The Secret Sin of Pornography
We have had this article rolling around for sometime. We donít know who wrote it, but clearly it was written by a religious person with some Bible perspective. To our knowledge it was not written by anyone from our brotherhood, but the information is valuable.
Each year we hear of more marriages in the Church disrupted by the sinful behavior of a husband. I fear the Lordís Church has many who practice this secret sin. Itís time we deal with it and invite members to seek the help they need to repent. Salvation is at stake. Purity of life can be recaptured. We must try.
- Randy Cantrell
There was a time in the history of the church when pornography was not too much of a problem to have to deal with. Sure, it existed, but the access was very limited. At one time, you would have to go to a convenience store or an adult bookstore in order to find a pornographic magazine. Not many Christians would take the risk of being caught with that kind of merchandise in their possession. Also, since most Christian men and women did not spend their time in such places, the temptation wasn't as severe. Along with that, there were more restrictions as to what was allowed to be shown on television. Godís people, generally speaking, were once opposed to movies because of the filth found in them. Movies began to be rated and Christians wouldn't run the risk of exposing themselves in public by seeing an R-rated movie that obviously contained things of a sexual nature (although that is not the case today).
In today's X-rated society, things are quite different. What is viewed as offensive is not the same as it used to be. People have a different view of what is now considered appropriate. The envelope has been pushed as to what can be shown on television. The new technology of cable and satellite TV has also piped in more programs containing sexual images into the privacy of every home. And what has brought more problems to the morality of our country is the internet. Anyone can see absolutely any kind of perversion imaginable with one click while remaining totally anonymous. No one asks. No one tells. And with this new instant, private access to pornography being right there in everyone's home, an old temptation has come back with a disturbing amount of success in the destruction of relationships and the church.
So, what's the problem?
Maybe you are reading this and think, so what's the big deal? It's just pictures. It's just movies. What harm can they do? God created all those bodies and sex, what's wrong with admiring their beauty? Those people got paid to make pornography, I get a thrill, it's a win-win situation, right? Why is my wife so upset with me? It's not like I'm having an affair! Just look at the way society is now! How can it be my fault being surrounded by temptation? Nobody's perfect!
Do any of these questions sound familiar? If so, you are about to find out how destructive the secret sin of pornography can be and how it is a real and relevant problem for everyone.
The numbers (but these are growing so rapidly they can hardly be calculated):
1. There are 1.3 million porn websites.
2. The number of pornographic web pages has increased 20 times the amount there were 5 years ago.
3. The total porn industry is at an estimated $4 billion to $10 billion (thatís quite a range, but again - itís hard to quantify).
4. Sex is the number one search topic on the internet.
5. 60% of all websites are sexual in nature.
6. More than 20,000 images of child pornography are posted on the internet each week.
7. Approximately 20 new children appear on porn sites every month-many are kidnapped or sold into sex. There is a growing demand of babies and toddlers but the typical age of children is between 6 and 12.
8. Of the teens online, 70% have come across porn accidentally over the Web.
9. 9 out of 10 children and teens between the ages of 8 and 16 have viewed pornography on the Web, usually while doing homework or using a search engine.
10. 90% of teens and young adults have gone online and half of them go online once a day or more. 3 out of 4 young people have access at home and 1 in 3 have access from their own bedroom totally unsupervised.
11. 50% of parents do not use an internet filter.
12. 57 million Americans have internet access.
13. 25 million Americans visit sex sites between 1 to 10 hours a week. Another 4.7 million visit these sites 11 or more hours a week.
14. 70% keep their habit a secret.
Women and porn
1. 1 out of 6 women, including Christians, struggles with pornography addiction. They mostly are involved more with chat rooms while men are involved with images and videos online.
2. 80% of women take their addiction offline through affairs, multiple sex partners, or casual sex. In a poll taken at a marriage and family seminar, 63% of the men admitted to struggling with porn in the previous year.
This is a big deal. There are currently more outlets for hardcore pornography in this country than there are McDonald's restaurants. And the target is boys between the ages of 12 and 17. They are also the largest consumers of pornography. Why do you think that is?
