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Sex and pornography addiction is a common issue, with current research showing that it occurs in somewhere between three and six percent of the population with the potential to be more because there is no current formal classification for an actual diagnosis. There are multiple reasons that this type of addiction/behavior can be problematic for the individual and their relationship.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.Galatians 6:7-8

Key issues that show that pornography has become an issue for the individual are that their sex life becomes less satisfying as well as causing the person to be less satisfied with their current partner.

Addiction is more than just an intense focus on something. Addiction changes the brain and body in a way that causes the individual to feel compelled to continue to engage in an interaction or a substance regardless of the harm it may cause. All addictions affect the areas of the brain that activate motivation and reward.

Without this reward, we would not engage in the behavior, since it releases an extreme rush of dopamine resulting in increased feelings of satisfaction and reward. If this reward only comes with engagement in risky behaviors or through the watching of pornography it could be helpful to seek help through therapy.

Pornography and sex addiction are identified as compulsive sexual behaviors that can also be viewed as compulsive sexual actions. While there are still questions as to whether porn and sex addictions are real, it continues to affect our friends and family members, and even ourselves. Surveys show that at least half of Christian men currently are or have been addicted to sex or pornography.

These issues have become increasingly problematic especially within the last year with the stay-at-home orders and the decrease in healthy socialization. It might manifest as excessive pornography use or engaging in consistent one-night stands or the use of prostitutes.

Regardless of the avenue, it is how these compulsive behaviors affect the individual’s life. Once the addiction takes hold, the experience becomes compulsive rather than a pleasurable experience with a trusted partner. This addiction also affects other areas of the brain steadily changing it and making it increasingly difficult to avoid these negative interactions.

So, flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.Timothy 2:22

The addiction to sex and pornography has caused the loss of jobs as well as economic loss due to the cost of the addiction. The other and most important loss becomes the breakdown of a marriage due to the lack of trust.

The availability of free online pornography websites and the plethora of “hook-up” apps allow for the perpetuation of the behaviors. Research has identified attachment issues as the core of the addiction with the most identified attachment style being insecure. The other reason for addiction to pornography and sex is as a self-soothing technique where others might turn to work or food.

Given these issues in attachment history, close interpersonal relationships appear dangerous and unsafe. Those with pornography and sex addiction long for intimacy and appear to have close family and friends but struggle with keeping people at arm’s length through lies and deception. The origins of addiction overall are multifaceted and not completely understood.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.Psalm 51:10

Statistics show that Pornhub is the largest pornography website with more than ninety billion videos watched daily. Given the extensive access and use of pornography by adults, it must also be acknowledged that teenagers also use porn. The professional perspective is that these youths are using this material to offset sexual education despite the unrealistic nature of the images.

Porn is a common source of discord in relationships due to its secretive nature and concerns of it being identified as infidelity. The use of porn has been shown to be a marker for future break-ups with the reason being the disapproval of one of the partners despite the lack of communication between the two partners. The other concern is that the addict has withdrawn from the relationship, replacing it with images and a false sense of sex.

Sex addiction can lead to many of the same things that the viewing of pornography does such as the loss of relationships, difficulties at work, arrests, low self-esteem, and the loss of interest in things that are not sexual.

Sexual addiction or preoccupation can consume a great deal of time and energy. The need for sex becomes a pattern of behavior that leads up to acting out with actions such as flirting with another individual that is not the committed partner. Sex addiction can manifest in multiple ways that including:

  • Having multiple sexual partners or extramarital affairs.
  • Engaging in sex with many anonymous partners or prostitutes.
  • Sex addicts treat sexual partners as objects only used for sex rather than social intimates.
  • Engaging in excessive masturbation, as often as ten to twenty times a day.
  • Excessive use of pornographic materials, chat rooms, online pornography, or phone sex.
  • Engaging in types of sexual behavior that you previously did not consider acceptable, such as masochistic or sadistic sex, or even more extreme forms of sexual behavior such as pedophilia, bestiality, or rape.
  • Exposure in public.

The causes of addiction to pornography and sex are unknown. A 2015 study shows that the images of pornography are the source of the addiction, not the actual pornography use that leads to the accompanying distress. Currently, experts and activists report that like other addictions pornography and sex addiction is a multifaceted issue with several potential causes. Those causes include:

  • An underlying mental health condition that allows the viewer to escape psychological distress.
  • Relational issues where pornography or other questionable sexual acts as an outlet for sexual dissatisfaction.
  • Internalized unhealthy cultural norms as to how sex should look and be experienced.
  • Certain biological factors such as a change in brain chemistry with the regular viewing of pornography. This also may increase the potential for addiction.

Treatment can be provided by addressing the underlying issues that may be causing the need to engage in the viewing of pornography and dangerous sexual interactions. These issues include struggles with attachment negatively affecting the ability to establish healthy relationships. Other issues include depression, relationship problems, and sexual shame. Treatment strategies include:

  • Individual Therapy to understand the individual’s relationship with porn and sex and to develop coping strategies to deal with emotional and psychological distress.
  • Couple/relationship counseling to help partners explore their values, establish and expand trust and vulnerability in the relationship.
  • Lifestyle changes to decrease boredom or exhaustion and to reduce the reliance on computers and the guilt and shame related to sex/porn addiction.

To show the love of Christ is to love your neighbor as yourself. What does that look like? Colossians 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. As fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we should remember that all have sinned and deserve death, and only Christ can judge, we are commanded to love and heal the sick.

References:
https://www.aasect.org/position-sex-addiction
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6352245/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5561346/?report=classic
https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2015-42188-001
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22449010
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301051115300107
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/porn-addiction
https://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/04/pornography
Photos:
“Laptop Man”, Courtesy of Charles Deluvio, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Pink Flower”, Courtesy of Laura Adai, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Shame”, Courtesy of @felipepelaquim, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Tree-Lined Lane”, Courtesy of Federico Di Dio, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

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