Porn Addiction in Christians – Shedding Light on the Secret

Porn Addiction in Christians – Shedding Light on the Secret While many people think of addiction in terms of drug or alcohol abuse, behaviors can be addictive as well.  One type of addictive behavior that’s more common than most would believe – especially among Christians – is the excessive use of pornography. With instant access to porn from virtually anywhere, at any time of the day – without anyone else having a clue – it’s no wonder that this particular addiction is growing.

Porn addiction involves the compulsive and repetitive viewing of explicit pornographic images. While it’s true that this behavior doesn’t have the direct physical impact and potential danger of drugs or alcohol, it can still have a serious negative impact on those who struggle with it.  In many cases, finding one’s way to the path of recovery requires addiction treatment.  Fortunately, Christian addiction treatment is available for those who prefer a treatment program that’s not only based on Biblical principles, but is also staffed by other believers.

Effects of Porn Addiction

Viewing porn occasionally is not considered abnormal, and it certainly doesn’t constitute an addiction. However, because porn can provide stimulation and gratification, it’s easy to become addicted to it.  Since this type of behavior is typically regarded as taboo amongst Christians, incredible shame often accompanies it.

As a Christian, you may understand that seeking out sexual images is morally objectionable, but an addiction goes way beyond that.  Addictions, by their very nature, interfere with your life in a variety of ways.   A porn addiction almost always causes serious problems in your closest relationships.  It can also significantly disrupt your emotional well-being.  It can create problems in your job or career – especially if your addiction is found out and your work is ministry-based.  The stress can take a toll on your physical health as well.

Porn addicts often spend hours each day watching online porn or visiting porn-related or “adult” chat rooms. Your most significant relationships tend to suffer the biggest impact as a result. If you’re compulsively viewing pornography you’re likely to ignore or neglect healthy intimate interactions with your spouse.  Furthermore, you may find yourself spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on subscription pornography websites.  This can create financial problems and further exacerbate relationship problems as a result.

A porn addiction can easily impact your career as well. It’s not uncommon for this type of compulsive behavior to lead to frequent tardiness or absences from work because you’re too busy viewing explicit images. You may even access porn sites while on the clock, providing a distraction that prevents you from fulfilling your work responsibilities. Your employers can fire your for viewing porn on the job.

Another aspect of an addiction is increased tolerance.  As you compulsively view porn, you may find yourself needing it in increasing amounts or intensity in order to feel aroused or stimulated by it.  For example, if you started out by watching images of heterosexual acts, you may eventually find yourself viewing increasingly explicit, and, sometimes, illegal sexual acts to become aroused.

Your addiction to porn can also lead to sexual dysfunction. A large Italian study found that 70 percent of young men treated for sexual performance issues reported heavy use of online pornography. This suggests excessive porn viewing results in a loss of libido in real-life situations.

The compulsion to view porn also has an adverse impact on your brain.  A recent Cambridge University study found that the brains of porn addicts reacted to explicit images – much like the brains of alcoholics watching ads for beer or liquor. The porn addicts’ scans showed higher activity levels in brain regions related to processing pleasure, motivation, and reward than those without an addiction.

It’s important to note that porn addiction is different from sex addiction. In sex addiction, the person is compelled to act out sexual desires, often with numerous partners and in risky situations. Addiction to pornography is limited to viewing photos or videos. Many addicts, but not all, will masturbate while they’re watching the porn.

Why Christians Get Addicted to Porn

There are many reasons why you may feel compelled to use pornography. Some use it to relieve stress. When you become anxious or stressed, viewing pornography – and the masturbation that often accompanies it – allows for a release of tension. The problem, however, is that compulsive viewing creates additional stress and strain on your life, which can result in even more frequent use of porn to counter the effects.  It becomes a vicious circle with no end.

Explicit sexual images may also be used to fill your need for sex (e.g. if you’re single) or for a specific sexual act. For example, a single Christian man may view porn excessively because he knows that sex outside of marriage is wrong according to the Bible. A Christian woman may turn to porn to feel aroused if she’s in a relationship with a man who doesn’t want or is unable to have sex.

In addition, living like a Christian can seem impossibly hard at times. We’re instructed to be like Christ, yet we have the bodies and minds – and all the temptations that go with them – of humans: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). These high standards can make the allure of sin that much more compelling. A person may think that if they’re going to fail in the eyes of God, they may as well do it in a way that provides as much pleasure and reward as possible. However, that desire to view pornographic material can turn into an addiction that affects every facet of life.

How to Heal

Porn addiction can be treated, and you can get your life back on track spiritually. The first step is finding a good Christian addiction treatment program that addresses this type of addiction. Trained counselors are there to help you identify why you turned to pornography in the first place. Once you understand your primary triggers, you’ll work on dealing with those negative thoughts and emotions in a healthier way.  Your therapist can help you learn practical coping strategies that will allow you to resist urges in a society in which pornography is as close as the nearest computer.

Professional treatment is important, but there are additional steps you can take to heal from porn addiction.  These include:

Asking your partner for forgiveness:  An addiction to porn almost always damages your relationship with your spouse or significant other.  This is true even if he or she wasn’t aware the problem existed. Confess your behavior and ask for forgiveness. Your partner may not be ready to extend it right away; but your request lays the foundation for healing the relationship. Be patient as you move through this process. Your spouse may be angry, confused and hurt. It’s important to allow your loved one to work through his or her own healing process.

Install porn-blocking software: Disabling easy access can be really beneficial.  There are a variety of filters that prevent pornographic content from appearing on a computer, smartphone or tablet. Ask a loved one or someone else you trust to set the password so you can’t disable or override the filters. Some programs may be free, while others are available with a fee or subscription. As with any software program, always make sure you’re downloading from a reputable developer.

Be patient with yourself: Healing from any addiction is a process, one that can take months or years. You may relapse from time to time – and that’s OK as long as you keep moving forward. It can be easy to let those lapses derail the entire recovery process. When you give in to urges, recognize the mistake, and then keep moving forward. By working on your porn addiction and keeping your faith in God, you will heal.  The following prayer may help:  “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for you are the one I praise.” (Jeremiah 17:14).

You can recover from porn addiction. Recognize the problem and take action to prevent it from further destroying your relationships with God and loved ones. Getting into a Christian addiction treatment program is a positive first step toward reclaiming your life.