How Porn Works – We Need to Know This

 

Over 25% of all internet searches performed every day are for porn-related images, videos or websites.By some estimations, the production and sale of explicit pornography now represents the seventh-largest industry in America.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of those who consume pornography are males, and it is no secret that males are highly stimulated by visual images, whether still or video. William Struthers book offers us new understanding of how pornography works in the male brain. While this research does nothing to reduce the moral culpability of males who consume pornography, it does help to explain how the habit becomes so addictive.

Struthers is a psychologist with a background in neuroscience and a teaching concentration in the biological bases of human behavior. In Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain, Struthers presents key insights from neuroscience that go a long way toward explaining why pornography is such a temptation for the male mind. As Struthers explains, “Men seem to be wired in such a way that pornography hijacks the proper functioning of their brains and has a long-lasting effect on their thoughts and lives.”

“The simplest explanation for why men view pornography (or solicit prostitutes) is that they are driven to seek out sexual intimacy,” he explains. The urge for sexual intimacy is God-given and essential to the male, he acknowledges, but it is easily misdirected. Men are tempted to seek “a shortcut to sexual pleasure via pornography” and now find this shortcut easily accessed.In our fallen world, pornography becomes more than a distraction and a distortion of God’s intention for human sexuality – It comes as an addictive poison.

Struthers explains:

Viewing pornography is not an emotionally or physiologically neutral experience. It is fundamentally different from looking at black and white photos of the Lincoln Memorial or taking in a color map of the provinces of Canada. Men are reflexively drawn to the content of pornographic material. As such, pornography has wide-reaching effects to energize a man toward intimacy. It is not a neutral stimulus. It draws us in. Porn is vicarious and voyeuristic at its core, but it is also something more. Porn is a whispered promise. It promises more sex, better sex, endless sex, sex on demand, more intense orgasms, experiences of transcendence.

Pornography “acts as a polydrug,” Struthers explains. As Dr. Patrick Carnes asserts, pornography is “a pathological relationship with a mood-altering experience.” Boredom and curiosity lead many boys and men into experiences that become more like drug addiction than is often admitted.

Pornography is “visually magnetic” to the male brain. Struthers presents an intriguing review of the neurobiology involved, with pleasure hormones becoming linked to and released by the experience of a male viewing pornographic images. These experiences with pornography and pleasure hormones create new patterns in the brain’s wiring, and repeated experiences formalize the rewiring.

As is typically the case with sin, enough is never enough. “If I take the same dose of a drug over and over and my body begins to tolerate it, I will need to take a higher dose of the drug in order for it to have the same effect that it did with a lower dose the first time,” Struthers reminds us. So, the experience of viewing pornography and acting out on it creates a demand in the brain for more and more, just to achieve the same level of pleasure in the brain.

While men are stimulated by the ambient sexual images around them, explicit pornography increases the effect. Struthers compares this to the difference between traditional television and the new high definition technologies. Everything is more clear, more explicit, and more stimulating.

Struthers explains this with compelling force:

Something about pornography pulls and pushes at the male soul. The pull is easy to identify. The naked female form can be hypnotizing. A woman’s willingness to participate in a sexual act or expose her nakedness is alluring to men. The awareness of one’s own sexuality, the longing to know, to experience something as good wells up from deep within. An image begins to pick up steam the longer we look upon it. It gains momentum and can reach a point where it feels like a tractor-trailer rolling downhill with no brakes.

Wired for Intimacy is a timely and important book. Struthers does not leave his argument to neuroscience, nor does he use the category of addiction to mitigate the sinfulness of viewing pornography. Sinners naturally seek to hide sin, and biological “predisposition” often cited as a means of avoiding moral responsibility. Struthers does not allow this, and his view of pornography is both biblical and theologically grounded. He lays responsibility for the sin of viewing pornography at the feet of those who willingly consume such images. The addict is responsible for his addiction.

A book like Struthers’ give us additional understanding of how sin works its deceitful evil and better understanding of how pornography works in the male mind . While this is powerful knowledge, we must still face the daily reality that we live in a world at war, and our enemy is very good at what he does. Pornography is a sin that robs God of his glory, and robs marriages of the amazing gift of sex and sexuality.

Don’t be taken hostage. Knowledge is power, but we must continue to be deliberate in our daily approach to walking with Christ and “guarding our heart” for the sake of our marriage.

Stay alert,

Huz

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About Rob

Married to my high school sweetheart for 40 years. Blessed to be a frequent speaker at marriage and men's conferences, retreats and seminars. Author of 4 books on marriage. Check out resources at allinmariage.org.

3 responses to “How Porn Works – We Need to Know This

  1. Paul Kroger

    Powerful – the effects of pornography are few more damaging and invasive to our lives than most men are willing to admit! I have seen similar studies and I am always reminded of my inability to escape the alluring effect of pornography apart from from walking moment by moment in the TRUE power provided by God’s Spirit.

  2. After reading this article I just learned alot about myself and thank you for the knowledge. I will be going to the library and looking for the book. THANKS

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