The Science of Internet Porn–And What It Does to Sons and Husbands

Happy Saturday, everyone, and to my American friends–happy long weekend!

It’s my birthday weekend. I turn 44 tomorrow. Wow.

Anyway, I thought I’d leave you with a 16 minute video that is SO IMPORTANT to watch. Seriously, just put it on while you’re doing dishes or something today. But please watch it.

It explains the science behind what happens when men watch porn, and traces how porn causes low libido, erectile dysfunction, addiction, depression, and passivity.

And it offers hope for how our brains can change.

It also explains the impact, especially on young teenagers.

So many of you have husbands who watch porn. I think if those men could watch this video, they may finally understand why it’s a problem. And all parents need to see this:

I know it’s heavy, but I hope that gives you something to think about as you’re gardening and spending some family time this weekend!

Wifey Wednesday: Do You Need Controls/Filters on Your Computer?

Christian Marriage Advice

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a post, and then you all can comment or link up your own marriage post in the linky at the bottom.

Today I want to talk about internet accountability.

Do You Need Internet Controls or Filters on Your Computer?

When I was a little girl, about 9 years old, I was staying at a sleepover at a friend’s house. The friend belonged to a good family. Yet while there, she showed me the stack of porn magazines of her dad’s that were back there in that shed. I found the pictures fascinating (and hard to get out of my mind).

Yet back then it was hard to see porn unless someone actually went to a store and bought it. So it was relatively easy to avoid. You had to make the decision to get in your car, drive to the store, ask for the magazine, and fork over the money. At any one of those points you could have changed your mind. It wasn’t such a temptation because it wasn’t easily accessible.

Today the most common emails I get from women are from those who have caught their husbands using porn, or soliciting women for online sex (which only happens after they’ve already indulged in lots of porn). These women are devastated, and they don’t know what to do.

One recent study found that 86% of Christian men will seek out porn if they know they won’t get caught. We as women need to recognize what a HUGE temptation this is to men (and to many women as well).

And what about our kids? When they’re starting to get sexual feelings, it’s asking an awful lot of them to refrain from checking things out on the internet.

Do we understand how huge a problem porn is? I don’t think we do, or we would take more steps to stop it. Porn use is not all caused by women withholding sex in marriage; porn is a separate temptation, and can happen even in marriages where she wants sex very much (and, in fact, in many marriages the wife wants sex, but the husband doesn’t because he’s getting sexual release elsewhere). Porn use also often predates marriage, and many men find it difficult to stop.

And now women are increasingly using it, too, thinking that porn is somehow empowering our sex drives.

Yet why is porn harmful?

 

  • Porn can make it difficult for you to become aroused by your spouse, since your arousal is now focused on media, not relationship.
  • Porn makes sex into something that is purely physical, not something that is intimate. Then it becomes very difficult to experience sex as intimate.
  • Porn makes fantasy during sex necessary to “complete the deed”, since you can’t focus on your spouse. Sex becomes selfish.
  • For young people, porn sets them up to entirely unrealistic expectations and unhealthy arousal patterns.

Porn will not stop just because we want it to.

  • Studies have found that porn is even more addictive than crack. It triggers chemical reactions in the brain that are intense and hard to resist. Just because someone wants to stop does not mean that they easily can.
  • In other addictions, the only thing that has consistently worked is accountability. We need others to help us; it’s not a matter of just “praying harder” or “believing more”. It’s a matter of being there for each other.
  • Porn is too easily accessible, and too easy to access anonymously, to think that teenagers and adults will always be able to resist temptation, even if they have not used porn in the past.

CovenantEyes.com

Stop Temptation Before It Starts with Covenant Eyes

You install the program, and then someone you trust receives a report of all the websites you visit. Voila! Temptation gone.

Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability tracks every site you visit, rates each one for its content using six age-based ratings, (such as T for Teen or M for Mature) and delivers a regular report to the friend you choose.

The best part about this? You do not have to be your husband’s accountability partner! If he slips up, he knows he’ll be talking to another guy about it. But you can let it go and trust that this guy will follow up so that you don’t have to.

It’s not healthy to serve as his accountability partner, anyway, so this way someone who doesn’t even live in the same house can still help your husband avoid temptation.

But you can make sure that YOU avoid temptation, too! And you can watch what your kids are watching as well. Don’t assume that just because you have daughters, not sons, that this won’t be a problem. The fastest growing demographic for viewing porn right now are teenage girls. We all need accountability–even females.

