What Pornography Does To Your Brain
I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
The Evolution of Pornography
In His original creation, God designed guys to be responsive to visual stimulation. He then created women with curves to be visually enjoyed within the confines of marriage. And God blesses men when they find a mate.
He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD. Prov. 18:22
Finding a Believer to love and cherish can be the best part of a Christian’s life. And to top off the relationship, God blessed marriage with the act of sex. This was obviously part of His “fill-the-earth” strategy, but also sex is for pure physical enjoyment. God doesn’t mince any words in this verse:
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love. Prov. 5:18-19
Because Adam sinned and passed the sin nature down to every human, we live in this life in a corrupted state that remains with us until we discard our earthly containers. And that sinful nature is so bad we can sin with a single glance from our eyes.
“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Matt. 6:22-23
God warns us our eyes can be a major portal of sin. And if our sin remains unchecked, it leads progressively into great darkness.
Jesus even equated lusting with adultery:
“but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matt. 5:28
“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” James 1:14
And John confirmed that all lusting comes from our age-old adversary, Satan.
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” 1John 2:16
Paul lists 15 “deeds of our flesh,” i.e., sins we commit due to being deceived by Satan.
“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these,” Gal. 5:19-21
Notice the very first thing on his warning list is “immorality.” The actual Greek word is “porneia” where we get our English word “pornography.”
The evolution of pornography took a giant leap when the Internet brought porno/sex videos directly into our homes. Playboy and Penthouse magazines, termed soft-porn today, are no match for what’s available on the Internet for free. And it is private, easy to access and easy to hide.
The fact is, Internet pornography is so accessible for free that as much as 40% of traditional porn suppliers, who were delivering porn via magazine or video disk, have gone out of business in the last ten years!
Josh McDowell said,
Josh McDowell speaking at Steeling the Mind Bible Conference
“The greatest threat to the cause of Christ today is pervasive sexuality and pornography. We have lost control of the controls. With just one keystroke on a smartphone, iPad, or laptop, a child can open up some of the worst pornography and sexually graphic content you can imagine. There’s never been such easy access in history.”
Internet pornography is highly addictive. Consider these disturbing statistics:
> There are more than one billion pornographic webpages that are one click away for both adults and any child with a smart phone.
> On any given day, millions of people in the United States are sexually involved with the Internet — over half of them admit to being Christians.
> The average age of first-time views of pornography is 10 years old.
> 80 percent of 15-17 year olds have been exposed to hardcore porn.
> The adult pornography industry reports that 20-30 percent of their traffic comes from children (12 years old and younger).
> Over half of all Christian families report that pornography is a problem.
> 30% of pastors admit to have viewed pornography in the last 30 days, and 60% in the last six months. Most studies of pastors and Internet porn reveal between 60% and 70% are addicted!
> One out of every four online searches is for porn.
> In 56% of all divorce cases, one party had an obsessive interest in porn.
> Porno use increases the risk of marital infidelity by more than 300%.
> When viewing pornography becomes an addiction:
* 40% of ‘sex addicts’ lose their spouse.
* 58% suffer considerable financial loss.
* About a third lose their job.
> And it’s not all just men. Over 1/3 of all churchgoing women have intentionally visited porn websites online.
> Over 50% of Christian men admit that pornography is a problem in their home. And that doesn’t count those who don’t or won’t admit it. But “half” is an incredible statistic. Some put the number as high as 70%.
Next time you’re in church, look around you and think about the fact that probably well over half, maybe two thirds, of those sitting around you are dealing with pornography issues.
Without restoration, they’re in a no-win fight. The Bible says….
Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Or can a man walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? Prov. 6:27-28
And remember, Jesus said “looking” is no different than “doing.”
…abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 1Pet. 2:11
The bottom line result is that when a person views porn online, it diminishes normal sexual responses. Viewing porn requires more and more sexually graphic scenes to be sexually stimulating. Ultimately, in a marriage, viewing porn pushes the viewer to demand more and more “kinky” sex from his/her spouse for arousal.
Here at Compass we’ve noticed a marked increase of women calling about what to do about their husbands desiring anal sex. In desperation they’re blurting out to us these problems before we can tell them that we don’t do one-on-one counseling!!
Pornography and the Bible
Due to translations from Greek and Hebrew into English, the sin of pornography is unfortunately somewhat hard to notice in the Bible. Consider this verse:
Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Heb. 13:4
“Fornicators” is actually the Greek word “pornos.” So pornographic sin IS quite explicit in scripture, but the words used in translation are easily overlooked. The above verse could easily be translated: “viewing pornography” instead of “fornicators.”
Fifty Shades of Sin
Now we have the best-selling book (100 million+ copies sold) “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and the blockbuster movie by the same title. It’s been described as an erotic romance novel but this book/movie is simply pornography in your local theater.
50 Shades began as an e-book and, despite being universally declared “poorly written,” the e-sales took off like a rocket and Vintage Books published it.
The book doesn’t have pictures, but the descriptions are so meticulous and descriptive that the images your mind assembles are no different than watching a porno movie.
But immorality [Greek- “porneia” / “pornography”]or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; Eph 5:3
And the movie, well, you’re simply paying to watch porn in a theater. There’s zero reason for a Believer to read the book, much less watch the movie.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality [Greek- “pornos,”/”pornography”]; 1 Thes. 4:3
But 50 Shades goes far deeper than simple pornography. It subtlety sucks the reader into reading about abnormal sexual activities.The ungodly images will be seared on the readers’ brains forever.
