Tag Archives: stop pornography

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.