Porn: The World’s Most Powerful Addiction

Many people are praying to God, “HELP ME!” They are screaming inside of themselves for help with their addiction to pornography. Porn is the number one addiction in the world, way more than any drug or vice known to man. It does not take much research to learn that this industry is making hundreds of billions of dollars around the world.

Cell phones and the internet have made it easy for anyone to make a few clicks and be instantly connected with someone else. Pornography also has different channels of enticing many others, for example: collect calls with random call girls, strip clubs, movies, magazines, TikTok, apps, games, etc. Porn is not just on the internet, it is everywhere.

Unfortunately, this industry takes no prisoners and makes a fortune while at it. The porn industry is ruining marriages, getting professionals fired, hurting families’ finances, and destroying people’s faith. To discover what can we do about it we must understand why it is so powerful.

First, it involves other people. The truest form of intimacy is to be completely naked with someone else and spend time with them. Being naked with someone is the greatest form of invitation to connect with them and it produces chemicals in our bodies that create an emotional high.

In Genesis 2:15 the Bible reads “it is not good for man to be alone.” God tells us that we are designed to connect with others. God gave us social relationships to bond. He also gave us families to live with and create beautiful memories in the home. Marriage is, without a doubt, the most intimate relationship in the physical world.

Marriage is a bond where you know your spouse’s greatest strengths but also can see them in their most vulnerable state. That is why many want to be married because they want to cherish those moments with that special someone. Unfortunately, we at times can rely on vices to try to give us this “fix” to somehow replace that type of intimacy.

This is why porn is so addictive. It’s not like a substance with which you don’t have an emotional bond with. If your substance is spilled or broken, you may get mad, but you just go ahead and buy some more. But the emotional bond that you can get with seeing someone else naked and in a vulnerable sex position is bizarrely bonding.

I can speak from a man’s point of view that men who are addicted to porn have a tough time bonding with anyone. While they spend hours involved in their vice, they do not realize that they are losing connection with others.

So, what can we do? Connect with the same gender consistently and constantly. In 2 Samuel 11, you will read the story of King David who took time off from his busy military campaign. He sent his army to go off to battle while he remained in the palace all alone. We know from Genesis that it’s not good for man to be alone.

So having idle time, he goes out wandering and notices a beautiful woman bathing. She is naked and David is struck by that vulnerable connection. What King David should’ve done is go back inside his home and be sexually intimate with Abigail, his wife. They were married in 1 Samuel 25. It’s a wonderful and beautiful love story.

But David is not content over the many years of battle. He is worn down and tired. No one can blame him for taking some time off. However, this move by David was selfish because not only did he have wives, but he also had many concubines. 2 Samuel 5:13 tells us that David had both concubines and wives who bore him sons and daughters. This man was having lots of sex.

Why did he want to sleep with Bathsheba? A conqueror always wants to conquer more – they are never satisfied. They could be satisfied with God, their family, and themselves. But when we are giving ourselves over to our vices, we are communicating that we are unsatisfied. We think we are incomplete – not whole.

David was not completely satisfied. His greed wanted more. This mirrors greatly how individuals get addicted to porn. Fifteen minutes leads to one hour. One hour is not enough and that ends up to multiple hours. Then it turns into an entire day and then sadly to a lifetime. Why do you think people can’t just give it up?

The real reason is that the mind has been trained to be reliant on false images in an emotional way. Emotions are fire and they guide us so powerfully. A nation can change by having empathy for one incident. A nation can go into war because they learned of something that triggered the government.

I once saw a movie called Equilibrium that whose premise was if we had no emotions then there would be no more wars and murder. Maybe so. But who wants to live an emotionless life? Nobody. We all want to be free to live our lives as we want. However, emotions can lead us astray and we must break that cycle.

I mentioned in the earlier two paragraphs that getting help from the same gender is key. In 2 Samuel 12, God sends Nathan, a prophet, to correct David’s way of thinking. Why not send a woman? Or a family member? Remember that David involved his “secret service” and his main generals so who would stand up to this mighty King? A man of God. That’s who.

A man of God will help another man become a man of God. This is key in many support groups dealing with addiction because you can’t have a mixed-gender group talking about porn addiction. It wouldn’t be appropriate. Men wouldn’t feel comfortable describing their fetishes with another woman when an actual woman is staring right at them.

