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An addiction with terrible consequences

Pornography ensnares men, enslaves women, and destroys marriages

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An addiction with terrible consequences
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Over the years, pornography has taken on many forms. It’s evolved from a taboo, secret, and seedy subject only whispered about to something accessible anywhere we go, thanks to our smartphones and a culture that winks its approval.

If you have any doubt, just consider that last November, the online pornography site Pornhub was the fourth most visited site on the web, with 10.2 billion clicks. Let that sink in—more than 10 billion clicks.

Pornography’s accessibility has evolved, but what hasn’t changed is its pervasive and insidious nature. It’s like quicksand—easy to step into and extremely difficult to get out of.

Pornography use in the general population is estimated to be near 80 percent for men, and women are not immune. In one national survey, upwards of 40 percent of women admitted visiting a pornographic site last year.

Sexual addiction is relentless, and it escalates. Every year, Focus on the Family connects with hundreds of thousands of people with personal and family challenges related to pornography. Make no mistake: Pornography is a deadly trap that will undermine your marriage, threaten your family, and destroy your faith.

How so?

Porn breeds disconnection instead of intimacy, deepens secrecy, creates distrust and results in women, especially, developing massive personal insecurities. It damages mental health in profound ways for both sexes. Studies show people who access it suffer from destruction brought into the heart and damage to romantic relationships. Research indicates that porn effectively rewires the brain.

Sex sells—and then it morally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually bankrupts the customer.

Although porn is not exclusively a male addiction, we primarily hear from women who are in pain because of their husband’s porn addiction. They tell us they feel isolated, ashamed, embarrassed, hopeless, and even helpless. How can they possibly compete with computer-enhanced images of bodily perfection?

These women have tried many things to try to wrestle their husband away from his addiction. They’ve been more sexual with him, exhibited more patience, been more forgiving and gracious and even gone along to get along. Those conventional attempts don’t work. It never ends well.

Tragically, popular culture seems to welcome this disordered manifestation of human sexuality. Whether it’s the glorification of sex outside of the marital commitment in various forms of entertainment, or advertisements dripping in sexual themes, our culture is awash in soft and hardcore pornography. It’s everywhere you look.

Sex sells—and then it morally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually bankrupts the customer.

There are some who claim the consumption of erotica is a victimless pursuit, assuming the person consuming it isn’t married. What’s rarely discussed is how the genre not only objectifies (mostly) women, but also enslaves women, and very often, young girls. That person on the screen is someone’s daughter or granddaughter—and they’re often caught up in an industry from which they can’t seem to escape.

I’m oversimplifying my advice here, but if you’re consuming pornography—you need to stop. Run away from it. If you can’t stop, you can get help through professional counseling. (If you’re married, we highly recommend that you do this with your spouse.) The most successful treatment takes a family systems approach that involves an initial program of intensive therapy followed by regular and ongoing counseling sessions. Another key to recovery is to identify a trusted friend or group of people who will provide support and accountability.

Healing from a sexual addiction is extremely difficult—but it’s not impossible, and it’s a goal you will never regret pursuing and achieving. Pornography promises connection—and ends by isolating and increasing the painful loneliness of the user. There is a better way to live to express our sexuality and satiate the God-given sexual appetite we enjoy—and it’s not in a virtual world. As old-fashioned as this may sound, it’s in a monogamous heterosexual marital commitment.

Jim Daly

Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family.

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