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5 Ways Porn Is Hurting You

When it comes to viewing pornography, many of us know how it can feel like a riptide pulling us out to sea. In those moments (and perhaps at other times too), we may wonder, “Is porn really that bad?”

  • I’ll just look for a little while.
  • I could be doing things that are much worse.
  • It’s better than what I used to do.
  • Just a peek won’t hurt.
  • Everyone uses porn.

However enticing it may seem, porn is a sham—a big, fat sham that keeps us from living the lives we actually want to live. It poses as a friend while it steals the things we love most.

Here are 5 ways pornography is actually harming you:

  1. It changes your brain. God designed your brain and body so that you can experience the world around you with all its joy, beauty, and goodness. With repeated porn use, your brain gets overloaded with stimuli, recognizes something is off, and tries to bring things back to normal. To do this, it shuts down some of the neuroreceptors being overloaded. The problem is that these neuroreceptors are the same ones that usually help you experience feelings of well-being, connection, health, calm, and energy in other parts of your life. In turn, you end up experiencing a bit less of these feelings in everyday life, and even the porn you’ve been using begins to feel less satisfying. The result? The temptation to view more porn (or more intense porn) increases as your body remembers the high you once felt and craves to feel it again. You can imagine where this leads.
  2. It makes you impatient and selfish. With porn, nobody asks anything of you. It’s all about what you want, when you want it, how you want it. If you’re not happy, swipe right and move onto the next scene, the next scenario, the next person. There are literally zero other relationships in your life like this. Zero. Normal relationships require time, sharing and listening, giving and receiving, blessing and hardship. This is true whether we’re talking about friendships, family, marriage, work relationships, church relationships, and even the brief relationships you have with people in line at the grocery store or commuting with you on the bus.
  3. It trains you to see things, not people. Porn presents its actors and actresses as one-dimensional. But they are real people. She was a little girl once and he was a little boy. Each one has a history that led them here, often a history wrought with pain and harm. Each one has a life they go home to, and what they do on-camera impacts it all. And each one has a future they are living toward. Since they’re just objects in this industry, one day they will be discarded. When you practice seeing people that way, your ability to value the humanity of everyone is impacted, including even yourself.   
  4. Porn keeps you from healing. There are reasons you started going to porn, and there are reasons you keep going back. It’s not just the physical pleasure you’re after. When your eyes are scanning the screen, your heart is searching for healing. Healing from what? Porn provides clues in its depictions of control, power, and desirability. Likewise, though misused in porn, the naked body can convey beauty, strength, and comfort. In the lives of the men and women I’ve walked with over the years, porn ended up being a futile attempt at healing from stories of deep loneliness, abandonment, neglect, abuse, ridicule, betrayal, and other harm both past and present. It won’t find it in porn, but a person dying of thirst isn’t picky about what he’ll drink. Pornography is sabotaging your heart’s cry to find healing for your wounds.
  5. Pornography keeps you from growing. When we go to pornography, we’re bringing legitimate needs to an illegitimate source. Needs by definition aren’t optional, so if our needs are not actually being met, we’re not getting something required to grow into the men and women we’re designed to be. Imagine watering a thirsty plant with a bucket of blue confetti. It won’t grow, and neither will we where we’re turning to pornography. The culture calls it “adult entertainment,” but it actually keeps us developmentally stuck in childhood or adolescence. This is why my friend Drew Boa, founder of Husband Material, calls pornography a pacifier. Instead of remaining an adult physically but immature emotionally, learn to identify the legitimate needs you have and meet them in healthy ways.

Porn offers itself as a salve to life in a hard world, but it’s actually hurting you and making your life worse. I’m guessing you’re reading this because you’re a man or woman who would rather live, love, heal, and grow. Those are good desires, and Jesus wants them for you too. He’s all in to help you along the way. Our spiritual coaches and online resources are here to help!

Question: What other ways is porn hurting people?

For you,

Josh

3 thoughts on “5 Ways Porn Is Hurting You”

  1. Hi Brian, I’m glad you found us! A couple things that will hopefully be helpful to you: First, reach out to us about our coaching or Awaken program — either would be super helpful for you. Second, within the next 60 days, our entire Awaken program will be available online for about $15/month, so you’d also be able to use it with friends or a mentor where you are. God’s grace and peace to you as you take this journey to leave porn in the past!

  2. Sometimes it seems I turn to porn out of something good, good news, not something negative. Could this be, Josh, or am I just thinking this? It scares me when it happens, because I think “Is nothing off limits?” as far as what can trigger me? I am joining a step study group soon, and hopefully, regardless, all triggers will be addressed.

    1. Hi David, first let me applaud you for noticing a pattern to when you’re turning to porn. That should prove helpful as you explore it further. I don’t doubt what you’re noticing and I know you’re not alone in feeling that pull when there’s good news. I’d encourage you to take some time to let yourself be curious about what connections there might be for you between good things/news and turning to pornography. Sometimes it can be helpful to begin by simply making three guesses, and see if any of them seem to resonate with you.

      With this said, here are some ideas (possible connections between good news and temptation) to get you started.
      * Good news can mean change–leaving the comfort of what is to step out into the discomfort of something new and unknown (e.g. job promotion, new relationship, etc.).
      * In a similar way, if we have a habit of seeing the glass as half-empty, good news can increase our fears of loss or failure.
      * Good news can stir up feelings of shame and low self-worth (“someone like me doesn’t deserve something this good”). In this case, turning to porn can be an attempt at self-sabotage–treating yourself in a way more in line with what y you think you deserve.
      * Good news can serve to uncover deeper longing. Even the best of news leaves us wanting more because good news in a fallen world won’t satisfy us for long. I think this is one of the reasons so many “successful” people can end up so depressed; they thought they were running what would finally fill the emptiness inside, only to find they still feel empty.

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