It wouldn’t work. So, a man would need another man to listen, confirm and challenge him as part of his sobriety plan. Same for a woman though. A woman shouldn’t be open to a man about her struggles watching porn online. It wouldn’t be a productive talk. A woman may be best suited to talk to another woman to get help. Don’t get me wrong. It’s wonderful for spouses to support each other in their struggles. But it’s best to leave the heavy lifting to the same gender.

Same-gender help is crucial. David would only have listened to a man who had deeper convictions than him. Earlier in King David’s life, he had such a friend by the name of Jonathan. Jonathan and David had many adventures together as they were more than brothers. The bond these men had was unbreakable only by death. Sadly, Jonathan is killed in battle and David mourns for him.

In 2 Samuel 1:25-26 David states “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother, you were very dear to me, your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women”. You see that David’s heart is real and open about how close these men were. They were born in battle. The wars and adventures they fought there together helped them respect each other to a point where their bond was so tight that no one could interfere.

Just like David we are all capable of having such deep and rich friendships. It takes a lot of work. It’s not easy to be in battles day in and day out. However, if we decide to join in battle with one another then we can help each other have victories.

What great battle is there like the war with porn addiction? It’s a beast. Humiliating, depressing, sad, and hopeless. Therefore, we need those Jonathans in our lives to help us grieve, process, and seek help to overcome our issues. We cannot overcome porn addiction on its own. We need help and not just any help, but the help from someone who is the same gender that is willing to keep us accountable.

This is challenging because we don’t want to be called to a different standard, so we want to keep those defenses up. However, in my many years as a professional, and can only tell you that the secret to the success of many leaving this addiction behind is simply getting constant and consistent training from someone who has deep convictions on this issue.

Don’t expect to get much help from someone who is struggling with the same thing. They can be an encouragement and support, but the true catalyst will be the one with deep conviction because they’ve proved themselves capable of staying sober. We need to learn from them and follow in their footsteps. That is the way we are going to get out of this pit.

My question to you is, who is your Jonathan in your life? Maybe you’re not the one who’s addicted but you want to help. Are you someone that can help others? If so, set up a support group and invite people to learn. Please feel free to use this as a launching pad to start helping others who are enslaved to this vice.

If you are looking for someone else, find out if there’s a group, a minister, or a mentor who can help your friend out. This issue is not only for men. My wife, who helps counsel and mentor women, has told me that women are falling into this trap as well. My wife doesn’t tell me specifics or mentions names of course but she tells me that she is shocked to learn that many women are also dealing with this.

According to Psychology Today, statistics say that about 45% of women watch pornography with their partner and about 35% percent on their own. The thing with watching porn once though is that with or without a partner, the craving continues, and once is not enough. It is spiritual cancer that destroys men’s and women’s lives all over the world. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that it can be overcome with help – help in form of the same-gender partnering with those people to have victories in their lives. Let’s not look down on men because that won’t help. Let’s also not look down on women for struggling.

Let’s help one another to get to the root of the issue, which is accountability. We need best friends to talk to and be open. That’s the definition of true intimacy. We want to know and be known, so let’s practice it and marvel at the changes we see in their lives. Then they will see no need for fake intimacy when they can experience the real thing. God Bless!

Photos:
“Anguish”, Courtesy of Alex Iby, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Laptop”, Courtesy of Glenn Carstens-Peters, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Weighed Down”, Courtesy of Jon Tyson, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Romantic Sunset”, Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

Mental Warfare: How to Overcome Psychological Trauma

Bad things happen to good people all the time. Sadly, it seems like in today’s age this is happening more and more often. Has anyone told you that you are a good person lately? Please be assured that you are. The fact that you are reading this piece is because you are trying to battle the mental warfare of psychological trauma.

I can hear you on the other side asking, “Why me?” and “Why am I experiencing this?” And I’m with you on this one. Why you? No one deserves to be mistreated or abused in any way, especially mentally.

You were created to be in God’s image according to Genesis 1:26-28. Think about how we would describe God…Powerful? All-knowing? Loving? These are some of the first attributes that come to mind when would describe him. Well, if we are made in His image, shouldn’t we show similar characteristics?

You may respond “But I’m not God” and that’s true. None of us are God. We are however made in God’s image. If the Scriptures are still true, then we all must look in the mirror and wonder why we sell ourselves short. This is the truth, but we entertain the lies more often. That’s the true challenge in my honest opinion.

The biggest challenge for us is to reframe our thinking so that we don’t believe those distorted thoughts. There’s an incredible passage in Romans 12:2 “we are transformed by renewing our minds”. It blows my mind that we can alter our thinking! Yes, you can alter the way you think which will then change you from the inside out. For us to change our thinking we must do some work and train ourselves so that we can have a renewed focus.

