Tag Archives: stop using porn

Q&A with J: Is Animated Porn a Problem?

I recently talked about seeing porn, and I thought this was a great follow-up question from a reader:

I’ve been reading your blog posts for a while now, but the one you recently did on your first experience with porn stirred me to email you with a question. Does animated porn, featuring not-real people, affect people like traditional porn does (and if so, how?). Whenever I read blogs on the effects of porn and similar topics, I feel that none of the topics they cover apply to animated porn. This leads me to believe the two are significantly different at least in terms of their effects. In short, I was hoping to hear your opinion on the subject.

Blog post title with ANIMATED word 3D against a bunch of 2D letters

I hadn’t actually seen any animated porn before this question. This is always a tough thing for a Christian sex blogger: How much do I go look up to be fully informed on the issue? And how much “research” is crossing a line?

Typing in “animated porn” in Google, the top hits were videos on porn sites. I knew I didn’t want to see any of that. I figured a few still images instead would give me the sense of what’s out there so I could speak to the issue as a whole. Clicking over to images, I saw maybe a page of stuff, and clicked right off. Don’t run this search! Rather, let me tell you what animated porn is like, so you’ll know and then we can all move on.

It’s not typically sketches or the stuff of comic strips. It’s three-dimensional animation that features highly unrealistic body parts and sexual acts. Think about it: Even things that can’t exist with real humans can exist with the tools of computer-generated imagery.

Animated porn is not artistic, but rather salacious.

So yeah, it’s porn. It’s an image generated to sexually titillate you in a way removed from God’s design for sex in marriage. Perhaps you’d put this more in the category of erotica than porn, because it’s pure fantasy, but it shares several problematic features:

 1. It’s inherently selfish. This stuff is designed to stimulate and satisfy solo sexual desires. The interaction is you and a screen. Now I know some argue that if you watch porn, even animated porn, together, it can arouse you and then you act out your sexuality with each other. To which some small part of me always wants to say, “Jeez, are you so lame at turning on your mate that you have to feed them porn? Up your game!”

Okay, maybe that’s a little too unfiltered. But the point is merely that you are using someone else (albeit a computer-drawn character) to get you turned on, rather than making the effort to connect with your spouse. But getting aroused by your spouse is always the model for sexual intimacy in the Bible.

Getting aroused by your spouse is always the model for sexual intimacy in the Bible. Click To Tweet

2. It’s lusting. Jesus said, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Since you’re using those animated characters specifically for the purpose of sexual arousal and satisfaction, you have to be lusting while you’re watching it.

In the Book of Job, the grief-stricken Job defends his innocence in this way:

If my heart has been seduced by a woman,
  or if I have lusted for my neighbor’s wife,
then let my wife serve another man;
  let other men sleep with her.
For lust is a shameful sin,
  a crime that should be punished.
It is a fire that burns all the way to hell.
  It would wipe out everything I own” (31:9-12, NLT)

He doesn’t say, “If I cheated on my wife…” He says if I was seduced by another woman or lusting after another’s wife, and he proclaims lust “a shameful sin.” I know that a real woman and an animated one are not the exact same thing, but can you really see Job saying, “Hey God, I only lusted after the three-dimensional CGI babes with the big knockers, so cut me a break!” Nope, it’s all lusting.

3. It’s objectifying. Trust me on this one. These are not normal people. Their sexual features are incredibly pronounced, so the obvious goal is viewing these characters as a collection of body parts. You are not looking at animated porn and coming away with, “Gee, he had nice green eyes and a kind demeanor.”

Yes, of course we linger on our mate’s body parts at times. Song of Songs has passages like these:

Your breasts are like two fawns, twin fawns of a gazelle grazing among the lilies” (4:5).

His body is like bright ivory, glowing with lapis lazuli” (5:14).

But making love with your spouse involves an appreciation of the whole person, not just the “goodies.” And it’s not okay to treat others as body parts there for your entertainment. Yes, these are pretend characters, but you’re training your mind to see others and sex itself as a body part showcase, rather than focusing on the intimacy God desires a married couple to have.

I’ll admit that yes, animated porn is less horrifying to me, just like erotica, for this one reason: Real people are not involved on the other end.

Having read quite a bit about the porn industry, my heart genuinely aches for those who engage in the making of porn. I’ve heard the whole “they’re consenting…they’re emotionally healthy…they’re providing a service” arguments. But I don’t buy that treating your own body like an object for display is a good thing. It’s disrespectful to yourself and to God’s creation.

No good parent would say, “Hey, I can’t wait for my daughter to grow up and show off her private parts to the world.” Why on earth would we think God wants that for any of his daughters? Or sons?

So yeah, I’ll give you that one, that animated porn isn’t quite the same as real-life porn. But it’s still wrong, because it’s selfish, it’s lusting, and it’s objectifying.

