Just a few weeks ago I counted a number of news stories about men committing gross sexual acts with underage girls. Four of them were educators having improper relationships with students. One was a man who raped a 15-year-old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome. One in particular was the story of Subway spokesman Jared Fogle who was found to have possessed child pornography and had elicited sex from minors on many different occasions. It was also found that the man who was head of Jared’s foundation, Russell Taylor, possessed more than 400 videos of child pornography, bestiality, and other types of pornography. As I read and heard these stories a question kept popping into my head, “Why?” This is gross. It’s disturbing. This does not make any sense.
The brain is sexually saturated
There any many things to consider when someone commits such actions; whether that be their upbringing, psychological issues, etc. However, I want to offer two reasons why I believe this is happening; one you might not have considered. First, everyone is prone to sin; to commit wrong acts against God and to others (Ro. 3:10). A person in their natural state takes what is good, in this case sexual desires, and completely twists and distorts its original purpose. The second, which I will focus on the most, is that we live in a sexually saturated culture that overwhelms the brain.
When men think relationships or women, they tend to think physical. So if a male instinctively thinks physical, all the while being bombarded by ads that expose a woman’s features, women wearing revealing clothes, combined with the plethora of pornography that is available, it is actually not too shocking to see men commit these acts. The male brain takes what is good and completely twists it. When a male brain is left to it’s own, and with the help of a sexually saturated culture, it is depraved, deceitful, and perverted. A driving force that cultivates this is pornography.
This is a major problem!
A high percentage of men are dealing with porn or sexual addiction in our culture. In fact, it is an epidemic. Here are a few stats given by the Barna Group in 2014 on the percentages of men viewing porn on a monthly and weekly basis:
- 18-30 year olds: 79% view it once a month; 63% view it several times a week.
- 31-49 year olds: 67% view it once a month; 38% view it several times a week
- 50-68 year olds: 49% view it once a month; 25% view it several times a week
It would not surprise me to know that these numbers are conservative. Every young man I come in contact with in some way has been affected by pornography. The average male views pornography for the first time at the age of 10-12 years old. Here is the scary part: men used to have to work to find porn, but now with the help of media saturation, porn comes looking for them. What I have noticed through my own experience and through the lives of other men is porn becomes a part of our lives. It is a given: you look at porn. That is what men do. Most men believe there is nothing wrong with this; they are alone and not hurting anyone. However, this is an issue and it becomes a major problem. Fact: most men are addicted to porn.
Porn hijacks your brain
Over the last several years much research has been done that has talked about what porn does to the brain. I do not claim to be an expert and I suggest you study for yourself, but allow me to explain very plainly what happens to the male brain when a man looks at pornography. There are some suggested sites at the end for you to research on your own, too. Porn hijacks the brain. Everyone’s brain has a “reward pathway” that dopamine and other chemicals are released to when you do something good, such as work out, eat, work hard, etc. Dopamine gets released in this reward pathway and our brain tells us, “I like this. Do this again!” Porn hijacks this reward pathway by releasing dopamine. When a man continually exposes himself to porn, his brain gets to the point that it tells him he “needs” it. Essentially porn becomes a drug and a growing addiction. The initial need is not satisfied so it looks for something that can stimulate it even more. That’s why you see the guy that starts off looking at soft-core porn finds himself six months (or even six years!) down the road looking at bestiality porn or child porn (Jared Fogle and Russell Taylor, for example). He needs more. Overtime men no longer see women or young girls as people with dignity or as image bearers of God, but as objects that can fulfill their “need”. Men that have been given over to their twisted brain want that need satisfied and they want it now without any rational thinking.
Think back to the story of Jared Fogle and Russell Taylor. There are many things to consider that lead them to this point. However, I do believe in part that their actions have been motivated by pornography use. They have become hardened and calloused by pornography so much so that women are no longer humans with dignity and value, but have become objects of selfish pleasure. That is what porn teaches men to do. If you do not believe me, just take a look at this article on Russell Taylor, viewer discretion advised. So, how does one fix this? How does a man who is addicted to porn or any kind of sexual addiction overcome this?
Men must cut off the porn path and carve a new path
My parents have always had dogs. Their yard has a clear path that goes all the way around the property. The dogs frequent this path every day. It is worn down so it is easy and it is their routine. The same thing happens with porn in our brain. It becomes an easy path and a place of least resistance, so we take it. Often times men run to porn because it medicates an emotional pain in their life. A man must cut this path off and create a new one. So, guys, and even gals, I want to close this blog out with some practical steps on how you can create a new path and recover from a porn or sexual addiction. However, know this, breaking an addiction is not a moment, but a journey. You will spend the rest of your life fighting against addiction. Breaking any addiction is gaining victory over today. Do not worry about tomorrow. Set your eyes on today.
- Don’t freak out. You’re not crazy. God’s Word tells us we are all prone to sin. A temptation to sin is common to everyone (1 Cor. 10:13). Take heart, even those you think are “holy” struggle with issues of sexual temptation.
- Confess your struggle. First, you confess before God (1 John 1:9). He has designed sex to be good, right, and perfect, and that is within the confines of a marriage relationship (Gen 2:24). Second, you need to seek out an accountability partner. This person should be someone you love, is grace giving, and will hold you accountable. Bring your darkness into light by confessing to them your sin and your struggle. Set a plan to text them everyday and tell them if you are struggling or if you have messed up. Having someone like this is a huge help in overcoming sexual temptation because you have to answer to someone!
- Carve a new path. Emotional pain can cause us to create a porn path. It gives a brief reward that we believe will comfort us. However, it is always fleeting and ends up doing more harm than good. You must carve a new path to Jesus, allowing him to minister to the pain, rather than porn. Listen and yield to the Holy Spirit. For the believer, the same power that rose Jesus from the dead is also in you (Ro. 8:11). That same power will empower you to overcome sinful strongholds.
- Follow a plan. You have heard the saying “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Without a plan your chances at overcoming this addiction are slim to none. My friend Josh Proctor has developed a faith-based Sexual Sin Recovery plan that you can walk through for free. He has tips on how you can begin to carve a new path to allow Jesus to minister to you. I highly recommend you do this with an accountability partner. I have only briefly mentioned a few steps here to get you going. Check out Josh’s recovery plan to begin an in depth process of recovering from sexual addiction.
My hope is that this has informed and encouraged you. You are not alone, and you should not try to recover alone. Seek out someone to help walk you through recovery. Please share this with anyone that may be battling in this area. If you have any questions or need help, please feel free to send me a message.
Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children by Joe Mcllhaney and Freda McKissis Bush
Girls Uncovered: New Research on What America’s Sexual Culture Does to Young by Joe Mcllhaney and Freda McKissis Bush