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We often hear about people who become addicted to chemicals, but we can also become addicted to behaviours, such as eating, gambling and sex. The number one sexual addiction in our modern societies is the habitual viewing of pornography.
Pornography consists of sexually explicit pictures, videos, writing, or other material involving the depiction of erotic behaviour intended to cause sexual excitement.
Viewing pornography is never harmless, even when it has not yet become an addiction.
With the development of modern technology anyone with a TV or computer can watch porn in the privacy of their own home. This behaviour often starts as casual curiosity, which then becomes a habit, ultimately becoming an addiction.
The seventh commandment states: “Thou shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Jesus Christ emphasised the spiritual implications of this commandment: "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Christ made it clear that lust (sexual fantasizing and craving) is a sin. Therefore, virtually all deliberate viewing of pornography is sinful because of its lustful nature.
In 1 Corinthians 6:18, the Apostle Paul wrote: "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body." Modern research verifies Paul’s assertion that sexual immorality often develops into addictive behaviour causing chemical alterations in the neurotransmitters of the brain, which reinforces addiction.
Typically people who are attracted to this form of addictive behavior do so to escape the reality of their circumstances, or some emotional state such as depression or anxiety. Individuals who come from families where addictions have occurred have a greater probability of, or predisposition for, acquiring addictive behavioral patterns.
Dr. Patrick Carnes, a pioneer in sexual addiction, has identified four core beliefs of most sexual addicts in his book, ‘Out of the Shadows’:
Denial - failing to admit or minimizing the seriousness of the behaviour. The first step towards overcoming any addiction is acknowledging that you have a problem.
Compulsivity and Dependence - which is developed when the tension of a negative emotional state is relieved when a behaviour or chemical is introduced that causes a neuro-chemical reward, thus reinforcing the behaviour.
Tolerance and Escalation - over time what used to produce a desired effect and state of mind becomes less effective, and more of the drug or behaviour is needed to get the desired result.
Powerlessness and Unmanageability - trapped in the downward spiral of addiction, the individual begins to suffer consequences that may impact his or her marriage and family, finances etc. It's often at this point that help is finally sought.
If you want help in your own life, or if you’d like to help a loved one, be sure to turn to the One who says “...I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). He has made a promise to be our strength against sin and addiction. We have His assurance He is “...ready to help in times of trouble” (Psalms 41:1). Changing your life begins with admitting the problem, seeking God’s help and also wise counsel to overcome the trap of addiction.
Bible Study Guide: Overcoming Pornography Addiction