Jesus went through a traumatic experience in his life, and it was recorded in Matthew 14. In the middle of this gospel, his cousin, John the Baptist is tragically beheaded by an evil ruler at the time: “John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.” In verse 13, the Scripture says, “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.”

The verse says that Jesus takes time to be alone and the verse stops right there. I love that the Bible leaves it to our imagination on what happened. Take time to read that verse and put yourself in his shoes. What would you be doing? The Bible doesn’t make it easy for us to read what Jesus did, but the word of God allows us to ponder what he may have been doing.

If you didn’t catch it, the word is reframing our mind right there. God wants us to think. I don’t like thinking too much myself, but I know that this mental warfare is a real thing. It’s easier for us to veg out in front of the television. It’s simple to move on to the next thing and try to forget our past hurt.

But we need to see the example of Jesus and how he took the time to think. Reframing our mindset will help us to change our pattern of thinking into a healthier approach to life. That’s the decision we must make today – the decision to reframe the way we think.

Jesus doesn’t stop there. We continue reading on in Matthew 14:15 that after his time of mourning and praying, Jesus meets with a crowd and he is moved to compassion when he sees the needs of the people. “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

The word “compassion” in Greek means for your “innermost part to be moved”. Though Jesus is sad about losing a loved one, in one night He pulls himself together enough to start helping others the next day. He didn’t take a shortcut nor was he absent from feeling pain. Jesus suffered and knew how to deal with it. He took the night to pray, process, and grieve.

He did not stop there though. Many others would have but not him. He allowed his heart and mind to start thinking about others and how he could help. Have you ever heard of the phrase “Hurt people, hurt people”? I’m here to tell you that Jesus’ case, “hurt people, help people.”

This compassion started on the inside and was a catalyst for Jesus to help others. This empowerment helped Jesus overcome his grief. I don’t think it resolved everything for Jesus at that time, but it was enough for him to get through the day.

Let’s shift the focus to you. How are you doing with your thought patterns? Are you feeling overwhelmed and faint with hopelessness? People have indeed hurt us, and we need to process that. So, the question remains, who are we talking to? How are we going to get help? Are we going to remain in this rut or are we going to do something about it?

It’s time for us to take back our minds and not lend them to these negative thoughts from our past to control us. Some forms of psychological trauma include verbal abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, racism, etc. These leave an imprint in our minds that is hard to forget.

There are many more, but these are some that stand out in 2021. Some may more emotional than others, and others may be more physical than others. Whether something physical happened or not is not the point. The point is that if it degrades our minds, then you can bet it is probably a form of psychological trauma that has shaped our brains.

Our minds are so powerful that if you think long and hard enough you may be able to convince your body to the point of having somatic symptoms. These symptoms will break your body down. Instead of using it to break us down, let us use our minds to build us up as we move forward. Our minds can fight these demons away so that we can be free.

Jesus was no stranger to mental suffering. He was accused and abused by those who hated him, but his mind was free to the point that it helped him overcome all those obstacles. Jesus set an example of how to deal with mental and emotional pain. He wasn’t physically suffering but he suffered for the loss he had. We must act and take small steps so that we can also succeed.

In the rest of chapter 14 in the gospel of Matthew, we see three examples of something important to which we should pay attention. Jesus feeds 5,000 families with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. He then works with Peter to walk on water which must’ve been a remarkable sight. Peter doesn’t last long on the water but before he falls Jesus states that he had little faith.

The fact that Peter walked on water with little faith is something mind-blowing to me because I would think you would need a stratosphere type of faith. Not so with Jesus, however. Even when we doubt and take some steps, he can make us “walk on water.” Lastly, when Jesus lands at his next destination, many people approach him and touch the edge of his cloak to get healed.

What surprises me is that the people didn’t have to even touch him physically! They didn’t have to hold his hand; they didn’t need to hug him or have him touch their foreheads to show some form of connection. They must’ve had so much reverence for him that in those times that wasn’t considered permissible – perhaps because it would’ve been disrespectful.

Even so, many barely grabbed a part of his cloak and were healed because of their small faith. I’m sure by now you can figure it out. The constant denominator in these three examples is that we only need to have small faith for God to work. Many times, we feel we need to be perfectly healed to live life, or that we must “get over” something to function.

The way I read it, this seems contrary to widely held belief. Jesus was hurt and was able to serve others despite his mental and emotional pain. We can do the same. Despite the hurt, we can help others. What small step of faith can you take today? We can call someone and ask for help. We can start journaling. We can set up a therapy appointment. We can go to the beach to pray.