Like a drug
When someone speaks of porn addiction, it doesn't sound like it makes sense. If you ingest alcohol or use drugs, it makes more sense that someone can become addicted since an actual chemical is being released into the body. Porn is just a bunch of images, right? While there may not be an outward chemical ingestion, there is some chemicals at work that make people become addicted in the same way drugs and alcohol do.
We all experience internal chemicals at work in our bodies in different ways. Our stomach secretes gastric juices when we smell some homemade bread in the oven. If we are about to give a speech or do some kind of athletics, we feel the rush a adrenalin. In the same way, there are chemicals released when pornography is used that give us a sense of relief, excitement, pleasure or exhilaration, maybe feelings of maleness or wholeness, power, thrill, and a number of other things. What happens is that we begin to associate these feelings with the pornography and the flesh begins to take control over the spirit. At some point, even the thought of finding porn gives us a rush of exhilaration and a must-do feeling similar to what someone addicted to cocaine would feel. Most of the time, it doesn't take too much viewing of porn for an addiction to develop. Especially if the viewer is around the age of the beginning of puberty (around 12 years old). Many who are now being treated for sex addiction say that they were first exposed at around this age. Jimmy Swaggert, after being caught with a prostitute, admitted to involving himself with porn at an early age.
This addiction, just as it is similar to how someone gets addicted to drugs, also escalates as someone who uses marijuana will sometimes move to a stronger drug in order to get a better high. Some of the symptoms of a sex addict are:
a. Acting out sexually and the inability to stop the use of porn despite serious consequences and repeated attempts of control.
b. Neglect or sacrifice of important social, family, occupational, or recreational activities.
c. Risk taking.
d. Living a double life.
e. Decrease in one's spiritual or religious life.
The addict can move through 4 phases of their addiction, each one stronger than the next.
1. First is simply getting addicted.
2. Second is called escalation. With the passage of time, the addicted person requires rougher, more explicit, more deviant sexual material to get their "highs".
3. Third is desensitization. Material that was once considered shocking, taboo-breaking, illegal, and repulsive, will be seen as commonplace. No matter what is being shown, the addict can legitimize it with a "everybody does it" kind of mentality.
4. Fourth is acting out sexually. This not only includes having affairs or multiple partners, but also includes voyeurism, exhibitionism, meeting another person (sometimes children) for sex from chat rooms, and even rape. At this point, the person feels that there is no way to change no matter how negative and severe the consequences are.
The innocent victims of porn
Not only does porn cause destruction to the addict and those who get involved in the acting out of the addiction, but the spouses and families of the addict also pay a severe price.
Wives pay a price. At workshops designed to help the victims, over and over again the same feelings are shared. Pain, trauma, disappointment, loneliness, confusion, fear, low self-esteem, and panic. They are withdrawn, hurt, sad, desperate, and defeated. All that from a husband looking a pictures on the internet? Yes, and more. Put yourself in the shoes of the spouse.
An addict is one of the most selfish people on earth. The only thing that matters is how to feed the addiction and it takes precedence even over a marriage. The wife or husband of an addict is no longer the focus of the attention. You have traded a living, breathing, loving person for a stranger on a video or computer screen. It's not that the spouse of an addict is expecting perfection from them, but the needs of a marriage which is trust, love, protection, and even adoration, is now gone. How can the intimacy of a true marriage exists if the spouse is put on the back burner? Many wives ask, "What did I do?" "Am I not good enough?" Her self-esteem will disappear and she will find herself pleading for forgiveness for the sins of the sex addict. How sad it is for the victim of a sex addict who takes all the responsibility for the destruction of a marriage caused by internet porn and sexual addiction.
What do we do? As you see, this is a serious problem for all involved in the secret sin of pornography. Itís often been said there is a reason itís called the Web. It traps you and doesn't let you go. You get so wrapped up that you can't escape. So, what if you are caught up in this web? What are some practical things that can be done?
For the parent:
1. Spend time with your child while they work on the internet. Ask them questions about what they do online. Figure out how the instant messaging works. Know what e-mails they get and from who. Check history files often. Get the computer out of their rooms and into a place of high traffic in your home like a living room or den.