Features

Customizable reports

The easy-to-read reports can be customized so your accountability partner isn’t overwhelmed having to scroll through mountains of data. It can report only when you visit sites ranked Highly Mature, for instance.

Covenant Eyes also rates and reports web searches, such those done in Google, Bing, and other search engines, and keeps track of YouTube videos (and other videos) watched, too.

Mobile accountability

Covenant Eyes can also be installed on iPads, iPhones, iPods (great for teens!), and even Android devices. And these apps are free when you subscribe to Internet Accountability on your computer. Learn more about Accountability for mobile devices.

Optional filtering

For $1.50 more, add Internet filtering to your Windows computers for added protection.

Try it today for one month free!

Covenant Eyes Accountability starts at $8.99/month, but Covenant Eyes is offering it to readers of To Love, Honor and Vacuum free for the first 30 days when you sign up using the promocode tlhv.

Learn more about Covenant Eyes’ pricing.

Seriously, this isn’t something we should just let be. I’ve heard people say things like, “you have to trust people. And everyone needs to learn to withstand temptation.” Or “one day your kids will move out and they’ll have to stand on their own two feet, so don’t shelter them too much now.” I do understand that line of thinking. But we wouldn’t lead a teenage boy into a strip club and say, “remember, you’re only here for the chicken wings. Just don’t look at anything.” I think we forget how strong a temptation this can honestly be. And if there’s a tool that will help people avoid temptation–when the ramifications of not doing so are so great–why would you not take it?

Talk to your husband about this. Talk to your kids about this. Maybe it’s time ALL of you got accountable. Not just the men, but we women, too. I think it’s a great tool, and as a wife and the mother of teenagers, I endorse it wholeheartedly.

I get so many heartbreaking emails, and I want the problem to stop. I think this is one tool we have in our arsenal, and I hope that many of you will take me up on it!

Now, what do you have to share with us today about marriage? Link up a marriage post in the linky below, and be sure to share the link back here so other people can read great marriage posts, too. And you can copy my button code from the sidebar!



Wifey Wednesday: Is Porn Cheating?

wifey wednesday

 

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up! Today I’m going to deal with a question I get a lot: Is Porn Cheating?

Is Porn Cheating? A look at why it is--and what we should do about it.One of the most common problems that I hear about from women is that their husbands use porn. Men start turning to porn, and then they stop turning to their wives. It’s really so, so sad, because so many men are trapped in it. I get so many emails just like this one:

My husband watches porn and I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve told him I don’t like it but I caught him again. What do I do?

Now porn users aren’t necessarily male. About 30% of porn users are now female, so let’s not assume it’s always the guy. Nevertheless, it is a problem that many males battle.  But regardless of the gender of the user, how serious a problem is porn?

Well, Jesus said in Matthew 5:28:

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Now some blogs, primarily in the “manosphere” (the blogs that talk to men about how marriage law and society is tilted towards women and away from men) have given me grief because I’ve come out so hard against pornography, but haven’t seemed to take a similar stand against romance novels. And besides, porn isn’t necessarily cheating, they say. Men aren’t necessarily lusting after those women; they’re merely using porn to get excited, in the same way that women use romance novels to get excited. But using something else to get excited, instead of your partner, is lust. You are using something other than your spouse for sexual gratification and arousal. And that is wrong.

And let’s be perfectly blunt and a little bit gross: porn and masturbation go hand in hand, if you’ll excuse the pun. Rarely do you have one without the other.

Can romance novels inspire lust and fantasy? Yes, but they don’t necessarily do it. Romance novels can fuel dissatisfaction with one’s spouse, but they don’t always. Porn, on the other hand, was created primarily to arouse, and that is what it does, so much so that porn users often come to the point that they require porn to get aroused. So while romance novels CAN be bad, by setting up unrealistic romantic fantasies, porn ALWAYS is. Do you see the difference? Watching porn is lust. It distorts our sexuality, making sex about merely the physical, and not the relational and spiritual connection. It makes it harder to become aroused by a person. To compare Jane Austen to Hustler magazine is ridiculous. My 11-year-old read Jane Austen’s books. But I’d never let her touch Hustler. With romance novels, some of us may take them too far, but many will not. With porn, the intention is that it be taken that way.

But is porn cheating?