We don’t have to do something enormous. We don’t need to recover before helping even fully someone else out. Do you think Jesus was one hundred percent resolved after his cousin was murdered? I don’t think so. But what he did was profound. He was able to serve as he was healing himself. Your faith doesn’t have to something astronomical. It doesn’t have to be out of this world. It can be something small.

If we do a tiny bit every day, we can take major leaps in our lives. This is how you and I can overcome our mental warfare. We can overcome our psychological trauma. We see the example of Jesus and it makes sense! So, if it’s good enough for Jesus then it should be good enough for us. Decide to something small today and get help. You will be victorious. I leave you with this Scripture to inspire you:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.Philippians 4:4-9

Christian Counseling for Psychological Trauma

If you would like additional help and support regarding how to overcome psychological trauma, I invite you to contact me or one of the other counselors in the counselor directory to schedule an appointment. It would be my honor to serve you in this capacity.

Photos:
“Caged”, Courtesy of Christopher Windus, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Drowning”, Courtesy of Nikko Macaspac, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Disequilibrium”, Courtesy of Joshua Fuller, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Walking Down the Road”, Courtesy of Emma Simpson, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

Help! My Husband is a Sex Addict

If you suspect that your husband is a sex addict, you have come to the right place to get some guidance. If he watches porn on the internet and uses his phone to look at inappropriate pictures of other women, you may be wondering whether there is hope. The good news is that there is — and not just any hope, but the hope of God.

Recall your wedding day. Remember both of you standing on the altar and looking into his eyes as he was saying to you that he would be faithful and loving until the day he dies. I am sure at this moment you don’t feel that at all and that is okay. This article is not to persuade you about your valid emotions.

This article is written to help you understand that those vows are more important now than ever! Your husband has his issues, but where there is love, there is a way to overcome hurt. Here is insight into how we can help your husband out so that we can do our best to salvage your relationship.

If Your Husband is a Sex Addict: How to Help

First, why is he indulging in this? Have you ever heard of the phrase “Hurt people, hurt people”? This statement means that if I am hurt, then obviously I am going to hurt others. Does it have to be that way? If everyone who is hurting, hurts others, this world would be even more tragic to live in.

God doesn’t want us to hurt others just because we are hurt ourselves. Your husband hurt you. He hurt you because he is hurting. It’s easy to say that porn addiction is disgusting and absurd. However, in Romans 3:23 the Bible states that sin is sin. Meaning that there’s no sin that’s greater than the other. They are all the same.

That is a tough pill to swallow especially when we are hurt. We may think that when we are hurt by loved ones, that their sin is greater than others. The truth is that all sin is offensive, and all sin is equal. In my ministerial work, this levels the playing field between spouses so that there’s no self-righteousness.

Your husband did an awful thing, and we are hoping and praying that he can get help so that he can heal – the single best thing for a sex addict to do. If we keep yelling at him, telling him that he is a monster, that will not do much. We can beat people over the head about their failures, but we must take a more effective approach.

Secondly, your husband needs you to be his greatest support. God is there with you all. The human being that needs him now more than ever is you. You have been an outstanding wife. You are a great mom, you cook and clean, you help pay the bills and do the dirty work around the home. You have grown in sexual intimacy with your husband and given him your best. You didn’t deserve this – you deserve better!

So, should you just quit, get a divorce, and move on? Maybe. You should fight for your husband’s sobriety. He needs your help, and one way we can help him to do find out why he is engaging in this pattern. Giving up on him will only tempt you to sexual sin, tempt him to struggle with sexual sin as well. Ninety-nine percent of men struggle with sexual sin and whether they admit that they are addicts or not is another conversation.

Men in America engage in sexual sin on an almost daily basis. There’s online pornography, Tik Tok videos, social media, movies, magazines, commercials, other women flirting with them, etc. It’s everywhere. The battle rages on! Some men have been able to manage it well and are on a maintenance plan. Some are having challenging times and giving in. Some have good months and then have some bad months.

There’s no exact science to this. You need to know that most men struggle with this and are battling with it. That doesn’t excuse the behavior, nor does it make it okay to continue in it. The point is that we give up only to meet someone else who will struggle with that same thing. That’s why we need to remember our vows – in sickness and in health.

