems to run in a rut it didn't know anything about before.

 

People are often shocked when they hear the terms sexually addictive behavior, sexual addiction or sex addict.  The mention of it raises images of despicable characters who lurk in internet chat rooms seeking to lure young people into illicit activities.  Nobody wants to be considered alongside those they imagine would fit such a category.  The disturbing thing, though, is the uncomfortable truth that sexual addiction is on the rise in every sector of society and sex addicts are much less identifiable than we might imagine.  So, what are we really talking about when we raise the subject of sexual addiction?  A cursory search through some simple clinical resources for a definition of addiction will result in a statement something like this:

“Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse or destructive consequences.”

 

Some might say this is an over-generalized definition of addiction.  However, to describe the common elements of all the behaviors we can plainly identify as addictive, we must have a definition that doesn’t value or prioritize one behavior over another.  Which is worse: an alcoholic who destroys his family and ends up dying young, or a heroin addict who ends up on the street, cut off from all relationships, and eventually dies of an overdose?  Or might we feel more apt to try to help the compulsive gambler, who can’t ever get ahead financially because she spends every extra penny at the local casino?  We could go on and on, but the simple truth is that all addictive behaviors share some of the same elements and all addicts take one of two paths:  Either they enter a rigorous, intentional and often painful pathway to recovery, or they live with the consequences of their addiction, which include being cut off from the important relationships that make life meaningful, physical and emotional destruction and often, physical death.

 

When we think of it this way, many different behaviors can be addictive, with similar destructive consequences, and we may apply the same tests to sexual activities as we might to any addictive behavior. Without quantifying the level or degree of addiction, the 7 tests below should help you identify any addictive behavior in your life.

 

  1. If you do it secretly and would be embarrassed if others in your life knew, you’re in some measure addicted.
  2. If it disrupts your normal lifestyle or daily schedule, you’re in some measure addicted.
  3. If it disturbs your family and marital relationships, but you find yourself continuing the behavior, you’re in some measure addicted.
  4. If you tend to minimize, hide or lie about the behavior to yourself and/or others, you’re in some measure addicted.
  5. If you feel you should discontinue the behavior, but seem to periodically gravitate back to it, you’re in some measure addicted.
  6. If you sometimes feel that you are a slave to the behavior, and other times as if can stop any time you wish, bouncing back and forth between the two extremes, you’re in some measure addicted to the behavior.
  7. If any component of your participation in the behavior involves shame, you’re in some measure addicted.

 

Sexual activity, practiced within an addictive cycle, then, is only another of the many and varied forms of addictive behavior. (Download the White Paper Pornography and Sexually Addictive Behavior below to read more . . .)

White Paper: Pornography and Sexually Addictive Behavior
Pornography and Sexually Addictive Behav[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [79.7 KB]
Covenant Eyes: Your Brain On Porn
Produced by the internet accountability and filtering organization, Covenant Eyes, this paper provides an excellent resource, from an evangelical perspective, on the problem of internet pornography, and a real personal solution.
Your Brain On Porn.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [18.7 MB]
Straight Science on Internet Pornography and Its Effects
Produced with excerpts from the website: www.yourbrainonporn.com, this extensive paper provides a synopsis of the scientific and physiological evidence-based studies on internet pornography addiction.
YBOP.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [1.0 MB]
Porn In The Digital Age - Barna Group
This well-illustrated survey produced by Barna Group illustrates the depth and breadth of the problem of pornography among Christians and in the world at large.
Porn in the Digital Age.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [651.8 KB]

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