It also brings sadomasochism and bondage (referred to as “BDSM”) into the minds of the readers as something that normal people could consider.
I’m not sure why, but it has powerful appeal to women between 30 and 50, both single and married, drawing them into extremely graphic word-pictures pornography. Like playing with dynamite, it’s a demonic portal into debauchery.
So Believers should not even peek at the book’s cover jacket. Run the other way!
Flee immorality [Greek- “porneia”]. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral [Greek- “porneuo’) man sins against his own body. 1 Cor 6:18
Pornography and Your Brain
Viewing porn physically changes your brain! In the last two decades “neuroplasticity” has been discovered. “neuro” means brain and “plasticity” means changeability. Scientists have discovered that our brain is constantly changing by laying down new pathways based on our experiences.
Brain scientists have a saying, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” When brain cells (neurons) get activated by something you’re watching, hearing or smelling, they release chemicals that strengthen the connections between those neurons.
Dopamine is a compound that
affects brain processes that
control emotional response
and ability to experience
pleasure, desire or motivation.
An example of this is when you eat a delicious steak (or whatever your favorite food is), your brain releases a chemical called “dopamine” that makes you feel good. Each time you eat a steak, a new pathway is created connecting steak with good feelings.
Or, if you cuddle intimately with someone to whom you’ve become attracted, a different chemical is released (oxytocin) that increases “bonding.” The more time you spend with the person, the more pathways are developed.
When a person looks at porn, even for a minute, the brain is flooded with the chemical dopamine. Pathways are developed. But with constant viewing, the brain fights back and begins restricting the overload. The result is that more and more porn is needed to get the good feeling.
And once you’ve started viewing porn regularly, if you stop for a while, your body will crave the good feeling that the chemical dopamine was bringing to you. Sound familiar?
Yep, just like drug addiction. Porn is no different than needing more and more drugs to get the same high. Or even more and more food to satisfy your hunger. In the
exact same way, more and more porn is needed to get the same “porn high” from dopamine.
There is no difference between being hooked on drugs and hooked on porn.
Just like a drug dealer will give away samples to “prime the pump/get you hooked,” porn sites give away free samples to whet your appetite for more. And once the person is hooked, they will begin by viewing porn more often. Eventually, to satisfy their growing porn appetite, they will move on and pay to see deeper and darker porn images.
Believe it or not…it gets worse!
Once addiction grips the person, the part of the brain that helps you reason, helps you make good choices, is constantly being damaged.
That area is called the “frontal lobe” and the more porn that is viewed, the more damage it causes and the more difficult it becomes to make good choices and break free. It becomes a vicious non-ending cycle. View porn, make bad choices. View more porn, make more bad choices.
How To Stop Pornography Addiction
(Below is our two cents on the subject, what we think someone should do if they are addicted to pornography. We are not counselors, just Bible researchers helping fellow Believers find answers in the Word of God. There are many other Christian counselors/Christian websites dealing with pornography addiction and we recommend you prayerfully seek advice from more than one source.)
Thankfully, God promises that any Believer CAN break free of porn. Actually, the Believer can’t, but Jesus can.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Phil 4:13
By God’s grace, the porn-damaged brain cells can be restored when someone gets away from sin. Repentance is the first step. Instead of looking to porn to meet your needs, you instead look to Jesus, Who is abundantly able! He knows your every sinful thought and desire. You can’t, He can. To quit the cycle you must repent/turn to Jesus to meet your needs.
Luke 11:9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
After repentance, the scriptural remedy for restoration begins with prayer and accountability.
“And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive. Matthew 21:22.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” James 5:16
If you’re a Believer, you don’t need to continually confess your sins to the Lord for forgiveness because He’s already forgiven all of them though His blood on the cross some 2000 years ago.
“having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Col 2:14″
It’s tremendously important to understand that ALL your sins, past, present and future, are behind you, nailed to the cross 2000 years ago. When you pray to the Lord, He sees you as righteous. He has not quit loving you because of your addiction/sin. Notice the past-tense use of words in this verse:
Getting off porn may
save your marriage
Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1Cor 6:11
Biblical repentance starts with agreeing with the Lord that the Bible says you’re in sin and that you know Jesus is the only permanent answer.
With an accountability partner to help keep you from relapsing, you set your sights on fully understanding Jesus’ love for you. He desires for you to bring every thought into spiritual obedience for your well-being.
“taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” 2 Cor 10:5
Your goal is to get to the point that when you feel the desire for porn to meet your needs, you simply open your Bible, read His grace and trust Jesus to meet your needs. There is no better antidote than God’s Word.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Phil 4:8
If you’re a believer with a pornography problem, you have to get to the point where you faithfully trust Jesus to meet your needs.
Matt. 21:22 “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.
When you begin to allow Him to rule your responses, you’re on your way to enjoying the peace that surpasses all understanding!
“… walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Gal. 5:16
If you don’t have a pornography problem, people around you do. Even if you don’t know who they are. Odds are your pastor has a problem! So put your family and church leaders on your prayer list!
10 signs your husband has a porn addiction:
Other article reference sources:
Bill Perkins is the founder and Executive Director of Compass International, Inc.
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