Your husband’s addiction is a disease. It’s destroying his self-esteem, mental health, and most of all his relationship with you. Who is going to support him now? I hope it’s you. You can be there for him to listen to him and ask him deep questions on why he is behaving this way. You can ask him what his childhood was like and about his first sexual experiences. That can tell you a lot about why he is doing what he is doing.

Men are called pigs and dogs for engaging in this behavior but are rarely called heroes in their homes when they are faithful. Husbands are working hard and trying to do their best to support their families, yet they get the least encouragement from their loved ones. They hear complaining and bickering which makes them want to tune out. The most common way for a man to tune out is to tune in sexually.

At first, it may start as an innocent crush or curiosity. Later, however, it develops into a relentless cycle of addiction that leaves them hopeless. Men need to be built up and encouraged for them to feel safe enough to be open. I encourage any reader to ask that question to see how your husband would respond. He may cry or he may get angry but that’s the point. He is feeling stuff and not dealing with it.

So, the wife can see that her role is to support him and be genuinely vulnerable. Being vulnerable is not yelling or venting at him. Vulnerability is exposing your deepest insecurities which then would breed more vulnerability on his part. He needs to do his part also. You aren’t going to save him. That is Jesus’ job.

He needs to be open with other men to get help. The best solution for men to overcome their sexual addiction is to have other men challenge them and get them on a plan. I’m sure you wouldn’t want a random woman to help him unless she’s a trained professional. With that in mind, I would highly recommend that you aren’t his only support for this issue. A minister, a therapist, a men’s’ support group, an addiction recovery group could all help your husband.

He needs to be open in those groups with other men who are battling with this issue. Too many times, the wife can turn a blind eye, or overexert herself, or simply complain, but unfortunately, it leads to little productivity. The true change will be when another man or a few good men talk to your man face to face about his problem. There may be resistance at first, opposition and whining about it, too.

The good thing is that if you keep requesting him to get help, he may eventually do it. What if he doesn’t? Then I would recommend you join a co-dependency group or a woman’s support group to get help. You may be thinking to yourself, why me? You are not responsible for his mistakes.

Your example will be super humbling to him. Imagine yourself telling him, “If you don’t want to get help then I will.” On Tuesday prepare dinner for you and the kids and I will meet with the ladies for support.” You don’t do it out of retaliation or spite, but because you are fighting for your relationship. He may hold his cards and remain tough. But while you are away, there will be no doubt that you will be on his mind. He will be humbled to get help.

Over time, he may give in and be curious about getting help. This step empowers you, but it also frees you from being a victim. You are not a victim! I will say it again, you are not a victim! You are a noble woman of God who is experiencing what many other women have or are currently experiencing in their lives.

That idea is freeing because some women lose hope that anything will change. The change will occur when changes are made. A tiny step can lead to an adventure. Someone must take the first step. Scary as it may be, it is necessary. Your husband may follow you because humility often breeds humility. Often, when the family takes a step in one direction the rest will soon follow behind.

If the worst happens, and he refuses to get help from anyone, then you have some choices to make. You can get advice from those closest to you on how to conduct a major intervention to get his attention. Some ideas can include, having friends visit him at the home, the family making a video for him, or individuals from your church writing him letters.

As a minister, I never would tell someone to leave someone but taking a vacation so he can marinate on his thoughts could also be helpful. Staying with your parents for a weekend could help wake him up. Please tell him beforehand so that he isn’t taken by surprise. That would not be beneficial. The time away may help awaken the true love you both have for each other.

Let’s do a quick recap. His sin is his sin. You are not at fault. You can be his biggest cheerleader through this tough time. You can be curious and ask questions about his childhood and why he could be hurting.

Hurt people hurt people, so try to figure out what he is trying to escape and avoid. Often, men watch porn because they want relief and gratification. It may not be that he doesn’t love you or find you attractive, it may simply be that he is looking for an escape.

Porn and sex addiction is a deep issue and needs to be addressed by other men so your husband can be challenged and held accountable. Sometimes interventions can help, and space is needed. All interventions should be done with respect and lots of guidance and support. Hopefully, these tips can lead you to a breakthrough in your marriage with your loved one! Don’t forget those vows! They are precious!

If you need additional help, please feel free to contact me or one of the other counselors listed in the counselor directory to schedule a counseling appointment. We would be more than happy to help.

Photos:
“Watching out the window.”, Courtesy of Taylor Deas-Melesh, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Tossed by the Waves”, Courtesy of Alex Iby, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Am I good enough?”, Courtesy of Hello I’m Nik, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Wedding Bands”, Courtesy of Sandy Millar, Unsplash.com, CC0 License