Focus on your spouse and arousing one another. That’s far more worth your time and honoring to the One who created sex.

The First Time I Saw Porn

I originally sat down to write about what all I’ve learned about pornography from research and then how the Bible looks at porn and what it does to marriage. I still want to write that post, but as I thought about the topic, my mind wandered back to the first time I saw porn.

Blog post title + XXX-adults only wordsOne little research tidbit I’ll include here is that the average age a person is exposed to pornography is around 13. And that’s how old I was when I was at a friend’s house and she reported that her older brother kept Playboy magazines in his closet. He wasn’t home, and she offered to show me one.

Curiosity impelled me to say yes.

I’d seen adult magazines in convenience stores behind sealed packages that blocked out the private areas of women sprawled on their covers, and I’d heard stories of the sordid features of porn magazines. I wanted to find out for myself what was going on inside those slick covers.

My friend pulled down one of the magazines, and we flipped through. I couldn’t tell you what all was in there, because only two pieces have stayed with me all these years. I’m going to describe them in as clinical a way as I can. One was a sexual fantasy story about a woman on an airplane who engages in various activities with several passengers. The other was an image of a woman wearing barely-there lingerie (not covering breasts or genitalia), positioned in a way that focused on her private parts.

I can’t conjure up the specifics of either the story or the image. However, I absolutely remember how I felt. And that’s what I want to share.

I admit that I was fascinated. My curiosity was assuaged, and I was amazed that this whole world existed. Who were the people who put out a magazine like this? Who wrote sex fantasy stories? Who posed for nudie photographs to be shared with anyone willing to pay a few bucks to ogle the page?

But mostly, I felt violated. My stomach muscles tensed, and bile rose to the my throat. I felt creepy and wrong and just off-kilter. Something inside me revolted against the idea of treating women and sex this way. It almost felt like a personal attack as well: Was this what men thought women were good for? Was this what they really wanted women to be? Were we just a collection of body parts? I certainly hoped not.

But then I had another moment of curiosity. Not just about what men wanted, but what my own body was doing. Was I only feeling tension and disgust? Or did something else in me, some strange trigger reaction, want to know more about this whole world of sexuality and what it all meant? Yes, I was repulsed, but also intrigued.

A wave of guilt followed. Not only did I think I’d get in trouble if my friend and I were caught looking at a girly magazine, but I felt it was wrong — both what this magazine was doing and my choice to look. I also knew what I’d seen wouldn’t soon disappear from my mind, and I’d be wrestling with these thoughts a while longer.

Yet another part of me just felt sad. I felt sorry for women who allowed themselves to be treated this way, as merely a tool for sexual arousal and fantasy. The photographed woman especially made me wonder about who she really is, and did anyone looking at the picture care? Or was she only valuable for the size of her breasts and her willingness to strike an erotic pose?

Now when I saw this magazine, I knew very little about sex. At that point, I might have held a boy’s hand. But in a way, my lack of sexual education and personal experience allowed me to look at the magazine with fresh eyes. And my personality is to mull and reflect thoroughly about my experiences. Had I reacted with such aversion purely because of my religious background, or was something else going on — some more deeper and instinctive response?

Of course I didn’t answer all those questions at the tender age of 13.

Throughout the years since, I’ve actually grown less concerned about the rules and more concerned about hearts, relationships, and honoring the Lord. And from that place, I’ve lost all that curiosity and fascination I had when I first saw porn. Yet, I’m left with the same disgust and sadness.

Whoever that poor woman was that appeared in the Playboy issue I saw, she was someone’s daughter and deserved better than to be consumed by greedy eyeballs wanting a cheap thrill. Honestly, even I can’t remember anything about her face, and that’s a shame. Wasn’t she a person? And yet how did I treat her? Like the object she was displayed as being.

That is nothing like how God tells us to treat others.

Some husbands (and some wives) say that looking at porn isn’t a big deal — they just like looking at naked women; it has nothing to do with how they feel about their wives; and it doesn’t affect their intimacy in the marriage bed. Some men suggest we ladies have just made up all this brouhaha about porn being bad and we get our panties in a twist over nothing.

Men still looking at porn: Do you know what your choice says about your view of women? Your view of sexuality?  Do you understand why it upsets so many wives? If you think it’s okay to treat women that way, what might your wife conclude about how you view her in the marriage bed?

Yes, you say it’s different, and I believe you to some extent, but your actions don’t send the right message. They’re making your wife feel emotionally unsafe.

Okay, someone out there is saying: “But my wife is different — she understands / watches porn with me.” You might even argue that it’s helping your sex life. But tell me what you’re doing to that person posing for you: Can you imagine Jesus ever treating someone the way you’re treating that porn star, as a collection of arousing body parts?

