In our last post on Pornography we examined "The Cruelty and Compassion of Porn" and prior to that, we examined The Conceit of Porn. I want to remind you that the purpose of this series is to expand the discussion of overcoming pornography beyond a “slaying of sin” to a more holistic understanding of the subject. It is my hope that each post will allow those of you who have encountered porn, either as an issue of your own or of someone you love, more freedom than you are currently experiencing.
And so we move on to the final post in this series about the construct of porn.
Now, this is not a post about how porn is constructed. If you are reading this, you may already know plenty about the construction of a pornographic movie, unfortunately. However, the struggle with with porn often comes from a lack of having two key constructs. The first is an understanding about what makes porn so attractive and the second is a healthy and biblical idea of sexuality and intimacy.
So what is it that makes porn so attractive and addicting?
Simple Answer: Triple A, neurotransmitters, and false intimacy.
Pornography pulls in viewers based heavily on the three A’s, and I am not talking about a minor league baseball team or a car service. Pornographers rely on keeping their product accessible, affordable, and anonymous.
Essentially, by releasing pornography on the Internet (often times tagging it or putting on domain names commonly misspelled by children), it remains accessible to anyone, and mostly to the target audience: young kids.
Also, by keeping pornography free on the Internet, it becomes affordable for anyone that has a device that can access the Internet. And since pornography stimulates the brain in the very same way as a dose of cocaine, it becomes a more economical option.
And finally, the use of the Internet allows one to engage in viewing and acting out to pornography without anyone else knowing. Using other drugs and mind/mood altering substances almost always requires at least one other person to know, but pornography can be completely anonymous. And these are the three elements that make pornography so addicting.
Aside from that, the release of neurotransmitters in the brain that occurs when viewing pornography feels good because it is supposed to. The issue is that those chemicals in the brain are designed for intimacy and intended to bond one to another person. It works great when we experience that release with a person that 1) actually knows us and 2) will be there for us in the future.
When we experience the release of neurochemicals while looking at porn, we are binding ourselves to our fantasy. What a tragedy. We are the most likely people to let ourselves down. We can feel even more depressed when we realize this fact, sensing the deep shame. And so what do we often do? Go right back to pornography, not because we want to, but because that’s all we know how to do to get the relationship we desperately need in that moment. However, it is also tragic because our idea of the relationship we need is broken. It is a false intimacy, constructed out of our high expectations from our own fantasies that no real person could ever live up to. And subsequently, fearing rejection and disappointment from real people, we turn to porn.
There is a need to deconstruct that fantasyland, as well as build a true story about human sexuality and intimacy. If the reconstruction does not happen, then one will become sexually anorexic, or what some may call a dry drunk, which is simply running away from sex altogether rather than engaging it in a healthy way.
On to the second construct that is missing: a healthy view of sexuality and intimacy. It is not nearly as accessible, but is hidden and challenging. It is not anonymous, but actually quite revealing, and it is in not nearly as addicting. In fact, we can be quite averse to real relationships, along with the pain and joy they bring.
A healthy view of sexuality and intimacy starts with the realization of that real relationship is built out of emotional intimacy and commitment, not one-sided fantasies with people we do not know, and who do not know us. Healthy sex is when you and a partner, in a committed relationship (marriage), decide to share your bodies in a healthy, selfish way- i.e. this is what I need or want, and it is the joy of my partner to meet that need, not something that is done to “keep the relationship alive.”
I say this must happen in marriage because anything else communicates “I’m not sure I’ll keep you”, which is not intimate at all, but quite the opposite. Commitment comes when we can say “I see you, everything you are and are not, everything you are afraid of, and great at, and I am staying.” That commitment is genuine intimacy, and is allows us to continue to share our shortcomings, failures, and fears in a place where we are loved, accepted, and known, and it is representative of the love that Christ has for his children. When we engage in sex with a real person that we are married to, it is a renewal ceremony of that commitment we have made. And that is real intimacy. And that is what drives healthy sex. Any other type of sex is meeting a biological need, but only meeting that need. When we only meet that need, we fall way short of the glory for which we were created. What a poor stewardship of the human body and soul!
What you and I all need is to know we are loved and accepted by someone other than ourselves. When we look at porn, we are only saying that we are accepted by our fantasy, and when it goes away, we feel awful, and we do not even accept ourselves. We hate ourselves. And subsequently, we do not allow others to love us.
So what do you do? Find someone that loves you and accepts you as you are today, and has the ability to see your potential. Don’t have anyone? Wrong. His name is Jesus. He loves you. He promises to never leave you. He sees what you are now and what you could be. And until you get that, you’ll never let anyone else see or know you. But start there. Start with Christ. Acknowledge that he already sees you for you, pornography and all. Once you begin to see that, the scales will fall off your eyes, and you will see that others see you and love you for you too. And that opens up the possibility of engaging in real human intimacy, true connection, and unleashing the potential to have deep, life-long sexual intimacy, far more satisfying than any pornography.