When I asked my my Facebook fans “is watching porn cheating?” the overwhelming response was “yes”. So here’s the thing for men to understand: to women, watching porn is cheating, even if you say the porn has nothing to do with your wife.

But I’m not sure the answer is as clear-cut as this, because there are really two aspects to the question: the spiritual and the practical. Spiritually, Jesus said it was the same. But the practical question is really the more important one: adultery is grounds for divorce. Is porn grounds for divorce? Jesus also said, in that same passage, that whoever hates his brother is guilty of murder. Yet we don’t lock up people for bearing a grudge. So I think we have to tread carefully.

I do believe pornography is a sin. It’s a sin against one’s own body, it’s a sin against God, and it’s a sin against one’s spouse. It wrecks the sexual relationship, and wrecks one’s spiritual intimacy both with God and one’s spouse. It is bad in every way.

But that does not mean that the marriage cannot be redeemed, and nor does it necessarily mean that the spouse (normally the wife, but it could go the other way) has grounds for divorce. I have known many women whose husbands have cheated on them with actual women, and I think to compare a guy who occaisonally looks at porn to that is unfair. The hurt is far greater.

However, I have known other women who are married to compulsive masturbators who use porn everyday, and occasionally even when children are running around. In many ways this is worse than a one night stand.

Thus, it’s hard to make a definitive rule. It depends on the situation, and because God hates divorce, and because divorce is so devastating for all involved, I would err on the side of patience and grace for as long as is possible. So with that in mind, let’s look at what to do if your husband watches porn (and I’ll talk about it in those terms now since it is primarily women who read this blog.)

1. Confront Your Husband

If you suspect he’s using porn, often because he has no sexual interest in you, ask him point blank. If he says no, ask him to see his computer and his phone. If he refuses, you likely have a problem.

Have a serious talk with him and tell him that you will not put up with this. This is endangering the marriage, is sinning against you, against him, and against God, and endangers the children. It must stop.

2. Install Filters

Install filters on your computer that eliminate porn, or that send emails so you can see what he’s watching on the computer. Some men actually are relieved to be discovered, and find this freeing, because most men who use porn don’t actually want to. It’s become a compulsion.

You can also install an accountability program like Covenant Eyes, which will send an email to an accountability partner of your choice whenever you access a site you shouldn’t. It’s a great deterrent! Find out more here. And use the code TLHV to get your first month free!

If he refuses, then you really need some more help. Talk to a mentor at church, or your pastor, and get some outside counsel as to what to do.

3. Ask Your Pastor for an Accountability Partner

Ask your husband to request an accountability partner at church–another man that he can talk to. You should not be his accountability partner, because he can’t be honest with you if he slips up. You’ll be very upset. He needs someone with distance whom he can confess his struggles to without dealing with fallout in the relationship.

4. Rebuild Your Sex Life

You can’t compete by buying lingerie, or by being extra kinky, because the problem is not with you. It’s that he’s become aroused by outside images. So rebuild your sex life slowly, helping him to learn to be present in the moment and to be aroused just by both of you making love again. That can take some time, and let him be free to stop in the middle of things if he finds his mind wandering and returning to images. You want him to be able to be honest.

And if he won’t stop using porn, do not feed the habit by agreeing to act out what he sees, or by making love right after he’s used porn. In that case, you’ve become a sex toy, and not a wife. Be available and open to him, but only when the sex reflects real love and a relationship, not when it’s fed by something else.

5. When Can You Separate?

I would view porn as somewhere on the continuum between alcoholism and adultery. Porn can become an addiction, and when it is a compulsion that is hard to break, there is often little you can do about it. But someone who is addicted to alcohol and drinks everyday is in a different category than someone who binge drinks occasionally. Both are bad, but one will destroy your life; the other is wrong, but not deadly to a marriage. So while any porn use is wrong, I don’t believe it is necessarily grounds for leaving the marriage. In fact, in most cases I would say that it is not.

Nevertheless, if he refuses to address the problem, and you know that he is a compulsive porn user, there may come a time when you have little choice but to separate. I would see this in a similar way to someone who is married to an alcoholic who refuses to change. When the alcoholism starts to endanger your finances, his work, your marriage, and the kids, you need to get out. Similarly, if he is watching porn all the time, and it’s endangering his marriage, his kids, and other aspects of his life, then it may be necessary to do something drastic. I wouldn’t do this if he wants to change, and is struggling, or if the porn use is only occasional. Separation is only for the destructive, compulsive porn user. When the porn use has become a porn addiction, you’ve got a serious problem.