Do you recall how you felt the first time you saw porn? Because I suspect you had a mix of emotions too. Some of curiosity, fascination, and perhaps even arousal; but also something sinister in the back of your mind, the pit of your stomach, the core of your heart.

Maybe that sinister feeling was a warning, a nudge from our conscience.

Ultimately, porn is sin. Pure and simple. And it’s time to seek something better.

It’s True: Porn Can Kill Your Sex Life

I’ve been reading about porn lately, not because that’s my favorite subject, but because I saw two excellent articles about the problems with porn — from secular sources.

Time Magazine’s April 11, 2016 edition had a feature article on Porn: Why young men who grew up with Internet porn are becoming advocates for turning it off.* The author, Belinda Luscombe, did a fair job of reporting what’s happening in science and society as people discover what the Bible has said all along: Sexual intimacy isn’t about using others for your own pleasure. That approach messes with your ability to enjoy what God intended you to have.

Sexual intimacy isn't about using others for your own pleasure. God has a better plan. Click To Tweet

The focus of that article is previous porn users who discovered how their heavy porn diet impaired their ability to perform and connect with a real woman. It’s called Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction (PIED), and more doctors are seeing erectile problems with younger men. The theory is that the men are desensitized to normal sexual stimuli and require a level of imagery, intensity, and novelty that isn’t real-life. Thankfully, some of these men are speaking up against the very activity they used to frequently pursue, warning of the dangers and consequences of consuming pornography.

It's True: Porn Can Kill Your Sex Life

Then there are Drs. John and Julie Gottman of the Gottman Institute, famous for their marriage and relationship research. Although previously proponents of using porn to increase intimacy in relationships, they have changed their minds. I encourage you to read An Open Letter on Porn. They lay out several reasons why pornography is detrimental to the user and to their significant other, including sexual arousal difficulties and mistreatment of women in porn.

Based on various studies, they conclude that “use of pornography by one partner leads the couple to have far less sex and ultimately reduces relationship satisfaction.”

Now I’ve heard the arguments that it goes the other way — for instance, a husband not having sex and experiencing low relationship satisfaction then seeks out porn to fill in the gap. But as much as I feel for those in a sexless marriage, that’s not helping!

In the long run, you’re making it harder for both of you to engage in satisfying sexual intimacy if and when the opportunity rises. You’re messing with your view of how your wife should be behave (she is not your sex toy) and how sex itself works. And you’re not satisfying yourself anyway, because you have to get more frequent and stronger stimuli to get the same “high.” Your body responds sexually, but it doesn’t respond with the satisfactory bonding you get when you make love to your wife.

Another thing that always crops up when I address porn is: What about women?! Aren’t they looking at porn? Or reading steamy romance? Yes, they are. The percentage of women viewing porn is increasing, and it’s a real concern. If any woman reading this is struggling with pornography, the one ministry I know designed to help is Dirty Girls Ministries. Check it out.

And I’ve written plenty about the problems with romance novels and erotic novels that promote terrible ideas about sexuality. Look, this is a case of “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30). Anything opposed to God’s design for sex is a problem we Christians need to address.

Anything opposed to God's design for sex is a problem we Christians need to address. Click To Tweet

I’m glad that secular research is catching up to what God has said all along. The momentary pleasure of viewing pornography is too high a price and robs you of what God intended when He created sex.

If you’re in this struggle right now — either yourself or your spouse — get help. No more dithering: Today is the day. Talk to your spouse. Confess to a godly confidant. Make an appointment with a counselor. Join an accountability group. Get on your knees before God.

Don’t let this ruin your sex life. Here are a few Christian-based sites you might want to visit:

XXX Church (porn recovery for men)
Covenant Eyes (internet accountability)
Dirty Girls Ministries (for women)

Also, don’t be naive about your kids. I’ve talked with my sons about this temptation, and they’ve estimated that 70-80% of guys in their high school watch porn regularly. They’re probably right, and I bet their parents have no idea. Speak regularly with your teenagers about what God desires for their lives, including their someday sex life — which starts with making right and wise decisions now. An anti-porn site aimed specifically at youth is Fight the New Drug (not Christian, but has good overall information).

As Christians and Churches, we need to stay well-informed and outspoken against anything so against God’s design for His children and for sex in marriage. This isn’t simply a cause for us to take up and pat ourselves for doing the right thing. Our denunciation of pornography and erotica is about saving individuals, marriages, and souls.

*The Time article is available online only to subscribers. I read the article by accessing the magazine at my local library.

5 Reasons to Stop Using Porn…Now

woman covering eyesNow and then, I see pornography statistics in one source or another — the percentage of people using porn, the amount of money spent, the number of hours consumed, and more. Although I’ve long recognized porn as a huge problem, the stats never fail to surprise me in some way.