2. Instruct your children the dangers of the internet. Make sure that they never give out personal information or pictures without your consent online. Teach them to come get you whenever something appears on the screen that makes them feel uncomfortable.
3. Use an internet filter. You can go to www.afa.net and click on the AFA Filter button. It is inexpensive, there are no password overrides, and it is continually updated. Also, use spam filters for e-mails which you can also get from AFA online. 40% of spam that comes in is pornographic. Know what your child is getting in their e-mails and who it's coming from.
For the spouse of a porn addict:
1. Don't blame yourself. This is an addictive and a spiritual problem not caused by you.
2. Accusing or calling him sick or perverted will only drive an addict away from you.
3. Don't keep it silent. This is a secret sin done in darkness and can only be overcome by bringing it to light.
4. Don't stop praying or loving your spouse. Pray God will give him a repentant heart.
5. Don't embarrass him in public or threaten to leave. You may have to, at some point, demand that he leave if the physical or emotional safety of your children or yourself is involved, but in this kind of a problem, you can fight for your marriage. It can be recovered with the help of God.
6. Get close to God as you will need His wisdom and guidance.
7. Be honest with your spouse about how you feel.
8. Let your spouse vent if he needs to. There are many things going on inside such as guilt, shame, frustration, anger, and so on.
9. Set boundaries. Let him know that you are willing to go so far with him, but he will have to decide that he really wants out of the problem. Those who want out, will get out!
For the addict:
Finally, there are some things that the addict must do in order to be done with this problem. Chances are if you are caught up in this, you are ready to be done with it. It may have been going on for such a long time you might have given up hope. But with God, there is always hope. Here are some steps that will help:
1. Destroy all sources of porn. Remove all videos and magazines or any kind of hard copy you may have. Get the internet filter or, if you need to, get rid of internet access altogether. If you need to use the internet, you can always go to the library or maybe you have access at work. The thing to remember is without the filter, you need to be supervised anytime you are online.
2. Delete all e-mail messages that contain pornographic images or links to web pages. If possible, change your e-mail address completely. You will need to go back and have your spouse or some other accountability partner change your password to your old address to make sure you don't go back there if you were receiving messages that contained porn.
3. Erase any kinds of videos or pictures you may have downloaded to your hard drive.
4. Avoid any sexually driven movies, music, television programs, magazines, or books. If something comes on television that causes you to feel that feeling of lust, turn it off or change the channel. If you have favorites saved in your computer where you were getting porn, delete them and destroy any shred of sources where you have found porn.
5. Don't delude yourself into thinking that you can beat it by yourself. This is a strong drug and you will need help. This is what is known as an accountability partner. This can be your spouse, a church leader (elder or evangelist), or anyone with integrity that you can trust to help you keep away from the source of the sin, a fellow Christian. This is one of the most powerful sources of help for this problem. This person will be available to pray for you, ask you questions like, "What sites have you visited today?" "Did you feel tempted today and what caused it?". This person will keep up with you diligently and pray for you regularly. This person will have to be able to look beyond the hurts, and anger, and frustration that an addict usually goes through. An accountability partner is hard for the addict because it hurts your pride. Most men like to feel that they can handle it, but in this case, this is something more powerful that you can handle.
6. And finally, repentance. You may say, "I have repented for this same thing over and over again for the last 20 years. It's not working!" Repentance is not the recurring thing that you do over and over again, but it's a change of heart. Turning around in your mind is not enough. It's the place where you say, "God, I am tired of this problem and I am tired of living a lie to my family and friends and not living a life that is pleasing to you! I promise to do whatever it takes even if it means getting out of my safe zone to make a change." God will grant us a repentant heart if we ask Him. II Timothy says that God will grant a repentant heart so that we may know the truth, come to our senses and escape the snare of the devil having been taken by him to do his will. It's time to make a change and if you are an addict or the spouse, friend, or parent of someone who is caught in the web of pornography, it can begin right now.
It is a sin. You cannot devote yourself to a moderation of this, or any other sin. It must be removed from your life.