And in this case, I would start with a separation, not a divorce. Divorce is really only a last resort, because even if you are justified, your children will be hurt by it, and the far better outcome is reconciliation. Nevertheless, as James Dobson says in his book Love Must be Tough, sometimes the only route to a healthy marriage is to have the offending spouse feel the consequences of his actions. So this must be a last resort, taken only when you have asked a mentor for good counsel, and only after a lot of prayer. This isn’t something you do the night that you discover he’s been using porn.

I hope it never comes to that in your marriage. I hope that, instead, you can rebuild your marriage slowly by focusing on building a friendship, on cementing the goodwill, so that you can deal wtih these difficult issues. Spend time together just laughing and having fun. Do things together. And then, as he tries to stop, and as you try to forgive and move forward, it’s much easier.

I know this is such a heartbreaking issue for so many women. They’re desperate for their husbands to stop using porn, and nothing seems to be getting better. They’re lonely, they’re angry, they’re rejected, they’re hurt. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I pray that your husband will be able to see porn for the evil that it is, and that he will turn back to you. But just know, as you’re going through this difficult time, that most men who are involved in porn really don’t do so because their wives lack something. It truly isn’t a reflection on you; it’s just a temptation that men are especially prone to. Keep that in mind, and try to maintain an emotional distance, as much as you can, from the anger you’re bound to feel. God can change your husband, He can bring healing, and He can help you forgive. Walk down that road, and don’t give in to anger.

UPDATE: I changed the wording a little because I thought of a better way to say something, but the jist is the same! And here’s the follow up post, including a long comment from a man who has found healing!



Will Porn Be the New Smoking?

'smoke' photo (c) 2010, Dean McCoy - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I read a really interesting article yesterday (it’s darn long, but it was good) by Mary Eberstadt on the similarities between porn and smoking.

Think about it: in the 1950s, most people smoked. They didn’t really moralize against it. They didn’t think it caused much harm.

But slowly but surely people began to realize there was something fishy about all these smokers getting lung cancer. And study after study showed that it was indeed hazardous.

So people stopped smoking, and our society is now so anti-smoking that we really do moralize against it. People think smoking is evil. In my home province of Ontario parents are no longer allowed to smoke with their kids in the car. Smoking is now reserved almost for the fringes in society: the poor, the young, the addicts.

What about porn? Back in the 1950s, when people would have been smoking, they would have felt that porn was morally wrong. That’s changed now. It’s everywhere. And most people think it’s pretty harmless. Indeed, my husband, when he was in med school, was taught that if you’re ever counseling a couple with sexual difficulties, you should recommend they watch porn together. Yeah, like that’s going to help their marriage.

Anyway, it’s now so easy to get that it’s widespread. Almost everybody does it (thankfully not everybody, but it really has infiltrated a lot of our culture). It’s mainstream. But what if we start to realize the harm it really does? What if the studies that show that pornography wrecks a couple’s sex life actually become widespread and well-known? What if divorces increase so much that we need to start actually getting to the root cause?

I pray that porn will become the next smoking. What the smoking campaign showed us is that if people are committed to stamping something dangerous out, it will get stamped out. So what can we do to get people committed to stamping out pornography?

We need to talk about it. We need to tell our friends the truth: pornography causes impotence. Because it does. The more you get aroused by what you see on a screen, the less you will get aroused in a relationship. It destroys sex in the relationship. It is the same as an affair. And it is highly, highly addictive.

Also, making love in the proper context between two people has several aspects: physical union; emotional union; spiritual union. But with porn it’s all about the body. It’s not about the relationship or the spiritual side at all. So the only way to get the next biggest high is to try something even more outrageous. It’s to push the envelope.

When you’re in a committed relationship, the real high doesn’t necessarily come from the physical. It’s from that amazing feeling when you’re totally drawn into one another. It’s a spiritual and relational thing. And you don’t need to do strange things to achieve that. You don’t need to keep pushing the envelope.

I’m not saying we can’t have physical fun when we’re married; I’m just saying that there’s something far deeper and more meaningful. And porn can’t provide that. I pray that our attitudes will change, and the truth will come out. Porn is not harmless. It wrecks marriages and it wrecks souls, let alone wrecking the lives of those involved in the business. We need to fight against it.