Maybe it’s how young people are when exposed. Maybe it’s how much free porn is now available online. Maybe it’s the percentage of people who believe porn is a morally acceptable practice.

Why exactly am I surprised? Because the damage is so clear for anyone willing to look at statistics, studies, and marriages impacted by porn. If you’re using pornography, it’s time to stop. Here are just five reasons why:

1. It messes with your brain. There is absolutely no doubt that watching pornography alters your brain function. Brain research and measurable outcomes are clear. Viewing porn retrains your brain to see sexual imagery as the main way to achieve sexual pleasure, to desire greater and greater variety and even cruelty as part of the experience, and to objectify potential partners.

Strong effects are seen with as little five hours per week. Unfortunately, some view five hours in an afternoon. If you really want to know how pornography is messing with your brain, check out Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain by William M. Struthers, Your Brain on Porn (free ebook from Covenant Eyes), and/or this TED Talk: The Great Porn Experiment by Gary Wilson.

2. It makes real sex less satisfying. I cringe every time some secular “expert” suggests a couple watch pornography to kick-start their sexual intimacy. Because the real data show a very different result. Those who engage in pornography tend to miss out on the more meaningful and fulfilling experience of sexual pleasure with their mate.

Pornography focuses on imagery and the physical aspect of sex, and it contains many myths about sex. Users, therefore, become less satisfied with the real thing — expecting sex to look like what they see on screen (or read). Their disappointment can lead to seeking greater and greater highs, all the while missing that true sexual fulfillment isn’t all about increasing your physical pleasure quota. Rather, sex involves a real person (your spouse); includes mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects; and satisfies when it represents a commitment and relational intimacy.

3. It encourages abuse. If you’re viewing porn, you need to think very carefully about how your consumer habits influence those who put out the product. A lot of abuse occurs in the porn industry, and our societal support has a detrimental effect on those involved. Think of it this way: If a lot people attend cock fights, more roosters will fight and die (one reason it’s illegal here). Likewise, the more people who watch porn, the more porn actors will be injured, contract sexual diseases, and take drugs to numb their senses. (See Why Do Women Pose for Porn?)

Plus, the prevalence of minors being used for porn imagery has greatly increased. Make no mistake: The increasing demand for porn will be met in part by kids under age 18. Sex traffickers are more than willing to use their victims for pornography. I believe the vast majority of people would cringe at the idea of involving children in the making of porn, but it happens whether the larger population is aware or not, because of high demand and ease of anonymity.

4. It dishonors your spouse. I was once in a wives’ prayer group in which one woman claimed her husband’s pornography habit didn’t bother her because “that’s what men do.” But you could tell that it did bother her, that her husband constantly looking at other women sexually conveyed a message — a message that she wasn’t enough. Just sitting here thinking about her, my heart aches.

When you gaze longingly, lustfully, sexually at others, you dishonor your spouse. You send a message that they aren’t enough to arouse and satisfy your sexual desire. I’m not talking about a stray thought of a gorgeous person passing you by on the street, but the dwelling of your mind on someone else and using that to titillate your sex drive. Porn is definitely in the category of allowing someone besides your spouse to arouse you sexually. And what does that communicate to him or her?

Frankly, most of us have enough built-in insecurities that having to compete for attention with a porn star is a big ol’ slap-in-the-face. Spouses should be reassuring of their focus and love and commitment to one another, and one another alone. There’s a reason why the song “I Only Have Eyes for You” hit the top Billboard charts three different times. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your marriage partner had this attitude?

You are here and so am I
Maybe millions of people go by
But they all disappear from view
And I only have eyes for you

5. It is a sin. If we go looking for a commandment that simply says, “Thou Shalt Not View Pornography,” you’d be right to say there is no such thing. But short of an outright statement like that, the Bible can’t get much clearer that pornography is not God’s intention for sexuality. So let’s take an honest, no-excuses approach to whether porn is sinful.

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Hebrews 13:4

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman. For what is our lot from God above, our heritage from the Almighty on high? Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? Does he not see my ways and count my every step?” Job 31:1-4

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” Colossians 3:5

That’s just a sampling. Moreover, many scriptures talk about guarding our hearts and our minds, so we remained focused on the things of God. Yes, the “things of God” include sex — with your spouse as He designed. But involving a third party, even in the form of an image, detours from His path. Pornography is simply wrong.

Let me add that many people approach this subject with a “what can I get away with?” attitude — wanting to know how far they can go before crossing some imaginary line. The better question is: How can I honor God with my sexuality? Then seek that higher goal.

That’s five reasons why pornography needs to get off your computer or other device and out of your life. There is a better way. Do what’s necessary to seek that better way.

What negative impact has porn had in your marriage and your life? What other reasons can you name to stop using porn?